If you drive about an hour south of Comitan de Dominguez towards the Guatemalan border crossing at La Mesilla, you will come across a left turn off for the Lagos de Colon, take it.
Kelly and I had to do some business at the border regarding the registration of our Mayan Tripmobile, so we decided to take some time and explore someplace new. After finishing our business we headed to the turn off for Lagos de Colon and the Mayan ruins of Lagartero.
The drive in to the site of Lagartero was through agricultural fields being tended to by local farmers, in a broad valley between the mountainy border of Guatemala and the highlands of Chiapas Mexico. After driving about 7 miles we came across a man sitting on the side of the road, near the entrance to a small town, who was collecting the 10 peso per person entrance fee to the Lagos de Colon and Lagartero ruins.
Shortly after paying the fee we came to a large community swimming pool type place and parking lot, we determined they were not the Lagos or the ruins, we kept driving. After passing through the small pueblo of Cristobal Colon we came on a right turn with an old sign for the ruins.
The road from here was all dirt. We passed by some small inviting cabanas for rent, we were told they are 400 pesos per night. Then we had to drive through a foot deep and fairly fast running section of river which had covered the road. At this point we could have parked and walked in over plank bridges, but it was still close to a mile into the site. Our trusty Tripmobile made it through with no problems at all.
The dirt road continued on through a beautiful corn field that had been planted recently. Then we drove into some trees and through another shallower river crossing. Shortly after that the road came to an end and we parked in the shade of the trees. The rest of the way in we had to cross several plank bridges over amazingly clear streams and inviting pools. The path continued and split a few times, we kept following the more center of the trails that seemed to be most used.
After a few hundred yards we came out into a clearing for the central complex of the Lagartero Mayan ruins. The ruins consist of 4 main temples surrounding a central plaza. There was an excavated, but not fully reconstructed, ball court and a few other structures. The beauty of this place was not in the grandeur of the temples, it was in their location between lakes and streams on an island surrounded by nature. In the sky white cranes flew by, while butterflies and dragon flies flew through the trees and grasses.
The stepped pyramids of the temple complex at Lagartero seemed quite old and of more primitive design than their neighbors in Chinkultic or Tenam Puente. From the research I’ve done the site was mostly used during the late and terminal classic era of the Mayan world, 700 – 1100 c.e. approximately.
One of the most impressive things on the site was a giant Ceiba tree growing up out of a mound not far from the back of the largest temple. The cieba trees are sacred to the Mayans and judging by some charcoal near the tree, I believe that one is still the center of religious rituals.
We spent about and hour and a half wandering around the ruins and trails along the wetlands and lagoons. We could have spent all day just enjoying the amazing natural and ancient world surrounding us. We plan on returning for a night and exploring the waterfalls nearby, but that will be for another post.