The Blues of Yalku-ito Bay

Being that today is Mexican Independence Day, I know many of my friends will be celebrating with tequila, mariachis, and lots of good food. But when I think of México, this is what I picture. Lounging in the blue, Caribbean waters of Yalku-ito Bay in the Mayan Riviera. There is no place I would rather be. Viva México!

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The Griffith at Dusk

The first photo I ever took of the Griffith Observatory way back in 2011 when I was just starting to get into photography. It took me this long to finally post it. This has remained my favorite place to shoot in all of Los Angeles. I guess you never do forget your first time. Ha!

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Mayan Ruins Expedition: Part One

I had the great pleasure of being part of an expedition through the Yucatan jungles of Mexico with a group of explorers who love searching for obscure Mayan ruins. They are all a modern day version of Indiana Jones, but with iPhones. Now, I will never claim to know as much about Mayan history as these experts so I highly encourage you to visit their Facebook and YouTube pages to learn more about these incredible sites. This is also not a National Geographic style recap by any means. I am just going to share some of the images I was able to capture while on this grand adventure.

One of the goals of the expedition was to retrace and locate some of the Mayan ruins that were documented by the French explorer Michel Peissel in his 1963 book The Lost World of Quintana Roo. He walked over 200 miles in the Yucatan jungle while exploring, documenting and interacting with the locals. He would later go on to wider acclaim for his exploration of Tibetan culture.

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This was one of my favorite sites that we visited. Nothing against Tulum, Coba or Chichén Itzá, but it sure is nice to explore these historical sites without the hordes of tourists and souvenir vendors everywhere. Tacky!! This site consists of various structures that are just meters away from the main highway between Akumal and Tulum. Don’t think you can just show up and start exploring. It is actually on private property so you will need to know a guy who knows a guy to be able to get in. Or in our case, a girl. We were very fortunate to have received permission from the Institute of Anthropology and History of Quintana Roo.

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This small structure, known simply as Ak, is located atop a huge rock overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The only way to access it is via the swanky 5 star resort that is built on the site around it. That is unless you have a boat like we did. I bet you didn’t know that the Mayans were the first to build oceanfront condos.

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This was our local Mayan guide, Candido, who took us on our expedition through the mangroves of Sian Ka’an. He is one of those guys that can get you anything and everything. He also claims to be quite a ladies man so I named him “Candido the Bandido” cause he’ll steal your girl. He’ll just turn on the Mayan charm and whisk her away.

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This pyramid can be found, along with various other structures, on what is now a commercial rock quarry and a port. The site is located right outside Playa del Carmen right past Xcaret. They do allow guests on site, but again, only with special permit. We even had a our own chaperon. One thing to keep in mind is that many of these sites are not in the best of conditions and could not handle large crowds of tourists. But very few people are aware that this place even exists so hopefully it will remain preserved for a long time. It is quite a large site and there were various structures still standing but this one was the most impressive.

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My friend Balta from Merida is quite a photographer. He mostly shoots Mayan ruins throughout the Yucatan region. I caught him while he was shooting the structure at Xlabpak. I was waiting for him to take the shot so I could shoot next. Check out his Flickr page for some of his photos.

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This is the inside of the structure that Balta was photographing. We were making all kinds of discoveries inside these temples. No, not gold artwork or jade necklaces. Those were ransacked centuries ago. The discoveries we were making were bats, fire ants, and mosquitos that were (holds hands out) THIS BIG!!!

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With his deep knowledge of Mayan history & culture plus his movie star looks, Eduardo could probably be on TV. Heck, he already has his own YouTube channel (you have to start somewhere). Go check it out and follow him as he documents every Mayan site he has visited. He has been to over 200 sites!!! I have only been to about 24 so I have some catching up to do.

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This amazing tree was leaning over some of the remains of a structure at the site of El Naranjal. This site is fairly easy to get to as it’s on the road between Tulum and Valladolid. The town is very small and you could drive by it without realizing that a whole city of Mayan ruins lie in its town center.

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Meet Marco and Francisco. These two brothers were our guides as we visited the ruins of Punta Laguna. I couldn’t believe they were walking around barefoot through the jungle. My legs were ready to fall off from all the insect bites.

This concludes Part 1 of my series. In my next post, I will introduce more of the Mayan Explorers team and share even more pix of some of the incredible sites I visited. There are two structures that are smack in the middle of the Sian Ka’an Bay that have to be seen to be believed. Heck, one of the them is sunken in the water. Top that Indiana Jones!!

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Scott BrownSeptember 5, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Wonderful work as always!

Peter ThornquistSeptember 5, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Unbelievable pictures!

Annie's AkumalSeptember 5, 2014 - 6:37 pm

Great read!

Eduardo González ArceSeptember 5, 2014 - 10:21 pm

Muchas gracias por estas imágenes que me remontan inmediatamente a esa maravillosa expedición!!

Erik ChristiansenSeptember 5, 2014 - 11:15 pm

Thanks a lot for letting us in on your explorations. Great stuff!

Hernán David MuñozSeptember 6, 2014 - 11:56 am

Congratulations on this beautiful material .. place me share with you my work in 2010 in the ruins. It is truly exciting, unique and magical. I hope to return and visit those places in the peninsula of Yucatan. Well done Pixamundo!!. http://www.realvision360.com/component/content/article/55-noticias/231-recorrido-virtual-de-360o-en-la-exposicion-mayas-sociedad-y-tiempo

SylviaSeptember 7, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Thank you for your amazing pictures and the background stories that really bring the images to life. Wow. Well done.

RafaelinhoSeptember 7, 2014 - 4:50 pm

Thank you so much for the kind words Sylvia. So glad you enjoy the stories and the photos. Stay tuned for more.

Bliss Dancing in Treasure Island

So Burning Man is coming up and once again I am not going. Can’t believe I have never been. Now I am going to miss out on all the beautiful works of art like Bliss Dance by Marco Cochran. Oh well…can anyone hook a brother up??

I had previously posted a similar shot way back when. Check it out here.

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Cristo Redentor de Verde Amarelo

During the World Cup, the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio would be lit up in the team national colors. This would help inspire the team on to victory. I took this after their hard fought penalty shoot-out over Chile. With Christ behind them, nothing could stop them now. Bring on the Germans!!

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Capturing the Panoramic Views of Rio de Janeiro

I’ve been to Rio twice in my life and I have to say, it is probably one of the most photogenic cities I have ever visited. Right alongside Paris & San Francisco. It has beautiful beaches, beautiful landscapes, beautiful weather, and beautiful people. What else can a photographer hope for? You can catch a glimpse of all that beauty from way up here.

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