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"Serpentine Facade"

Location: Isla Mujeres, Yucatan, Mexico
Catalog Number: 2447

This is one of a series of facades photographed on Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women) in the Caribbean off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. We had arrived in Cancun, spent 15 minutes there and decided Cancun was not Mexico and headed out of town. We caught a ferry to Isla Mujeres, which was a bigger adventure than we bargained for. At the dock, the small ferry boat kept sinking lower and lower into the water as more and more people were stuffed into it. We had the good foresight to not get on first, so that we could at least breathe, unlike the folks that were jammed into the cabin. It seemed that there there was only a few inches difference between water level and the sides of the boat. This was proven true as we got into deeper water where the swells gave a dousing to all of us. We were delighted to be on land safely and thought if we could survive the boat ride that the rest of the trip would be a breeze.

As it turned out, the next trial was salmonella and amoebic dysentery before taking the ferry back to the mainland and on to the ruins of Chichen Itza. But Isla Mujeres had wonderful snorkeling, beautiful waters (which I could occasionally see when I wasn't too sick to be vertical) and colorfully painted houses like this one. A few weeks after photographing this image we visited the Mayan ruins at Uxmal and noticed the long buildings had a serpentine architectural detail that went along the ground and then over the doors with this being repeated over a 200 yard span. One end of the building had the tail and the other the carved head of the serpent. When I returned home and saw this photograph of the facade on Isla Mujeres, I noticed the same architectural detail that we saw in the Mayan architecture. I have no idea how conscious the contemporary builders are of the source of inspiration for this treatment, but it was certainly of interest to me.

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