Bumping down the badly potholed, 8-km (5-mi) road leading to this site may give you an appreciation for the explorers who first found and excavated it in 1933. Hidden throughout the forest are at least five magnificent temples, two of which have been excavated to reveal ornate facades covered with zoomorphic figures whose mouths are the doorways. The buildings here were constructed roughly between 400 BC and AD 1100 in the Río Bec style, with rounded lateral towers and ornamental stairways, the latter built to give an illusion of height, which they do wonderfully. The facade of Estructura II, the largest structure on the site, is intricately carved and well preserved. Estructura V has some admirable Chaac masks arranged in a cascade atop a pyramid. Nearby is a perfectly round chultun (water-storage tank), and seemingly emerging from the earth, the eerily etched designs of a still-unexcavated structure.
Hormiguero is Spanish for "anthill," referring both to the looters' tunnels that honeycombed the ruins when archaeologists discovered them and to the number of large anthills in the area. Among the other fauna sharing the jungle here are several species of poisonous snakes. Although these mainly come out at night, you should always be careful of where you walk and, when climbing, where you put your hands.
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