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Cadogan Guide Yucatan & Mayan Mexico Paperback – 30 Nov 2009
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I had already bought a couple of guides to the area and then found this - yes the current edition - in a secondhand book shop. A quick flick through it showed that it was worth buying. A more detailed look at it showed that it was worth carrying in my hand luggage and then familiarity with it meant that I carried it everywhere, however hot the weather and however long the walk.
Nick Rider is an excellent writer. He has a thorough understanding of the history, both colonial and Mayan, and he seems to have gone everywhere and seen everything. I can't vouch for the sections on Cancun, since I didn't go there, but for guidance on Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Merida and Valladolid, and excursions from those places he is spot on. He doesn't try to sound 'hip', like the authors of the other guides I bought, thank God, but he writes for the serious traveller.
His general advice seems good. He rightly says, for example, that Merida is the safest city of its size anywhere and he shows a genuine affection fo the places he describes. My copy is now tatty and thumbed but I will keep it to remind me of a grand holiday.
There aren't many pictures, which to my mind saves space. The plans of the Mayan sites are very useful. There isn't one of Ek Balam, but when you get there it is so simple that the lack isn't a problem.
(If you went on a package to a resort and sat on the beach, or by the pool, all day you could take this as your holiday reading and plan your return visit by yourself!)
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On the other hand, Mr. Rider's historical and archaeological assessments are erudite enough to please the slightly scholarly.
Best of all, he has directed us to fascinating places (e.g., the Xel-ha archaeological site as opposed to the theme park across the highway and Tan-kah) where there are relatively few tourists.
Now it's time for an update, because quite a number of things have changed since he wrote this book, which was probably in 2007 or 2008. I will buy a copy as soon as it is available.