MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s pre-Hispanic archaeological sites have begun to reopen to tourism for the first time since their closure in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
These places didn’t look so lonely since they were abandoned centuries ago. The few hundred visitors who will be allowed into most sites must line up to purchase a limited number of tickets, have their temperatures taken, wear masks, receive a dose of sanitizing gel, and keep a distance of 1.3 meters (1.5 yards) from each other. Admission will be limited to only 30% of the quota of those places.
The Mayan ruins of Tulum and Cobá will be reopened on Monday; Chichen Itza apparently will do it later.
At the most visited archaeological site in the country, the pyramids of Teotihuacán, north of Mexico City, souvenir vendors returned, but there were few visitors Thursday. Only 3,000 people a day are allowed to enter without being allowed to climb the pyramids of the Sun or the Moon, which previously attracted tens of thousands of visitors each year for the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Omar González visited Teotihuacán with his wife and three children on the first day of reopening, and indicated that they wanted to make this trip from 2019.
“We had it already programmed since last year,” said González. “Unfortunately due to the contingency we had to postpone it” until now.
Teotihuacán was probably the most important and influential city in the region during its heyday between 100 BC and 750 AD, when it had about 100,000 inhabitants. It was later abandoned.
Ramón Álvarez Negrete sells handicrafts on the Calzada de los Muertos, a wide path that passes between the pyramids. He said the last five months were very difficult due to the closure of the place.
“There was no income, because you were working at home,” he added. “What little one had saved, a peso … had to pay because the family has to eat.”
The staggered openings of archaeological sites in the country have been confusing for some visitors. There is no particular opening day, which depends on the proper preparations being in place and the conditions of the pandemic in each part of the country.
Spanish tourist Mateo Garrosh visited Teotihuacán on Thursday after doing some research.
“I looked on the internet which places were open, the most emblematic places in Mexico and the area. I found that they opened today, ”he said. “It wasn’t that easy because each place opens on a different day.”
Mexico is desperate to reopen its tourism sector, and archaeological sites are a crucial part of the country’s attractions. Tourism accounts for 11 million direct and indirect jobs, and many of the sector’s workers went home to await the end of the pandemic after people stopped traveling.
Agustín Robles returned Thursday to sell carved masks and obsidian figures near the Pyramid of the Sun for the first time in months.
“It has been very difficult. We did not have any support from the government, “he said.