This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with Chicanna. This is Lake Bacalar which is a stunning color of blue. Furthermore, the entire thing is fresh water. Lake Bacalar is the only interesting thing on the long drive from the Chichen Itza area to the Xpujil area. This does not count the series of beaches known as the Mayan Riviera because none of them are really on or near the main road. It also doesn't include Chetumal. The southern road across the Yucatan (Mexico 186) is fairly remote. It's remote enough that Xpujil and Escarcega are considered major regional towns. Exploring Xpujil will take slightly less time than learning to pronounce it (spoo-heel). There are a couple hotels around the area and the most corrupt Pemex station in the Yucatan. (Seriously, while you're always supposed to watch for gas pump tricks this is the only PeMex we stopped at where they tried them, and they tried ALL of them).
While neither Xpujil nor Escarcega offer much to write home about, the area between them is full of interesting Mayan sites that are barely visited. Kohunlich, Becan, Chicanna and Xpuhil are all within a few miles of Xpujil. We arrived in mid-afternoon, spent some time finding an open hotel with rooms available (it's very hard to do this in advance because many have no phones) and then visited Chicanna. As you can see from this map, the buildings are all cleverly named.
This is estructura I, we think. It might be estructura III. It's hard to tell really. The important thing about Chicanna is that like most of the ruins off of route 186, you will pretty much have the place to yourself and can wander more or less at will amongst the ruins.
This is a bat falcon perched on the nose of Chaac Mool on Estructura XX. That sentence kind of stands on its own really but I suppose it's in order to say something about bat falcons. They're falcons, they like to eat bats. Since bats are fond of ruins, and falcons are generally just fond of perching on high things, they can 'often' be found around ruins. This is the only one we saw, and he was unfazed by our presence. In fact, he seems to be winking for the camera.
Estructura XX is the interesting remains of a residential complex. There does not appear to be any guidebook written about Chicanna (or Becan, Xpuhil, Calakmul
.) in English, Spanish or Mayan. Comprehensive Mayan books only barely touch on it for the most part, so we're relying on informational markers found at the site for everything we know about it.
This is a fairly well preserved roof comb which is a common addition to many Mayan buildings that has not generally survived the centuries very well. These appear to have been mostly ornamental.
The highlight of Chicanna is the monster mouth doorway shown here. It has upper and lower teeth, eyes and a projectile nose (a simple one by Mayan standards). This is presumed to be a representation of Itzamna, god of creation. Bits of colored paints still remain on the elaborate carvings on the front of the building. It's rather anticlimactic, but the general belief is that this building was a sort of hostel for traveling merchants.
Across the main road from the Chicanna ruins is the Chicanna Eco Village, which is a pricey but quiet little complex on the edge of the Calakmul Nature Reserve. They have a nice little watchtower in the front of the property which is a good place to spend some time birding at sunset. (Probably sunrise too but we'll never know).
This is the best picture we got of any birds from that tower, mostly because they kept flying past without stopping. Not terribly considerate of them. We're almost certain that this is an oriole. We're less certain that it's an orange crowned oriole but since there's about 25 different orioles that look like this from the front, we're not willing to bet on it. Since we spent several days in the area we generally found ourselves detouring into Xpujil at least once a day. It has a nice general store (with cold drinks!). There's also a pharmacy but they're only open one hour out of every 50 (and it seems to be random). Despite the high corruption level at the local Pemex, it is the only one for a very long ways in any direction.