The crown of our Cancun vacation had to be the sojourn to dwelling of wise water wizards or in other words, Chichen Itza (the city by the well or the wise men by the water, etc). This incredible site, a shadow of its former glory with its brilliantly painted buildings, smooth concrete plazas and rich culture was designated in July 7, 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Thank you Jack for the persuasive private message on FaceBook which I used to help convince Andy that we just had to go. 🙂
All I wish, visiting the site, is we would have had more time soaking in what we were seeing. But I am glad I took as many pictures as I did, and Andy did too, because it’s helping with that delayed “soaking” of this site.
Our adventure started with our van picking us up outside our hotel at 7 am Wed., April 30, 2014, along with some other tourists, and getting us to our Cancun Tour bus. I enjoyed seeing more of the hotel zone as we rode Boulevard Kukulkan. We passed this interesting building, Maya Design Hotel, and here (second picture) is where we waited until our bus was ready.
Our bus was 001 and our guide, Jorge, was a very versatile bilinguist. He easily flipped from Spanish to English so it eventually blended together. He shared information about the ancient Mayans along with passing things around for us to see…like depictions of the Mayan calendar and obsidian…
…and he talked about the itinerary of the day (besides the tour of Chichen Itza) which included a a traditional Mayan buffet lunch (which was really good with homemade tortillas and a liberal warning about the hot sauce…salt and sugar folks, salt and sugar). Please note the thatched ceiling.
We drove through Valladolid, a colonial Mexican town, and viewed its downtown, the lovers’ chairs and San Gervasio Cathedral.
Oh, because of a flat tire we ended up stopping at a merchants’ plaza with hand-made items. We did get silver pendants with our names engraved in Mayan.
We were also told we’d be visiting the Suytun Cenote in order to cool off after our tour in Chichen Itza.
Also check it out this Cenote (one of many) was in National Geographics
“If you have your bathing suit, congratulations. And if you don’t, congratulations, what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico. What that means is it will be on Facebook in five minutes.” ~ Jorge, guide.
Okay…so without further ado, [drumroll]
Let me introduce Chichen Itza
My first pic entering the site shows a small corner of vendors crying out their wares! They were everywhere. Admittedly, a lot of the stuff is really cool. For example, the jaguar growls in my Chichen Itza iMovies are actually whistles that these guys had. And most everything, was being offered for $1 (US). Not having pesos on me, I was just a bit nervous of stopping with US dollars because I was sure I’d be mobbed.
(In the background is the Temple of the Jaguars and the ballcourt)
The pyramid has 91 steps with four staircases — one on each side — and one platform so if you do the math it equals one solar year. Also, on the equinoxes the pyramid is a stage for a light/shadow show which shows their snake god descending from the temple into the snakes’ heads.
More tidbits: The pyramid is 78 feet tall and has an interesting surprise. What is it? There is a second temple inside this one…sort of like Russian nesting dolls. Inside this they found a jaguar throne and a chacmool. Oh, and they built the pyramid in five years.
This iMovie (above) has quite a bit of information of what the guide told us. He took us around this plaza and gave us insight with the pyramid, ball court, Temple of the Warriors, Wall of Skulls and Platform of Venus… and after he was finished I immediately asked him where the observatory was.
See, the site’s observatory was something I considered using as a template for one of the places in my book….a forgotten ruin from one of the (Chandarions) god-like people who had been interested in studying the sky. So you can imagine that I just HAD to see this not in just pictures But in front of my own eyes.
Amazing, right? Anyway the one thing I didn’t notice until later was the Chaac mask near the building’s crown. Do you see it? The Chaac masks represent the Mayan god of rain.
I suppose seeing the The Church with its very obvious Chaac masks made me more aware of what these were.
It surprised me to see lattice work carved in stone… I mean, wow! How long did this take the Mayans?
And excavations are still going on. For example, in the 1990s, the Temple of the Big Tables was restored from the jungle. (I love saying I was in a jungle) This structure is beside the Temple of the Warriors and it has a substructure inside which can be reached by the door on the side of the staircase. One of the things that was found within were life-size figures of warriors, carved in stone relief with details in stucco and polychrome paint.
Definitely, the science of archeology has improved. Back in the early 1900s one so-called archeologist, Le Plongeon, blew a part of the exterior away from the Edificio de las Monjas (Nunnery) in order to reveal an older structure within. Do you see the big hole on the right hand side, lower level?
Here’s the back side of the pyramid and the Temple of the Warriors in the background.
And one last thing I’ll share for now… the frieze from the ball court which gives us an idea how the game was played. [Please remember, kidding aside, these guys probably thought they were assured immortality. For example, the decapitated one is kneeling proudly as if he was perfectly fine, except missing a head]