Our 5th New Wonder of the World...SMASH!!!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I woke up before the alarm at 4:45am and watched the sun rise. By 6:45 we were both at reception, free coffees in hand waiting for our bus to Chichen Itza. Before I go any further I must tell you about the wet feet bars in the hotel, they have areas with swimming pools so you can eat or drink coffee outside with your feet in a pool while sitting in the sun, I havent seen this in any of the youth hostels we have stayed in and fell victim by falling into one this morning thinking it was a step to a seat and ended ankle deep in my shoes in the hotel reception much to the amusement of the more cultured guests. Well this is our 5th of the New 7 Wonders of the World, which according to our tour guide and the official new seven wonders website are

Chichen Itza
Christ the Redeemer (Rio)
The Colosseum
Taj Mahal
Great Wall of China
Petra (Jordan)
Machu Picchu

We were quite surprised by this fact and that 5 have been done on this trip, perhaps we need to have a good look at Jordan (too many easy jokes to be at all credible to be fair). After a quick visit to a supermarket which sold tourist tat including a beer cooler which read "what happens on cruise stays on cruise" and other terrible souvenirs, we went to some kind of underground cavern (we learned the difference between a cavern and a cave was that a cavern has natural light) which was beautiful but we didnt really understand why we were there. Erica edit:  You can definitely tell that Andrew is now getting weary - the cavern was great and as Mexico has the largest number of underground cave and cavern networks in the world - I knew why we were there).  Here we tried a traditional made tortilla cooked over a wood stove by a local woman which quite frankly tasted of vom.  We then went to do 3/4 of an hour shopping for souvenirs, which too was completely pointless but everyone was clearly in for a cut of the action by the way the guides were doing a lot of the selling as well. Of course then we had to stop at another place for snacks, then someone suggested that lunch at 6pm was too late so we would do that next..... and it went on and on (it became obvious why this was the budget tour with Travlamex (it was 40 US dollars each cheaper than any other tour that we could find) but hey it was a long day 13 hours infact) . We finally arrived at Chichen Itza, the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, at about 3:30pm which stunk a bit of poo considering we left at 7am.

Chichen Itza is a huge site and much of it is closed and still being restored (like so many of these places it needs a bit of imagination as to what this place would have looked like in its heyday - but ongoing restoration means that we would love to come back to see the rest). It is really quite impressive, perhaps more than the structures was the geometry, astrology and science that were put into the buildings that is quite mind blowing and very, very clever. The site was started in about 500AD however a lot of it is in the process of being restored. An example of just how good the Mayan were is that at the time of the equinox every year using the shadows of the pyramid a body of a snake is created which joins to a head positioned at the bottom of the pyramid, it also helped them run crop rotations and lots of other things. There is also a lot of stuff similar to Machu Picchu like places where child sacrifices were carried out. In fact there is a natural cenote (huge whole in the ground which is a natural entrance to the underground river system) where many, many remains have been found - many children, as as the society got more desperate for rain they sacrificed what they considered more valuable gifts to the gods).

Perhaps the most mind blowing thing that we learned was that the Maya civilisation was extremely adept at mathematics and astronomy and they created a calendar which is more precise than the calendar that we use today.  It predicts that 21 December 2012 will be the end of the world and this is based on the fact that it will be the first time in 26,000 years that the sun will perfectly align with the centre of the Milky Way and thus will wobble on its axis - causing, they say, huge floods!!!  They also predicted 9-11, assassination of presidents, the landing of the spanish in South America etc etc. Remind me to have an early Christmas next year will you?

I'm a bit ashamed as that is all I'm going to write about Chichen Itza, yeah its a good site if you are in Cancun, the Mayans are an amazing people and the current crop of Mayans still have quite pure genetics meaning they are quite short and have very small necks due to the fact they carry everything using their heads which compresses their spines, natural selection has meant that it has been the best carriers and traders that have bred and the characteristics are still evident today. Also the colour of the skin and the eyes are those of an Amerindian our guide was very specific about such facts and amusingly explained these people call people like us and non Mayan Mexicans like our guide "giraffes".  It is such a strange concept to them.  Apparently during the last ice age the oceans receeded to the Poles that much that a corridor of land was created between North East Asia and Canada and due to following food hunter gatherers entered the last continent to be inhabited - the Americas.  Anyway enough of the history lesson.

The bus journey home was about 2 1/2 hours long but they played some awesome National Geographic videos so it didnt seem as long as it was. We got back at about 20:00 and pretty much went straight to bed.... that is after a can of Sol for 90p from the mini bar..... the what...... the mini bar, oh yes we are mincing it up now!


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Chicken Itza

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