Chichen Itza

Trip Start Feb 09, 2012
Trip End Feb 24, 2012

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Friday, February 17, 2012

We pulled ourselves out of bed early, determined to be at the ruins before hoards of tourists began arriving from Cancun. First a lovely buffet breakfast. The mornings have been delightfully cool, just right for breakfast outdoors. The platters of fresh fruit seduce me every time, cannot get enough - papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple sometimes mango, sometimes kiwi, always ripened to perfection, sweet treats.

We did get to the site early and were confused by the entrance fees, two tickets needed, purchased from two individuals sitting side by side but apparently working for different agencies . . . One entrance fee and one fee a tax; you need to keep both tickets with you while in the park.

Inside the park we immediately made what could have been a wrong turn to the cenote, a couple who had visited the day before steered us clear suggesting we might want to take the other path to the main temple are before the buses arrived. She had heard they were expecting 20,000 visitors from the cruise ships in Cancun.  We took her advice.

First impression on entering the main plaza was the enormity of the temple of Kulkulcan towering over the area. We worked our way around the various sites and quickly realized that the little map from our hotel does not begin to tell the story of how large this city was.

We virtually had the place to ourselves and the morning light was soft and favorable for photography. As we strolled along the paths locals were beginning to set up tables for the day, apparently this is still a thriving market area. Local vendors pulling carts larger than they were laden with goods to sell were. Coming from all directions. By the time we had finished there we more people but the crowds, at least where we were, we're not oppressive. All the paths were by now lined with vendors selling wooden masks, Mayan calendars, magnets of all sorts, embroiled blouses, tee shirts, silver jewelry, onyx figurines and chess sets. Calls of "come and look, almost free" came from each vendor. The quality of the merchandise ranged from finely crafted to tacky and poorly made, and some was probably imported from China. Some of the vendors were carving and painting.

By about noon we were done for the morning. As we approached the main plaza it was quite a different scene, now filled with people.

We returned to the hotel to enjoy lunch and then retire to an air conditioned room for siesta before returning to the site for the late afternoon light. We split a GIANT hamburger and each had a bowl of the local sopa de limo, delicious but the soup would have been plenty.  Sopa de limo is a Yucatecan specialty a tomato based broth with bell peppers, onions, tomato and lime.

 Around 4 p.m. we returned to the park for a few more photos before the park closed at 5 p.m.

A light show in the evenings is included in the price of the tickets and we enjoyed the one at Uxmal so once more entered the park around 7 p.m.. There is an entrance right on the hotel grounds so it is so easy to come and go. We had expected lights on the trail but apparently arrived a little too early, the tail was dark. As we neared the plaza the lights came on and made walking much easier. Twice on the short walk someone checked our tickets and then as we neared the plaza a gentleman checked our tickets again and as near we we could tell he was saying no, too early, go back to the main park entrance but we were not sure why or if we must once again purchase another ticket. The couple who had been behind us were also somewhat confused and they spoke Spanish. We walked back to the entrance and waited until they officially opened the park for the show. As at Uxmal, the lighting of the temples was accompanied by a folkloric story and music.  We enjoyed the beautiful evening under a star filled sky listening to the story of Kulkulcan, trying to imagine what it might have been like in the time that this city was inhabited.

We are both enjoying all the waking, especially evenings. I can't think of anywhere at home where I would feel so comfortable strolling around in late evening. We had commented on the same thing in Merida where we also felt quite safe strolling through not just the main plaza areas but also some of the back streets.

Dinner suprema de camaron!
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