3 down, only 4 Modern Wonders to go

Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Friday, January 8, 2010

Note: We've come back to civilisation so we will be uploading quite a few blogs in the next few days. We know we're quite behind but we hope they're worth the wait. Be prepared for the barrage that's coming.

Today is a travel day to Playa del Carmen but before we get to the glitzy and cheesy beachfront, we stopped by at Chichen Itza to check out one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. We were having a chat about them in the bus and quite a few of our group had seen quite a few of the Modern Wonders. For anyone who doesn't know about them here’s the quick list:

Colosseum in Italy

Taj Mahal in India

Christ the Redeemer in Brazil

Chichen Itza in Mexico

Great Wall in China

Macchu Picchu in Peru

Petra in Jordan

So far, we’ve done the first two on that list, Chichen Itza will make it three, after we stop by Brazil and Peru we’ll have five out of 7 done. Leaving the Great Wall in China and Petra in Jordan. Pretty cool. The list does seem to be swayed in favour of Latin America though. And for those interested – the wheels have already started turning in Nic’s mind about organising our next trip (probably to China) and we’re not even 1 month into this one!

The main time temple that’s the superstar of Chichen Itza gives a spectacular display during sunrise and sunset of the two equinoxes every year. It’s during these two special times that the time temple shows a serpent climbing up or down (depending on sunrise or sunset) the template. This is done as a contrast between the angle of the sun at that time of the year and the steps of the temple. You can youtube it here.


That’s when Chichen Itza goes a little crazy as every man and his dog is trying to get in to see this event in person.

When they say, "They don’t build them like they used to" they were talking about these guys. I can’t even start to comprehend what’s needed to build something like this. You’ve got to plan like crazy, observe the sun for quite some time in that particular spot then build a structure of this magnitude and scale to almost inch perfect precision. I mean these guys didn’t build some sun dial in the ground then move it around a few times to get the right spot. When you consider the stone they had to harvest as well as the trees they had to chop down and burn to make the mortar, you start to see the undertaking of such a project.

There’s also a level of commitment that is lacking in a lot of what we see today. One government or leader will pledge some infrastructure project for an area of Sydney at a certain cost, only to have the political winds change and the project is pulled for whatever is topical to win votes. It’s little wonder why we lose faith in our leadership or have a high level of cynicism.

Anyway, back to the modern wonder. The main Pyramid of Kukulkan (which I wrote about earlier) hits you nice and early as you enter the site. You go through the gates, walk around the corner, through some trees then it hits you right in the face. We were there early and already the crowd was starting to build up. Photographing this place is hard because there are a lot of trees that get in the way and the place sees so much foot traffic that it’s hard to keep the surroundings looking nice. While it’s nice that to get from one complex to another, you get to walk through roads that are amongst trees, it’s anything but quiet as they have allowed the locals in to sell souvenir. They are lined up on nearly every walkway and they’re all selling the same stuff. Hammock, carving, mask, shirt, doll, another hammock, more carvings, same mask etc. There are also people walking up to you and trying to sell to you in person. Right when you’re looking around some ruins. I can’t recall in recent memory when I was walking around some ruins then paused and thought to myself, “Man, I could really use a hammock or a mask right now. Can you see anyone close by?” It’s a tricky one because you can understand that these people need to make a living and that we’re just guests here but I’d pay more to fund a purpose built market for them to sell their goods. They’d also stand more of a chance to get me to buy something.

If reading this entry has made you add Chichen Itza to your travel wish list, try to plan your trip for the 3rd of April. You’ll also be able to see Elton John, who has decided that holding concerts in stadiums and arenas just doesn’t cut it anymore, he has now decided to perform in front of the time temple at Chichen Itza. He joins such performers as Placido Domingo and Sarah Brightman who have also held concerts there. Nic’s waiting for Robbie Williams so she can come back. I’m not sure if the average Mexican will be able to afford tickets – so it might be a good opportunity to check out his concert and at least you won’t have to queue up or keep hitting refresh on the Ticketek website, only to find out that the concert sold out in 2 minutes. Note – no guarantee that the cost of admission into Chichen Itza is included in the price of the concert ticket.

In our next blog entry, we make our way to Playa del Carmen where there are plenty of women here to take up the plastic surgery torch in Michael Jackson’s absence and we get our first dive of the trip in!
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Judi Becker on

Hi kids

We are enjoying your blogs very very much and always looking forward to the next one. Mum thinks Colin is very clever in his writing and I gotta agree - you describe everything well and never boring. When you were in Merida, did you see Central Hotel? It was or is the Governer's Mansion and Aaron's cousin is there studying. She only left on the weekend so I am sure she wasnt there same time you were, but just curious if you saw it when you were sightseeing. Pretty sure it would be pointed out by a guide. Keep up the great travel Doco's and wonderful pics. There maybe a future as a photogragher for Nat Geo perhaps??? - Love to you both...Mum.xxxxx

Nic on

Didn't see the hotel - it's a pretty big town. Glad everyone is liking the blog and pics, we just wish we could keep them coming more regularly, but there's just not enough hours in the day and plus we have to hunt down Internet cafes.

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