Penultimate Pyramid and Cenote visit

Trip Start May 07, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday 21stt May 2012
Day started well as we managed to get a Skype call with Jan and Emma, Emma was sent home from school as she'd been sick yesterday but seemed a lot better when we spoke to her. She’s been asking for us so I think she enjoyed our chat.

At breakfast we met a lady on her own who was originally from New Zealand but now lives in Oz who said it was nice to meet someone who spoke English. Just a shame we were checking out or I’m sure we would have met up again tonight.

Left Merida at 9am but had several other pickups today all Spanish, 2 couples and one lady on her own. Finally left the town at around 10am for our 1 1/2 drive to Chichen Itza. Once out of Merida it was motorway driving long straight road with nothing much to see, as we got nearer to Chichen Itza we went through a few small villages which are always interesting to look at.

Arrived at the site finally just after 11am and Raul took us round the main attractions and explained the history of the place, before having an hours free .time to explore. During our wanderings we had a couple of sharp showers but nothing to worry about.

Chichen Itza  was a Mayan Capital and is the most famous in Yucatan.  The first settlement date in the southern section  is uncertain but the northern section dates from the 11th to 13th centuries AD. It is believed that the site was invaded by the Toltecs, after the God King Quetzalcatl (Kukulcan) who had been exiled from Tula settled here.  At it’s height 100,000 people were living at the site which is hard to imagine today, although only a very small portion of the entire site has been excavated and open to the public.

The structures here are almost complete and therefore you get a good idea of what life here must have been like, especially when the site is full of visitors as it was early today. The main pyramid El Castillo is 79ft high but unfortunately due to erosion problems caused by the number of visitors each year you can no long climb to it’s summit. Inside there is a 2ndnpyramid which again is now closed to the public, but at both summer and winter soltice’s an optical illusion occurs on the north straircase making the appearance of a  plumed serpent decending  the stairs behind the two serpent heads at the base, and back again.

El Castillo is the most famous of all the structures built around 800AD it has a perfect astronomical design with four staircases facing the cardinal points, and many of it’s aspects relate to the Mayan calander, originally it was covered in plaster and painted red. Some of the paint can still be seen on several of the carvings.

The Ball Court is 550 ft long and is the largest ever found and has two original hops still in place. It is believed to have been some form of religious ritual rather than a game, the object being that two teams compete to get a heavy rubber ball (about the size of a mans head) through a tiny ring known as the goal. Often the losers were then sacrificed which was considered an honorable way to die.   

By the Temple of the Warriors there is a group of 1,000 columns which make up two sides of a huge plaza

This is now a World Heritage Site, very well maintained.  In our opinion it is on a par with Palenque but lacks the magical feel of the jungle environment. 

After our visit while waiting for the rest of the group we got chatting to an American couple who were staying at The Playa del Carmen near Tulum who told us yesterday it rained all day. So all we can do is hope for the best, and that the rain goes over and we do get our few days on the beach preferably in the sun.

After finishing our visit we went on an additional trip to the  Ik-kil cenote which looked so inviting after a hot morning walking in the sun, but  as we were going on to our hotel straight after lunch we decided not to go in. Another good reason was that all our swimwear had been packed in our main luggage which we didn’t want to have to search through.

We then went for a buffet lunch in a local restaurant before being dropped off at our hotel  Hacienda Chichen Itza which is lovely especially as we have been upgraded to The Thompson Suite which is a luxurious apartment with a sitting area, a hammock outside (if only it stopped raining) and a lovely sunken bath. After our long hot day it was really nice to be able to lay and soak a while. The rest of the group had to face the journey back to Merida but we could just sit back and relax. Lovely. Raul our driver/guide will come back for us in the morning and take us on to our final destination at Tulum.  

The plan for this evening is to go back to the site which is accessible directly from our hotel to see the Sound and Light show. At the moment however (5.15pm)  and we have just had a thunder storm but although the rain is still falling the birds are singing so we will just have to wait and see whether or not the show goes ahead, if not it will be an evening spent in the bar and an earlier night. At the moment Chac the rain god is in control and our fate is in his hands.

By 7pm Chac was behaving and the rain had almost stopped, the site opened again at 7.30 so with umbrellas in hand we set off for the entrance. Luckily the rain stayed away although the seats were wet, (oh well can’t have it all) and the show went ahead, we were so pleased.

Our original itinerary was to leave here at 11am in the morning which would give you a chance of another early visit before all the tourist arrive from Cancun, but we’ve decided to change that to a 9am start so we get to Tulum before lunch.
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