Friday, January 1, 2010

Off to Chichen Itza...

After spending the night in Valladolid, I walked back the "500" blocks to the bus station to catch the bus to Chichen Itza. Just missed the most recent one, so I had to wait an hour. That's okay...I needed a rest after the 500 blocks. (At least I didn't need to use the restroom.) Got on board and settled back for about a half an hour before we got there. I guess it will be a big show next April with Elton John...

You get out of the bus (or car or taxi or whatever you're in) and walk into a courtyard before you get to the gate where you have to pay. I didn't get a guided tour or anything and paid $11 USD for general admission. There are lots of vendors in the courtyard.


After you pay your admission, you go down a walkway to the ruins. Again, there are many vendors...

With souvenirs like this...

Then...BAM! You are there...

It's hard to explain the feeling. It's awesome, to say the least. I felt so incredibly small. If I was standing at the bottom of the stairway, my head would hit about the sixth step, so that puts things into perspective. It's hard to believe that something built in the 7th century is still standing...much less in excellent condition considering all that time.

The steps are SOOO narrow. I know the people were smaller back then, but it's hard to think of them running up and down these stairs. I had thought they they didn't allow tourists to climb the stairs due to the wear and tear on the stone. But another tourist told me that according to a travel book she read, someone fell down the stairs and died a few years ago, and that's why they don't let anyone climb it anymore. Damn clumsy tourists...I would have loved to go to the top.

So, I'll have to let my camera go to the top...

Not quite the same, however...

Since I didn't go on a tour, I don't know the details as to why things are the way they are...

Here's the back side...

I had originally thought that the big pyramid was the only structure. Boy, was I wrong! There is a lot more to this than I thought...

Is this where "tic-tac-toe" started out???

Lots of pillars...


I zoomed in on the little characters at the top of this building...

Here's the one on the left...

And the one on the right. I love his little quirky smile and dimples...

More pillars...




As I was looking at these buildings, I turned around and saw this again...

...and was totally overwhelmed by the massiveness against the beautiful sky.

Some details of other buildings...






Here's the end of the area where they used to play "ball"...

These blocks are all numbered...don't know why...

Apparently, they used to throw some kind of ball through these holes in the wall...

My son, Jared, was looking at my pictures and he said, "And they used to kill the losing team." I laughed and said, "Yeah, right." He said, "No, really." Whoa. That's serious sports. So I did a little search on-line and found that apparently the winning captain was actually the "loser":

"The Mayans were great sportsmen and build huge ballcourts to play their games. The Great Ballcourt of Chichén Itzá is 545 feet long and 225 feet wide overall. It has no vault, no discontinuity between the walls and is totally open to the sky.

Each end has a raised "temple" area. A whisper from end can be heard clearly at the other end 500 feet away and through the length and breath of the court. The sound waves are unaffected by wind direction or time of day/night. Archaeologists engaged in the reconstruction noted that the sound transmission became stronger and clearer as they proceeded. In 1931 Leopold Stokowski spent 4 days at the site to determine the acoustic principals that could be applied to an open-air concert theater he was designing. Stokowski failed to learn the secret. To this day it has not been explained.

It is not hard to imagine a Mayan King sitting here presiding over the games. Legends say that the the winning captain would present his head to the losing capitan, who then decapitates him. While this may seem a strange reward, the Mayans believed this to be the ultimate honor. The winning captian getting a direct ticket to heaven instead of going through the 13 steps that the Mayan's believed they had to go through in order to reach heaven."

Jared and I agreed it would be interesting to go back in time and witness what went on back then. (But I don't think I'd actually want to participate in it.)



So, now back to today's world. After toting my 20-pound backpack through the several miles I covered at Chichen Itza, I decided I needed a refreshing beverage from the snack bar. Little did I know that they would be offering entertainment. There were three "dancers" doing a clog-type step with a tray of beers and glasses on their heads. I'm sorry, but does that seem really crazy after witnessing the incredible history of Chichen Itza...or is that just me??? Who knows...maybe they had serfs (or whatever they called slaves back then) run the equivalent of Coronas up and down those tiny little steps on top of their heads?!


Well, it just seems kind of silly in my opinion...but they did look nice in their Mexican garbs.

Now, just a few pics of the cenote I visited after Chichen Itza. I grabbed a cab who took me to the closest one...Ik Kil. The grounds were very pretty and well-kept. There's a restaurant under the palapa on the left, but I didn't stay for lunch because I had a taxi waiting.



I didn't go swimming, but it was fun to watch...



The cab driver took me back to Chichen Itza where I wanted to buy a book to become more knowledgeable on the subject. When I went to buy my bus ticket back to Playa del Carmen, the ticket agent told me the bus just left but he would find out if another bus would take me to Playa. So out we ran to the buses where he had an intense discussion with a bus driver and lo and behold...I'm on on this bus back to Playa. So, no book about Chichen Itza, as I settle in the back seat for the long drive back.

The adventure continues...

5 comments:

Paul said...

Wow....what an interesting take on Chichen Itza. It seems to me, discounting honor, the loser was the winner--at least Captainship--in the sports games. There's something to be said about keeping one's head during sporting events. I'm waiting for the next installment.

Life's a Beach! said...

Great post Deb! Love all the photos, and the dancing beer servers -- well, that's nuts! : ) We were at Chichen Itza in 2002 and climbed El Castillo. We heard then they would be closing the climb to tourists because of erosion of the steps. But I'm sure more than one clumsy tourist has fallen. I scooted down the top half of the steps on my butt!

Vee said...

Interesting, Deb. Wonder how much of a difference a guide would have made?

Nancy said...

As usual you have some excellent photos to remember your trip. And they weren't full of tourists. It looked like you had the place to yourself.

Wanda said...

Great shots Deb! Chichen Itza is amazing, isn't it.

Did you see the cenote there? Beautiful!! About 10 years ago divers found all kinds of jewellry and precious metal artifacts at the bottom.

They also had a ritual of sacrificing young women by tossing them into the cenote.