Chichen Itza

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
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Trip End Jun 25, 2008


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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, October 12, 2007

Merida
Our next stop was the  capital of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida.

We were staying in a cool hotel called Hotel Trinidad complete with hammocks, a rooftop spa, funky art, resident kittens and free coffee.

After delicious burritos and margaritas, we checked out a street festival. I got roped into dancing with a little Mexican man who was a foot shorter than me with a huge pot belly (we nicknamed him Humpty Dumpty).

Everyone was taking the  dancing very seriously and not even making eye contact with their dance partners.  Pretty soon my partner was twirling under my arm. I wasn't sure if it was a Mexican thing for the man to twirl or a practical decision based on height. I can't say I was sad when the song ended.

Chichen Itza
The next day we took a trip to these famous ruins. Talk about a tourist mecca, there were lines of buses and people everywhere.

Some of the buildings were pretty impressive but it was so hot I was having trouble keeping interested and  due to renovations we couldn't climb up the main pyramid to get an overview of the whole site. 

It has the largest ball game court in Mesoamerica and the big pyramid in the middle (Pyramid of Kukulkan) represents the Mayan calendar. Twice a year at the equinox it gets triangles of sunlight and shadows projected onto the northern staircase  that looks like the body of the serpent going up from the head at the bottom.

Other sites of note were the huge cenote (sink hole) that was an important source of water and offering place to sacrifice people and treasures, though I wouldn't have thought it a good idea to mix sanitation with sacrifice.

The site also had buildings and colonnades with roofs  supported by thousands of columns and a structure called  the Platform of Skulls that has stone walls with molded skulls.

One of the other interesting things about the site is it mixes Mayan architecture and imagery with Toltec influences with lots of feathered serpents and eagles and jaguars eating human hearts and reclining chacmool statues, with a hollow in their belly for offerings.

The site was conquered in 987  by the Toltecs, which explains the presence of their images.

Just as we reached the South side of the site with the observatory there were massive thunderclaps and the heavens opened.

The raindrops were the largest I have ever seen.  I would have thought they were hail stones if it wasn't so stinking hot.

Luckily we had our bags with us so we could change into dry clothes for the bus trip to Playa del Carmen.
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