Chichen Itza and Merida
Trip Start Aug 31, 2007
51Trip End Ongoing
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The ruins are very impressive, especially the main pyramid. We could climb to the top the last time I was there, but an 80 year old lady fell and died a few years ago as there are no safety railings, so they have closed it now. They are still reconstructing some of the buildings in the area as they are so badly damaged, but there are many that are in good condition. Chichen Itza was used by the Mayans over 1000 years ago as a religious area and it`s pretty big!!! Our guide was excellent and very knowledgable ... but there is still a lot that they don`t know.
The main temple was constructed by the common people and slaves on the directive of the priests, and on the 21st of March and September in the afternoon, the setting sun creates a snake`s body down the side of the north staircase which meets with a carved head at the bottom ... pretty clever considering how long ago it was created! We saw the ball court where they played a game where they hit a small rubber ball through a hoop high in the walls using only their body (no hands) and a bat. The captain of the winning team was willingly sacrificed to the gods by the captain of the losing team ... a great honour supposedly! I wouldn`t play well if it was me. There is a giant cenote (limestone hole in the ground filled with water) where they used to throw their sacrifices to the gods ... including people. They have found many skeletons when excavating the bottom of the cenote! It is a very interesting place!!!
After we had finished at the ruins we had another bus ride to the town of Merida. For dinner that night we went to a great restaurant called Panchos ... they do a special Mayan coffee made with coffee, kahlua and tequila ... it`s a bit of a show as they get a few gravy boats, set it on fire and spill the liquid from one gravy boat to the other ... you can just imagine the ancient Mayans doing exactly the same thing!!!
The next day we went on a little trip to swim in some cenotes (no one was sacrificed into these ones!). It started off a little oddly, as two young americans turned up who looked like Mormons and seemed to be coming on the trip with us. It turned out they were our tour guides and it was a uniform, but they were very strange. It was about a 1 hour car ride to a tiny town in the middle of no where, and then we had to jump in little horse drawn carts that were on rails! We fit 4 in a cart and set off to our first cenote. We had to climb down quite a few stairs into the cave to get to the water, which was an amazing blue and so clear. There were a few little fish so you could snorkel, but it was very deep and dark the further back into the cave you went, so I didnt snorkel for too long. At the next cenote you could jump into the water from a hole in the top of the cave ... it was about a 15m drop ... I wouldnt even do the 2 meter jump, but Chrisso did the big one twice!!! The roots from a tree at the top of the hole in the cave had grown the 15m down into the water, it was awesome, and again, the water was so blue. Unfortunately there were a few large groups of loud american tourists and the third cenote was closed so we probably didnt stay as long as we would have liked.
It was Mexican Revolution Day so that night we were treated to an enormous parade, which had many people in traditional dress, people on horses, sporting groups, numerous marching bands and our favourite was the acrobatic police! They built amazing human pyramids and could jump over two motorbikes at once. Amazing!
There isn`t much else to do in Merida so we left the next day!