15 May 2017

Hearts and Stones: Chichen Itza

When me and Vincas learned that we're going to Mexico, we opened Google Maps and just looked for objects that we could visit during our trip. We already had booked tours to Tulum and Coba (more about these two places - in upcoming posts), so the one logical thing that could be done was to go to Chichén Itzá - one of the largest Maya cities, that now is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and see the famous pyramid named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 




We planned to departure as early as possible, since we wanted to avoid the period when Sun is usually the most scorching. That meant that we had to wake up somewhere around 4 a.m. It was not as hard as it sounds, because our mild jet lag wasn't gone. After the light breakfast we felt quite ready to hit the road. The distance between Cancun and Chichén Itzá is around 200 kilometers, so we calculated to arrive there on opening time (8 a.m.). Well, I must say in advance - it didn't worked the way we planned.


One of the main reasons why this plan had failed - we didn't know about the toll roads and didn't have enough pesos. When we reached the entrance we were informed that it's impossible to go further without paying. Turning around was also not an option, because we were in a way, separated by a wall. I will skip the details, but all in all, finally we got to travel through all sorts of villages to reach our destination. We leaned a valuable lesson (and Spanish word cuota which means "fee") that in Mexico cash is essential.




Going through villages let us see other faces of Quintana Roo and Yucatan states. Let me just say that it's far from touristy: wooden huts, barefoot kids, big dogs wandering next to the road, shabby shops and their hand-painted signs, people riding "Maya Limos" - bicycles with a cart attached in front... All this left me astonished. The contrast between posh resorts and these living conditions is just immense. And, basically, there is no middle ground.


But, at last, we reached our destination! At first we thought (ok, I thought) that a booklet about this site is enough and we don't need a guide. I was mistaken. Grab a guide as soon as you enter into the grounds, they usually wait people at the entrance. For a price of around 30 € you can get a guide who speaks perfect English and can tell you more than your paper one can. 





Chichén Itzá is a gigantic complex of various buildings. Built entirely of stone, it somehow connects with the whole civilization that once thrived in here. Ancient Maya people were quite cruel (one could say - "stone-hearted") and I guess many of you had heard about their rituals when hearts were offered as a sacrifice to gods. 
   Temple of Kukulkan is the most famous building in the complex. It stands in the middle of an open field and looks majestic from all four sides. 




There's The Great Ball Court where, according to one of theories, winning the game was equal to death sentence (decapitation). 




Two hundred meters away from the main site is The Sacred Cenote which was attended during the times of drought in order to sacrifice various objects or people.




Since we came to Chichén Itzá later than we have planned, we had to endure the hottest period of the day, including 38°C. I am so happy that we didn't forget to apply our sunscreen constantly, otherwise we would have been burned by the sun quite badly. Water was also an essential thing, but I was so happy that there were spots where we could buy ice cream! Instant refresh! 




We left Chichén Itzá with the best impressions and started wondering what we'll see in other archaeological sites. So, stay tuned for a post about Tulum!



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