Today it was a tour to Chichen Itza, now one of the modern 7 wonders of the world. I`d managed to book a tour that would then take me straight onto Cancun for my bus to Playa, instead of bringing me back to Merida. Unfortunately it became pretty clear pretty quickly that Victor, the driver and tour guide, hated tourists. I mean detested them. With a vengeance. Mexican people he was happy with, anyone outside of Mexico, fear for your life. In my instance, his loathing took the form of incessantly questioning me during his explanations; I`m not sure if he wanted to embarass me or just check I was listening. Certainly the spanish speakers weren`t undergoing the same inquisition! This however was coupled with his throwing his arm around me and pulling me in close every time he wanted to show me an iguana (he stopped after the second time I mysteriously managed to step heavily on his toes), and his trying to tie everything symbolic in the temple back to the female reproductive cycle (please don't ask, I`m trying to erase it from my mind). About 20 minutes into our walk around, he was referring to me as "la escocia gringa" with a sneer to the Mexican couple. He then said a couple of other things that led me to tell him my spanish was bad, but not non-existent. After that our relationship pretty much hit rock bottom! I arranged a time to meet him back at the bus, and headed off by myself, accompanied by 2 Columbian guys who'd also had enough of him!
In terms of people, Chichen Itza was just jam packed. You could hardly move for either tourists or vendors with goods laid out on all the pathways ("practically free today, senorita"). Again, it`s another beautiful set of ruins, though all of the temples are shut off and you can't climb any of them! I think I must have been spoiled by all the access at Palenque and Teotihuacan.
El Castillo, the main pyramid, is stunning; in very good condition and with beautiful carved serpents undulating down each of its four stairways. According to my guidebook there`s also (unusually) a fabulous inner chamber here, containing a carved Jaguar throne. However it too is closed to the public, though you can see the entranceway. I don't know if maybe they close everything now as it's a Wonder, to try and preserve it?
The ball court is incredible too; the largest area I`ve seen and practically complete. It`s the first ball court I`ve visited that has the scoring hoops complete and in situ. There must have been a good couple of hundred people inside, and there was still plenty of room. The acoustics were amazing too; tour guides from the big groups were persuading people to run to the opposite ends and shout to each other, and it was remarkable how clear it all was.
After wandering to the north and seeing the Observatory and the Nunnery, it was time to meet the charming Victor again and my connection to Cancun (thankfully he wasn`t taking me). I was loaded onto an American tour bus that had some spaces with Pedro (heading to Cancun for a connection to Cozumel and, as he put it, "beach, beer and babes"), and we looked wide eyed as they were dropped off at their massive hotels in Cancun. I mean, some of these places had escalators just to get to reception!