Chichen Itza - A World Heritage Site
I first read about Chichen Itza in Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels. Fifth grade.
Chichen Itza is the most thoroughly explored and restored of the Mayan sites. It was an urban center and a major ceremonial site from the 11th through the 13th centuries. The major structures - El Castillo, The Temple of the Warriors with its 1000 columns, the "Nunnery", ball court, and the "Observatory" are among the most distinctive surviving Mayan structures.
We're staying at Mayaland, an upscale resort built in the 1920's that is actually on the site of the ruins. We're facing the observatory when we exit the hotel and have a private entrance into the ruins. Mayaland has hosted other notables beside the Geezer - the Shah of Iran, Princess Grace and Prince Ranier, various queens, premiers, as well as pop stars. This is for those of you who believe that the Geezer only stays in 12 bed mixed dorms at hostels.
A major feature of Chichen is the Sacred Cenote, site of an annual sacrifice of a young maiden and her accompanying warrior to the Mayan Rain God Chuc. The contrast between the Mayas' attainments and the sacrifice of their young reminds me of the often radical inconsistences of civilizations. Including our own.
Chichen is a major tourist destination. Hundreds of vendors converge on the site throughout the morning to display their wares. Nothing of interest for me.
We return at night for the Sound and Light show. These have improved a great deal since my first at Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City in 1968. We were all given flashlights and told to wave them at the pyramids. Just kidding.