Ole-Mexico travel blog

A massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan,...

Our group: Lutz from Germany, Jim & Barb, Terry & Cindy, Sandi,...

This side of the temple is fully restored, the others are not...

Steps are REALLY steep - we were not allowed to climb

This carving of a warrior has weathered well

Snakes are very significant in the Mayan culture

Handsome fella

Ball court - the elite sat up in the structure on top...

Steep steps up to the elite's viewing area

Warriors vied to get the ball through this ring and for the...

Skull relief on the Tzompantli - a platform where the heads of...

Every stone represents someone who was sacrificed - decapitated. It is a...

Soldier holding the head of either an enemy or a holy sacrifice

Warrior holding head with blood still flowing from it

Temple of the Warriors and the Thousand Columns

These columns were once covered by a roof

Many Mayan merchants were peddling their wares on the grounds

The Observatory

This one is called a Church

Amazing carvings still visible on the Church

Only Mayan people can sell goods at Chichen Itza

This caterpillar is huge - 4.5 to 5" long

Hubikú in Mayan language means "the great lord" or "nest of iguanas"...

A cenote is a sinkhole, especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of...

Cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

We were trying to get enough courage to plunge in

We were swimming with the catfish

Brrrrrr!

One can see the fish clearly as Terry swims

Our new friends at Ek'Balam Mayan Ruins

We were happy to be able to climb the steps of the...

Some of the carvings were still quite distinct

The steps were really, really steep and uneven

What a view from the top! We were able to see 30...

Going down was even scarier than up

Another view of the Acropolis

We found this collection of caterpillars on a nearby tree - amazing!

We climbed to the top of the temple across from the Acropolis

Our guide, Barb and Jim resting after our climb

Over 500' by 200' easily makes it one of the largest structures...


Today we were finally able to do the trip originally scheduled for Monday, postponed to Tuesday and finally accomplished on Friday although again without Jim who was still on the disabled list. Chichén Itzá was a Mayan city from 525, when it was founded, to 1100 AD. Its name means "mouth of the well of the Itzá" in reference to the sacred cenote, entrance to the world of the gods. The city controlled the salt works and trading ports and was very powerful. The temple is the main building of the city. Its structure shows knowledge of the Maya of mathematics, astronomy, geometry and acoustics. Its perfect symmetry represents the Mayan calendar: 18 bodies (the number of months, 20 days each) and 365 steps (days of the year), 5 of which were considered disastrous. Snake heads are at the foot of the steps of the pyramid of Kukulcán, which means plumed serpent. The Observatory has an astronomical function - the openings of its walls were oriented towards Venus and other stars. The observations made were very accurate. We also saw the Temple of the Warriors, with an impressive group of 1000 columns, the ball court and the Tzompantli. The ball court is the largest and best preserved in the entire Mesoamerican territory. The game was a religious ritual and the winner's reward was to be sacrificed to the gods. The Tzompantli is a platform where the heads of enemies were nailed. The wall shows reliefs of skulls and eagles that devour hearts. After Chichen Itza we went to an underground cenote at Hubiku. A cenote is a sinkhole. There are over 6,000 in the Yucatan Peninsula. 115 steps led us down to the brisk 64 degree water. Needless to say, after we finally sacrificed our bodies and threw ourselves in, our "swim" was short-lived! After lunch we finished the day with a stop at another Mayan Ruins - Ek'Balam settled in 100 BC. Unlike at Chichen Itza, here we were able to climb whatever we wanted. We were really foolish to want to climb but we did anyway. We started with the Acropolis. The limestone blocks that make up the steps are quite steep, uneven, and inconsistently sized with no railings of any kind. Up was scary but not quite as bad as down - REALLY scary! Although tourists sometimes do get hurt, we all made it just fine. It was our favorite part of our very long day!

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