This wasn’t just a beach holiday, as Cancun is an excellent base for checking out some cool historical sites. First stop was a cenote, a deep water hole that is naturally formed. Some of them are over 50 meters deep. Some people went to take a dip as relief from the hot weather, but I was happy to just look.
Next stop was Valladolid, the first Spanish colonial town in Mexico. Architecture is Spanish-influenced, and according to the guide, most of the buildings were built from stones from old Mayan temples. This includes the oldest church in Mexico
Finally, we got to Chichen Itza, the large archaeological site of Mayan civilization. Surprisingly, for a site of this stature, there weren’t many tourists. When it was first found, nature had taken its toll, and most of the stones were on the ground. It was rebuilt by Edward Thompson, who was hailed for his great work, but also shamed for being an artefact thief.
The guided tour was very interesting. Without the guide’s explanation, I would never have known that the Kulkukan Temple was meant to be a calendar, since the steps on each side add up to the number of days in a year, and the big steps add up to the number of weeks in a year. Also, during the solstice, a ‘snake’ created by the shadow also appears to descend from the steps, marking the change of the seasons. It was also built in such a way that if you clapped your hands in front of the building, there will be an echo that sounds like a jaguar.
After reading about the Mayan ball game in a class, I did finally get to see the ball court, which was pretty cool! I must really admire the ball players – they could only hit the ball with their elbows and hips! Although I am not sure if winning or losing is a good thing, since it involves someone dying at the end of the game.
And on that note – apparently, human sacrifices isn’t a Mayan practice. It was done in Chichen Itza, as it was a combination of Mayan practice, and the Teltums – a tribe of the Aztecs. Therefore, many of the carvings have eagles and jaguars, as it symbolizes the union of the two civilizations.
And of course, at the end of the tour , the tour guide had to reveal something – much of the information was obtained, because of things found in the cenote that we were at earlier. This includes skeletons. Thank goodness I didn’t swim then! All in all, it was a very interesting tour!
Evening was also well-spent. I stay at a hostel that is near a plaza where locals hang out. Pretty much every evening, they have street vendors selling yummy snacks like churros and chips. There was also a local food center there, which sold Mexican delights at a steal. On weekends, they sometimes have music performances. It is nice to people watch at the plaza.
Chichen Itza – Quite empty, no?
Not all of it was nicely restored – some of the stones are now Valladolid
Local Taco Stand
Cheap and Tasty Tacos – about 2 USD