Posts Tagged With: Chichen Itza

Don’t Miss Chichen Itza

The Maya are an indigenous Mesoamerican people whose civilization flourished as long ago as 1800 B.C. in southeastern Mexico and the northern areas of Central America in Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. The city of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula was established by the Maya people in the first half of the 5th century A.D. and was the center of civilization until its decline around 1200 A.D.

I’ve been to Mexico many times and I’ve visited the Maya archeological site at Tulum but this was my first visit to Chichen Itza. When I discovered it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, I was keen to see it. Our guide, Norma, provided many details about the Maya and the structures we viewed. For example, the Maya grew cacao for a chocolate drink, they had a complex written language recorded in books, they were brilliant astronomers, and played a game on a large court putting a ball through a hoop.

There are many descendants of the Maya people still residing in the Yucatan and their homes continue to be organically constructed of earth or wood with thatched roofs as shown in the photo below.

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Typical Maya dwelling

As we entered Chichen Itza, the main thoroughfare was lined with vendors selling their wares. We were on a tour with a guide so there was no opportunity to shop at that time even though we had learned to ask in Mayan, “Bahoosh?” (how much).

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Vendors lining the entrance to Chichen Itza

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High Priest’s Grave

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Wall along the Great Ball Court

 

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Ruin at Chichen Itza

 

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Norma, our guide

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Caracol, an observatory for astronomy

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Las Monjas

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Path through the jungle at Chichen Itza

The iconic El Castillo, or Pyramid of Kukulcan, is the building everyone goes to Chichen Itza to see. The four sides of this temple each contain 91 steps which total 364 plus one single step at the top for a grand total of 365 steps which equal the number of days in the Mayan calendar. I was under the incorrect assumption that we could climb to the top and felt some trepidation at the thought. A friend of mine told me about the experience. She said the steps were so narrow and steep that coming down she had to sit on the staircase and ease down step by step. Thankfully, visitors are no longer allowed to climb so we dodged that bullet.

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The Temple of Kukulcan or El Castillo

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Temple of Kukulkan behind us

Following our tour of Chichen Itza, we had a tasty buffet lunch at a restaurant designed to feed busloads of tourists.

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Fresh tortillas for lunch

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Buffet for a multitude

Following lunch, we stopped at Ik Kil for a swim in one of the most beautiful cenotes I’ve seen. A cenote is a sinkhole where the Maya and others located their towns to have a supply of fresh water available.

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Ik Kil

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Ik Kil

We declined to swim but enjoyed the experience, nevertheless. And best of all, Norma advised us before leaving the bus to be back by 2:30 saying, “If you’re not back on time, it’s okay.  We’ll be back here in two days and we’ll pick you up then.” No one was late!

Based on events from January 2016.

 

 

 

Categories: History, Mexico, Uncategorized, UNESCO | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Behaving Badly in Puerto Aventuras

We enjoyed our week in Puerto Aventuras on the Mayan Riviera of Mexico in January 2015 so much that we returned in January 2016 and extended our stay to two weeks. (If you want to read my previous posts about Puerto Aventuras, check posts from February and March 2015.) In the several days before our friend, Gail, joined us, we got reacquainted with Puerto Aventuras; walked to the grocery store, Super Chedraui, to stock up on essentials; discovered a Starbucks; and even found a Zumba class.

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View from our condo

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View of Dolphin Discovery from Hoo Haa Restaurant

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Sea Lions at Dolphin Discovery

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Marina at Puerto Aventuras

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Cannon outside the National Museum of Underwater Archeology

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Marina at Puerto Aventuras

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Our condo at Chac Al Hal is on the right side upper 2 floors

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No explanation required

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Beach in front of our condo

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Poolside

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Guacamole on the balcony

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Iguana sunning itself

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Party boat leaving the marina

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Dinner at Dos Chiles

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Starbucks

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Zumba

Knowing  our friend, Gail, wouldn’t care to accompany us, we decided to take a bus tour to Chichen Itza before she arrived. We booked our tour through Paradise Tours located in the lobby of the Omni Hotel. For $85 per person, our package included narrated bus transportation, entrance to Chichen Itza with a guided tour, buffet lunch on the return trip, and a stop at a cenote for a swim. As it turned out, we got even more for our money.

A 12 passenger van picked us up promptly at the Omni and then picked up another couple at a nearby resort. The driver stopped next at Barceló Resort but the passengers were not waiting. What?!!? The driver got on his phone, drove around the resort a bit, waited some more, walked around looking for them, walked inside the resort lobby, and phoned some more. Meanwhile, we were worried we’d miss our connection with the tour bus and I was getting more annoyed by the minute. This is why I usually avoid tours; there’s always someone that keeps the group waiting.

When the young couple finally appeared a half hour late and climbed into the van laughing and chatting, oblivious to their inconsideration, something in me snapped. Honestly, if they had apologized or seemed contrite or abashed, I’d have swallowed my irritation but instead, I blurted, “I hope you were sick in the bathroom and aren’t just an a**hole making us wait.” Oops. I couldn’t believe I’d said it. The words just escaped from my mouth. My bad. And their bad certainly didn’t excuse my bad.  I heard Pete, from the seat behind us, gasp and say quietly to his wife, “And you think I’m outspoken.”

Well, we made our connection with the bus but when we got there, the guide took us and the couple that made us wait aside. I thought, “Uh-oh, now what?” The guide told us that everyone else on the tour had paid more for their package which included breakfast and snacks and they would give us the same extras at no additional charge but not to say anything to the others. Then they seated us together, with a table between us facing each other. Awkward. I was somewhat embarrassed and when I introduced myself, my husband offered, “You can just call her A**hole.” Thankfully, that broke the tension and we had a pleasant 2-hour ride to Chichen Itza. We also enjoyed the additional perquisites including  Coronitas, little Coronas which are just the right size to take the edge off an awkward situation.

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So tell me what you think. Whether you think I was horribly rude or just a little out of line, feel free to weigh in below in the comments. Has anything like this happened to you on a tour?

Up next time: Chichen Itza

Based on events from January 2016.

 

Categories: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

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