Sunday, September 28, 2008

Viva Mexico - Part Tres

Day #3 - Chichen Itza!!!!!

I hope you're not tired of hearing every detail of our vacation yet. I'm not even halfway done!

So . . .

the day began EARLY. We boarded a tour bus and attempted to remain calm! It was the day of mucho anticipation . . . the autumnal equinox . . . and we were headed to Chichen Itza.

It was a very long ride through dense jungle. We left the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and entered the state of Yucatan. We were slightly alarmed to see the Mexican military along the sides of the road wearing machine guns. Apparently, the drug violence in that particular part of the nation is quite severe. Gulp! (My research hadn't indicated this problem.)

We stopped at a BUFFET restaurant that had the best paprika pork I have ever had. (Actually, the only paprika pork I've ever had. And I am not even a huge fan of pork. We were told it was a regional specialty and it was de-lish!)

The restaurant had Mexican dancers who, of course, wanted a tip when they were done.

It was raining on and off during the bus ride (which was nearly 3 hours long.)

We arrived at the Cenote Segrado . . . (and it stopped raining!)
(Sacred Cenote)

It was the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen. This picture doesn't even do it justice because of the difficult lighting situation. It was so perfect it looked like a movie set.

Just in case you don't know, cenotes are common in the Yucatan region of Mexico. They are sinkholes where ground water is exposed. The Yucatan doesn't have any above ground rivers - only underground. Interesting, huh?

He said the water was really COLD.

My big regret of the trip - I didn't swim in the cenote. I was so anxious to actually get to Chichen Itza that my 'one-track mind' was irritated we were making this stop. By the time I saw how gorgeous it was, it was too late to change into my swim suit.

Are you ready for your history lesson today? I'll try to keep it short.

This place is called the Cenote Segrado (Sacred Cenote) because the ancient Mayans used it for human sacrifice. In 1904, Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the bottom of this cenote and found human skeletons (some children - that makes me sad) and sacrificial objects. The Mayans made sacrifices here to the god of water, Chaak.

FINALLY, we arrived at Chichen Itza. I followed around our tour guide like a puppy, thirsty for every drop of information he was giving, always moving to the front so I didn't miss a word.

The Mayans were great sportsmen and built huge ballcourts to play their games.

The ballcourt was 545 feet long and 225 feet long!


. . . and you thought Ohio State football players were talented

Many archeologists believe the captain of the WINNING team would present his head to the losing team's captain. To the Mayans, this was a "sacred death" and considered an honor.

Other "sacred deaths" included dying while giving birth to your first child (I only thought I was dying - doesn't count,) and hanging oneself. (no thanks)

A carving of the beheading process.

AM I BORING YOU?? I hope not. Don't you think it is fascinating???

See the ballcourt off to the left?

And now for the main event:

The Temple of Kukulkan

The Mayans were quite advanced in their knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. We only know a small fraction of their secrets thanks to Friar Diego Landa, the Franciscan who burned most of their writings, believing them to be satanists.

This is a shot of all the people gathering on the lawn next to the temple to see the equinox effect.

The energy in the air was absolutely electric.

There were several points during the day when I stopped just to take it all in - this was one of them. It was one of several moments I got tears in my eyes and honestly thanked God for the privilege to see such a place.

Did the equinox effect happen? Click below to find out.

(Aren't you glad I discovered this feature on my camera? Do you want me to shut up now?)

I wasn't too disappointed. The equinox happens twice every year . . . just another reason to go back someday. ha!

In all honesty, it was so HOT and steamy there. If it had been sunny it would have been borderline unbearable. The clouds were a blessing in disguise.

To see what should have happened during the equinox, click here

I'll shut up now.


Anonymous said...

History lesson ends.... now.

I like the drunk posts.. They are pretty funny. Hopefully you have more :)


Mary said...

Awww, too bad it was so cloudy. Looks amazing, too bad I'll never go on vacation somewhere over 70 degrees! :) Glad you had fun!