Monday, January 2, 2017

November 30th: Chichen Itza

One of the things we'd paid for ahead of time when we booked our trip was a day-long excursion to Chichen Itza. The pickup time for the trip was so early that we didn't think we'd have time to go to one of the restaurants for breakfast, so we had ordered a room service breakfast the night before. Shortly before 7am...

...a whole bunch of tasty food showed up at our door. Nom!

We made our pickup time with no problem, and after transferring from a little van to a full size bus, we were on our way toward Chichen Itza. It took a couple hours to get there, but the bus was comfy, they gave us snacks, and our guides were great and spent a good chunk of time teaching us about Mayan culture.

We made a quick stop at a collection of Mayan shops for some souvenirs, then piled back on the bus. A short ride later...

...we were standing among Mayan ruins!

It was pretty cool to see how much stuff there was.

We started out at the base of the big pyramid, and our guide told us all sorts of stuff about the culture and what the buildings were used for. This pyramid apparently has another smaller pyramid inside, and if you stand near the base of it and clap your hands, it sounds kind of like a weird bird call and echoes back at you. We spent a little while here, then our guide gave us a few minutes of free time to wander around.

It was neat to see how part of the pyramid (on the right side of the picture) hadn't been fully restored yet.

Our guide took us over to the ball field, where they used to play a crazy sacrificial ball game. This hoop thing is pretty far up the wall, and they'd have to somehow get the ball through the hoop without using their hands. If I remember it correctly, I think he said the captain of the winning team would be sacrificed at the end of the game.

There were carvings along the bottom of the wall; you can just make out one of the players holding the captain's severed head.

We wandered away from the ball field and hung out in some shade while the guide told us a bit more about Mayan culture. The view over the wall was pretty neat.

After a little while, we went back to the main courtyard area and got a little more time to wander around. This building was my favorite; it's where they would sacrifice children. It was considered an honor to be sacrificed, and one child would be specifically chosen for the honor (I think the guide said it was usually the child of a great warrior, or something along those lines). There was a special statue/table thing on the top of the platform where it would take place, and it was still there, which was just bananas.

Even without knowing the background to it, the building was pretty impressive.

One of Mark's favorite things was this open area near the big pyramid. You could see that they were still finding things in the area, and he liked the idea that there was so much out there that they hadn't found yet.

We only had a few more minutes to wander around, so we started making our way back to the guides.

We did take a closer look at the big pyramid along the way. These snakes run down the side of the pyramid, and on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun casts a shadow that makes it look like the snake runs all the way down the side of the pyramid.

Mark pointed out that there was a small lizard hanging out on the snake's head when we were there.  :)

We met up with our guide and the rest of the group, then walked a few minutes to the Observatory.

It was pretty neat. Our guide talked for a few minutes, then gave us some more time to wander around.

There were some pretty fancy buildings off to one side. I'm not sure what they were for, but it was really cool to see how well the carvings have lasted over time.

We slowly made our way back to our guide, then walked back to the bus. It had been really cool to get to see so much!

We drove back to the Mayan shops, had a buffet lunch, then hopped back in the bus for a short drive to our last stop. We passed through a really neat city along the way; I forget the name of it, but the buildings looked really cool and there were all sorts of people hanging out in the park.

The last stop of the day was a cenote. It's an underground swimming hole in a deep sinkhole. We only had about an hour here and there were a ton of people, so I decided to check out the view while Mark took a quick dip.

The cenote is really deep, so most people seemed to either hang out near the ropes on the sides or would jump in from the platforms, then get right back out.

I spent at least 15 minutes trying to find Mark with no luck. There were so many people!

Mark and I eventually tracked each other down and made our way back to the bus for the drive back. It took a little while and we both dozed most of the way, but we lucked out and our resort was one of the first stops. It was getting a little late, but we did have enough time to grab quick showers before heading to one of the outdoor restaurants for dinner.

The band from the night before was back in the Plaza, so we hung out and watched them for a little while, There didn't seem to be as many crazy dancers as the night before, though, so we went back to the room to hang out in the backyard instead.

We had been out there for a little while when I saw some reflecty eyes appear from behind the bush. "Oh look," I said to Mark. "Kitties."


Turns out they were little raccoons. Very curious raccoons. I tried to shoo them away with my sandal, but didn't want to be too crazy since I didn't know if they would jump up at me. The raccoons apparently thought I was trying to hand them my sandal and started reaching out with their creepy little raccoon hands. Mark was dying laughing at me. At any rate, the raccoons eventually moved on and we eventually went inside and went to bed. (And Mark still won't let me forget about how bad I was at getting rid of the raccoons.)

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