Temples and Secret Swims

October 8

Day 9: Chichen Itza

Up and out by 7am for a day trip. We grabbed coffee first and then hit the road for the two hour drive to Chichen Itza – a complex of Mayan ruins on the Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city, which thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. Graphic stone carvings survive at structures like the ball court, Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls. 

History

Chichen Itza was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for over 1,000 years. The Sacred Cenote (a large natural well or limestone sink hole) was holy to the ancient Rain God “Chac”. 

About 987 the ruler of the Toltec people of central Mexico came here, and with his Maya allies made Chichen Itza the most powerful city in the Yucatan. The ruler called himself “Kukulcan”, the name of the Mesoamerican Feathered Serpent deity (also known as “Quetzalcoatl”) and Chichen Itza became a center for worship of that god as well. More buildings were built here in a mixture of Maya and Toltec styles. 

About 1221 the Maya revolted against the rulers of Chichen Itza. The city was not abandoned, but as political power shifted elsewhere it declined and no major new buildings were constructed. The reasons for the final abandonment of the city are unknown, but spanish documents show that the city was already abandoned on their arrival.

The structures of Chichen Itza were overgrown with jungle and slowly decayed until major archaeological projects began in the 1920s. Since then, more of the ancient structures have been cleared and restored and more and more tourists come to visit.

The Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo — the most famous landmark of Chichen Itza. This was a temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan. It is nicknamed “The Castle”. Sculptures of the Feathered Serpents run down the sides of the northern staircase, and are set off by shadows from the corner tiers on the Spring and Fall equinox. That would be a site to see.

Our guide, Walter, showed us that if you clap a certain distance from the steps, it makes the sound of a local bird!

Great Ballcourt – there are 7 courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame at Chichen Itza. This one is by far the largest and most impressive, not just at the site but in all of ancient Mesoamerica.

Platform of the Skulls

Sacred Cenote of Sacrifice

If you intend to visit this site, listen to all of the guidebooks and get here early- even though it was only 10 am it was ridiculously humid and hot and this is fall! At times we felt like we were melting

It was definitely time for a welcome dip

in a cenote (sink hole) linked to underground river systems.

Cenote Ik-Kil

located close to Chichen Itza, on the highway to Valladolid. It is one of the most beautiful cenotes of Mexico.

In order to reach the water you have to climb down 26 metres. The water is 50 metres deep while its diameter is 60 metres – so it felt very eerie swimming around a seemingly bottomless pit.

The waters of Ik Kil were considered sacred by the Mayans who performed human sacrifices to their rain god here. Bones and jewelry were found in the deep waters of this cenote by archaeologists. I didn’t know this at the time of swimming 😂

Steve, Josh, Scotty, Rosie and Paula bravely jumped in from a platform while the rest of us very gingerly entered the water around the edge and tight rope walked along a rope to head to the centre.

Lunch

Was prepared in the traditional Mayan way. We had bean soup, tortilla with pork and chorizo. Delicious! We were allowed to take a peep into the kitchen and see the women working. (And inspect for hygiene purposes 🤣)

Vallodolid

Spanish colonial city

Suytun Cenote

Time for another swim in the very cold and fish filled waters of this cenote.

Sam overcame her fear of fish and swam even though she knew they were there and could even see them!

As for the rest of us- they even nibbled on our toes.

My private photographer took these wonderful shots.

Then it was the drive home, and take away burritos from Burrito Amor for dinner.

2 thoughts on “Temples and Secret Swims

  1. Great photos by your personal photographer #signhimup love them 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
    Looks like u r having a ripper of a time 🎂

    Liked by 1 person

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