Monday 23rd August
We left miami quite reluctantly as there was an all night party under our room so we've not had much sleep.
Our flight was cancelled and our tour operator didnt notify us of this. Neverheed the rescheduled flight was four hours later than original so at worse we were wandering around aimlessly for four hours more than we usually do. Its a great feeling looking out the departure lounge seeing thunder and lighting across the airport and beyond..cant wait for this flight 2 hours on 1/4 full plane which was a bonus as we had 3 seats each. time to catch up on lost sleep.
Touchdown and its starting to feel more and more like an adventure rather than holiday. Immigration control was extremely busy as there was 2 uk flights landing at the same time so we got held up a little. The 30 minute taxi from airport to Cancun was intersting, firstly the driver spoke to us all the way telling us 'go there''go here' 'dont go there' a very helpful chap indeed. secondly the area in cancun where we are staying isnt exactly paradise compared to the plush holiday resorts we could
see in the distant beachfront. Well, we are backpackers after all. We arrived at Hostal Quetzal. from the outside it had painted murals and graffiti walls on opposite side of road...oh what have we done jill?
Once inside all was forgiven. This place is lovely. Very rustic. An old house that had been converted into a hostel with lovely back garden which was overgrown, but neat and colourful with exotic plants and trees. Again we got jammy as our room was still occupied so they put us in the top floor presidential suite without extra charge. result!! The room was awash with vibrant colours, very mexican, and had a balcony aswell as access to the rooftop. Perfect. We unpacked and i went for a walk alone to do a bit of recon! within ten minutes i had sussed out the nearest shop for water and beers plus the pickup point for tomorrows bus to chichen itza. I spent the rest of the night washing my underwear in the sink. Domesticated or what? i used my travel washing up patches. thanks mum! x We went down for dinner at what we thought was 8pm but actually it was 7pm
as we didnt realise that we lost an hour flying from the states. Dinner was lovely, Bbq cooked tuna with rice and carrots. 16 of us sat down for tea at one table and we met folk from usa, england,france,poland and germany. The english couple had been living in Edinburgh for 6 years until recently, it was a nice ice breaker at our end of the table. The drinks were flowing by now so jill and i made our excuses and headed off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.
Tuesday 24th August
Oh..im so not a morning person. slept walked round to pick up point. We got on the shuttle bus that took us to a bigger bus a half hour away and here we stocked up on water and got a decent seat on the bus which was a modern bus, clean and tidy. It was the same colours as nemo out of the film finding nemo. orange with black and white stripes.cool! Once we set off the bus tour guide introduced himself as Jorge and spoke spanish then english as we were outnumbered. we were only two from the uk. maybe about 6 americans,
2 swiss, 3 japanese and the rest were all from south america. It was quite a challenge understanding him talking as he was quick jumping back and fore from spanish to english. dont get me wrong his english was pretty good. 1 hour drive later and we arrived at the first of three scheduled stops in Yucatán Peninsula.
A Cenote is a sinkhole with exposed rocky edges containing groundwater. i think the water gets in a cave and causes the roof to collaspe leaving a large cave with hole in which rain water gets in. Very cool to see as the photos show. We arrived at this one in particular as you can swim in it only if you had no suncream or was wearing biodegradable cream. They are big on conservation in this area of mexico as tourism is their livelyhood. We walked down some steep steps into the cave and then......wow! it was really impressive. we wandered down to the waters edge and around the manmade platform that jutted out into the middle of the water. looking up we could see the hole in the roof and Stalagmites that had formed over thousands of years. Once we
climbed back up the stairs we could see the wall protecting the Cenote hole. Back on the bus again.
We got a history lesson on the bus telling us all about mayans and the mayan calander aswell as the importance of tourism and the birth of cancun. The city of cancun was only 39 years old! there was a village here before that mind u. there are 55 different species of snakes in this area hence the name Cancun. can = snake cun =nest. 70,000 rooms are available for tourists in cancun and most of it bulilt in the last 15 years. So like i say tourism is big money here. The main hotel area is a island shaped like the number 7 and has 2 bridges connecting it to the mainland.
We drove off to our second stop which was a proper souvenir shop which was huge. It was nice to walk around and look at the negra glass which are polished black glass stones plus the mexican silver jewellery and handcarved wooden masks. Its all quite nice and we really wanted to buy some but we have no room in our bags. I also like some
copied photo to show the shadows forming a snake. as the sun moves so does the snake. can you see it?
of the mexican cartouches they have which were mexican silver pendants that you could get your name stamped in mayan symbols. Maybe next time.
We got a complementary lunch here which consisted of a help yourself buffet with salad, tacos, beef, chicken, pasta and rice. I was wary at first but actually is turned out to be a lovely lunch. we had traditional dancers dancing round our tables tapping their shoes and dancing while balancing bottles on their heads!! yeh, it was cool!! the guy dancing beside us actually had a whole tray of drinks perfectly balanced on his head whilst still dancing and stomping his feet. Im learning new tricks here!
Another hour up the road during which time Jorge explained a bit more about the mayan culture and the influences from europe and the demise of the culture. They rose to power in 400 a.d. The spanish invaded 1250 a.d and tried to wipe them out and in the process burned and destroyed the history along with it which is a shame as the mayan calander is the most accurate calander in the world and we only know 30% of the mayan culture and meanings to this
day. Shame as they were an extremely advanced civilisation. there are thought to be 7 million mayans still in exsistance dotted around mexico mainly in the yacutan penisula.
Here's about 20% of what i know as i dont want to bore you. the mayans were great Mathematicians and astrologers, they created their calenders (3 in total) at the start of the last cycle of the sun in 3113 bc. they charted their findings based of the stars, sun and moon and other planets long before our time. The cycle of the sun starts when the sun alligns up with the earth, moon and the milkyway (center of our universe). Now its scientific fact that the suns cycle round the solar system to this postion is 5125 years long. if you add 3113 bc (the start of suns last cycle as said above) to 5125 years (fact mentioned above) you arrive at 2012. 21st of december 2012 to be precise. the end of the world? i doubt it. something will happen but more than likely a change to the planet rather than the destruction of it.
Ok thats that part, back to the bus destination. chichen itza!!! we have
arrived with anticipation as all these stories and myths that jorge has told us has really got us interested.
First stop in the reserve is the El Castillo (the castle)or temple of Kulkulkan (serpent) this is the main pyramid shaped building in the center of the grounds. There used to 60,000 mayans living in this area but only royalty got to walk and live in the temple area. Its well preserved at this side and looks splendid. You cant walk on it anymore as they stopped this in 2005. A lady fell to her death in 2005 on the steep steps plus people were starting to steal bits of stone from the top.
The mayans worshipped the Quetzal bird, a bird the Maya considered a representative of the gods. and obviously they worshipped the snake. Jorge asked us to be quiet and he clapped his hands loudly. then again. then again. no one could believe what they were hearing, the accoustics of the temple cause an echo that sounds like a quetzal bird when you clap. oh my god i said to jill. then pointing to the side of the building jorge explained that the building was in fact a
temple of a thousand warriors to the left
at the spring and fall equinoxes (March 21 and September 22) the sun projects an undulating pattern of light on the northern stairway for a few hours in the late afternoon—a pattern caused by the angle of the sun and the edge of the nine steps that define the pyramid's construction.
These triangles of light link up with the massive stone carvings of snake heads at the base of the stairs, suggesting a massive serpent snaking down the structure. so we have the quetzal bird noise's from the accoustics and now we have the snake. We are buzzing and we've just started. 91 steps on each side with the top platform being the last step. Let me see now, 4 sides times 91 steps = 364 + the last top step = 365. days of the year.
There is lots more in regards number of squares, longtitude and latitude settings aswell as various phenomenon related to this temple. Not to mention they used gum, from local trees, like chewing gum we chew, to stick it all together!!! No surprises that chichen itza its one of new 7 wonders of the world.
We walked to the east
side of the temple and again jorge told us to listen and clap twice at the same time as him after three. 1..2...3. clap clap. we did this three times..oh my god...not only do you hear the quetzal bird noise but from the temple to our right (temple of warriors) you could hear a long rattling sound after each clap..an echo. What does it sound like, i was only one that put mny hand up and guessed...'a rattlesnake?' correct says jorge!!! Its all getting a bit freaky now!! hahah!! brilliant. the mysteries go on. i love this place. Jorge explains the whole 2012 and calender thing showing us by writing diagrams on the sand to simplify it... When i get home peeps ill show u, its so much easier this way that writing it. Anyway, as we were still recovering from the bombshell's of this place he leads us off to the great ball court.
This was a brutal game even without the sacrifices that often happened after the game was finished! The Great Ball Court of Chichén Itzá is 166 metres (545 feet) long and 68.5 metres (225 feet) wide.
The balls were about 6 or 7
kilos of rubber and couldn’t be hit with hands or feet. The goal was to get the ball though the hoop that’s 7 meters (23 feet) high.
This seemingly impossible game was sometimes played with teams of 7. It also was sometimes played to the death and often the winning team was sacrificed!!!nice game!! The Mayans believed this to be a big honour that allowed them instant access to heaven, so many believe it was the winners that were killed. Others say that it was the losers. On the walls surrounding the court are many detailed carvings showing the sacrifices and carvings of snakes and skulls.
As with many Mayan sites the acoustics in this area are amazing, voices from one of the raised temple areas at each end can be clearly heard at the other. 166 metres away!!!. Me and jill tested this later on and for sure you can plainly hear each other at far away distances. wait for the video...this place is amazing. even in the middle of the court if you turn and clap you hand at the hoops where the ball was to be scored the echos are 7 echos long. clap loud
and you get that rattling sound again of a rattle snake. At the temple end jorge showed us something cool. he whistled loud and after a full 2 seconds the same whistle came back at us!! What next im asking jill.
Leaving here we went round to the Sacraficial Cenote. like the rest of the site, was closed off. but we could peak at it from out side the cordon. The walls have skulls, all different carved on the stone. In this cenote they used to sacrifice people and throw valuables in to please the gods. An english guy dredged the cenote of its valuables in 1904. typical! anyway he was order to return what he took but refused so more history taken from them! there is another cenote on the other side of chichen itza which was used for drinking water.
theres lots more temples here but its hard getting close to them. maybe another 7 or 8 much smaller ones. We spent our last half hour outside the thousand warrior temple. Used to sacrifice people to please the gods! lots of pillars here, symbolising warriors. its named a thousand but theres only 140 pillars. We were
left for half an hour to do our own thing and it rained a little as we walkd about, its was quite refreshing.
Back on the bus again and we had joyous 2 hour bus home via hotel zone in cancun where we got to see the brand new hotels that have been built. very nice but very much like marbella and popular spanish resorts.
we just gotback to the hostel at 8pm and dinner was being served. chicken, rice and refried beans. it was tasty!!! Bedtime.
Wednesday 25th August
Nothing on today. Fine to have a rest after the mammoth 14 hour trip yesterday. We had a wee walk to the local supermarket and had some taco's and we bought some beers for tonight. Dinner in the hostel consisted of a turkey salad. it was really fine. We chatted with our new friends and newcomers and we sat on the rooftop terrace where we were later joined by about 6 or 7 people that stayed here. it was a good crack as we polished off two bottles of rum while playing drinking games and word games. i barely remember going to bed but im pretty sure the
sun was coming up as i walked down the treacherous spiral stairs they have here!!! Bus at 11am tomorrow.
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