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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 20.6904, -88.5661
We got up early at 6:30 to prepare for Chichen Itza. The key is that the archaeological site opens at 8am but almost all of the tourists show up on buses from Cancun at 11am. We got ready as quickly as a baby would let us and got there by 8:30. Combined with September being the lowest season, it certainly seemed like we were about the only ones there. Given the high profile of the site, we hired an official tour guide off the books for a shorter period and lower cost.
I find there to be two main interesting spots at Chichen Itza, the main pyramid (El Castillo) and the Ball Court. The pyramid is actually built around another pyramid (and perhaps more). They just kept building one on top of the other. They haven't permitted climbing the ruins since a woman fell off El Castillo in 2006 and died.
The empty Ball Court was cool. Not only was it big, but there are some amazing sound properties the likes of which I haven't seen before. Our guide could yell away from the court into a side temple and we would hear a clear version of his voice a
half-second later from the far end of the court.
Supposedly if a player hit the ball through the rings on the side that team won and the capitan was decapitated by the losing team's captain as the fast-path to heaven. Nobody is really sure except that for sure someone got decapitated, as illustrated on the walls.
The guide took us to a cenote (a large limestone-eroded pit filled with ground water) at the far end of the site. This was the one where certain religious ceremonies would end with someone behind thrown in tied to rocks in order to appease the rain god for the crops.
We left the guide and walked to the far opposite end and then back toward the gate, stopping to see the "Observatory" and other monuments. There is also a back gate that leads to a cluster of hotels that sit literally adjacent to the site. We also stopped to buy a little souvenir black jaguar for US$5 from the only lucky vendor (out of a hundred) that morning. Just as we got back to the car, it started to rain, and rained all the way back to Valladolid.
Actually it just rained until about
5:30pm. That evening we walked a few blocks south of our hotel just to see what appeared to be a rail station and terminus of a rail line on Google maps. It looks like they are upgrading it to modern standards (high speed concrete rail ties) just west of town toward the rest of Mexico. Our guesthouse host says it's one of those projects that never ends and never makes progress. Right now it's nothing except a spur that terminates in the air in someone's yard.
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