My sister was lucky enough to win a trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Mayan Riviera for two and I was able to jump in and go when her husband was unable!
So begins the adventure. There was a lot of time spent eating at the resort’s various fabulous restaurants, walking the grounds and beaches, lying by the pool, watching the outdoor entertainment and movies, etc. I have been posting photos frequently on Instagram of our trip and our mascot “Jerry the Minion”.
My me-made swimsuit and cover-up blogged about previously were the most used garments in my suitcase. I was quite surprised the stitches and fabric of my me-made swimsuit didn’t fall apart while I did my laps in the pool!
Let me take you through the photos and commentary of our one excursion – to CHICHEN ITZA – a long, hot day trip that was more than worth it!
First stop on the way to CHICHEN ITZA was Cenote Hubiku. A natural water filled sinkhole. Sinkholes are all over the area. The Cenote was believed by the Mayans to be a portal to the Rain God and Mayans felt honoured to be sacrificed there. Nowadays you are only able to take a swim in the water – no sacrifices allowed.
The Cenote from the upper level.
The opening to the sky.
The Cenote from the lower level. Beside people, there were also small fish swimming around. You can see the tree roots hanging down from the ground above. Also hanging were stalactite-like formations.
Here there was also a fine artisans’ shop with helpful and knowledgeable staff. We were educated in the Mayan Culture and purchased our keepsakes here. (Here we also got a Certificate of Authentication for our purchases. It is preferred you buy from the Mayans directly.) Obsidian carvings and jewellery and Mayan Calendars painted on deer hides were quite popular. Obsidian is believed to protect you and your family.
I was probably the only person who stopped to watch this young lady embroider a dress on her treadle machine, until my sister dragged me away. This seamstress did fabulous work! Apparently no matter where I go a sewing machine finds me!
There was also a Tequilla Museum, which I won’t talk about here 😉 and an excellent buffet lunch with hardworking, smiling staff (Thank you, Alvaro) and entertainment.
THE KUKULCAN TEMPLE to the Feathered Serpent God
When you first walk into the grounds of CHICHEN ITZA you can see Kukulcan Temple from side view and the Temple of the Warriors to the left.
Walking around the Temple you are amazed at its size – 90 feet tall. It was discovered recently that this Temple was actually built over top another similar smaller temple. All these buildings are still being studied and restored. CHICHEN ITZA is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Our fabulous tour guide, Gabby, told us the Temple is situated in the centre of the Yucatan Peninsula and faces north, south, east and west. A perfect location to study the stars, as the Mayans did. Mayans were expert mathematicians and astronomers. The 91 steps on each side of the Temple (91 x 4) plus the one into the altar add up to 365. The Mayan calendar has 21 months (20 x 18) plus an additional month of 5 days adding up to 365.
We didn’t get a chance to walk over to the Mayan Observatory but it is also still standing on the grounds.
Our group took the opportunity to listen to the acoustics in the front of the Temple – clapping here caused an echo which sounded like a loud bird chirping. A tribute to the Feathered Serpent God. I can just imagine the excitement in the Mayan crowd when the priest was up at the top of the stairs addressing the people!
When the sun sets over the Temple, one side of the Temple goes completely dark. During the solstices and equinoxes, the light shines down the side of the stairwell giving the appearance of the scales of a long tail leading down to the serpent’s head at the bottom. (That’s me at the bottom BTW!)
The stairs and the serpents point to the Venus platform (below), with its serpents’ heads at the tops of the stairs. This in turn points to a large pool of water down the path where sacrifices were made to the Rain God – again it was an honour to be accepted for this sacrifice – mothers even offered up their babies.
Feathered Serpent God detail on the platform.
Behind the Kukulcan Temple we walked to the Plaza. The pillars still stand but the roof fell long ago.
The Temple of the Warriors. The Mayans had many “states” throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and there was much fighting amongst them.
Next we headed for The Great Ball Court behind us.
Not only did they carve their stories into the walls, but they painted the carvings too. A little bit of red still shows here and there.
This is The Great Ball Court. It is 545 feet long by 225 feet wide. The best men would play here. Seven on a side/team, in full headdress, etc. with rackets in their hands fighting for one large heavy rubber ball.
The ball was bounced in and the players would have to hit it to their team mates with their hips or arms. Ultimately one of the players would use his racket to hit the ball through the ring – that cement looking ring at the top edge, middle of both side walls, 20 feet up. The team with the most points was the winner, praised by the priest, who sat at the end of the Court, and the honoured guests who sat around the Court.
The winner’s prize was for their honoured captain to be beheaded in the middle of the Court so that his spirit would rise to the heavens to be with the Feathered Serpent God.
The reason we now know how and why this game was played is that it is clearly depicted in carvings along the walls of The Great Ball Court.
Our tour guide, Abby, advised me that this would be the “money” shot on IG and Facebook! 😂 (I’m wearing a top from “Teach me Fashion” – the Two Toned Singlet – a free pattern.)
On the way back, we stopped at the church in Valladolid. It was built with the help of stones from the Kukulcan Temple when the Spaniards tried to convert the Mayans to Christianity.
Sadly, we have to leave on Sunday, but we leave with memories of the incredible ruins and the wonderful tour guides, the beautiful resort and friendly, knowledgeable resort staff, and the fun that two sisters can have when left to their own resources (unsupervised)! (Jerry the Minion could have been our only witness, had he not behaved extremely poorly himself!)
Thank you for entertaining me with your posts while I was lying poolside and …