With a respectable 9am start, our group hit the road for the first time together. A tour group is always a fascinating thing to be part of to see the dynamics, but on our first morning we didn’t really get a sense, as we were on a larger public bus to our first destination, rather than in a smaller mini-bus exclusively for us. And boy were we starting with a big destination today. In just 3 hours we were going to be arriving at the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza is the main reason people probably come to this part of the world (outside of the boozing up in Cancun) and it was amazingly exciting to be heading there first up. I mean, it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World! It was also one of the main reasons for the trip as a whole. I mean sure, Vegas and Disneyland are fun… but they were things on the way to where we were shortly to be.
Arriving we were taken by the fact we didn’t think there were that many people. Sure it would have been in the hundreds, but we were expecting to fight crowds as we arrived. Instead, as we walked in the grounds, we were greeted with this…
There it was! The iconic pyramid called El Castillo. While this was on our list of places to visit in the world, it’s also one of those things you just don’t think you may ever see with your own eyeballs. It was truly incredible.
We then embarked on a 3 hour guided tour of the whole grounds by our guide for the day Fillipe. He was a great older guy who had been doing this since 1974. He was super smart and full of knowledge, but also quite funny.
What was incredible though was that he could talk about the times when you could actually climb inside the main pyramid to see the inner pyramids. Those days are long gone sadly (but understandably), but to be hearing about it from him was great.
You might think 3 hours was a long time, but the whole Chichen Itza site was quite huge, and the time flew by. We saw where ceremonial games were played (and the requisite beheadings for either the victorious captain, or losing one… history is a bit fuzzy on that). We visited a cenote, a giant sinkhole effectively, caused by collapsed limestone. In fact this is part of the literal translation of Chichen Itza… “at the mouth of the well of the wizards of water”.
There were also other ruins scattered all around the site. One of the most impressive was an ancient Mayan astronomy… the only rounded building that was lined up perfectly for equinoxes and solstices.
Sadly our tour was up, but we still had some more time to wander the site and get some more photos. We were really appreciative of having such a long amount of time at the site.
Looking through the photos we seem to have so many similar pics, especially of the main pyramid. But it was one of those thinns where you would catch a different angle, with some different light and be amazed again. Breathtaking.
Alas, our time was up, and we had to board a bus to our destination for the next two days. The colonial city of Merida awaited!
We arrived just in time for a late-ish dinner, so it was a quick bag drop off and a combined orientation walk and dinner. I instantly embraced Merida much more than Cancun. It felt charming and colonial and a part of Mexcio you only read about.
Another group dinner and this time a tasty local cocktail (I need to remember the name of the main ingredients, but some kind of local leaf) led us to wind up the night, to get some rest for our Merida adventures tomorrow.