Chichen Itza

It was an early start yesterday for what would prove to be a very long day. Up at 6:30 to shower and finish packing, a quick walk to the ferry dock, a taxi to the bus terminal and then onward to the ancient Mayan ruins of CHICHEN ITZA! I hope I managed to build that up enough for you.

It’s a 3 hour trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza on the rather plush first class ADO buses. I think it was Tim who remarked on how nice the public transport is here, much better than Asia. And the roads as well – no one is on them! However I did notice  we went through a few toll roads so I felt a little comforted with myself that I was slowly improving the transport infrastructure of Mexico by spending my Yankee dollars.

Chichen Itza is said to be one of the most spectacular set of Mayan ruins you can see here in Mexico. The main structure that dominates the site is El Castillo, a 25 metre high square pyramid that also is a calendar – multi-purpose, nice. However, as I said to Tim at the time I was somewhat underwhelmed. After passing through the pretty established setup of dropping of your backpacks and buying your tickets at the vistor centre you pass along the path lined with locals selling their wares. Some wares weren’t always relevant; Stu spotted a See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil carving, and I think there was even a Bhudda knocking about too. From this little route you’re flung straight into the main attraction, surrounded by groups of tourists with their guides clapping. Yes clapping. There’s some interesting acoustics apparently.

However as the day slowly wore on, as we were rained on, then dried out, and then bitten, I slowly began to realise how magnificent a structure El Castillo was. It seemed every time we took a diversion to look at another part of the complex and then returned to the main square and saw El Castillo it got better and better. It probably also helped that the sun came out. On reflection, both Tim and I have been spoilt when it comes to ancient ruins and temples. Having seen Ankor Wat two years ago which is truly amazing and takes all day to see and many miles to walk around, Chichen Itza didn’t quite make the biscuit. It was a shame we couldn’t clime El Castillo, unfortunately a lady was killed falling off of it a couple of years ago and now all the ruins are roped off from tourists (quote Tim “what a bitch”). I think had we been able to climb to the top and seen the surrounding countryside I’d have appreciated Chichen Itza a little more.

What was pretty unique to Chichen Itza though, was footy pitch. Well when I say footy pitch I mean a ball games court. The court was lines by two high walls on the long sides and on each had a little circular hoop which the teams had to score through… somehow! I mean central american men are pretty short, so I’m just wondering about the logistics of the whole scenario. At one end of the pitch was another wall with a pillared covered area inside where various top bods would watch and preside over the game, or as I would rather think of it, the commentary box. All rather apt given the Euro final was yesterday.

At the end of the day we caught the bus from Chichen Itza to Tulum on the coast of the Yucutan about 3 hours south of Cancun. We’ve checked into the Weary Traveler hostel which seems to be a backpacker favourite offering an in house tab – dangerous when 6 Sols are 80 pesos (about four quid). We also bumped into a couple who we met on Isla Mujeres, and it just so happens that one of them, Clarissa, is a first (soon to be second) year PPE student at Manchester. Of course I then proceeded to offload three years of Uncle Andy wisdom onto her the poor girl. Probably bored her to tears.

More on Tulum tomorrow.


PS All geeks out there will be pleased to know I have resolved my legacy software issues and am in fact writing this post from a portable version of Firefox 3.0 running off of my SDHC card that normally sits in my camera. Now that’s tech-chique travel blogging.

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