Apr 21, 2011

Cancun – Part 2: Ik Kil and Chichen Itza

Day two started off early, as we were headed to the Mayan Temple Chichen Itza. We’d been told to be out front by 7:30 AM. At 7:20 AM we got a call from the front desk just as we were heading out the door. Thee bus was already there waiting for us. Good thing we’d gotten breakfast in bed that day – fresh fruit and bagels, cream cheese and lox.

After picking up a couple more people on our way out to the highway, we were on our way. We knew the trip would take a couple of hours so we settled in for some ZZZs. About an hour in, the bus pulled over to the side of the highway. We are instructed that we will be switching buses based on which excursion for which we had signed up and given bus numbers. There we were running along the side of a highway in Mexico, switching buses. Luckily we were on the one in front of us.

There we met George, our tour guide, half Mayan, half Mexican. From there he gave us some more details of our trip, gave us our passports (small stickers with our bus number on them, which we were to wear the rest of the day) and how things would go down, a little history and then let us knod off again.

After what seemed like ages, even with us sleeping, we arrived at Ik Kil, a cenoté, which is a sink hole filled with water. We had the option to go swimming in it but we chose to shop a little and watch people jump in and swim from above. We only had an hour and the line to jump in was long, plus we all had sunscreen on and didn’t want to have to reapply afterward for Chichen Itza. The cenoté was gorgeous and the water a deep, clear blue. We even saw a parrot out of the big hole.

After Ik Kil, it was time for lunch. And as George reminded us over and over “I pay your food, you pay your drinks”. Aaron would repeat this phrase in George’s cute accent throughout the rest of our trip. Still brings a smile to my face. Lunch was Mexican food with Mayan dancers as the entertainment. They basically stamped their feet to the music in wooden shoes or on wooden boxes while they balanced trays with empty bottles on tops of their heads. We couldn’t get over how short the Mayans were and couldn’t resist getting some pictures with them and the boys.

A five-minute bus ride from lunch and we were finally at Chichen Itza. George warned us that there would be Mayans peddling merchandise out front and inside the grounds, but we didn’t realize how many there would be. Literally, every 10 feet or five minutes we’d hear “Cheaper than Walmart”, “Cheaper than Target”, “Three for a dollar”, “10 pesos”. It got old real quick. And it wasn’t just the adults, there were little Mayan kids running around hawking their goods as well. I know Chichen Itza is their land and all, but it would have been nice to only have those hawking merchandise outside the entrance gates.

We followed George around for about half the tour. It was so hot and we were ready to just go off and explore on our own. Cameron and I happened to have caught a few Discovery channel-type documentaries on Chichen Itza before our trip so we knew a lot of what George was saying, but we did learn a few things more. For one, the Temple had been destroyed when Europeans conquered the area, killing all the well-off and religious leaders of the Mayan people. It wasn’t until 1925 when an archaeologist rediscovered the temple ruins that it was rebuilt, which took 10 years. You can see places where the pieces are numbered, where pieces are missing, and the plaster or cement used to put it back together.

We also learned that on a Mayan boy’s 18th birthday he was required to play in a ball game. The group would be divided into two groups and they would play a game like basketball, trying to bounce a ball made from rubber through a vertical hoop. At the end of the day, the winning team’s captain was sacrificed to the gods. The Mayans did this every day, thinking it was their playing the game and making the sacrifices that pleased the gods to return the sun to them the next day.

After a long, hot day, we were back on the bus and on the road around 5 PM. We wouldn’t get back to our hotel until 8 PM – just in time for a quick shower and dinner at the Lobster house. Cameron had two lobster halves that night while I ordered a Fillet Mignon from the Grill since I couldn’t eat anything on the Lobster house menu. That’s how accommodating the staff at the resort is.

After taking in the last part of the Circus show, we were all ready for a good night’s sleep, well, after some nachos. We’d worked up quite the appetite that day.

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