More Maya ruins...
18.12.2007 - 19.12.2007 25 °C
We left Tulum yesterday morning with a bit of tight nerves. The previous night we went to burn a couple of DVDs in order to back up our recent music and photos. It was a lot of stuff and it took Gregory some 4 hours to copy everything across to the shop´s computer and then it was taking time to burn, so we agreed with the guy that we would go away and come back at midnight to pick up the DVDs. When Gregory went back, 10 minutes before the agreed time and after the guy positively said that he would wait for us as he was closing at 1 am, the guy had closed up the shop and disappeared!!! We had asked what time he opened the shop in the morning and he said 8 am, so then we were not too concerned because our bus was at 8:36... Well, the nice chap did not come to open the shop at 8. Since we knew we were running this risk, at 8 I went to the bus station to have our tickets refunded anyways - you can have them refunded up to 30 minutes before the departure time. I stand there in the queue for a good few minutes while this cashier woman plays with her mobile and chatting to her colleague, till I decide that maybe she is actually working and meant to serve clients, so I approach the window and ask for my refund. She looks at me and tells me that it is 8:07 and that therefore I cannot have the ticket refunded!!!!! I mentioned that she was playing with her mobile for the past 5 minutes and she replied that I was not right in front of her!!! Another person that I would have loved to smack, it must be a place? Unfortunately, I accepted it angrily, then walked back to insult her, and then went off as red as a tomato. I should have just stood there and made a right scene to make sure her boss came out to find out what the fuss was all about, but I was too angry to reason, obviously. And the guy still hadn't turned up!!!!! Finally just before 9 his relatives came to open the shop, lucky him, so we had a moan at them and took our DVDs and then went back to the bus station, where I resisted the temptation, for a whole hour while waiting for our new bus, to approach the woman and tell her where she should stick our unrefunded ticket . But I resisted, aren't I good. We finally bought another ticket for Chichen Itza' and from there on it was all happy sailing again.
We got to Chichen Itza in the afternoon in time for the evening Light and Sound Show, the plan being to go to the show and then get into the ruins at opening time in the morning before the crowds arrive.
Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive archaeological areas of the world and is now one of the new seven wonders of the world, like Macchu Picchu. Since we saw what happens to Macchu Picchu after 10 am, we planned to be at the entrance first thing, and that was such a smart move! There was hardly anybody there, three cars in the car park, and no scorching sun! Chichen Itza is truly beautiful, we really enjoyed it and ended up spending over 4 hours wandering around. Unfortunately it is not possible to climb any of the temples, but once you see the number of people that trod the grounds every the day, you must admit it is an essential measure to safeguard the temple existence.
The site contains many fine stone buildings in various states of preservation; the buildings were formerly used as temples, palaces, stages, markets, baths, and ballcourts. Dominating the center of Chichén is the Temple of Kukulcan, often referred to as "El Castillo" (the castle). This step pyramid is a reflection of the Maya calendar: four stairways, each with 91 steps and a platform at the top, making a total of 365, equivalent to the number of days in a calendar year. There are snake heads at the bottoms of the main stair set, as the wind god was part snake, part bird. On the two equinoxes, the sides of the pyramid cast shadows along those stairs and it looks like a snake is slowly climbing down from heaven to earth. Thousands of people visit the site each equinox to watch this - at the Light and Sound show they reproduce the effect and it really looks like the snakes is descending!!
The Maya were quite smart, really. It was the Maya that elaborated the concept of zero. They were great mathematicians and astronomers. One of the Mayan's greatest achievements is their incredibly precise calendar, which was the most precise known to mankind until NASA worked on one in the 20th century!! The Mayans built their structures to align precisely with the sky, and they realized that on August 13, 3114 BC, there had been a perfect alignment in the sky of the milky way, Orion's belt, and the Pleides, whatever that is. They therefore fixed that precise date as the origin of human life, and many buildings align with the sky as it was back then. It was only recently that modern day astronomers realized why the buildings are aligned the way they are, which is just crazy, is it not??!
They were also very bloody people. They used to sacrifice human life like nothing, they even beheaded the losers of their ball games!! Can you imagine the pressure of playing a game knowing that, if you lose, they are going to behead you??
A few good pics here >
Temple of Kukulcan, it is only us here, urrah!!!
The Platform of Skulls was dedicated to the glory of military conquest and ritual sacrifice. It was here that prisoners heads as well as those of other sacrificial victims were displayed for all the inhabitants to view. The decoration served as a reminder of the aggression of the military chiefs and as a terrifying warning to anyone who might attack the city.
Coinciding with the arrival of the crowds, the paths of Chichen Itza transform themselves into a massive artesania stall market with beautiful arts and crafts. We managed to only buy a couple of magnets, aren't we good!!!
Once we came back from the ruins, we took a bus to Merida, in the north-west Yucatan, with the idea of spending the night here and then continue to Palenque in the morning. Except that when we got to Merida we found out that all buses to Palenque are fully booked! OOpps. So we have booked ourselves onto a night bus to Villahermosa, 2 hours away from Palenque, where we should be able to get at some point tomorrow.