Our second trip in Mexico was probably the most warm and uncomfortable one, and the furthest away, however we felt that there is no way we could travel all that way and not visit Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world. (mind you I would take the title with a pich of salt as the selection of the new seven wonders was essentially a popularity contest based on who got the most votes, and some countries had some pretty good ways of getting people to vote for “their” site)
We were picked up quite early in the morning and driven to a rendez-vouz point outside Cancun where we joined a larger party of tourists. Mainly all from Canada and the US.
It was a 3 hour drive from Cancun to the site, which included a stop at a public toilet. This wasn’t the first time I had noticed this, but it made me wonder – what is the deal with no toilet seats in Mexico? Don’t get me wrong, they were spotlessly clean, as the attendant I think went in and cleaned after every visitor, but still, no toilet seats? Awkward!
The guide we had this time, was lovely, although bless him, he had a really shrieky voice, and the sound-system on the bus wasn’t the best so we spent a lot of those 3 hours listening to scratchy high pitched noises that translated into information about the mayans and the site in both Spanish and English. Luckily we knew a lot of it from our previous excursion, so I didn’t feel too bad when I zoned out eventually.
Coming onto the site itself we had to check in at the nearby hotel that was built by the owner in the 1920’s and where we were later to eat our lunch – then it was a short walk up to the main site of Chichen Itza.
Again, this is where I felt really stupid, because I hear Chichen Itza and immediately think it’s just this part;
Well, of course it’s not, Chichen Itza is actually the entire site, this is just one of the temples within the compound. I say one of, but it is definitely the most impressive one, and even though there are loads of other buildings to look at you just can’t help the fact that your eyes just keep going back to the El Castillo.
They have left one side of the temple untouched, so that they are keeping it looking the way they found it when they started renovations back in the 20’s, which is why this side looks a bit more rubbled than the others.
Apparently you were allowed to climb this temple too, until they decided to stop this when a tourist fell off and died back in 2010. Yeah I wouldn’t have braved these steps either!
The guide told us some more interesting stuff about the site, I’m not going to re-tell everything here, because frankly, it would just be boring, and also I can’t remember it all, but one cool thing I can remember – the current version of the temple is actually built over a smaller one inside. That means there is a smaller version of this temple inside the current one! Unfortunately you are not allowed in to see it anymore.
Of course, you aren’t a proper mayan temple site unless you have a pok ta pok court – Chichen Itza conformed, but went a bit edgy and has the only court with straight edges.
Unfortunately we were just a few days late for the autumn equinox where the midday sun causes the famous shadow effect of the serpent snaking its way down the steps; however I hear that event means around 40.000 people show up on the site to see it so maybe that was for the best!
We had been warned by some people that it wasn’t worth making the trip to Chichen Itza as the place would be riddled with tourists and various people trying to sell typical souvenirs and general “stuff” and although this is all true, I actually wasn’t that bothered by this, and I definitely wouldn’t say it was a reason not to go here!
The other thing I can say about Chichen Itza is that it is hot! I think it must have been about 33 or 34 degrees the day we were there, and there isn’t much shade or wind to cool you down either. I definitely cursed my decision to wear a semi-dark t-shirt which is optimal for showing off sweat patches!
Ever tried taking a selfie with the both of you and getting Chichen Itza in there, when you are standing against the sun and seeing absolutely nothing on the screen, essentailly just randomly taking a photo? This is what happens;
I gave up on getting a decent photo of me and Chichen Itza eventually and just embraced the sweatiness, there isn’t much else you can do, but take comfort in that you won’t be the only person there who is slowly melting away from the heat!
For lunch we were taken to the nearby hotel where they served up a buffet of various international and Mexican foods.
To be honest, this was as far as I know the only option for food around, so perhaps the quality wasn’t the best, but it certainly wasn’t bad either! And for the chance of sitting down in an air-conditioned room, and drink a chilled drink, I was actually ready to eat pretty much anything at this point!
I opted for the homemade mayan style tacos that were cooked right there on the spot, as well as guacamole. You can’t beat guacamole.
During our meal the servers would randomly step up and dance for us, balancing beer bottles on their heads. Very impressive – but I never managed to get a decent photo of it so you will just have to believe me and add your imagination to this blurry mess from my mobile phone.
After lunch, we had the option of either going back into the site, or we could also go swimming in one of the nearby cenotes. As we had already been to a cenote on our previous excursion, and we would have had to pay extra, we opted to go back into the site for some more photos and some walking around by ourselves. Because, you know, you definitely need more than 20 photos of the same temple!
The lovely thing with being a couple at a packed tourist destination in 30+ degree heat? Definitely the arguments. – “Cecilia, can we go in the shade please? “ “no, I need more photos, look there’s an iguana” “we’ve taken loads can we go sit down?” “you sit down, I will catch up” FINE (storming off in a huff”) “don’t snap at me, geez, calm down” “I didn’t snap, you started it first by speaking down to me” “oh boohoo” “I’m not speaking to you right now if you’re gonna act like this” “whatever” “FINE” etc. etc..
Love it! We are turning into our parents on holiday!
Nevermind, a bit of shade and a few sips of water and we were a-ok again. We headed back to the hotel, stopping by the ant-highway that ran across the footpath, and decided to buy some soft drinks and an ice cream, and just sit down and do nothing. This we did until it was time to get into the car for the 3-hour journey home, deciding not to opt for the toilet break this time.
All in all, I enjoyed this trip, but having seen Chichen Itza, I wouldn’t necessarily rush to go back again if I were to find myself back in Mexico.
Have you ever been to Chichen Itza? And what is your opinion on must see locations crowded with tourists – yay or nay?