It was time to leave Cancun after a week and head to Merida and Chichen Itza. I could have stopped at Chichen Itza along the way but decided I would get a hotel in Merida and then take a tour to Chichen Itza after my new credit card arrived.
On the way to Merida I just had to stop at the Italian Coffee Company for another Oreo Frap.
Once again I took the toll road to take it easy on my stomach. I can still feel the effects of the operation I had. It was boring though. Just a straight road with brush on either side.
Waiting for my Visa Credit Card Again
The hotel I chose in Merida was the Zar. It is right next door to a UPS store. Surely they would know where to deliver my card to this time around 🙂 Right away I Skyped with Visa and let them know where to send the new credit card to. For the next 3 days I waited for my new card to arrive. This time I didn’t wait around for the first 2 days as I knew it wouldn’t arrive that soon.
As I normally do, I walked around the area to get the lay of the land. A Starbucks was nearby! Great choice in hotels Brian ha ha. The Barista there was really nice and spoke such good English. I asked her where she learned. She told me she never took any classes but learned through watching reality TV shows! Her accent was near perfect. For the next few days she would greet me by name every time I showed up. For me, as a solo traveler, this means a lot. The one thing I miss are connections with people. I am not an outgoing person, although I try to be on the road, so these connections do not come often, especially where there is a language barrier.
A laundromat was a little more difficult to find. The directions I got from people led me to drycleaners and not a laundromat. With a little research, and intuition where one might be, I found one just up the street.
On the third day my Visa card arrived first thing in the morning. And this time is was a new number. Finally this fiasco was over. Now I could book a tour to Chichen Itza. I heard so much about it. They are famous ruins. My expectation were high.
Chichen Itza According to UNESCO
The UNESCO website says this about Chichen Itza:
The town of Chichen-Itza was established during the Classic period close to two natural cavities (cenotes or chenes), which gave the town its name “At the edge of the well of the Itzaes”. The cenotes facilitated tapping the underground waters of the area. The dates for this settlement vary according to subsequent local accounts: one manuscript gives 415-35 A.D., while others mention 455 A.D. The town that grew up around the sector known as Chichen Viejo already boasted important monuments of great interest: the Nunnery, the Church, Akab Dzib, Chichan Chob, the Temple of the Panels and the Temple of the Deer. They were constructed between the 6th and the 10th centuries in the characteristic Maya style then popular both in the northern and southern areas of the Puuc hills.
The second settlement of Chichen-Itza, and the most important for historians, corresponded to the migration of Toltec warriors from the Mexican plateau towards the south during the 10th century. According to the most common version, the King of Tula, Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulkan as the Maya translated the name, reportedly took the city between 967 A.D. and 987 A.D.
Following the conquest of Yucatán a new style blending the Maya and Toltec traditions developed, symbolizing the phenomenon of acculturation. Chichen-Itza is a clear illustration of this fusion. Specific examples are, in the group of buildings to the south, the Caracol, a circular stellar observatory whose spiral staircase accounts for its name, and, to the north, El Castillo (also known as the Temple of Kukulkan). Surrounding El Castillo are terraces where the major monumental complexes were built: on the north-west are the Great Ball Court, Tzompantli or the Skull Wall, the temple known as the Jaguar Temple, and the House of Eagles; on the north-east are the Temple of the Warriors, the Group of the Thousand Columns, the Market and the Great Ball Court; on the south-west is the Tomb of the High Priest.
After the 13th century no major monuments seem to have been constructed at Chichen-Itza and the city rapidly declined after around 1440 A.D. The ruins were not excavated until 1841 A.D.
Chichen Itza Tour
I had booked a Grayline tour through the hotel concierge that picked me up at my hotel. Chichen Itza is a hour and a half drive from Merida.
The tour seems to come out of the Mayaland Hotel situated right on the edge of the Chichen Itza ruins. A really nice hotel with an amazing old tree.
This is wher the Chichen Itza tour started.
Before getting to actual ruins we had to pass through a gauntlet of people selling stuff to tourists.
This is all over the ruin sight. They are everywhere. No souvenirs for me as I have no room on my motorcycle for them.
Finally the ruins appeared. The famous El Castillo:
The Great Ball Court where the winners of the game were sacrificed to the gods. The losers were banned from the city and were to make babies for the gods. Huuuummmm I think I would throw the game.
Juego de Pelota:
The tour was rather short. There seemed to be a bit more that we didn’t see on the tour. We had a hour of free time so I went exploring around some crumbled small ruins before a buffet lunch that came with the tour.
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I have to say that for me the ruins were a disappointment. Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City were far more impressive and larger. Plus you could climb up on the pyramids. Perhaps Chichen Itza has more historical value, but from a uninformed tourist point of view (me) I liked Teotihuacan much more.