WorldExperience.com
 Home    Photo Stories     Postcards     Journal     About     Contact     Links    
Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon

Journal - 23-Mar-2001, Friday, Chichen Itza, Piste, Yucatán, Mexico
(Trip: Ruta Maya, Southeast Mexico)

 << Previous Page  Index  Next Page >> 

Click for larger image! Caracol. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,merida,chichen itza,chichen,piste,yucatan,itza,ball court,juego de pelota,castillo,castle,pyramid
(Click to view)
Click for larger image! El Castillo. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,merida,chichen itza,chichen,piste,yucatan,itza,ball court,juego de pelota,castillo,castle,pyramid
(Click to view)
Caracol
El Castillo
Send to a friend! Send to a friend!

We arrive at Mérida bus terminal at the ungodly hour of 5 am. I can't even remember what we're doing here. I find a seat and wait for something to happen. After a few minutes, Monica says we could take a bus to nearby Chichen Itza. Ah. Now I remember why we came. Chichen Itza is one of Mexico's most famous Mayan sites, and is relatively close by.

According to the guide, there's camping at Chichen Itza, so we plan to spend a day and a night there. The bus leaves at 06:30 and will arrive around 08:00.

As we wait, I attend to the wounds inflicted by mosquitos during the night. Even though I'm wearing socks and long trousers, I have about five bites. I can't believe how hungry they are. I guess I'm going to have to start wearing repellent even under clothing!

Aboard the bus, the video starts off with a message saying "Public broadcasting of this video is strictly prohibited. For domestic use only.". Then again, the film's title, 'Earthquake in New York', and subsequent bad acting, suggest it might be a bigger crime to pay for it.

About two hours later we stop at Piste, the small town near the Chichen Itza ruins. Monica spots a sign that says "Camping". It's the Pyramid Inn hotel - the same place that's mentioned in the guidebook. Great - it still exists and we know where it is! About 2 km further on, we're dropped off, with all our bags, at the ruins. It's coming up to 08:30.

The entrance fee is a huge $8 each. I wonder if the fee reflects the size of the ruins, or the amount of tourists that come here (Chichen Itza is a day trip from Cancun - Mexico's main, and expensive, beach destination). At least they have a place to store bags - and it's free!

The ruins are almost deserted when we enter, and we manage to fire off some great morning shots of some of the main structures - the pyramid, the ball court (largest of its kind), and surrounding palaces and temples.

By 11:00, the place has filled up with bus-loads of tourists, so we retire to the restaurant for breakfast. Surprisingly, the food is reasonably priced and quite good.

After eating, we figure the best plan is to head to the campsite/hotel, check in, relax, then return in the afternoon to take more photos. There doesn't seem to be any bus or combi service to Piste, so the only options are taxi or walking. The taxi wants to charge $3. For a 2 km ride in Mexico, this is outrageous - and again a function of the kind of tourists that come to Chichen Itza. We also find it hard to understand why the taxi drivers prefer to sit around doing nothing (there are about ten of them sitting under a tree) rather than accept a lower fare. So we walk.

The going isn't too bad - we seem to be getting used to carrying our stuff! About half way a taxi offers us a lift. For $3! Monica looks ready to strangle the man. Eventually he negotiates to take us the rest of the way for $1.50. We accept, not really sure how much further it is. In fact, the hotel was already in sight (just).

The hotel charges $8 for camping. It's more than we're used to but it does include use of the pool! We camp in the hotel's gardens. The place is like a little oasis with shady 'palapas' (palm thatched huts) for resting, beautiful gardens, the pool, deck chairs, etc. We pitch our tent and dive into the icy water.

Refreshed, we dry off on the toasty hot, painted-concrete deck-chairs. I buy a bottle of water at the bar. $1.50 for a 1 liter bottle. It's amazing how many different price points the same product can be sold for. In Tabasco we bought a 2 liter bottle for $0.70.

In the afternoon we walk back to the ruins. The number of visitors has started to die off and we wander around the places we haven't seen yet, like the 'Caracol' which is believed to have been an observatory. We also visit the sacred 'cenote' (a lake that is fed from an underground river - usually formed when part of the ground over the river collapses). It's believed that humans were sacrificed at the cenote.

There is a tomb inside the pyramid, with a steep, narrow, stairway leading up to it. There are around sixty steps and sweaty people are climbing up and down all the time. Ascending the staircase in these conditions is an act of heroism in itself. Only the feeling of excitement overcomes the revulsion of the cramped, hot, damp conditions.

I make it to the top by moving slowly and breathing as little as possible. There is a 'Chac-mool' in the tomb - a reclining figure with a flat stomach on which to make offerings - and a black jaguar, formed from stone with jade eyes.

Turning around, the tiny staircase descending steeply down is a little intimidating. Seeing the narrow tube squashed with scrambling people makes it close to terrifying! One couple are frozen near the top, unable to bring themselves to enter the fray. I follow a bigger man down, confident that he'll make more than enough room for me! Just hope he doesn't get stuck.

Outside the pyramid, the fresh air is like breathing honey. Monica is there, waiting. She had tried to come up with me but couldn't bear being pressed against so many sweaty bodies.

We climb up the outside of the pyramid and enjoy a great view of Chichen Itza. It is magnificant to think of the ancient priests peering out over their huge and beautiful city. Games played in the ball court could be seen from here. So could offerings made on the Chac-mool atop a neighboring temple.

As the park closes, all the visitors climb down from the pyramid to the sound of whistle blowing. We take some human-free photos before being hurried along.

There is a light show in the evening, where the buildings are lit in different colors and, we suppose, set to music. The time of the show is 19:00 winter, 20:00 summer. We decide it's summer and plan to return for the show at 20:00. The ticket office is closed right now, so we have to buy tickets when we return.

We're getting used to walking at this stage as we return to the hotel. Hopefully the exercise is doing our bodies some good - our feet are certainly complaining! We dine at the hotel before heading back to see the light show. As we're leaving, the hotel staff happen to mention that the show starts at 19:00! It's now 19:15, and we're 2 km from the ruins. Oh what fools - why did we think we were on summer time?! Monica really wanted to go and now wears a glum face.

Our evening suddenly free, we wander around and think about our next steps. There are a two factors driving us:
1. We need to withdraw cash (there are no ATMs within 10 km from here).
2. We need to get a second dose of a vaccine.

We decide to take the bus tomorrow to Tulum. I have the idea it's a big city and we might be able organize our vaccines. If not, it's close to Cancun - the nearest big city in our general route. Tulum is also the site of some famous coastal ruins.

 << Previous Page  Index  Next Page >> 

  
Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
 Home    Photo Stories     Postcards     Journal     About     Contact     Links    

Copyright © 1999-2003 WorldExperience.com. All rights reserved. Privacy policy