March 27 -28, 2014…Chichen Itza, Yucatan Mexico

It has been 15 years since we lasted visited Chichen Itza.  I am anxious to see how this area has changed.

Kev and I chose a hotel close to one of the "Seventh Wonders of the New World" so that we would not need to ride or worry about parking the bikes.  By 8 am we were waiting, by the back entrance all coffeeeeed up, ready to go.

It is a beautiful morning….Sneak peak of the temple observatory, El Caracol,   from the back entrance.

It is a beautiful morning….Sneak peak of the temple observatory, El Caracol, from the back entrance.

Wow….I have to say that Chichen Itza has unfortunately turned into an opportunistic, somewhat flea markety tourist trap!  Vendors are densely scattered amongst the still impressive majestic ruins eager to sell their wares.  I previously remembered that the jungle surrounding Chichen Itza being lush and green, now there are dusty pathways leading into the jungle lightly scattered with litter that the vendors use to store their wooden tables, planks and poles for their stalls. It is really quite sad.  All of the pyramids, buildings and structures on the site are roped off now, and the swarm of tourists from all over the world follow the crushed quartz path like sheep.  You will hear this random continuous clapping of hands if you are around the main pyramid.  Tourists veer off the quartz path here, to face the pyramid and clap their hands, listening for the echoed response resinating out from the top of the pyramid.  It is a cool feature!  Fifteen years ago there were no entrance fees, no pathways, no vendors, no cafe's, no bathrooms and none of the ruins were roped off.  

The Castillo Temple….The most recognized temple of Chichen Itza!  Still simply amazing!

The Castillo Temple….The most recognized temple of Chichen Itza!  Still simply amazing!

Temple de los Guerreros...Temple of the Warriors with Chac Mool.  Chac Mool figures are often associated with   sacrificial  stones or thrones.

Temple de los Guerreros...Temple of the Warriors with Chac Mool.  Chac Mool figures are often associated with sacrificial  stones or thrones.

Impressive rows of warriors guarding the Temple de los Guerreros.  The carving detail has long  eroded away.

Impressive rows of warriors guarding the Temple de los Guerreros.  The carving detail has long  eroded away.

The Great Ball Court.  Thirteen ball courts have been identified throughout the site!  This is the largest and most well preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica.

The Great Ball Court.  Thirteen ball courts have been identified throughout the site!  This is the largest and most well preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica.

The walls are 8 meters/ 26 feet high and 95 meters/ 312 feet long.  A carved ring is set high on each wall in the center of the court.

The walls are 8 meters/ 26 feet high and 95 meters/ 312 feet long.  A carved ring is set high on each wall in the center of the court.

This is the North Temple, or Temple of the Bearded Man that sits at one end of the Great Ball Court.

This is the North Temple, or Temple of the Bearded Man that sits at one end of the Great Ball Court.

TheTzompanti, or Skull Platform

TheTzompanti, or Skull Platform

Vendors setting up for their day.

Vendors setting up for their day.

Vendors in front of the Osario

Vendors in front of the Osario

The vendors hand truck everything, set-up and dismantle daily!  

The vendors hand truck everything, set-up and dismantle daily!  

I'm just hoping that there are no ancient blocks securing this stand!

I'm just hoping that there are no ancient blocks securing this stand!

Mayan history starts in the Yucatan around 2600 BC.  The Maya developed astronomy, calendrical systems and hieroglyphic writing. The Maya were also noted for elaborate and highly decorated ceremonial architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces and observatories, all built without metal tools They were skilled farmers, weavers and potters and excelled in clearing large sections of jungle to develop extensive trade routes and foster networks with distant people.  

La Iglesia…the Church

La Iglesia…the Church

Chichen Itza was first occupied between 500 and 900 AD, abandoned around 900 AD, then resettled 100 years later only to be completely vacated around 1300.  Chichen Itza is one of the largest Maya cities and means "At the mouth of the well at the Itza", Itza meaning source.  There are 2 large natural cenotes that supplied water to the area year round making it an attractive site for settlement.  The Cenote Sagrado, Sacred Cenote or Well of Sacrifice was an important place for the Mayans.  Not only a water source but a place of worship for the Maya culture.  Precious objects like jade and pottery were offered to the cenote to appease the Maya Rain God Chaac…the most precious of all being human.  Children and young men were of most interest to Chaac.

Cenote Segrado

Cenote Segrado