For the first time on our trip, we managed to get off to an early start. We wanted to hit the pyramids before the tourist buses with all the herds showed up. I’m glad we did - we got about 30 minutes of solitude before swarms of people from all over the globe started crowding in.
The main attraction at Chichen-Itza is the big pyramid. Unfortunately, it’s fenced off so you can’t go up. In fact, everything is fenced off so you can’t really experience the architecture. Here’s the big guy:
I don’t think I’d want to be a Mayan. They liked to kill people. The Mayans would rip out hearts from living people or sacrifice them by tossing them into a nearby Cenote. The building in the foreground is the Temple of Skulls which is ringed by hundreds of stone carved skulls. Apparently, a lot of people died here.
After Chichen-Itza, we headed up to Ek’Balam about two hours away. It’s not as impressive a site, but the cool part is that you can walk up the pyramids and inside the buildings. Very little was roped off as opposed to Chichen-Itza where everything was roped off. There were also a lot fewer people so it made for more enjoyable afternoon.
The walk up the main pyramid is steep. It definitely doesn’t comply with US building codes or ADA laws. You don’t want to fall - once you get started, you’re not stopping until your lifeless body hits the ground.
Once you get to the top, you really understand the importance of the pyramids. The Yucatan is completely flat and covered with jungle. For most everyday Mayans, they’d never see anything other than the trees in front of them. Once you get up on top of the pyramid, it’s like being in a plane. You can see for miles and miles and you’re above everything. The experience must have been awe-inspiring back in the day. It was for me too actually.
Here’s Jen goofing off on top of the pyramid. Yeah, we’re tourists’ we can’t help it.
Tomorrow, we’re off to some more ruins and then the beach. I’m looking forward to getting out of the heat and relaxing next to the water.