Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snake's Nest

Chichen Itza, seventh wonder of the world.  Home of the Maya that worshiped the snake, or "Can."  Incidentally we learned today Cancun means "snake's nest" in Mayan.

Our Mayan guide was a tiny guy named Miguel, who smiled a ton and told us to get ready to speak Spanglish.  He gave us a pretty thorough overview of the Maya as a culture as well as how much of the known information was discovered.  We learned about everything from Mayan Society, to Mayan paper, to Mayan religion.  He said today Mayan people have been more integrated into society, but still speak their language in their homes.  He assured us his first language was Mayan.  There are a few who still speak it as their only language.

We first stopped at Ik Kil the largest cenote or sink hole in the Yukatan.  We were given the opportunity to swim in it but the hotel had not indicated swimming suits were needed on this trip so we just watched.  Loren said that with the depth of the pool he might have had a hard time swimming in any case.  Our guide said it is 50 meters deep.

The water looked black, belying I believe the depth of the water.  It was beautiful never the less.  There was a whole little flock of small birds like mud swallows flying around and around inside of the cenote.  One of the women in our group said she was afraid of going near what she believed would be bad energy from the many sacrifices that had been dumped into the cenote over the centuries.

Ten years has changed Chichen Itza, according to Loren.  He said before they were able to get there and the amount of tourists was relatively small.  Guests could climb and go into the temples as well as explore to their heart's content.  However now there are fences cordoning off the ruins from the many hundreds of visitors that show up every day.  Loren suspects the company that runs Xcaret acquired the right to maintain the land the ruins are on and therefore have not only developed the drop off entrance for the tour groups but maintain the land and in order to be able to funnel loads more visitors to the site.

He said he was sad we couldn't go into the temples so I could see how they were built one building on top of the other.  According to Miguel one of the only sites you may climb still is Tulum.  If we were staying longer it might be fun to go see those ruins.  As things are we plan on resting somewhat tomorrow after today's excursion.  We'll see what we decide on for Friday.

There are so many buildings and ruins at Chichen Itza.  After the main square there is a path that leads past other smaller ruins, one of the two cenotes at the site and onto other smaller pyramid temples and later an observatory and an un-named hall that feels more like a mansion.

There are even two of the Mayan ball courts.  The main court adjacent to the main pyramid temple at Chichen Itza, then a smaller court behind a building near the observatory.  We were shown the frieze or carving that helped them determine the way the game was played.  The carvings on each side of the court depict seven players for each team.  The ball players are distinguished by the bar through their septums, the twin bats and the skull symbol on their hips.

This also shows the captain of one team have decapitated his rival opponent.  Aparently the game is representative of the cycle between this world and the "underground world."in the story a god gets decapitated, so I believe that is the significance of the depicted decapitation.

The Mayans flattened out the areas they built their cities forming an almost manmade butte or mesa in the jungle. They did this, it was explained, to mirror the Mayan concept of the universe as a flat plain.

Mily told me these places always have an energy about them. I would guess that energy would change based on the occupants of the land. Loren talked about how he feels like the Spaniards came at a good time. To come at the decline of a large civilization and end the amount of human suffering. I find it an interesting juxta position of two cultures the Maya and the Spanish. The people here seem to be proud of both.

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