After a couple of years of jumping through hoops in order for occasional travel to be possible, things are starting to open up again, so in January I travelled to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The idea was to see the iconic Chichén-Itzá, but then get away from the tourist and well known spots and explore some of the ‘real’ Mexico. Having flown into Cancun, we hired a car and headed for our first overnight stop, which was 5 minutes away from Chichén-Itzá. It proved to be a great little find – in somebody’s back garden, accessed down a gravel path and feeling as if we were in a jungle. We didn’t get there until about 10.00 p.m. so it was straight to bed for a good night’s sleep. We set an alarm for an early start the next morning as we wanted to visit Chichén-Itzá before hoards of crowds arrived, and our host provided the most incredible breakfast at 07.00. Being warm enough to sit outside at any time of day in January is something to be enjoyed, and to eat a delicious breakfast outdoors listening to exotic bird song was absolutely fantastic. Our host even gave us the rest of our uneaten fruit, bread and pastries to take with us.
Here’s the iconic view that everyone associates with Chichén-Itzá, which was one of the largest Maya cities. This Temple of Kukulcán (El Castillo) dominates the centre of the site and was built by the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries AD.
I like to look for alternative angles when photographing and prefer this image below to the one above.
I find sections of structures also interesting.
These steps are extremely steep – I wonder how many Mayans fell down them and killed themselves? All four sides of the pyramid have approximately 91 steps, which, when added together and including the temple platform on top as the final “step”, total 365, the number of days of the Haab’ year and likely is significantly related to rituals.
When the city was inhabited these columns would have supported an extensive roof system.
Although the whole complex understandably shows signs of wear and tear, carvings can still be seen in some parts.
I like the Mayan faces, but was particularly fascinated to see a carving that looks like our game of noughts & crosses.
El Caracol (“The Snail”) is a round building on a large square platform. It gets its name from the stone spiral staircase inside. The structure is thought to have been an observatory with doors and windows aligned to astronomical events, specifically around the path of Venus as it traverses the heavens.
Dotted over the whole complex are stalls selling the usual tourist tat. (Although I did buy a pair of earrings, which is my ‘go to’ purchase when abroad) Some of the wares for sale make for interesting photos though.
I’m drawn to bright colours and couldn’t resist an intentional camera movement photo with these blankets. I love how this one turned out.
When we got back to the centre after exploring the site it was teeming with people, so an early start was the right thing to do. We left there at lunchtime to drive to our next destination on the coast.
To be continued……….