I had dreamt about visiting Mexico for what I can only count as a lifetime. My favourite novel in the world is Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, and ever since reading it at the ripe age of 12, I have been enamored by the country, the food and the culture. I am aware that many things have changed since the setting of that novel, but the words she used to paint a picture of Mexico and its flavours were enough to awaken in me a huge passion for Latin American/Hispanic culture. From then on, things like the Spanish language, hispanic novellas, the food, my goodness the food, the wine, the music, have been some of the delicacies I have consumed the most before eventually making my way to Mexico!
So, I thought I would kick off my Mexican series and celebrate my 100th post by writing a bit on one of my favourite places ever – Chichen Itza!
My 2nd New Wonder of the World!
Let me start by saying that Chichen Itza is an architectural marvel. The ancient Maya site located in the Yucatan province, is one of the largest of its kind, and therefore considered to most likely be one of the mythical cities, or cities of prayer. I was utterly gobsmacked by the mathematical intricacy of the pyramids and how these buildings were purposely built with divinity in mind.
The edges of the pyramid are perfectly positioned in order for the sun to create certain patterned shadows on the ground. The Mayan believed that a snake God would appear twice in the year (Summer and Winter Solstice) and bless the community through the building, a location of prayer. People still visit the site to this day to witness the phenomenon, but is it a phenomenon? What I am going to say might be a bit controversial, but really the Mayans are to be admired for their intelligence. I believe that the High Priests of the Maya society used their knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, architecture and geography to create perfectly positioned temples that would respond to the religious needs of the population. Religion, as we know, is one way to control large masses, and no ancient civilisations were immune to it. And more, it worked!
The rest of the site is just as mesmerising. The construction is detailed, and much of the site is not in ruins which is incredible. We also see the first iteration of Basketball, which was played with heavy rocks, and mostly to the death, but still! Get the rock through that hoop!
The buildings were all connected via a large network of causeways or pavements, which are slowly being recovered. Many of the buildings also have incredibly detailed facades, which would have been painted in reds and blues before. Some of the rocks still maintain some of the pigmentation, and it is easy to imagine the white stoned buildings full of colour, considering how colourful the current Mexican culture is. Unlike seeing ancient Greek ruins in Turkey, it was very easy to imagine Chichen hustling and bustling full of people.
If the ruins aren’t enough to keep you interested, a little further into the site I saw my first sinkhole/cenote. These are HUGE pits that result from the collapse of limestone bedrock and expose groundwater underneath it. Of course, this particular cenote is considered sacred and you are not able to swim in it, but that will come in another blog post.
I hope you have enjoyed this little taste of Mexico, more to come in the next month! Keep your eyes peeled and get planning your own trip to Mexico.
Keep reading, writing and travelling!
This post is not sponsored at all! However, if you are interested, I took this as part of a tour with G Adventures – linked below. They have lots of tours around Mexico, and the one below is the one I took. If you are a real foody, there is one dedicated to Mexican Cuisine on G Adventures too.