Eric the Red at Chichen Itza

Our rag-tag group left Merida headed for the Carribean coast and the beach town of Tulum. We had booked a tour that included transportation, and a stop at Chichen Itza with a guide.

Chichen Itza is among the most well-known Mayan ruin and a very popular day tour for Cancun vacationers, so we expected a few crowds. We didn’t expect the dozens of vendors lining every walkway of the site. The vendors were all very polite, of course, but at times it felt more like a mall than a sacred ruin and detracted from the big wow-factor we experienced at Uxmal.

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Our guide walked us around the large site, which was very helpful as some ruins were down long pathways away from the main pyramid. Unfortunately, we were on a tight timetable so there were several areas we didn’t have time to visit. Additionally, some zones were closed for maintenance and renovation, including the famous and enormous ball court! But still, the sheer size and overall quality of the ruins made the side-trip more than worth the effort and hustle.

The Mayans at Chichen Itza had been conquered by the Toltecs. The Toltecs brought two things to the site: columns and human sacrifice. There was ample evidence of both here.

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An interesting story for all of us was that of the bearded white man who pulled up in a longboat with a serpent on it around 500 B.C. and taught the Mayans metalworking. With our Seattle backgrounds, we all looked at each other and said, “Viking.” Turns out we’re not the only ones with this theory:
Mayan-Viking connection

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If only the Mayans were known for their love of oily fish and cheese in a tube I would be more convinced.

Our photos from Chichen Itza

Afterward, we stopped briefly at a nearby cenote, just long enough to get an eyeful of Russians in Speedos, and then off to a descent buffet lunch (complete with traditional dance accompaniment). We were then handed off to a second bus, which dropped us at the side of the road outside Tulum an hour or so later. From there, the five of us (Eric, Tim, Chad, Megan, and I) crammed into a compact taxi with all our gear and rode literally into the sunset.

— Rachel

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