Chichen Itza

Another worldly wonder
Yucatan, Mexico

 


Another morning up at 4am.

I am not doing too well getting used to the 6 hour time difference!!

Chichen Itza – one of the 7 new wonders of the world. (Along with the roman coliseum (tick), Christ redeemer (not yet), the great wall of china (tick), the Taj Mahal (tick), machu picchu (almost made it), Petra (not yet).

The only realistic way of getting there and back in a day is to join a tour. I am not a fan of being on a tour. I much prefer to do things myself without having to rely on other people.

Talking of relying on other people…we were supposed to depart at 9am. As one person didn’t turn up until nearly 10am (and we waited for them!!) we were already late.

It took 90 minutes to drive to Valladolid. We drove through a couple of small villages, but it was mostly just nothing. A large wide pale grey road, with trees both sides, of nothingness.

Valladolid is the third largest city in the Yucatan. It’s an old colonial city, small streets lined with small colourful buildings, all leading to the main square – with it’s large, old church – the Church of San Bernadino.

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We didn’t stay long, but just enough time to wander (thankfully alone and not in a group!) around a few streets and try some of the local alcohol – made from honey! Tastes rather like sambuca, but you can taste the honey!

Half an hour later, we stopped of at a cenote – Ik Kil. This one feels like it was just built for tour groups – and felt rather fake. The water wasn’t at all clear (like it had been yesterday). Everything was artificial, from the planted trees, the walls and even the surrounding floor around the pool was man made. I’ve some looked it up – and apparently it is a real cenote! Just rather dressed up.

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Back on the bus and shortly time for lunch. Lunch was included in the trip – and there was a large selection of salads, rice and fajitas. It was surprisingly nice. They had some people performing a traditional dance – with beer bottles balanced on their heads, random, but quite clever.

Then, finally at 3pm (!!!) what this whole day (of faffing about so far) was supposed to be – Chichen itza!

The entrance was lined with stalls selling the usual tourist fare – magnets, t shirts, odd status, masks etc. At the end of the row, you are right out infront of it – the main Castillo pyramid!

It was surprisingly quiet in the grounds – I was expecting hoards of people, but there weren’t at all. Wandered around the grounds – not as large as I was expecting.

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At one end – the Great Ball Court, a ‘corridor’ where the sound echos around. Apparently no one knows why the sound is different depending whether you stand at one end of the rectangular space compared with the other end.

A few other random pyramids were dotted around. Some carvings were still visible on some of the rocks. At another end, lots and lots of columns. This is the temple of the warriors.

The main pyramid stands 30m high, is a symbol of Mayan astronomy and has some rather clever features – there are 365 steps leading up to the top, and every equinox (spring and autumn) the sun shines at a particular angle where the shadows give the impression of a moving snake down the side of the pyramid. By 4.30pm the park was closing, so we were being herded out. But almost the last people here!

 

The drive back was rather unexciting and we were back in Tulum by 7.30pm.

When planning my trip I thought it was a great idea to head on the night bus to Belize. It leaves Tulum at 12.45am.

Now, I’m feeling that wasn’t such a clever idea. I am very tired.

Hours and hours of waiting. When I got round to getting a taxi to the ADO bus station (less than 5mins away by car), I had a challenge getting the hotel, and then the taxi driver to understand where I wanted to go to.

I was saying ADO bus (how an English person would say ADO ie ah-doe). Until we eventually worked out where I wanted to go was the ah-day-oh station. Well, I got there.

And some more waiting. The bus was supposed to leave at 12.45am.

We ended up leaving at 1am. The bus was fairly empty and I ended up with a whole 2 seats to myself, so was able to sleep.

At 4.30am we reached the Mexican border. Now here it is interesting.

One at a time you enter a small office.

They demand you pay them 306 pesos (£14). Which, by what I can see goes straight into their pockets. I did know about this corruption before hand, so kept 300 pesos back.

I didn’t know about the inflation – so I was 2 pesos short (12p).

Apparently he then needed to ‘report’ me for not having enough money. I told him to go ahead. He looked at me, stamped my passport and said I could leave.

What a completely ridiculous country. Goodbye Mexico.

Let’s hope Belize isn’t quite so corrupt.

After just over half an hour, the whole bus was stamped out of Mexico. Back onto the bus for the few minute ride across the border.

Here, we had to get off with all of our bags and walk a short way into a large building. No forms to fill out here, just answer a few verbal questions (where are you going – uh looks like Belize?! How long for, what is your profession). And stamped in. Easy.

Also had to walk through customs, who asked if I had any fruits or vegetables. Back on the bus and we were off at 5.15am (although now new country, new time zone – it’s 4.15am here) for the final few hours.

2014 country number 5 – Belize

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