The Journal  

12 December 2005

Chichén Itzá

Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Chichén Itzá, Yucatán , Mexico

December 1

The Yucatán Peninsula is covered in Mayan ruins, but we chose to visit only the two most famous ones. The ruins at Chichén Itzá lie between Mérida and Cancun , just off MEX 180. You pass through a small town by the same name as you exit the main highway. Piste.

Once a major Mayan and Toltec city, Chichén Itzá was abandoned before the Spanish arrived and has been heavily excavated and restored during the twentieth century. The ruins were the most touristy of the archeological sites we visited in Mexico , with expensive restaurants and snacks shops inside the museum, a light show at night and walkways lined with locals, hawking their souvenirs. That fact didn't make the site any less impressive, with their large pelota field and towering temples that were built with the precision of the Mayan calendar and give a spectacular view of the Yucatán jungle, an expanse of trees interrupted only by the occasional water or cellular tower.

  Grupo de las Mil Columnas or Group of the Thousand Columns can be seen in the clearing amongst the vast stretch of jungle in the Yucatán.

  El Castillo or the Pyramid of Kukulcan has a stairway on its four sides which each have 91 steps.

  La Plataforma de los Craneos or Platform of Skulls once held the heads of sacrificial victims.

  La Casa Colorada or Red House is named after the red paint that once covered its inside walls.

  La Avenida de los Hawkers. This walkway was lined with vendors selling obsidian replicas of the ruins, wooden Mayan masks and woven shawls, always for "A good price, Amigo."

  This iguana was sunning itself on the ruins at Chichén Itzá. Many of the lizards could be seen perched on the tops of the structures, out of reach from tourists.

  A long way down. This tourist uses the rope provided to climb back down the 91 steps of El Castillo.

  Dogs, dogs, everywhere. Dozens of dogs roamed the ruins, lounging in the shade or hanging around trash cans, but they were always wary of approaching persons.

  Jeremiah squints through the Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichén Itzá.


Holly looks around in El Baño de Vapor or Steam Bath situated in the eastern side of the ruins. Photo by Jeremiah.


All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus