Mexico 2017 – Part 3: Chichén Itzá

An alarm set at 4 AM is never a welcome sound. Alas, that was my only chance of getting out of Holbox with a bus, and thus avoid paying an outrageous amount of money for a taxi.

My next stop was the famous archeological site of Chichén Itzá, home to one of the modern wonders of the world: the temple of Kukulkan.

I visited the site in the afternoon and luckily it wasn’t completely overrun by tourists. There were many, as always, but at least I could get a couple of decent shots without anybody in them.

The real spectacle, however, began at 8 PM, with the so-called “Noches de Kukulkan”: a guided tour and spectacle that explains the history behind the Itzá people who built this fantastic site.

The temple (a.k.a. el castillo) is even more fascinating when lit up.

Kukulkan, the plumed serpent, is closely related to the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl. You might be familiar with it if you played Age of Empires 2.

He was such a central figure in Mayan religion that all sorts of atrocities and offerings were made in his name.

As a matter of fact, hundreds, if not thousands of prisoners lost their lives on the altar of this temple.

Detail of sculptures at the temple of the jaguar, sacred animal for the Mayans.

During the night show, the game of lights really makes the site “alive”. I was happy to have witnessed that, and learned more about that civilization. However, I wish they had spent more time telling the history of the Itzá people, and their modern descendants.

War and religion were closely interconnected in the Mayan society. Warriors were a both esteemed and respected part of society. They were responsible for bringing home live prisoners, who were then sacrificed and dumped into what they considered the “sacred cenote”.

A cenote is a natural pool, source of water and often used as a religious site. In this picture: the Ik Kil cenote.

I went to an open cenote myself and it’s cool experience. If no tourists are there, you can enjoy a calm and quiet “pool” all by yourself.

You feel like swimming in the middle of an “egg”, as the cave around you can be several meters tall, and the water below you several meters deep.

Once I finished my visit to the cenote, I miraculously hailed a bus to Valladolid, without waiting one single minute under the sun. Pure luck.

From there, I went to Tulum, where the next part of my travel will take place.

Looking forward to more beach and seaside action, before deciding where to go next.