Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vacaciones de México: El día Cinco

Day Five: Saturday Oct. 7th

We awoke at 5am and departed from Merida at 6am. We said our last goodbyes to the Dominguez family and were on our way in Ruben's truck. Ruben was driving us to Chichén Itzá and then onto Playa De Carmen on the Carribbean Sea.
It takes about 2 hours to get to Chichén Itzá from Merida. We wanted to be there early because it gets very hot quickly. We arrived at opening time of 8am. We were the first visitors to arrive. Thankfully, it is off-season for tourists, so there would not be too many people there. We went to the bathroom, paid our entrance fee and walked into the grounds of Chichén Itzá.
There are not words to describe this moment. It was amazing. I could not believe I was going to see a Mayan pyramid. To me, this was one of the great wonders of the world. I am in awe of how they built it. There was much more to see than just the pyramid and we walked around to see most of the sites. It is a large area and I wish that I had time to tell you about all the history. It is very interesting. Ruben did a great job telling us all about the history of it. Chichen Itza is the ancient city whose name means "in the mouth at the Itzáe's Well", was, in its time of grandeur (between 800 and 1200 A.D.), the centre of political, religious and military power in Yucatán, if not all of South-eastern Meso America.
We were unable to climb to the top like we had hoped to, but apparently they had it roped off. At one time, people could climb to the top, but not now. However, it was beautiful and the time of day was great. I was a little disappointed that we had not charged our camera battery the day before, as it shutdown about half-way through our excursion. We did get in several great pics though.
There were many little vendors along some of the paths selling their goods---like pottery, jewelry, souvenirs, etc. Sophia had been given some money from her Uncle Dave for her birthday to spend in Mexico. So, she did a little shopping. She bought a little braclet and a mexican shirt. She decided to save some of her money to spend later on in the trip. I bought a plate that had the Mayan calendar engraved in it. I was also given a paper that explained the symbols and days. Ruben was a great help in wheeling and dealing with the merchants. He was very good at bargaining.

We saw the sacred Cenota. The legendary Sacred Cenote (natural waterhole) of Chichén ltzá was special to the people for its religious and social significance.On occasions, the sacrifice of human life was part of the offerings made to the god of water. There are Cenotes in Mexico that you can swim in, but obviously we would not want to swim in this one.
The ball court was interesting. I was struck by the excellent accoustics of the stadium. The panels along the side walls are decorated with scenes from the ball game and its players. One of the scenes, the beheading of a player in center field witnessed by the players of both teams, is one of the most dramatic examples of Maya art. The scene not only illustrates the horror faced by the players but also the sacred importance of the game. At one time it was believed that the losers were destined to die but new theories have been proposed by researchers. Some think that the captain of the winning team was sacrificed since his team's triumph made him a fitting offering to the gods.
We then walked past the Tzompantli. The Tzompantli platform was a centrally-located platform used to display the skulls of enemy warriors defeated in battle as well as the heads of sacrificial victims.
We went to see the El Caracol, the Observatory, was dedicated to the study of the movement of the stars and planets. We were able to climb to the top of this one. The steps are steep,but big. It was easy going up, but coming down was a little challenging, especially when carrying a baby in your arms.
We left Chichén Itzá and headed towards the Carribbean. It is suppose to take us about 2 hours from Chichén Itzá to Cancun area and well, we ended up on the back roads going through several small villages. And, each time you come to a village, there are huge bumps (these speed bumps area all over the Yucatan) and you really have to slow down. (These are kind of annoying---I am glad we don't have these all over in USA). It started to pour down rain part of the way. It was coming down hard and in heavy sheets. What is ironic was that it was still about 94 degrees outside. Thankfully, we were inside the truck. Our luggage in the back however was getting a bit wet. And, if rain could not delay us anymore, then we would find ourselves in one of the villages behind a parade of people. What was this?? They were having some sort of celebration and were all part of a parade in the rain going down the road. There was no way to pass the crowd. We could only follow them. We were scared to find out how long this parade of people would travel. Thankfully, they did turn rather soon onto a side street. And as we passed, we saw the leader of the parade with a plate over his head and on that plate was a big pig's head. Ucck! Did I mention that Ric was driving at this point?? We had to laugh!
We finally arrived at our destination in about 3 hours. We were staying at a place called La Posada Del Capitan Lafitte.
We planned to stay in this little resort owned by Ruben's friend. It was located in Playa De Carmen, about 40 minutes south of Cancun. It was gorgeous here. The ocean was bright blue and clear and beautiful. The clouds however were starting to form again. We unloaded our luggage and checked into our rooms.
We then headed out to the town of Playa De Carmen to have a light snack before dinner. Our hotel was all-inclusive except for lunch and specialty drinks. So, we thought it would be a good idea to see the town and get a light snack. We went to 5th Avenue where there are a lot of little restaurants and shops. Of course, we got there, it started to down pour again. We made it to a little Pizza stand and had some very good tasting pizza and soda while we waited for the rain to pass. It did not take too long. We looked at a few shops and then headed back to our resort. Ric, Ruben, and Sophia swam in the pool while Lydia and I laid down for a nap. They also treated themselves to a Pina Colada. Sophia's of course was virgin. I couldn't wait to have my real Pina Colada later on in the evening. We ate dinner in the dining area and was so impressed. You could walk outside the little door on the side of the restaurant and step into the kidding! It was amazing. I, of course, had to touch the water. So, I stepped out the door, took two steps and walla I was in the Carribbean Sea at 7:30pm at night. What luxury!
We had a nice meal and then the boys were very tired and decided to take a little rest before the evening fun. I got the girls dressed in their bathing suits and let them play in the sand and water puddles right outside our little cottage. They had a great time and were sandy from head to toe. Ric took a snooze in the hammica outside on the little porch. I then decided to take the girls to the pool and swim with them there. Ric and Ruben still snoozing away (it was suppose to be a short nap---haa haa!). The girls and I swam for a bit and then I enjoyed a Pina Colada, got Lydia & Sophia a sprite at the outside bar area. We had the whole area to ourselves! I could not wait for Ric and Ruben to awake---it was now 10:45pm. So, I went back to the cottage as Ric was awaken a little to tell him of the time. I got the girls dressed into pajamas and well needless to say we all went to bed ---and the boys did not wake up from their "short nap"!

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