Day 2: Up at 7:30 and out the door at 8:30am ready to see Chichen Itza, only to find out that we were prevented from leaving our hotel due to a Mexican Independence Day parade. Apparently Cinco de Mayo isn’t the only Independence Day in Mexico. The parade was made up of kids- 100’s of them- all dressed in symbolic costumes. Some were revolutionaries, some were in traditional Mayan dress, and others were wearing their school uniforms. We enjoyed the parade for 45 minutes and then had our first taste of juevos Mexicanas- Mexican style scrambled eggs- with hand made corn tortillas. Of course, the local habanero sauce was applied.
We left Piste around 10am. Luckily we still beat the tourist crowds at Chichen Itza and we didn’t have to wait long to get in. Our guide took us on a two hour tour. Amazing history, customs and architecture were explained, but the part I remember best was the reason people can no longer climb the treacherous steps of the pyramid. A couple of years ago a woman fell from half way up and took four children down with her. It was a tragic end for all of them.
The guide told us about the shadow of the snake that appears every March 21st (the first day of spring). In ancient times, the people believed that was a sign from the gods and if the snake didn’t appear (due to cloudy weather we know now), the gods were angry and a human had to be sacrificed. The people chose the very best human they could for the sacrifice and it was considered an honor to be chosen. Hmmm. . .
After our visit to the 8th wonder of the world (or so our guide said), we were ready for a nice refreshing swim in the cenote.
(I found out when I returned to work that two of my students were also at Chichen Itza on Tuesday, but we never ran into each other)
Ik Kil was the name of this particular cenote and it was breathtaking. These natural underground lakes look like something you would only find described in a fantasy novel. You have to walk down several flights of stairs to reach the water since it is underground. The water is about 500 feet deep and there were little black fish swimming in this one. Apparently the Mayans used to sacrifice humans in these, too, so you can imagine swimming above the skeletons of ancient people. When you look up you see a hole in the ground where some sun shines in. Lush vegetation grows on all of the surrounding cave-like walls and long vines reach down into the water. Several small waterfalls surround the larger body of water.
Ava cried the second she touched the water because it was cold, but she loved watching Daddy jump into the water from the 20 foot cliff!
We finally drug ourselves from the water and climbed back into the car. Our next destination: a villa on the beach 17 km from the nearest city, Progreso. Sounds lovely doesn’t it?