Chichen Itza Revisited
Last week when the boss asked me to visit Chichen Itza yet again, I must admit my first reaction was a big heavy sigh. Don't get me wrong, I love adventures and new things, but Chichen is not a "new" thing to me, been there, done that, got the t-shirt (literally). It's a long trip and with my "blues", it just seemed a daunting task. I promptly gave myself a giant kick in the ass for being such an ungrateful lump and forced a "hurrah!", reminding myself that when one is down, one must do something, anything to bring one's self up again.
Saturday dawned and I was up and out the door before the roosters crowed. (Ok, no roosters in my hood, but you get the point, too damned early). I met up with the gang from the office for the "fam trip" (for those not in the tourism industry, a "fam trip" means "familiarization", tour providers showing off their wares to those of us who will be selling them). We hopped on the luxury bus and settled in for the long drive. I perked myself up with a few coffees and enjoyed the chat from my absolute favourite guide, Delio. He was my guide at Chichen twice before and once at Tulum, he knows his stuff inside and out and shares history with a light touch and a passion that makes "old rocks" fascinating.
Now, this is a personal blog that sometimes resembles a travel blog, but since I'll be giving the "sales pitch" blog for work, I figure I'll just keep this personal. Don't worry, no long winded rambles about the mathematics of the site or the ancient history, just my own personal reflections based on a number of visits.
The "new" ball court under reconstruction
At the risk of sounding "hippy dippy", I find the place magical. Mysterious. A feeling deep inside my gut that I am standing on the sacred ground. When my feet hit the site, I feel a surge of power inside. (Are we feeling hippy dippy yet?) I've read complaints from tourists about the vendors on the site, but honestly, I really don't even notice them, my attention is totally on the experience of being in the same place where thousands walked thousands of years ago. The tale of the Spanish coming and destroying the site breaks my heart and can almost bring me to tears. I can only imagine how the Maya felt when their lives were ripped from them and their treasures carted away. I can hear the cheers when I am in the ball court and the speeches of the kings when in front of the pyramid. I don't feel sadness when next to the Sacred Cenote where innocents were sacrificed, I feel their great pride in doing what they felt best for their people. I simply feel the power deep down in the soil, an energy that is hard to describe. (Oh yeah, we're deep in hippy dippylandia now).
I have my favourite places within Chichen Itza. The Nunnery with its gaping hole left by an explorer and his dynamite as he searched for treasure. The Church with its intricate and amazingly detailed carvings. The Skull Rack and its rows and rows of severed heads representing the winners of the ball game who were sacrificed to the gods. The "new" ball court which is under reconstruction and changes each time I see it. The Observatory and the incredibly advanced minds it represents.
And so I passed my day, though unfortunately the time at Chichen Itza was too short. We made a stop in Vallodolid to visit the convent (lightning did not strike me down, my heathen soul was spared), a divine Yucatecan lunch and a quick stop at Cenote Zaci. Then back on the bus for the long drive home, ending my fourteen hour day back in the bright lights, big city of Cancun. I'm hoping to return to Chichen Itza for the spring equinox in March, I'd love to witness the serpent of light descending the pyramid and have time to properly roam the grounds on my own. I was glad to be reminded that no matter how many times I visit, Chichen Itza still has magic to share and I look forward to that hippy dippy feeling again.