Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PART 2: Day 3: April 23rd 2009 - Thursday Chichen Itza

I accidentally posted this a little early, so sorry that the part 1 & 2 are out of order.
***updated Wednesday evening (4-29)***

Here we are, arrived at Chichen Itza

This was our first site of the temple (it's not a pyramid because those are in Egypt) 'Chi' part of Chichen means: mouth, the 'chen' part means: well and the 'Itza' is the family name. But when you pronounce it, it is as if you're pronouncing three words. But it means at the mouth of the well of the Itza. Isn't it a gorgeous day!!??!!

Our tour guide talked to us for about an hour and fifteen minutes. She took us over to the base (no one could climb the temple, it is too old) and had us clap, the clap made a bird sound echo come from the little door at the top. She explained the Mayan culture and how they were very into numbers and religion beautifying practices. They had three calendars, 1-was solar 2-was agricultural. The third was them combined. Every month had 20 days, and 12 months and their calendar is approximately 2500 years going from something BC to 2012, then after 2012 their calendar just repeats - it's a circle. A lot of people thought the mayans were 'predicting the end' but they never thought that, because their calendar is a circle and continuous. If you do the math there are five days missing in their year, and it was said any baby born during those five days would have a very unlucky life. Can you believe what five days those are??? YOU NEVER WILL.... August 13th - August 18th! Can you freakin' believe that craziness??? Yup and I fall smack dab in the middle... that explains a lot ;-)

Back to the Mayan culture, their idea of royalty is very different from ours today. When a baby was born cross eyed they thought this was a sign of intelligence. And a lot of times they would make their babies cross eyed by putting a ball on it's nose so the baby would look at it until it was cross eyed. They would also put boards on the babies heads while they were infants to help shape the heads to look flat and oblong (like cone heads). They thought cross eyed and flat heads were beautiful.

Since the Mayans were very into numbers and days they built the temple so that twice a year at the spring equinox and the fall equinox the sun cast a shadow on the building that created the image of a snake, I took a picture, but then I also took a picture of the example they had that showed this. Can you see the snake? this is the only side that has snake heads at the bottom of the stairs.

There was a significance in the snake, being that the snake represented the under world where as the bird (like I mentioned before when you clapped at the base you could hear the bird sound from the top of the temple), the bird to them signified heaven. They would do human sacrifices at the top and cut out their beating heart to feed their gods by burning it and the smoke would be the food to the gods in heaven. While doing this they would have the high priest people dancing at the base to 'distract' the underworld gods so they wouldn't steal the heaven god's 'food' (heart smoke).

This was the venus platform. It showed the three stages of life, heaven/hell/ and here on the side there that's in the picture. There were a lot of carvings on this and our guide explained most of them. We were standing in the hot sun on this part of the tour so for me it was hard to pay attention to every detail she was talking about. But then we moved to the shade and learned more about human sacrifices.

This was their great ball court, there were many ball courts located in mayan culture but this one was the largest. They would try and get the ball in those two holes on the side, see them? They would hit the ball with their hips. You can barely see them on the sides of the big picture, they are really small holes (9 meters off the ground). The king would sit there at the end, that little stand thing. No one was allowed to touch the ball field, only the players - not even the king, he was not allowed to go below the edge which if you make the picture larger you can see that the steps end before the bottom of the field. The court was 178 yards long and 75 yards wide. And if you stand at one end you can whisper and hear it at the other end, same with side to side... there were acoustic effects as well. If you stand in the center and clap it echos seven times - representing the amount of players on each team. Also if you talk in the middle you can't hear it on the outsides.

This was on the side of the ball court. The skull in the bottom left, is the center of the court. And represents the lord of the underworld. To the right there is a ball player kneeling and where his head is suppose to be there are seven snakes coming out. If you follow one of the snakes it turns into a lily signifying there must be death to have life. On the left side of the skull, which you can't really see, there is another ball player and he is holding the head of the ball player on the right. The skull is facing him with smoke coming out of his mouth, talking to him - this is how mayans depicted speak. This drawing had fourteen ball players, seven to the left and seven to the right. Our guide also told us at the end of the game one of the captains were sacrificed. It is not known if it was the winning team or the losing team, our guide favored the idea that it was the winning team because it was an honorable death and the mayans cherished honorable deaths.
There was also a cenote on the grounds, but we choose to walk to the south plaza and checked out some more ruins instead of the cenote. (our tour guide recommended the south plaza over the cenote) But the cenote was where they did human sacrifices and not bad human sacrifices like you think. They believed the god 'chaak' was at the bottom of cenotes and it was good to go to this god. Chaak is also the god that is at the top of the Chichen Itza temple. So they would tell young adults that they were going to talk to chaak and that their life was going to be spent talking to and entertaining chaak, so when they were thrown in the cenote, no one actually believed they were going to die or drown, they thought they were just going to the bottom where chaak was. Unfortunately no one survived.
The south plaza had many other temples and ruins here is Ossario. This is just a smaller version of the main temple but without the top. Instead at the top of the stairs there is a natural cave 12 meters below. It was a high priest temple.
This is the only round mayan structure. It is called "El Caracol" an observatory temple. It was built bigger at least nine times. Instead of building a new structure the mayans would just build on top of what they already had to make it bigger and better. There were many parts of this structure that lined up with stars and what not going along with how the mayans were so into astronomy.

This is Nunnery and "La Iglesia" they were both located around where we took this. The picture we took is actually the church and the nunnery is just on the other side of it.
Behind me is another temple that the family of Itza lived in.
Kyle even TOUCHED a ruin :-)
This was in the lil museum as we exited the park, it was a model of what the area once looked like.
Ah back to our bus, boy were we hot!!
We bought a few souvenirs onsite, it was funny cuz the vendors would say "one dollar, one dollar anything one dollar" then when it was time for us to find somethings to get we'd walk up to them and they'd say "one dollar for that (and point to a miniature thing), that is 20 dollars (pointing to what we wanted)" lol. Anyway we bought a mayan calendar which is this round plate thing, they had some made out of mud (or clay) and then others in bone. This one was in bone... VERY STURDY! Cuz on the way home it fell on kyle's head. oops my bad, I put it up top with our beach towel. (the mask you see beside it is what we got in Playa del Carmen the day before)
We watched 'Click' on the ride home. Yeah the movie with Adam Sandler, LOL OH OH! OH OH! It was actually the perfect movie cuz it make me realize how fast time does fly by and to try and enjoy every minute of it!!! I learned that with the Wedding, I can't believe how fast it was over. I really did feel like I soaked up our honeymoon though, so much relaxing time and just breathing in the beach life and their culture, I loved it!
Click was over before we made it back and they put on a live concert of the Beegees... WTF we wish we had earplugs for that!
Back to the resort, we showered all the sweat and sunscreen off and bought some postage and mailed our post cards. Then off to the italian buffet "Piemonte" We weren't too impressed with their food, it was good, but still not too impressive. I had some pasta, cheese of course, and other stuff I don't remember. Here we are being goofy with the statues!
After dinner we walked down to the beach and listened to the waves for a bit.... ahhh heaven!
Then we wanted to check the internet for the penny smashing machine in Playa del Carmen (I collect smashed pennies and I read there was a peso smashing machine) well we had to buy an hour just to check one thing, so we checked our email as well and used some time the rest of the trip. Turns out the smasher is no longer there :-( so I didn't get my smashed peso.
The theme of this night was Casino... here is a picture as we're walking back to our room, yeah we're old farts! Hey it was a long day, we were very exhausted and we were taking a Cozumel tour the next day so we needed to be rested!

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