Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico – On to Chichen Itza
This picture is from my last entry. We had a great one day outing snorkeling in the Caribbean and in two cenotes. Cenotes are places where the ground has dropped and since the water table is so high it fills with water. Sometimes saltwater, sometimes freshwater. This was a freshwater cenote with cave that go back for miles. We were snorkeling so obviously we didn’t go into the caves.
From Tolum we took a short bus ride to Valladolid, a very pretty colonial town in mid Yucatan. It was Carnival there and the whole town was celebrating. So many friendly people!! A beautiful town square right out the door of the youth hostel we were staying at. (Yes they do allow geezers to stay at youth hostels.)
From Valladolid it was a short bus ride to Chichen Itza, which is (I think) the largest archeological site in Mexico. It was mind-boggling the amount of stonework the Mayans accomplished during their period of prosperity. (Footnote: the Mayan culture is still around in the Yucatan. They are, for the most part, very poor and isolated and they have been ‘christianized’.) At this site you could climb the largest temple, which was a very strenuous hike up. I forget how many steep steps but I got to the top and walked into a chamber that goes around to the other side, walked out and was immediately struck with pretty severe vertigo. You are on top of this massive structure, you look out and see miles of jungle and the ruins of the city below you, but the sides are so steep you can’t see the steps and you feel like you are standing on the edge of a cliff. It took me ten or fifteen minutes to calm my heart and walk to the edge and see that it wasn’t a sheer drop. These people built these structures without the help of machines. To me it would take a lifetime just to carve out a few of the huge blocks used to build them. Many of these blocks had very intricate pictograph drawings on them, actually it’s Mayan story telling if you can read their language. Fascinating!
I think I better speed up and get on with this commentary/journal.
From there, Richard (Ricardo from here on) and I took a bus to Merida, which is a much lager city in the North East Yucatan. I have been interested in experiencing this town because I have been told that it was a very friendly, family oriented town in Mexico. It is, and it’s very beautiful, with town square parks everywhere. People around here still derive joy form just going to the square and hanging out either solo or as whole families. Each park had a church on one side, and depending on what part of town, there would be vendors, restaurants, and business around it. Here’s some Yucatan trivia: Located in Merida is the oldest Cathedral on the mainland Americas (North, South and Central.) There is one older, but it is on an island in the Caribbean off the coast of Central America. (Please don’t ask me dates and distances. Ricardo is in charge of those details.)