i’m not sure why it took me nearly a month to do so, but i have failed to write about the other, more educational, part of my mexican trip, which resulted in me looking the way i did in the above picture. but first, let me rewind.
i am an art history junkie. people have bucket lists, i have one too, but i also have art bucket lists. pieces of artwork, ruins, museums to see before i die. i knocked a good chunk of these off when i studied abroad, but my list is still incredibly long. when angela told me she was going to have her wedding in cancun, my first thought wasn’t “tequila and suntans!” it was, “CHICHEN ITZA!!!” i know most don’t share the same feeling i do when seeing a piece of artwork for the first time, so allow me to attempt to explain. for four years i spent a minimum of 6 hours a week (that’s just class time), every semester, studying pieces of art that covered the gamut from ancient to greek to modern to rococo (bonus points if you know what that means). during all those hours i developed my favorites and usually ended up writing multi (and by multi, i mean 10-20) page papers on said pieces of art. this time and energy cultivated a love for art of all kinds. i love learning what went into that piece of art, why the artist painted it and what was going on in that time, causing its creation. places i want to visit, to track pieces of art, run from spain (Picasso’s Guernica and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights both at the prado), to brussels (to see David’s The Death of Marat), and to istanbul, which is the top of the top of my list, to see, well….the entire city. i could keep going, but this entry is getting long enough and for the sake of putting you to sleep, i’ll get on with my story. bottom line: art+history+fabulous cities=meghan’s passion for art ? meghan’s love for shopping. i really can do math!
back to mexico. upon my arrival to le meridien, my first stop was not the pool, it was to my concierge to book my tour of the mayan ruins. 7:30 am the following morning, i was on my way. thankfully, there were 2 girls on the tour who were around my age and took me in until their wing for the entire day. it was so comforting to have them to group off with and, as you’ll see, endure the catastrophic weather. perhaps the most memorable thing i took away from them happened on our way to the first stop (ik kil, massive sinkhole) when 2 adolescent boys across the aisle from us whined, when they weren’t fighting, the entire trip. lisa’s response to them, “all children are precious snowflakes. precious, precious snowflakes.” insert sarcasm code here.
so, first stop, ik kil. when i was told we’d be stopping here on the way to chichen itza, i was less than amused. giant sinkhole? not on my bucket list. however, upon arrival and first glance into it, my sass was uncharacteristically silenced. this place is more beautiful than i obviously could have imagined or appreciated and i am so glad we made the stop. according to alfonso, our tour guide, central america is the only place in the world where sinkholes of this size exist. also according to him, they were created by huge meteors hitting the earth. ok, alfonso. the water is about 75 degrees, entirely rain fed and i wish i knew how they built the steps down to the entry of it. it’s pretty spectacular.
moving on to chichen itza, or as alfonso corrected, it’s not “chicken pizza”. it had sprinkled off and on the entire day (it rains 300 days/year in the yucatan) but as our bus pulled up to chichen itza, the heavens opened up and spewed. i mean buckets upon buckets. the soil in mexico is only 6-10 inches deep before you hit solid limestone. the result: flooding. lots and lots of flooding. the result: wet tourists. ruined shoes. bare minimum amounts of pictures taken (grrrrr). and pissy tourists.
tours are rain or shine, so onward we went. despite the driving rain, no umbrella and grey skies, my thought at first glance of the pyramid of kukulkán, was “holy shit.” (sorry grandma) the pyramid served as a mayan calendar, with 91 steps on each side and a final platform at the top, equaling 365 steps. it doesn’t take a genius or a professor of antiquities to realize what lies at chichen itza is an engineering masterpiece. i’m not going to go into all the historical details (you’re welcome). however, read this, it’s excellent. i will, however, share the most awesomest (lexicon) part of the day. alfonso explained that after the mayans created this “city” of sorts, the toltec warriors invaded chichen itza in the 10th century and thus combined both cultures. what most articles about chichen itza don’t tell you is that while the mayans principle symbol was a serpent, the toltec’s were eagles. evidence of the toltecs taking over and influencing the architecture shines when you stand at a certain point, in front of the main pyramid and, with dry hands, clap. very hard and very short claps. when clapping like this repeatedly, the echo produced from the bounce between the main pyramid, to a building behind and back to the pyramid sounds exactly, and i mean, exactly like an eagle. amazement. also almost as interesting is the fact that the mayans abandoned chichen itza for unknown reasons. perhaps they farmed the soil to the point where it was ‘dead,’ or maybe they were run out. according to alfonso, researchers aren’t sure. mystifying.
we hurried through the other main areas: the ball court, the temple for the rain gods (irony at it’s best) among others i don’t remember bc i was bordering on a tantrum resembling a 3 year old. archeologists are also working every day at recovering a temple they discovered underneath the pyramid of kukulkán. don’t the cuts into the earth look like a trifle? i’m not sure i’ll be back to cancun, or chichen itza for that matter, but should i or you make a visit, who knows what other structures of historical significance they will have found.
you’ll note that i said “according to alfonso” a lot. his pride and loyalty to mexico along with often indistinguishable sarcasm left me wondering if he was being serious on multiple occasions. however, after the eagle thing, i would have eaten dirt had he told me it was chocolate. bottom line: if you make a trip to cancun or any of the surrounding areas and do not make a visit to these historical (it’s a world wonder, people!!!) ruins, you’re really robbing yourself of a truly remarkable memory. weather aside, or maybe the weather is what will make me remember it, that day was one for the history books. pun so absolutely intended.