Of course this trip wouldn't be the same if our guide hadn't been pulled over by the police. We thought he was going to have to pay some money for a "fine" but they let us go--perhaps because they saw us taking pictures?
This is the ball court at Chichen Itza. It was considered the ultimate field to play on--think of the pros vs. college fields that you would find at other ruins. The players had to score a goal by using their hips to knock a ball through a hoop mounted on the side of a wall. The lucky winners were then sacrificed to the gods.
I tinted this picture, so you could see some of the detail. They have so many ruins in Mexico that they don't have the money or time to restore all of them, so it's hard to do justice to everything you see in these photos, but just imagine only having a chisel to do this kind of work on rocks.
This was at one end of the ball court and it was reserved for the high priests and nobles. The sound in the stadium was amazing. Our guide stood at one side and clapped three times and it echoed loud and clear at the other side. Imagine how intense it must've been during a game.
This was a wall on the grounds that had skulls carved all over it. I don't personally go for decorating with skulls, but there were lots of vendors selling skulls painted in various rainbow colors.
A skull close up.
This guy, his name is Nephi. Really. That's his name. His dad's name is Helaman. They run an LDS tour of the various ruins called Helaman Tours. They teach you all of the symbolism of the various carvings and what each building was used for. It was an incredible experience and well worth the money. There are no placards to explain anything while you're there, so you want a guide.
This is it--the temple that is one of the seven wonders of the world. You're not allowed to walk up it anymore because back in 2005 a woman fell down--there's 91 steps on each side all carved in stone, so you can imagine how that felt. For those of you who aren't mathematicians, 91 steps x four sides = 364 + the platform on top = 365. And, that craziness you hear about how the Mayan calendar stops in 2012--not true. The Mayan calendar cycles through every 52 years. 2012 is when it ends this current cycle.
These big guys are crawling all over Mexico. Not only did we see them at every site, but our hotel had them too. They don't let you get very close, but they sure aren't worried about being around all the tourists.
So, after lunch, Nephi took us to the cenote called Ik Kil. It was absolutely beautiful!!! That is the natural color of the water and you can't see them, but there are little black fish swimming all around down there too. These cenotes are constantly getting fresh water circulating through some underwater system. The Mayans used these underground lakes to sacrifice people and bathe for rituals. But, we use them for...
JUMPING!!! It's a 20 foot drop which doesn't seem like much until you're up there. It's a rush. In fact, here's a video of Derek and McKay.
It's only about 30 seconds long. (If it will work.)
We are so in love.
The couple that did the tour with us were named McKay and Rachel Barlow. We had never met them before, but now they are our best friends. Seriously though, we had such a great time with them and wished that we'd all been staying at a resort together, so we could've done more activities with them. It's such a small world, but McKay's roommate in college married my roommate from Spain. Plus, the blog that I looked on to learn about the tour we took ended up being McKay's brother's blog. Small, small world!
Lastly, we visited the ruins of Ek Balam which were smaller than Chichen Itza in total area excavated (for now), but completely worth the time because you can still climb and explore on these ruins. We climbed to the top of the temple which is where I took this picture of some of the other ruins. The temple at Ek Balam is the third tallest ruin in Mexico, behind a building at Tulum and Coba, but taller than the temple you saw at Chichen Itza. I can't remember how many steps it was, but they were steep and there were no handrails.
You can see how narrow the passage way between the buildings is.
We were able to be right next to these ruins which were discovered only a couple of years ago after the wall which was hiding them accidentally fell down. Pay special attention to the hands on the statues.
This tour was one of the greatest things we did while we were there. If you ever have the chance--GO!!!