Mexico again…

The coach to Valladolid (second class of course) took us 3.5 hours. Our CS host, Tony picked us up from the bus station and took us to his restaurant, although it looked more like a bar in a small village in Poland. It was Friday 4pm, the bar half full, a guy was playing melancholic love songs on the keyboard, some elderly couple awkwardly danced around, the tables were occupied by men who probably happened to be on a leave from prison, and their lady companions were probably reinforcing themselves prior to the night shift in the world’s oldest profession, a very dodgy place. Unfortunately I have no pictures as I didn’t think it was safe to take out my camera at that place…

Fortunately, we did not have to stay there, Tony dropped us off in the center, we walked around the old town and went to the Convent de San Bernardino de Siena (Valladolid residents use the name Sisal), the oldest in the Yucatan and certainly one of the oldest in the New World. Construction began in the 1552 and was completed eight years later. The building had also functioned as a fortress which made sense at the time when the Indians were Christianized with fire and sword. In one room I noticed on the wall a portrait of our Pope and every time in Mexico I said I’m Polish, the Pope was mentioned (or Boniek and Lewandowski 🙂 ). We finished the evening tasting Mexican beer and tequila 🙂

San Servacio Cathedral at the main plaza

San Servacio Cathedral at the main plaza

Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena

Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena

The next day we went to Chichen Itza and I have to admit I couldn’t wait to see these ruins and they did not disappoint but the number of stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs scare. We got there in the morning and most sellers were just setting up everything so we were OK, but then it had started – you can not go near the stand without being accosted, sounds of “jaguars” and “monkeys” are coming from everywhere  – circus on wheels. If you buy something, haggle, up to 30% can be bartered. Best buy in the morning, because the sellers treat the first sale as a good sign.

Hmm, Chichén Itzá … does it look in reality as good as in the pictures? Better 🙂 however, due to the bigger popularity of Chichen than Uxmal, the number of visitors is proportionally greater. It will be quiet-ish in the morning, but tourists will come in waves, bus after bus, so you should arm yourself with patience, but the views of El Castillo (The Castle – Temple of Kukulcan) make up for everything 🙂

The city was founded in the 4-5th century, abandoned in the ninth and again settled in the tenth century. Then probably the Toltecs knocked to the gates of the city, and from that time until about the thirteenth century, the city flourished and in the fifteenth century was abandoned. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was declared one of the seven new wonders of the world. Below are a few photos.

El Castillo - I held my breath...

El Castillo – I held my breath…

The pyramid is actually a calendar. 9 levels separated by stairs there are 18 terraces symbolizing the 18 20-day months. Each of the flights of stairs counts 91 steps, there are 4 of them, add the platform and we have 365 days. Or it could be 18 × 20 = 360, add 4 flights of stairs and platform, and again we have 365 days :)

The pyramid is actually a calendar. 9 levels separated by stairs give 18 terraces symbolizing the 18 20-day months. Each of the flights of stairs counts 91 steps, there are 4 of them, add the platform and we have 365 days. Or it could be 18 × 20 = 360, add 4 flights of stairs and platform, and again we have 365 days 🙂

Temple of the Warriors

Temple of the Warriors

The name comes from carved columns depicting warriors

The name comes from carved columns depicting warriors

The 100 metres long Great Ball Court

The 100 metres long Great Ball Court

The feathered Serpent trying to swallow El Castillo

The feathered serpent trying to swallow El Castillo

El Caracol, the 'snail' in Spanish, is so named due to the spiral staircase inside the tower. It probably was an observatory

El Caracol, the ‘snail’ in Spanish, is so named due to the spiral staircase inside the tower. It probably was an observatory

Chichen is definitely the place you need to visit, do not let the crowds scare you off, there is always a quiet corner to sit and admire in silence. The day ended with a village disco … Cristina from Merida was in Valladolid with another surfer, it was Maria’s last night in Mexico, so at midnight we went to disco. At the beginning we had to go through all the latest hits (yay 😦 ), but closer to the morning DJ sailed into Mexican waters and it was quite interesting. I hope that there is no evidence of me trying to dance salsa 🙂 The next day Maria got on the bus to Cancun, from where she was flying to London and I went back to Merida for two days. Description of the ruins of Mayapan and Campeche in the next post.

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