We went to Mexico for the beaches and the sunshine, but we were shocked by the Mayan ruins and the giant sink holes that exist just a few hours inland. Going to Mexico to lay on the beach and finish a few too many margaritas is just kind of… what you do on a vacation in Mexico.
But when we learned that the ancient Mayan village of Chichen Itza was just 2 hours away by bus, we couldn’t skip making a day trip to see one of the new wonders of the world – even if at the time, all we knew of Chichen Itza was that it was a big old pyramid.
This would be the THIRD wonder of the world that we’d experienced in our little lifetimes – the four of us toured the Colosseum together in high school, James visited the Taj Mahal in college, and last year, Mollie, Julie and I made the trek to Machu Picchu. Wonders on wonders.
Chichen Itza, located on the Yucatán Peninsula, is probably best known for the massive step pyramid known as El Castillo, but REALLY, that pyramid was the just centerpiece of an ancient city. Back in the day, it was a sacred site and one of the biggest cities of the entire Mayan world.
We spent one morning at Chichen Itza – the only cloudy day of the trip! – with a guide who walked us through the village, explaining the purposes that each ruin had served in its heyday and sharing tidbits of Mayan culture.
According to UNESCO…
“Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, different peoples have left their mark on the city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their stone monuments and artistic works. The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. Several buildings have survived, such as the Warriors’ Temple, El Castillo and the circular observatory known as El Caracol.”
A sinkhole used for human sacrifices…them Mayans was ruthless
Ik Kil Cenote
After our history lesson and after gaining a huge appreciation for the ancient Mayan culture, we had one of the MOST DELICIOUS lunches my tongue has ever had the pleasure to taste, and we were on our way to Ik Kil Cenote.
(Fun fact: ‘cenote’ is just the Spanish word for ‘sink hole.’)
Thar she blows
By the time we got to the cenote, it was drizzling, about 55 degrees, we were sleepy, and our stomaches were full. We had the option to go swimming, but there was a collective “nah” all around, and we opted to just stand there and watch.
Then we decided to just down into the cenote a little and watch from one of the overlooks. It DID look like fun. And we WERE in Mexico. And we DID bring our damn bathing suits after all. And YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, AS THEY SAY.
WE WERE GOING IN.
Julie and I weren’t actually wearing our bathing suits yet, so we quite literally changed into them for an audience of about 50+ people on the edge of a Mexican cenote. Again, YOLO. Our nonchalant attitude paused, however, when Mollie and I reached the upper ledge from which we were to actually jump into the cenote – a height of about 20 or 30 feet that seemed MUCH higher when on the edge of jumping.
Alas. We all jumped. TWICE. And we swam in the blueish greenish water with the little cenote fishies and looked up at the sky through the long earthy vines and felt the raindrops falling on our faces and it was all very ethereal and fairytale-like for a few moments. And we were so happy to be childish and not care about being wet and take the leap and live our damn twenty-something lives.
Have you ever visited Chichen Itza or the Ik Kil Cenote?