We did it. We got up early this morning to beat the tourist buses from Cancun to Chichen Itza. We almost opted out of seeing these ruins on account of the cost and the tourist trap, but you don’t go to India and miss seeing the Taj Mahal. You don’t go to China and miss seeing the Great Wall. They’re famous for a reason. So we coughed up not one but two entrance fees plus parking. First, you pay the Estado de Yucatan (State of Yucatan) 125 pesos per person. Then, you pay the Chichen Itza entrance fee of 57 pesos per person. Parking is 22 pesos. That’s a total of 386 pesos for two people to enter. At todays exchange rate that’s US $29.69.
I’ll go ahead and skip the history lesson on Chichen Itza as it is the most widely talked about Mayan site. What’s amazing here in comparison to the other sites we’ve visited is the amount and detail of the stone carvings. We used the dramatic mode of the camera to help bring out the carvings in a lot of these photos.
All of the stone pillars you see supported roofs of perishable material, likely palm fronds, wood and or Earth.
This is not the main pyramid. The stone in the foreground was originally at the top of this pyramid. A similar stone sculpture sat on each of the four corners.
If you click on these photos they do get larger. This is the largest of the internal rooms that we were able to see.
These were my favorite set of buildings, probably quarters for the priests and the elite. The carving was plentiful and stunning.
I’m half drenched in this one. I’ll be totally drenched in about 10 minutes. Check out that building behind me. Looking closely, I noticed the stones around the foundation are cracking and crumbling. It may not be with us forever. I’m honored to have seen it. My favorite.
Another building from my favorite section.
This building was actively undergoing repairs to the roof hence the ladder to the left. Check out the masks on the second story.
Another shot from my favorite group of buildings. That’s very much what it looks like in my mind.
Thousands upon thousands of stones carved like this. It’s hard to wrap your head around this place.
The rain moving into Chichen Itza adds a mystical quality because that didn’t exist before it started raining.
We tended to like the smaller more overlooked buildings and structures better than the giant pyramid where you had to trip over tourists with fanny packs and million dollar cameras and obnoxiously big hats they bought in the parking lot.
The coloring is this structure is amazing. I don’t know if it’s restored at any level or not. Originally, all of these structures were much more colorful.
Now this piques my curiosity. What in the world is going on under the ground here. How much more of this exists? There were no signs in place to tell us what this was and we weren’t paying a guide $25 so I suppose it will remain a mystery.
We found two cenotes at Chichen Itza. If you recall, cenotes were sacred doors to the underworld. They were used for various purposes including, but not limited to, sacrificing humans to the gods of the underworld.
Okay, this is one of those photos where you say, why is there a photo of the ground? They’re ants if you look closely, carrying leaves. Very exciting, right? I’m going somewhere with this, swear. Keli spotted the ants and I followed them (beyond the do not cross line) quite a ways to their destination. The foot of an untouched ruin. This is primarily impressive because of the sheer number of ants. Check out this path that they made:
That many ants live in an untouched Mayan Ruin. Kind of interesting. While we’re on wild life. What the heck are these?
Caterpillars the size of human fingers?
Okay, if you’ve made it this far I’ll tell you how I really feel. You’re going to go to Chichen Itza if you’re in the Yucatan, there’s no denying that. Go in the morning before the tourist buses from Cancun get there. The place is a mad house. You can’t go in any of the ruins like you can everywhere else. You can’t even get close enough to touch them. You can’t get far enough away from the vendors not to be pitched to buy the same plastic Chitchen Itza pyramid that was made in China every five seconds. It’s really overwhelming and annoying. For about $8 US you can go Edzna and spend the day actually exploring the ruins by yourself. It’s a much better way to spend your money and your time.
Great blog!!! I was at Chichen Itza just about 30 years ago and sorry to say, yes I arrived by a tourist bus, but I don’t remember very many people there other than the 10 or twelve that were on our bus. We had plenty of time to walk around and you could climb the pyramid as well as go inside. I don’t remember there being any grass around it as in your pictures. I remember it being very dry, warm (about 90F in January) and dusty. In fact just as I had put one of the small stones into my pocket I was talking to someone who had rode down from the US on a motorcycle and he was telling me that about 25 years prior, before it was a tourist attraction (that would have been about 1960) the area was practically paved with the small pebbles. But because people would take them as souvenirs they had all but disappeared. I actually liked Tulum much better. It is smaller but right on the ocean and prettier.