After a day of thrill seeking and being out of my comfort zone, it was time we ventured for something more cultural. Having visited a lot of famous landmarks and amazing sights on our travels, we knew that we couldn’t come to Mexico and not visit one of the ‘Wonders of the World’ – Chichén Itzá. It was only about 2 ½ hours away from where we staying, which sounds a long way, but when you’ve road tripped the States and Australia with drives lasting up to 7 hours at a time, this was nothing!
In true lazy holiday style, we didn’t get up early to hit the road in the hope that we would avoid the many tour groups that we knew would descend on the ‘wonder’ nor did we consider the fact that the later we arrived the more likely we were to hit the peak of the midday sun. Instead we set off about 10:30. Having read reviews online about visiting Chichén Itzá, we were smart enough to load up on snacks and water. Once you hit the main road that takes you to the sight, there is only one rest stop along the way, so we didn’t want to get caught out and we knew that inside the grounds we would probably be charged a fortune for any drinks we needed.
The drive was fairly non-descript. Just a simple road with trees and bushes surrounding us. We’d see the occasional Mexican walking down the long, dusty road and wonder where he’d started out and how much further he had to go. We also saw some people collecting branches and filling up little carts attached to bikes – what was so special about these branches we wondered or were they just collecting fire wood? There was one particular section we drove through, where there were dozens upon dozens of butterflies flying all around the car. Unfortunately, many of them met the nasty end of being splattered up against our front grill, or leaving a devastating trail on our windscreen, but for those that did manage to glide past the car and stay intact, it made for a pretty sight.
About half an hour before we were due to reach our destination, we came to a checkpoint and were asked if we were headed to Chichén Itzá. When we said yes, we were directed to a small tourist hut. Here we were told we could buy our entry tickets to the Mayan Ruins along with parking and a meal in a restaurant. We opted out of the meal, content with the snacks we had bought, but went for the parking and park entry. Who knew if were being ripped off, but it seemed like a good deal at $26.
Tickets purchased and a map with the directions detailed on given to us, we got back on the road. As detailed, we arrived at the entrance about 30 mins later and continued on to the car park we were told would be quieter and where we wouldn’t have to queue to purchase tickets. True to their word, it was quieter and there were no queues. Although there was very little shade, so we did have to leave our jeep right in the direct line of the sun.
The minute we stepped out of the car, the heat hit us. I’d read reviews that said it was going to be sweltering hot, but nothing could have prepared us for this heat. It was stifling and with no breeze what so ever. We creamed up – we would burn in seconds in this heat, made sure we had our water and made our way over to the Planetarium where our tickets covered us for a show all about the wonder that is Chichén Itzá.
Once inside we were given a head set so we could listen to the narrative in English. It gave us a good understanding of the Mayan people and their history and how and why Chichén Itzá was built, but I was getting restless. We’d been sat there for almost half an hour listening to this and as informative and interesting as it was, I was getting more and more eager to see the temple! Once half an hour hit, we were free to go. We ventured back out into the searing heat and made our way to the entrance. It was here that we were met with a sign that really displeased Barry – no drones allowed! He had sneaky suspicion that he wouldn’t be able to use it anyway, so had left it in the car with the view to come back and get it if he could, but sadly it was a no go. Unless we fancied being fined $5000!
We made our way down a dirt path, littered with tourist memorabilia of sombreros, marble chess sets, decorated skulls and of course models of Chichén Itzá and then suddenly, there between some trees, we could see the famous brick work. Was that it? It had to be. We quickly made our way down the path and then as the trees parted, there it stood in all its glory – Chichén Itzá – one of the 7 Wonders of the World. And it was amazing. Despite our many travels, we’ve only ever seen one other wonder – The Pyramids in Egypt and to be honest it was a little underwhelming actually seeing them in the flesh. But Chichén Itzá didn’t disappoint. We stood in awe.
Luckily this wasn’t peak tourist season in Cancun, so it wasn’t anywhere near as busy as I imagine it can be. Plus, we’d probably arrived at the hottest time of the day so any sensible person would be taking shelter at this time, not walking around a massive open field with very little shelter!
We walked around for a good hour, taking lots of touristy shots and checking out the many different temples, the ball court and ruins surrounding the iconic temple that everyone associates with Chichén Itzá. Despite what people think, Chichén Itzá is actually the name of the village and in the centre of the village is Kukulcan, which is the temple that everyone recognises as Chichén Itzá. Up until a few years ago you used to be able to climb to the top of Kukulcan, but due to an unfortunate incident where an American women apparently fell from the top of it, it is now roped off and you just have to admire from a distance. There’s always one person that has to spoil the fun!
Feeling extremely sweaty and sipping on water that was now hot enough to boil an egg in, we made the decision to venture back to the car. We did pass by a few more ruins and saw an old cenote that the Mayans probably used as their water source but I was done. I’d seen what I wanted to see, I ticked another thing off the bucket list and now I just wanted to feel the car’s air con on my overheated body!