(Posted from Chetumal on Feb 5)
We left the RV park at 7:45 AM for the 5-minute drive to the ruins of the Mayan city, Chichen Itza. A two hour guided tour was scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM in order to beat the busloads of tourists from Cancun that would be arriving around 10:30 or 11:00 AM. Equally as important would be the temperature. By the time the hordes from Cancun arrived it would be sticky-hot and we would have finished our tour.
Chichen Itza is thought to have started as a small village of thatched huts between 500 BC and 325 AD. It wasn’t until 435 AD (according to the historical records) that the first group of Maya settled in the area and began building stone buildings. The Itza tribe moved in around 900 AD and built most of the impressive structures that are seen today. Last night we saw only a very small portion of the city.
There were two ball courts, one used for ceremonial rituals and the other actually used for the ball game. The best players were often sacrificed to one of several gods, usually the rain god, Chak Muul. Chak wouldn’t have one of the losing ball players so only the best were offered to him, minus their heads. It was considered an honor be selected for the sacrifice. The soon-to-be victim would dress in his best Sunday feathers, sit down on a stone, and calmly allow the priest to whack off his head. Since they did not have metal tools I don’t know exactly how the head was separated from the body. Stone engravings depict the task as being very bloody with six large streams of blood spurting from the headless neck.
Prisoners that were captured in wars were saved for use in human sacrifice also. However, prisoners were not deemed good enough to be offered to the gods and were decapitated as part of a ceremony that was supposed to fertilize the soil, ensuring a good crop of corn. The “Platform of the Skulls” was covered with stone engravings of heads displayed on wooden poles. These were some pretty bloodthirsty people.
Our timing was perfect, the tour ended just as the tourists and the rain began arriving. We were back at the RV about 10:30 AM in time to dry off and rest before lunch. At noon Carol Ann and I went with Barry and Pat to a local chicken restaurant. It was about the only restaurant nearby. Six others from our group were already there and a few others showed up before we left. It had about half a dozen tables, thatched roof, and was open on the front and one side. A very delicious-smelling smoke was pouring from a large charcoal grill that sat at the front, right next to the sidewalk. The grill was covered with chickens (half and whole), split to lay flat. Onions were grilled with the chicken. The four of us each got a half chicken, which came with rice, refried black beans, and slaw. Carol Ann and I had beer while Barry and Pat had sodas. We all agreed that it was some of the best grilled chicken we had ever eaten. The total bill for the four of us was only $244 pesos, about $18 US.
After lunch it rained hard for a while but then the sun came back out and we hit the pool. That evening’s dinner was on Fantasy at a very nice restaurant with waiters dressed in starched white uniforms. The food was excellent and we enjoyed the evening.