After arriving in Mérida at 4.30am, I was out of bed at 7am for breakfast. The less said about breakfast, the better.
My tour to Chichen Itza’ was scheduled to pick me up at 8am, and as I swung by my room shortly before 7.45 to grab a bag a member of hotel staff was knocking on my door to tell me that my tour was waiting for me.
On our way out of the city we swung by two other hotels to pick up other members of our tour. First was two Mexican gentlemen, then a younger couple who could have come from anywhere in the world — but turned out to be from Perth.
Chichen Itza’, like many of the famous sites of the Mesoamerican civilisations, is a whole city and at one time was home to something close to 50,000 people.
What is often thought of as Chichen Itza’ is the Temple of Kukulkan — the dominates the site and it’s not an exaggeration to say that I found it breathtaking. Standing at 30m high, it’s more than twice the size of the Parthenon in Greece.
The pyramid’s size is not even the most impressive part. The whole city, and all of the Mayan cities, were hand carved with stone tools and yet carved to such precise standards. For example, the temple is aligned to correspond with sunsets on May 20 and July 24, and each of the pyramid’s sides has 91 steps — producing 365 steps when included with the temple at the top.
The acoustics of the site were also meticulously planned. If you stand in a certain point in front of the temple and clap your hands, the unique acoustics create an echo that sound like a bird, and in the city’s Great Ball Court (the largest and best preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica) the walls are curved in such a way that voices and sounds carry much further.
Walking around the city of Chichen Itza’ was almost overwhelming, there was so much to see and take in. There are various temples, and the platform of the skulls, and besides from any of that ringing the whole site of the city are various merchants wanting to sell you handcrafted wares, trying to entice you with shouts of one dollar and trying to catch your eye.
Being tropical, days in Yucatan were prone to thunderstorms — but it only adds to the atmosphere of Chichen Itza’ to have thunder rumbling overhead.