Chichen Itza (means “at the mouth of the well of Itza “) is the most famous and best restored among the Mayan ruins in Yucatán, Mexico and it is 2nd most visited archeological site of Mexico. We took a luxury bus tour from Cancun that served as unlimited shots of tequila and Mexican beer. The tour guide was almost funny with his memorized punchlines. On the way, we stopped at probably one of the biggest souvenir shops in Yucatan.
The Chichen Itza archaeological site contains numerous ruins built by the Maya civilization around 1000 years ago. Chichen Itza was tremendously overcrowded. Every man and his dog was there to gawk at one of the seven wonders of the world. The restoration and the history behind it will impress even the most jaded tourist. The mysteries of the Mayan astronomical calendar were articulately explained by our tourist guide and were made clear when one understands the design of the ‘time temples’. Other than a few minor passageways, climbing on the structures is not allowed. The central building of the site is the remarkable Kukulcán Pyramid or El Castillo (The Castle). Its four sides contain 365 steps (depicting the solar year), 52 panels (for each year in the Mayan century as well as each week in the solar year) and 18 terraces (for the 18 months in the religious year). Not considering the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and Luxor Pyramid in Las Vegas, this the first pyramid I saw.
Chichen Itza was also populated by hawkers and tacky souvenirs vendors and we were warned to just ignore them particularly if they are shouting that the souvenirs only cost $1. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience to see this spectacular wonder even though our Mexican experience has third world inconveniences and we knew we were consistently and blatantly ripped off, the trip was certainly worth it.
TIP: Never go there in Mexican Summer. The killer heat will…kill you. Bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water.