catmint1: (KellyVivanco)
[personal profile] catmint1

19 Feb. 2009

MEXICO 180 from Cancún to Villahermosa

Bus departed 7:00 a.m. 

It was a three-hour drive to the crowded most-famous Mayan site, Chichén Itzá (Mouth of the Well of the Itzáes) (Everyone wanted to check off seeing one of the new Seven Wonders of the World). We passed into the state of Yucatán on the way there.

We arrived at 10 a.m. and it was already 95 degrees. Our tour guide was Abel, a young man with a gift of persuasion and a trusty backpack binder. He contrasted “urban legends” of bloody sacrifice with compelling alternate views. We walked around the pyramids trying to imagine the history of this powerful city.

 

 

At the equinoxes, the sun produces a light-and-shadow illusion of the feathered serpent Kulkulcán on El Castillo’s staircase. Chichén Itzá is “mobbed” on these dates.

 

Acoustics at the main temple, El Castillo o Templo de Kulkulcán are incredible.

 A single handclap in front of its steps echoes from the top chamber as the call of the Quetzel bird.

At noon, we returned to our bus, absolutely melted. We drove past miles of scrub terrain – flat and brushy. Agaves, bananas, oranges and papayas, hung ripe on the trees. Jacaranda, bougainvillea, and oleander bloomed.

Just east of Mérida, Izamal is a quiet, colonial town, nicknamed La Ciudad Amarilla (the Yellow City) for the mustard gold paint that brightens the walls of practically everything. Discovery hired horse-carriages to convey us around the town to our restaurant, since the cobbled streets were too narrow for our bus.

 


My lunch choice was Rellenos Negro: a Yucatán specialty. Chunks of chicken and a boiled egg floated in a smoky black broth that tasted of the grill and had a little heat.

In ancient times, Izamal was a center for the worship of the supreme Maya god, Itzamná and the sun god, Kinich-Kakmó.

 

According to a guidebook, “Bold expressions of Maya religiosity provoked the Spaniards to build the enormous Franciscan monastery that stands today, the Santuario de la Virgen de Izamal.”

 

Our visit to Izamal made us late for our colonial city tour of Mérida. Since the Conquest, Mérida has been a town steeped in history, with narrow streets, broad plazas, and museums. Students, tourists, huipil-clad indígenas, factory workers, and the wealthy elite “mingle in its cultural crossroads.“

 

On this weekend, the streets were closed for Carnivál. Children in elaborate costumes gathered for a parade, eating sweets and dancing.

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August 2010

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