Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chichen Itza and Cenote Xkeken...

Vacation begin!!  After the nightmare in Cancun, we finally got to leave Cancun, and our real vacation started.  Gas tank full and proper rental car in hand, we headed out for Chichen Itza and a visit to a cenote.  It was a really good thing that we turned back yesterday, because we would have totally ran out of gas and there is no cell phone reception on this highway.  It's just long, straight and desolate.  So we were driving along, and we crossed the state line from Quintana Roo into Yucatan.  Yucatan certainly knows how to suck a tourist dry of cash quickly.  We rolled into the first cuota stand (toll booth) and the toll was $233 pesos ($20 USD)!!  That is the most expensive one time toll I have ever seen.  I am getting my tax back on that one just to spite them!  Then, like an oasis, an Italian Coffee Company appeared in the distance, and all was well again...

This sugar bomb, aka an Oreomoka Frio, is one of my favorite things about Mexico.  :)

Finally we arrive at Chichen Itza-landia.  There were hundreds of tourists everywhere.  It was pretty amazing that none are in this picture, as there were about 50 people standing here.

After experiencing the state of Yucatan special (being forced to pay twice to get into ticket sold by the state, one sold by the Federal gov...this happened to us at Uxmal too...I thought I was being ripped off then, this time I was ready), we were finally allowed in!  This is the main temple in the center of the ruin site.

Skulls, skulls everywhere!  This type of motif is common at Aztec sites, but this is the first time we've seen it at a Mayan site.  You can probably guess what kind of activities were going on here...

The sacred cenote on the site of Chichen Itza.  The road to the sacred cenote was literally paved with tourist dollars.  We were walking behind a Japanese tour group, and all the vendors were yelling "Hey lady, ichi dollar!"  Que funny.  One guy even yelled at me, "Hey lady, cheaper than Kmart!"  Haha, that one made me laugh. 

Mayan throne guy.  Don't even think of sitting here.  It is not allowed!

Another shot of the main temple.  Chichen Itza is the most restored of all the Mayan sites, mainly because it is the most visited.  Tourists come in by the bus-load from Cancun and the Mayan Riviera.  It is quite pretty.

Stairs up to the palace.  No climbing allowed!  A surprise, because usually you can climb on anything you want at a Mexican ruins, but a welcome surprise, because we did not have the usually next morning "ruins legs" that we are so used to.

All the columns at the palace had carvings of warriors in them.  They were pretty detailed and well preserved.  Que cool!

Whiskey!  Here I am enjoying the ruins!

This reminded us of Uxmal and all the intricate carvings present there.  It also reminded us of Mayan tic-tac-toe.  Looks like circles won!


After we wrapped things up at Chichen Itza, we hopped on the libre (!!) and went in search of Cenote Xkeken.  Our (admittedly questionable) guidebook told us this was one of the coolest cenotes in the whole of the Yucatan.  When we arrived, we realized we had been had by our stupid guidebook again.  This guidebook likes to recommend dumps and crap holes as good places to stay, sleep, eat and play.  They dub anything nice as "pretentious" and "not worth the money."  So anyway, we arrived at this very rustic cenote, changed and headed in.

The first thing we encountered in the cenote cave was this sign.  Good thing we were warned, as I hate it when things are slepering.

Oooohhh, the cenote.  It was actually pretty cool...a very rustic hippie magnet, but if you had your back to the people, the cave itself was interesting.  We could definitely see why the Mayans believed these places were the underworld.

So we jumped in and swam around for a bit.  There were a bunch of fish in the water, and it was crystal clear.  Very refreshing.  Afterwards we got out, changed and headed off to our next destination:  Playa del Carmen!

Question for our readers:  What guidebook do you like?  We have the Rough Guide to Mexico, and it is definitely rough.  We'll be in the market for a comprehensive guide to India soon...what are your suggestions?

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