Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hiking The Yucatan :: Mayan Ruins

Chacmool at Chichen Itza
Exploring the many Mayan Ruins has been on my bucket list for a long time. And I finally visited a few over the holiday break. Actually, quite a few places on my bucket list are up on the header of my blog. Each one represents a place I've been that was on the list, or places I have yet to go. You can see the Chacmool front and center above, and I finally got to see it.

These sculptures appear all over Mexico from as early as the 9th century AD. The original, ancient name used by the Mayan and Aztecs is not known. The name Chacmool was given in 1875 by Augustus Le Plongeon who excavated one of the statues at Chichen Itza. The name translates from the Mayan as 'thundering paw' as he found the statue buried beneath the Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars. The Chacmool is thought to be used as an alter to place offerings to the gods. Typically these reclining figures are holding a bowl on their stomach where offerings of tamales, tortillas, tobacco and in some cases human hearts are placed. Some believed the Chacmool depicted slain warriors, others say they represent a defenseless, passive appearance of a Mayan captive. A full frontal view of a face is rare in Mayan art except among representations of captives.

Ek' Balam
As much as I had dreamed of seeing Chichen Itza, Ek' Balam was unexpectedly my favorite. Don't get me wrong. Chichen Itza was awe inspiring. The main pyramid was stunning. The Ball Court jaw dropping. But Ek' Balam was off the beaten track and more rustic. We were able to really explore and get up close to the ruins. Both Chichen Itza and Tulum are so over crowded with tourists that so many of the structures are roped off. The Chacmool I wanted to see at Chichen Itza is inside the main pyramid, which was not accessible to climb and thus I was unable to see what was inside.

I loved the wild beauty of Ek' Balam, and that it still felt somewhat hidden within the Mayan jungle. We climbed the main pyramid straight up the narrow stone steps giving us an endless view across the tree tops. It was breathtaking. Literally. Once I looked down from the top I nearly panicked at the thought of how I was going to get down. In the end my daughter and I decided the safest route down was on our butts one step at a time. There is no shame in safety!


Marcela Gmd said...

Great experience!!!! Nice place!!!
Have a wonderful weekend!!!!
Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

JoJo said...

I'm not sure I'd survive the walk up and down that pyramid. So you've been to Easter Island? That's so cool!

krishna said...

that's a great experience ... love to read.. Please write more and more..

BeadedTail said...

Haha! I'd be going down on my butt too! I'm so clumsy that the thought of going down that would terrify me but of course I'd have to go up to see the view! What a great experience!

likeschocolate said...

We went there a few years ago and loved it! Have a great weekend!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

My Rare One and I were in Chichen Itza a number of years ago. At that time, you could still climb the main pyramid, so I did. I bummed my way back down the stairs too! Such narrow, shallow steps! The Mayans were a tiny people with tiny feet compared to us.

Mischelle said...

This is something I definitely want to do before I die..

Miss Val's Creations said...

How amazing! I would love to visit these ruins someday. I love that you guys descended the pyramid on your butts. I sort of do the same thing when descending a mountain. You get to the top with virtually no problem, but getting down is a whole other story!

Anna said...

Sounds like a marvelous trip, Cynthia! Looks especially appealing from my perspective...sitting here in the cold. I'd choose the butt walking too :)
Happy New Year to you! Hope yours is wonderfully creative and filled with beautiful beads!!!

Magic Love Crow said...

What an amazing experience! When I was in Egypt, many years ago, I bummed my way down one pyramid too! LOL!

Duni said...

Wow! How exciting to visit such an extraordinary place! Those steps do look very steep. Glad you chose the safe way down :)

Christine Altmiller said...

ALWAYS my rule of thumb ~ When In Doubt, Use Your Butt!

What a wonderful vacation for you all, and great surprises to see what you wanted but find other favorite locations. I loved seeing your Instagrams over the course of your vacation.

Therese's Treasures said...

Hi Cynthia,
Great trip! I love that you share your adventures with us and that you are able to check these places off of your bucket list. The Mayan Ruins are on my bucket list as well. Hopefully one day Christopher and I will be able to travel to see them.

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