Mayans. Such an awe inspiring and mysterious civilization. The structures that they built had such a intuitive relationship with the natural world, from the sun to star alignment everything was placed perfectly to showcase special moments in time. They had an ability that is currently lost to us in time, a deep intimate connection with nature that pulled respect as it determined so much of their lives.
Chichen Itza is now one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and one of the most visited historical preservation in Mexico. During our trip to Cancun we mainly wanted to just relax at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, but Chichen Itza was worth it for us to wake up for and leave the resort. Wanting to beat the crowds we rented a car and drove in the early morning to the grounds. What we were not prepared for were the tolls. If you’re going to do the same be sure to bring at least 40 dollars worth of pesos with you to pay for the tolls as they do not accept US dollars. From Cancun to there it was about a 3.5 hr drive. During that drive we passed a time zone without realizing it so we thought the distance was much shorter.
Once there we found a passionate guide who walked us around and taught us about the history of Chichen Itza. It’s was well worth it. Coming to a place like this I doubt we would do it again, so taking the time to learn and really appreciate the nuances of the ruins helped us understand how spectacular the structures are. The most iconic one being the pyramid structure in the center. No longer can tourists climb up it’s steps because someone fell and died in the past. But now you can take pictures of the pyramid without a bunch of people climbing on it.
The acoustics of it allowed the high priests voice to reach far and wide when he spoke from the top of the pyramid. Looking around we found many people standing in front of the entrance clapping. The reason for this is because it makes a reverberating clap sound back with the sound changed to caw of a bird.
Mayans worshiped the rain god Chaac, and the high priest was the medium that translated to the people Chaac’s desires. Explaining to us the job of the high priest, you really do have to respect their ability to predict the weather. Since there are no above ground rivers in the Yucatan, cities were built next to cenotes which are large pools of deep freshwater. In order for the people to reach the water, rain would need to fill up the underground caverns bringing the water to the surface. When there was a long dry spell, the people would have no water to drink and to farm. In order to appease the rain god someone would need to be sacrificed so he would release rain. Now the priest ‘s job is to determine when to tell the people this. If he sacrificed someone and rain did not come the people would lose faith. If he said there would need to be a sacrifice and rain came before, then again they would lose trust in his ability. Quite the tricky position.
There were many ways that they did sacrifices to help their gods. There is a sacred cenote that was used purely for sacrificial purposes. When someone was chosen, there would be a day of festivity as it was a great honor to be able to gain a direct path to the gods in their afterlife through being a sacrifice. Once paraded down the city to the cenote the sacrifice would then be pushed in to drown along with a lot of precious goods as offerings to Chaac.
The Mayans also enjoyed sports, a brutal ball game would be hosted in honor of Chaac when in need of a sacrifice. A large rubber ball is passed between teams, bouncing off the walls and pads on the players bodies as they tried to pass the ball through a hole on the wall. The game was so difficult that just having the ball go through once is considered a win. As a reward the winning captain would be decapitated by the losing captain and have himself offered to the rain god. It was considered a great honor.
Lastly was the sacrifice of warriors from other clans. Once a battle is fought the goal was to capture the best warriors of the enemy in order to help their gods receive energy from their vitality to continue life. Once a warrior is captured the source of their energy was from their heart. Warriors are strung over a rock pulled with all their limbs to break their backs, paralyzing their bodies. Then still alive and unable to move their beating hearts are taken out of their chest as an offering. The hearts are thrown into the fire so that the smoke of their energy rises to the gods.
Hope you enjoyed reading what I learned about the Mayans
Xoxo – Lilan
- Definitely hire a tour guide when you get there it is well worth the money
- If you do decide to rent a car to drive be sure to bring enough Pesos for the toll back and forth