Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cancun day 5 - Chichen Itza

Or Chicken Pizza - either phrase is acceptable.

The wind picked up during the evening and it was blowing HARD by the time I made my way over to the gym. The sky was cloudy and not boding well.

After an hour of interval training on the elliptical, it wasn’t looking any better.

And then trying to wake up Tuffy, it became crystal clear that today wasn’t going to include everyone. The boy was so sick! He rolled over in bed and went back to sleep.

The rest of us cleaned up, and met Webster at 8am, loaded the van with lunch supplies, beverages and snacks, and headed out for the 2 hour or so drive to Chichen Itza.

(Cecilio Salazar - aka Webster)

Now let me set up some info for you about Chichen Itza. I last visited 12 years ago. At that time, you could still climb the main temple, there weren’t tons of people, and our private guide was an archeologist who actually was working a new dig that he snuck us into. It was a very cool experience.

Since then I have studied a little bit about the Mayan ruins in regards to my own religious beliefs. My church believes that Jesus Christ appeared to the people living on this continent and established His church here as well. There were descendants who left Egypt at the time of the tower of Babel, and brought the language, scriptures and knowledge with them. They established South America and northward into the United States.

The ruins in Mexico, Guatamala and other places in South America, we believe are ruins of those ancient people. They are special to us. Many people sacrificed to establish this land and to try to live Jesus Christ’s gospel.

I have also studied President Howard W Hunter’s biography and he particularly loved Chichen Itza. Even so much as to speculate that perhaps Christ was here himself. There are certainly many things in the ruins and in the Mayan legends to suggest a connection to the people in the Book of Mormon.

That said, I consider this holy land. I consider it sacred and always feel a sweet spirit when I was among the ruins and put myself back in that time.

I was in for a RUDE awakening. Somethings have most definitely changed over the past 12 years. And not in a good way. First of all, hiking the main Castillo is now banned. This temple has significant meaning and it was beautiful to make the hard climb and then to see all the etchings still remaining on the walls. To think of the serpent and all the symbolism that went into every single feature of this temple.

Instead now, it is roped off, and you may view it from a distance.

And while we a great guide who was very knowledgeable, he only stuck with us for about an hour and a half, the rest of the time we were left on our own to find all the other ruins. The place is HUGE and it involved much walking in very hot weather.

However, none of things disappointed me as much as all the vendors who are now allowed on the grounds. They were up and down every single walkway, and you couldn’t even walk past them without them calling out to you to come see their wares. Even right in the middle of a discourse from our guide, some sneaky little kid tried to interest us in his crap.

I can’t even express how much this bothered me. The sacred land, this special place where there is actual art work of who we believe to be Jesus Christ, is defiled by hawkers trying to lure us into buying their junk.

In one section of the Mayan ball field, there is an area where the high priest would sit to observe the activities. The Mayans are hairless little people. Sure they have hair on their heads a bit, but on their skin, they are virtually, bald. Their legend tells of a bearded god who descended on a cloud with feathers. They have a depiction of him in the main Castillo, and another one in the area where the high priest sits in the ball field. It appears to be Jesus Christ. Why feathers? Because he had hair, and they didn’t know what to call it, they referred to it as His feathers.

(look carefully, I have circled in red, the "bearded god that appeared from the clouds)

So with all this in mind, again, this is holy land to me. This is sacred and should be studied with reverence and respect. Those street vendors calling out, shouting to us, getting in our face, and begging us to buy their stuff, was just the epitome of disprespect. It felt a little like the money changers in the temple. We just needed the Big Guy to come clear them out.

We viewed the temple of the 2000 columns. It is magnificent and full of significance. In the Book of Mormon, there is a story of some young men who went into battle against their enemy to protect their families, their lands, and their freedoms. The young men ranged in age 12 – 16 or so. They were referred to as the 2000 stripling warriors. They went into battle with the faith they learned from their mothers. It’s a beautiful account. Not one of them were killed. I believe the temple of the 2000 columns represents those 2000 stripling warriors.
(one of my own stripling warriors)

We continued walking and looking at different ruins and try our hardest to ignore the vendors. When we got the end of the 2000 columns, you could climb some steps to the top and see what looked like a square area where battle skills could be practiced and perfected. As I looked down, I saw two empty water bottles just rudely tossed on the ground.

That was it for me. I could take no more. I felt that all the hawkers, the tourists, and their behaviors were just too disrespectful towards the people who used to exist here. The ones I have come to love and respect through my study of the Book of Mormon.
I turned to Splenda, told him I’d meet the rest of them at the entrance and I headed out. I had enough. Instead I waited on the steps at the entrance and mentally apologized to my Lamanite and Nephite brothers and sisters.
Once every one else emerged, we loaded back in to the van and headed to a cenote. Cenote’s are underground caves with pools of water. This one was beautiful. Completely covered with the exception of the small hole at the top that the tree roots grown down into. We swam and played for awhile.

(starving pooch that I fed my sandwich crusts to)

Webster took us to a wonderful restaurant in a town call Villalvido. It was seriously the best shrimp I have ever had. Dude cooked it tableside. It had Yucatahn spices, garlic, onion, cilantro and then fired in brandy. Unbelievable.

(almost licked the plate)

Me, Luka and GB even got brave enough to try a habanero pepper!  Apparently, they are the hottest or second hottest pepper ever.  Webster eats them like pickles.  We, on the other hand, did not!  Ay Carumba!

(yes, I am attractive even whilst in pain)

After dinner we walked around the park for a little bit and saw a beautiful cathedral. We slipped in while they were in the middle of a mass session. It was a nice quiet break for a few minutes.

Once we got all of our picture taking in, it was back into the van for the long ride back to the resort.

Tuffy is feeling a little better, and I hope a good night’s rest will cure him . We have an even bigger day tomorrow!


Pedaling said...

what a difference from when you were there before. the last time we were there it wasn't such a madhouse, but we still couldn't hike up-
how disappointing

tiburon said...

Sorry that you didn't really enjoy Chichen Itza! We were bummed that we couldn't climb the temple too. And if it makes you feel better - most of our group was picking up trash as we walked around the part.

I thought Valladolid was beautiful too!

tammy said...

That is sad about the changes and the vendors! I wouldn't have been happy about it either.

and poor Tuffy!

Heather said...

Josh and I were there in December, and we loved it. I loved it for the reasons you mentioned - the connection felt to those in the Book of Mormon, but I'd never been there before so that's all I knew. I can definitely imagine how disappointing it'd be after having experienced it the way it used to be. Our guide told us you can't hike up the top anymore mostly because of the Spring Breakers who'd get drunk and defile it. So sad.

Stace said...

i loved reading this one! thank you for putting in the info about the book of mormon people. i should be ashamed, but i never stopped to make that connection myself! i guess i should read the scriptures looks like you guys had a blast!

Loralee and the gang... said...

We almost got to go there when we went on a cruise to the Western Carribean (sp? sorry). We went to Belieze instead because there had recently been a hurricane and the dock there had been washed away and not rebuilt yet. Belieze was unbelievably beautiful, like you describe Chicken I. used to be. We got to climb up the VERY steep ruins, but I felt almost disrespecful doing that because the steps were shedding pebbles as we climbed up. And our tour guide's was a native who's name was Laman (but a Good Laman), and told us B of M associations that they felt were there. Was really cool...
Sorry your boy got sick. That's stinks. And sorry you got sick, too!
(and I LOVE the candid shots of you. You are a very secure AND beautiful person!)

kado! said...

I would love to see all that Mayan stuff in real life.

thanks for the great pics!