Friday, July 24, 2009
Treasures of an Ancient Civilization
Wow! Talk about falling off the face of the blogosphere for a whole week!!!!!! Eeek!!!
First came a heat wave that kept me up until 3AM every day (I have no AirCon so I was seriously suffering). Of course that massively threw off my sleep schedule. Also not good. Needless to say the last thing I wanted to do in the blistering heat was sit at my hot computer.
And just when the weather got better I went away for a business trip. I know it sounds like a drag but it wasn't. It was nothing short of AMAZING!!!! You see I went to attend court in the Golden, British Columbia area. I woke up really early each day (up by 5AM) to start working on files even before court. And in the days leading up to my trip I worked. A LOT.
But then there was my reward. I would finish my matters for the day and since I couldn't go back to the office I would instead go and PLAY!!! And boy did I play! I had many wonderful Rocky Mountain explorations.
In fact yesterday I think I had one of those "highlight" moments. As in, if they were to play a highlight reel of my life that moment would make the cut.
But enough about my most recent adventures. I still have to finish my Mexico recap. So here's the plan. I'm going to make my final recap a two part edition. With one posting going up late tonight and another tomorrow. The giveaway will run all of next week and I'll announce the winner when I return from my trip to Cabo (I leave Sunday - wee!!!).
I'll also do my very best to schedule posts while I'm away. :o)
On with the Recap . . .
Treasures of an Ancient Civilization
One of the things I was determined to do in Mexico was to visit some amazing Mayan ruins. Yes it was more touristy than I'd kept things up until that point but I figured Chichen-Itza was a must-see!
Of course I was determined to avoid the hordes of bus tourists that descend on the ancient grounds every day. I figured the best way to do this was to stay right near the ruins. Enter the Hacienda Chichen - an amazing Colonial Hacienda built for the Spanish Crown shortly after the discovery of the ruins.
At one point the Hacienda even housed the archaeologists that came to excavate Chichen-Itza. Indeed, small cottages were erected on the grounds of the Hacienda to house the men. And that's where we stayed.
The Hacienda itself was chosen by National Geographic Traveler as one of the few hotels to be listed on their must stay list. Specifically, it was honoured as a site that actually contributes to it's surroundings. And although the Hacienda has a bit of a turbulent history (I learned while I was there that some of the foundations of the main house were built using the stones from the ancient pyramids) it was nonetheless amazing.
For starters it had THE most amazing grounds! Lush gardens, beautiful fountains, open air terraces, and an incredibly lush jungle. In fact I don't think I've ever heard such a massive amount of birds!!!!
In fact the Hacienda itself was home to its own share of ruins. Such as the ancient gates that led to the Hacienda in its hey-day.
If you follow the path beyond the arch you come across the well that once provided water for the whole Hacienda. And a little further the Chapel where the wealthy and noble dwellers of the Hacienda worshipped.
The whole Hacienda was just amazing and without a doubt its place on the National Geographic list was truly deserved!!!
Probably THE best part of the Hacienda is how ridiculously close it is to Chichen-Itza. In fact you can see some of the ruins from the main house. That's because as it turns out, the family that owns the Hacienda also owns all the land that Chichen-Itza is on (and the Mexican people own the ruins themselves).
If you're thinking that it's absolutely horrible that such an amazing part of the Mexican heritage is owned by a family . . . well you're not alone!!! Turns out the land originally belonged to the American explorer that excavated Chichen-Itza (Mr. David Thompson). When he was done in Mexico he returned to the United States along with many of the treasures from the ruins. But before leaving he sold the land to the current owners.
Needless to say the Mexican government was less than impressed and banned Mr. Thompson from returning to Mexico. Today, the loot from Chichen-Itza is at Harvard University's Peabody Museum. I would be seriously curious to see the gold and silver art dredged from the bottom of the ancient sacred well (cenote).
Getting off my soap-box now. :oP
Where were we?
Oh yes - we hit Chichen-Itza as soon as it opened and had it basically to ourselves. The site is in a continual state of exploration. You see the structures themselves were taken apart by the Spaniards. The stones for the pyramids and other temples lay scattered all over the ruins. It's not uncommon to see incredibly perfect rectangular rocks (with carvings!) just lying in random places.
The local Mayan people continue to work tirelessly to put the ancient ruins back together:
Think of it as one giant jigsaw puzzle lost not only due to human intervention but also to the passage of time. The jungle has a way of claiming back the land. Some of the pyramids currently resemble no more than large mounds of dirt. Me thinks that the work at Chichen-Itza will never be finished.
I wonder what secrets the Mayan ruins will reveal. It's kind of exciting actually (and yes I'm a bit of a geek)!
But I couldn't help but be in awe of such perfect structures. Such perfect and incredibly ancient structures!!!!
Above is a picture of the Temple of the Warriors. It's an endless amount of columns with warrior scenes etched on them. Behind them is a temple where warriors attended before and after battles. If you've watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto well then I'm sure you can imagine what went on there. And I'll leave it at that. :oP
I really can't explain how amazing Chichen-Itza was so I'll let the pictures do the talking . . .
And did I mention the grounds are absolutely massive!?!??! Massive!!!
Still, despite the 45 degree heat (Celsius) I was blessed to be able to see some amazing sights. Such as the observatory (look familiar? :o) pictured above.
There's no denying the bloody history behind the Mayans. But on the whole the ruins are so vast and inspired (if I can use that word) that one can't help but be impressed. I loved my visit to the ruins and I would recommend it to anyone! Preferably early in the morning, away from the hordes, but that's just my preference talking. :o)
All in all I walked away a whole lot more proud of my heritage (somewhere in my vein courses a tiny bit of Mayan blood). It was a great visit. And I was sad to leave the lush beauty of Chichen-Itza for the coastal city of Cancun.
To be Continued . . .