Cancun & Chichen Itza - 2003


Gail and I took a week's vacation at Cancun this January. While the weather was not as hot as we had been expecting it turned out about right for us in the end. It was a good break and we generally had an enjoyable time. I did of course manage to get the Mexican stomach problems a few days in, but as soon as I got to the airport to leave I raced over to have a hotdog!

Our return flight home was adventurous to say the least. Apparently the airline had cancelled a flight from Cuba to Vancouver so they redirected our plane to pick those passengers up. Combined with a long delay in Cuba at 3 o’clock in the early morning when they could not get agents to check the passengers on board, the four hour flight ended up about 10 hours long!

Left:  A view from the highway of our Hotel in Cancun, the Oasis Grand Cancun. There is a nine hole golf course lying between where Gail is standing and the hotel.

Right:  A view of the beach looking back toward our hotel. This beach is miles long, white sand and cleaned every evening. The water is turquoise in colour but was quite rough the week we were there.

Left:  Gail on the grounds of our hotel in the evening, standing on a bridge over the swimming pool and the setting for at least seven eating places on the one resort.

Right:  Myself in the same relaxed mood beside the pool.

Left: Just to prove that Gail will sometimes go in the water, there she is heading for a drink at the pool bar. The pool stretched the length of the resort and there were at least four pool bars.

Right:  Gail on the balcony of our hotel room. The view was towards the ocean and quite pleasant, although the rooms themselves could be called spartan.

Left:  Gail took this photo to convince me that I would never make it as a Mexican. I am sure the musician behind me who owned the hat felt the same way. There were two groups of musicians who wandered around through the dining places singing songs each evening. They were very talented musicians.

Chichen Itza

We took one day to travel to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. This site is virtually in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula and is a must see for anyone ever getting close to it.

Deep within the jungles of Mexico and Guatemala and extending into the limestone shelf of the Yucatan peninsula lie the mysterious temples and pyramids of the Maya. While Europe was still in the midst of the Dark Ages, these amazing people had mapped the heavens, evolved the only true writing system native to the Americas and were masters of mathematics. They invented the calendars we use today. Without metal tools, beasts of burden or even the wheel they were able to construct vast cities across a huge jungle landscape with an amazing degree of architectural perfection and variety. Their legacy in stone, which has survived in a spectacular fashion at places such as Palenque, Tikal, Tulum, Chichén Itzá, Copan and Uxmal, lives on as do the seven million descendants of the classic Maya civilization

The massive Kukulcán pyramid called "El Castillo" (the castle) is roughly at the center of the Chichen Itza site. Climbing it is quite a challenge and those who make it are rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and surrounding countryside. I managed to get about 2/3 the way up this one before I "chickened out in Chichen Itza." A trip inside the pyramid is quite the opposite. The dark, unbearably humid corridors and chambers are too much for some people.

Above Left:  The Observatory - The intense interest of the Maya in the annual travels of the sun across the sky is evident in many structures at Chichén Itzá and other Mayan Sites. South of the Castillo is a strange round building known as the Carocal. Several of its windows point towards the equinox sunset and the southernmost and northernmost points on the horizon where Venus rises.

Above right:  The Temple of the Warriors and its adjacent Temple of the Jaguar are the most awe-inspiring ruins on the complex. A massive temple structure, surrounded by hundreds of columns, is carved with reliefs. The columns continue on into the jungle, that part of the temple still has not been restored.

Above Left:  The Ball Court at Chichén Itzá - The Mayans were great sportsmen and built huge ballcourts to play their games. The Great Ballcourt of Chichén Itzá is 545 feet long and 225 feet wide overall. It has no vault, no discontinuity between the walls and is totally open to the sky. Legends say that the winning captain would present his head to the losing captain, who then decapitates him. This apparently provided a direct route to heaven and a short cut of sorts.

Above Right: The bus ride from Cancun to the Chichen Itza site was over 2 hours long and we passed through several small villages where the inhabitants are essentially of Mayan Indian stock and whose ancestors have lived in this area for 1,000's of years. Living is still pretty basic and the photo shows a typical place of abode. You will note however the TV aerial and most of these villages also have running water and medical support.

Left: Gail stands in front of the Cenote, an opening in the limestone caved from surface to an underground river. This pool was said to be used for human sacrifice and was a very religious part of the community.

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