Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hiking in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The ruins at Chichen Itza, and cenote swim

A bunch of taxis arrived just before 8:00am yesterday to take the group of us to the Chichen Itza archaeological site located less than two kilometers away.

Ruth and I were here in December of 2008, but at the time I stayed in the motorhome with our dog and Ruth went in to see the ruins with our friends Glen and Steve. We had seen a lot of ruins by this point, and Chichen Itza is one of the more developed sites, and with lots and lots of Cancun tourists.

This time, I went in with the group. We met our guide Hector at the entrance. He was really good. He was born here in the town of Piste, so knows the ruins very well. He remembers as a child running up and down the steps of the main pyramid. They stopped people from doing that about 12 years ago.

Getting there at 8:00am, there was already a lineup to buy tickets. Hector says there is always a lineup. Just like at the Uxmal ruins, you have to buy one state ticket, and one federal ticket. Total entrance fee is 254 pesos ($17.50 CAD, $13.75 USD) per person.

Quite a few people already there at 8:45am.

Looking towards the ball court.

Another angle of the El Castillo pyramid.

Lots of interesting things about the main pyramid. The Mayans were very good at math and astronomy and the passage of time. You see on the right hand side of the photo above, the two rock snake heads? At equinox, the sun casts a perfect shadow of a snakes body down the sides of the platform leading down to the snakes head. Amazing stuff.

They have learned that the main pyramid pictured above was built over a cenote (sink hole). Next month, they are going to dig a tunnel and try to access that cenote.

Lots of smaller structures.

The wall of skulls.

The huge ball court.

Although resorted, the rings on either side are original. 

There has been a lot of restoration at some of these more popular ruins sites and sometimes it's difficult to know what is original, and what is not. We had learned that at Uxmal, one of the rings at the ball court was made out of fiberglas!

I am looking forward to seeing our favorite ruins site at Palenque, where only 10% of the site has been uncovered.

 Can you see anything odd in this picture?

A guy with a beard?

Hector explained that the Mayans back then had very little facial hair. A depiction of Jesus? A Viking? They have no idea.

There are some unrestored ruins.

And there are LOTS of vendors.

The vendors weren't as bad as I was expecting. But they still seem so out of place. Apparently there was a time when they weren't allowed, but as a group the Mayan vendors went to court, saying that it's our land, we should be able to use it. And they won. So now there are hundreds of vendors on the property. I simply frame my photos to not include them.

The Observatory.

Intricate stuff.

Despite the tourists and the vendors, some of the structures are definitely impressive. And I think because our guide Hector was very good, I enjoyed the tour.

We went back to the taxis for 10:45am. They took us back to the RVs where people walked their dogs and grabbed their swimming gear... and then we all hopped in the taxis again and took off 5 kms (3 miles) down the road to the Ik-Kil Cenote for a swim.

We got there at a decent hour, but it is a very busy spot.

Before lunch, not that many people.

Louise, one of our group, jumping off the platform. You can see Ruth up against the wall. 
She had ambitious thoughts, but chickened out!

All of yesterdays activities were included as part of the Mexico RV Caravan tour, as well as the lunch buffet at the restaurant at the Ik-Kil Cenote.

By after lunch, it was very busy!

We were back at the RVs by 2:00pm and had the rest of the day free.

Some people thought that more time should be available at the ruins. But many people are done after wandering around for two and a half hours. Plus, it starts to get very busy, and very hot. When you're doing things as a group, it's really hard to make sure that everyone is happy at the same time! But, everybody enjoyed the cenote swim. A couple of people didn't go, myself included. I'm not big on jumping into cold water and I had read that this cenote is a bit chilly at 24C (75F). Lunch was decent, in fact we overheard several people who thought it was one of the best meals yet.

Today is another travel day... only 200 kms (120 miles) to Paamul, so we are going to stop at another swimming cenote along the way provided all of our rigs will fit in the parking lot!

Top of the line Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers... cheapest I've ever seen them!

And in Canada... fantastic deal on a Porter Cable Pancake Compressor...


  1. Ruth I jumped into this cenote! It was scary! Once was enough. We didn't enjoy this ruin very much and only spent 45 minutes here. We loved Palenque. The howler monkies are a hoot!

    1. I keep kicking myself for not having the guts to jump. I would have years ago but now I seem to have more of a problem with heights.

      We feel much the same way about this ruins site is just to developed for us with all the vendors and crowds. Palenque is definitely our most favourite ruins site so far and we are looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks.

  2. Palenque re my favourite "developed" ruins. Vendors are also allowed on site there as well. Dziblanche & Calakmul are special since there are hardly anyone at those 2 sites. I know Kevin that you & Ruth were prevented to going into Calakmul because you had a dog. That is still the case as you have to go through a nature reserve to get there.

    1. We love Palenque but are definitely looking forward to seeing Calakmul.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Kent! We are only here for three days and one of those days will be at Xcaret but we aren't sure if that will be tomorrow or Thursday. Not sure if you can make it over here for a visit or not. I know for sure we are totally free today.

    2. Big parade tonight, end of Carnaval, so we have to prep for that. Possible hang over tomorrow, but let me know what you end up deciding schedule-wise!

    3. Hope you had fun at the parade last night! :-)

      We have another free day today so let us know if that might work for you. We go to Xcaret tomorrow.

  4. Another set of amazing pictures of ruins. Is this one , theCastillo, bigger than the pyramid of the moon or sun in Teotihuacan? The Mayans were really a fascinating unfortunate there isn’t too many left of these ruins..amazing architecture ..wish you could relay the lectures of Hector.

    What are those things dangling into the cenote? They look like ropes?

    1. I would say that El Castillo is about the size of the smaller pyramid of the moon at Teotihuacan. Just guessing.

      Those are roots that are dangling in the cenote.

  5. Ruins look like they are worth the visit even with the crowds!

    1. The ruins at Chichen Itza are definitely impressive and if you get here early it isn't so bad. It isn't one of our favourite sites though.

  6. Those who haven't gone, Yaxchilan was our favorite ruins in Mexico - real Indiana Jones stuff (bring a flashlight to explore under the ruins!). Paamul... our least favorite place in all of Mexico, but a needed dump after 10 days in Xcalak!

    1. We have not been to Yaxchilan but it sounds like a great ruin to visit, unfortunately we don't go that close to the Guatemalan border on this trip. Glad to hear that it isn't just us that don't care for it here.

  7. Is the water in the cenote warm? Are those vines hanging down to the water? I'm trying to figure out if it's spring-fed now or rain water? Looks deep (scary?)

    1. No, the cenote water isn't warm but it isn't real cold either. All of the cenotes are actually just underground water which is just a natural system and is fed by rainwater that is filtered down through the earth and limestone. Some cenotes have an underwater river that connects them to other cenotes and some just move on through aquifer matrix and fracture flows according to Wikipedia.

      There is a mixture of vines and roots hanging down. Some can be very deep and others aren't. It didn't feel scary at all, you can also rent lifejackets if you want to feel more secure.


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