One’s imagination soars at the thought of ceremony taking place throughout the ethers of time at Chichen Itza. As 2012 approaches, marking the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, musical artists the likes of Elton John and Paul McCartney choose the auspicious site as a performance venue. There is a sense of awe in being beneath the many stone steps featured in films shown the world over.
History shrouds this seventh world wonder with myth and controversy. The Great Ball Park is immense in stature, emblazoned with etchings that depict the custom of the Maya. An intriguing carving of an opponents severed head leaves you wondering whether the loser or the winner of the game was sacrificed to the Gods.
To our disappointment, we were not allowed to enter the structures at this Mayan historical site. In the end, our tour guide advised we make our own determination of this culture based on walking the grounds.
Surrounded by modern day Mayan descendants hawking their wares, we left the site pondering the many unanswered questions. Fortunately, our next adventure did not let us linger in these thoughts for long.
The best part of our trip to Chitzen Itza was a swim at the nearby cenote. Rumor has it – there are hundreds of these sacred underground watering holes around the Yucatan.
When we arrived at the cenote, we were greeted by a garden profuse with fragrant blossoms. Tropical flora, laced with brightly colored bougainvillea was a delight to the senses. We entered a path behind the garden leading to the cave dug deep into the earth.
At the top of the winding stair, we caught our first glimpse of the still waters. The dark cavern was cut by cascading sunlight that beamed down from the rocks above it. The play of the light, rock and water made for a spectacular scene. Struck by the stark realization of the many civilizations that had treaded here before us, we descended the hand carved steps with a sense of reverence.
The well itself was surrounded by thick foliage. Large trees hovered like guardians with long tendrils draped from their limbs into the face of the water below. It was as if the roots themselves resided inside the womb of the well. With a gleeful jump, I dove right in, grateful for a few moments to frolic among them. A nearby watchman blew his whistle when I swam to the middle and grabbed the ends of the branches between my fingertips. He waved me away, no doubt to protect the integrity of the plant life. Regardless, I was glad I had seized the moment!
When I emerged from my swim in the cool waters, I felt both refreshed and blessed. As our group departed, the voices of the ancients could be heard echoing off the walls along with the shouts of modern day visitors. Who knows when we will pass this way again?