11.28.08 Merida to Chichen-Itza

Chichen Itza Travel Blog

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Chichen-Itza Great Pyramid

11.28.08 Merida to Chichen-Itza

 

Successful day!  Mimi was kind enough to drive me (again) to pick up our laundry this morning that Jonna kindly dropped off yesterday for us.  For 56 pesos ($5) we got our sweet-smelling, folded clothes back.  Ahhh, service!  She also popped down to the mechanic’s and got a bolt for Ciao’s air filter cover- effective!

 

Jonna gave us some excellent, helpful tips on where to park with driving distances throughout Belize and Guatemala.  Speaking of Central America, Ned got his flights arranged for Christmas and is flying into Managua, Nicaragua and out of San Jose, Costa Rica.

Thousand columns
  We cannot wait to see him!  So we have 20 days to get down to Managua.  I think that will work out great!

 

Today’s Driving Info:  We drove the nice Perifico ring road around Merida from the N to the SE corner (Note:  We got on at Progresso interchange going clockwise – the very first exit had a Super-Walmart with a huge parking lot- wonder if RV’s can park there?). 

 

We then took the excellent Mex 180 to Chichen-Itza.  180 split into 180 (free) and 180D (cuota) some distance out of Merida and we took 180D.  I read that taking the toll road ($10 U.S.) to Chichen-Itza avoided 147 topes and 48 villages that we’d have hit on the “libre” or free-road.

Tope seller- typical throughout Mexico- this one is non-agressive
 

 

So while Lia learned her nines for multiplication and we practiced our Espanol, we zipped along and in a very short time (1.5 hours maybe?) arrived by 1pm into Piste, the small town about 1 mile from Chichen-Itza.

 

Piste, while a bit run-down by U.S. standards, is a nice little town.  When you get used the way Mexican towns look, and realize that it is not because it is a “bad part of town,” then you have an easier time differentiating danger. 

 

Mexican towns have a different standard of cosmetics due to a different standard of living.  While our towns are crisp, clean, and free of litter and old concrete buildings, they also lack the happy jumble of open-air stores, people out walking and socializing, etc.

Chichen-Itza Observatory
  It would be really nice to combine the social atmosphere of Mexico with the crispness of the U.S., but I think they counter-act each other.  Wealth in the U.S. has brought isolation, which is really too bad.

 

Anyway, using the Church’s GPS coordinates, we easily found the Stardust Hotel, where they kindly came outside when we pulled up.  They said we could park (“estesiomiento”) our motorhome (“la casa rodante”) at the side of their building for 150 ($13) with water/electric (you’d run a cord into a room maybe?) or 100 pesos ($9) without.  We’d prepared for dry camping so are all set up.  One guy who works here said he’d keep an eye on our rig for us and we tipped him 30 pesos, but we’re not sure how he’ll do that since we’re along a concrete wall on the side.  Regardless, we found it interesting that we really feel no fear here at all. 

 

Charles was sick today.

Interesting speaker system
  I thought he was just lazing around and made him run a lap in the campground this morning.  Big guilt when I discovered he really was ill.  Oops.  He sadly could not go with us into Chichen-Itza and took a nice nap in the cool, darkened RV.  Fortunately, the nap seemed to help him feel better.

 

The girls walked an easy mile on sidewalks to Chichen-Itza.  We loved this amazing UNESCO World Heritage site of the Mayan empire.  It is also considered one of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World.  We walked all over the site, admired the architecture and acoustics of the stone buildings, and read from our Michelin Guide and the Archeology Mexico book.  I don’t see how people without a map, book, or guide experience the sites- the naming board have just a brief description (which is translated, but with difficulty, into English). 

 

While walking around Chichen-Itsa, we took pictures of the buildings while pointing to the same picture in the book- what a thrill!  They also have a Sound and Light show here, but we opted not to attend this one.

  I’m sure it is a beautiful sight at night.

 

We thought the highlights were the main pyramid and the statue of the reclining Chaac-Mul (Rain God) on the Pyramid of the Warriors, but we really enjoyed all the buildings.  The Thousand Columns were amazing- how hard it must have been to create each of 1000 round, stone columns!  The Mayans also were very advanced with the calendar, astrological features, and architecture as art.

 

All the Mexican Archeology sites have each cost a very reasonable 108 pesos ($9) each for Jazy (ages 13 and up) and me, but ages twelve and younger are free.  We’ll insure Charles gets a chance to see Chichen-Itza tomorrow before we leave.

 

Lia really wanted a particular bamboo drum that the Mayans were selling.  We all agreed that Mrs.

Chichen-Itza: Lia points out picture in book at the Nunnery
Moses, her music teacher at school, would likely enjoy it the most.  So we bought it for Mrs. Moses, but Lia can play it until delivery.

 

There were many visitors at Chichen-Itza, particularly compared to the few we’ve seen at previous sites.  We’re within an hour or two of Cancun, so it’s not surprising.  We met Americans on their honeymoon and there were about 9 tour buses lining the “autobus” parking in the lot. 

 

It was interesting how all the Mayan vendors quoted U.S. dollars (using a 10-1 rather than 13-1 exchange).  I preferred negotiating with pesos in Spanish. 

 

We say “Buenos Tardes” or “Buenos Dias” or Buenos Noches” rather than “Hola” to the Mexican people we see.

Chichen-Itza entrance
  It is not considered polite to say “Hola” like we say “Hi” in the U.S.  They seemed very pleased with our “Buenos Tardes” today and responded warmly, almost relieved.  We felt like local gringas!

 

However, I was not able to negotiate 100 pesos for a turquoise mask that I wanted (he started at 450!).  Then, I stupidly did not turn back when he finally offered 150 as I was leaving.  And when I did later go back, he then wanted 250.  Ahh, lesson learned.  Snag it when you get a good price.  But also, don’t buy it if the negotiation doesn’t go well- you’ll always remember that when you see the object!

 

Jazy also tried unsuccessfully to buy a turquoise dress for me for 150, the same type of dress that she got at Agua Azul for 130, but the lady, who started at 280, wouldn’t budge after 180.

Chichen-Itza entrance
  This is definitely the touristy Cancun crowd coming in and the sellers knew a lot of English- not the best place for bargains.  But each experience is a learning process.  After the Merida market, where we paid whatever they asked, we later read that “negotiating is fundamental” there - guess we didn’t pass that test- ha!

 

Dinner was in the rig tonight to eat all the food we bought at the Mega store.  We must eat it before Belize, where they’ll likely snag some of it- their items of confiscation seem to be randomly determined.  We ate hamburgers that were surprisingly shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head.  OK.  Peas, ramen noodles- boring stuff.  We made cookies, but couldn’t find the nice pan that Marti and Charlie gave us- then we found it afterward- Jazy had taken the pans out of the oven to light it! 

 

The Weather:  Sunset here is early at 5:00 pm!  Most stores close by then and it is dark by 5:30 pm.

Chichen-Itza UNESCO World Heritage sign
  We eat and head to bed early- a nice schedule.  We’re now taking hot showers and settling down to sleep in the cool night air, cool being about 70 degrees.  It was probably 80 degrees today and pleasant enough for walking around.  Every day the air is very bright with clear sunshine! 

 

I see where the Yucatan peninsula would be an intriguing place to live- modern, safe, gorgeous weather and beaches, excellent roads, and obviously a state that has a high standard of living for the most part.  It is Mexico:  lovely and friendly people working hard to make a living, but enjoying life while they can.

 

We were so lucky to have time with the amazing Mimi and Jonna.  They went out of the way to show us Merida, take us out to dinner, share their friends and lovely house with us, and send us out well-prepared for more adventure down the road.

Chichen-Itza: Jazy points out picture in book
  Thank you so much for everything, Mimi and Jonna!  You’re the greatest!

 

 

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photo by: ellechic