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2008-05-06 7:39 PM
Maya Riviera Day 6: The Ruins of Chichan Itza
This was the capital city of the Mayan civilization and it is an incredible place! El Castillo (The Castle) which is the central pyramid is an artful piece of engineering.
If you are standing in front of one of the faces of the pyramid you can clap from hundreds of feet away and the acoustics of the pyramid will accept the sound, bounce it around, amplify it and send it back to you sounding exactly like the call of the Quetzal bird.
The Mayan months leave 5 extra days at the end of each year and they used those as a celebration of the new cycle. The celebration includes sacrifices of any prisoners captured during the year, parties and a ball game played in this court:
On top of the wall to the right was the place where the highest ranking warriors would sit to watch the game.
The game consisted of two teams, each with a Captain. The players on the team would fight over control of a rubber ball which they would attempt to knock over to their Captain who would use his hips to knock it up and through this ring:
The Captain of the winning team, yes winning team, would be sacrificed. The carvings below depict his headless body with snakes shooting out of his neck. The blood/snakes will nourish the land, the people, etc. It's an honor to win and be chosen to give your life for the people.
This is the Sacred Well, it was a cenote that used to be filled with beautifully clean fresh water, but the white man decided if he blocked it up that the water would dry up and he could scavange all of the jade, gold, pottery, etc that had be placed down in the well. Pinchi gringo.
At the end of the day we visited the nearest proper cenote, utterly incredible to swim in. Keaver and I jumped from about 20 feet up into the cenote (it's about 250 feet deep).
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