This archaeological site was on my ‘must see’ lists for quite a long time, ever since I’ve started to learn about the Mayans and I have to say I am very fascinated about this wonderful, deep, mystical civilization.
We booked a one day tour to this site and were fortunate enough to have a historian guy as a guide who shared with us loads of interesting things about the Mayans. I was in heaven; I felt I was going on an expedition, absorbing all information like a sponge:) loved it
- Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and the name means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza.” (Itzá is the name of an ethnic group that had political and economic dominance of the northern peninsula).
- Mayan civilization loved to study the movement of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. There were many observatories built. The Mayan had two calendars one was the Sacred calendar which consisted of 260 days and the Earthly calendar (Haab) which consisted of 365 days.
- According to the Mayans this is a time of great celebration for having reached the end of a creation cycle (at this year’s winter Solstice). It does not mean the end of the world but the beginning of a new “age”.
- The idea of 2012 being the end of the world was actually first suggested by a religionist who, in a nutshell, had no clue what he was talking about.
- The Mayan writing, mathematics, and astrology were very advanced. They used pictures to represent ideas; their alphabet was made of pictures not letters. Their mathematics was more advanced than the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
- Mayans believed the man is the bonding between the Sun/Moon and the Earth.
- Health and medicine among the ancient Maya was a complex blend of mind, body, religion, ritual, and science. Medicine was practiced only by a select few who were given an excellent education (they were called shamans).
- The guide told us about a stone called the ‘black gold’ which was used as painkiller (obsidian). This is a volcanic rock has healing properties: you just have to rub it wherever you have a pain and the silica from this stone helps reducing the pain. The women used to clean these stones by leaving them in the water under the moon (in a precise moment of the moon, of course).
- The Mayans used saunas. In fact we have seen ruins of a sweat bath at Chichen Itza and you should have seen my face when I’ve heard they were having saunas even on that heat (there were about 30 ͦC when we’ve visited the site an there is no such thing as winter there).
- The Maya did not stop to exist when their ancient cities went into decline. They live on today in the same areas their ancestors inhabited. Although their culture has changed over time, many Mayas maintain their language and traditions. There are about 2 million Mayan people living today (according to our guide).
Their handicrafts were utterly beautiful; loads to choose from, made from natural elements. I’ve bought some really nice magnets made from clay, very nicely painted in bright colours, a sombrero (I couldn’t wait to have one) and a sculptured Mayan calendar.
One thing I didn’t like was that the guide insisted we shouldn’t buy anything while we are visiting the ruins (there are hundreds of people selling handicrafts inside the site) as he said they are doing this illegal. Instead, before arriving to Chichen Itza, we’ve been dropped for an hour to a place with lots of nice but expensive things. So, if I would go there again, I would not hesitate in buying straight from the sellers on the site as they are Mayan people selling their self-made things at very reasonable prices and as far as I’m concerned, they deserved the money for their own work, on their own land!
As the hotels and all posh resorts (Cancun) have been built on their land, there is an agreement that at least 35% of the hotels employees should be Mayans. They don’t stay in Cancun (as it is the most expensive city in Mexico) but travel 1-2 hours every day to come to work (bless them).
It was quite easy to tell a Mayan from a Mexican as there are many distinctive physical features of a typical Maya native: they are very short in height, black hair, big black eyes; I was told they don’t sweat as they have no hair on their legs/arms (well jel on this one).
The more you learn about them, the more you realized just how evolved they were.
Oh, I could go on and on about this…what a wonderful world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!