I know I go on and on about off the beaten path activities and places. I love to feel like I am discovering something not following the masses to a prepackaged idea. My point has never been proven as much as when I visited Chichen Itza and then Coba. Which I am glad I did in that order. My favorite thing about Mexico ( besides the food) was there preservation of history. They care a lot about their past and want to make sure you can experience it and understand it.
MY THIRD DAY IN MEXICO I WENT TO CHICHEN ITZA.
It is a good distance from Riviera Maya and takes a few hours to make it their by bus. Every thing in Mexico is by bus. They do not have a rail system in the Yucatan. Making everything take longer then usual.
Chichen Itza is like a Mayan theme park. The grass and trees perfectly manicured and the buildings trimmed and perfected. It is made to look aesthetically pleasing. A lot of the buildings are being restored and everything is roped off to keep tourists a safe distance from the partially crumbling facades. Don’t get me wrong it is amazing how large and intact all these buildings are. However there is something too maintained too perfect about the appearance, It is not really authentic. Not to mention there are hordes of people. Everyone wants to go to Chichen Itza because it is the largest and most well known of the Yucatan ruins.
I already knew this when I made the arrangements to go. I read a wonderful book called “Mexican Days” by Tony Cohan and he prepared me for the possible mayhem. Not to mention the day we went was pushing over 90 degrees which made it a bit hard to pay attention to anything except how much I needed water. Unlike the heat in India( which is a wet, humid heat) Mexico is a dry, unrelenting heat. Roasting your body and dehydrating you.
The main pyramid is worth fighting the crowds for. It looks almost fake against the too perfect sky. As you can see. And the observatory is perfectly crumbling. Which is how I like my ruins. Crumbling. Like ruins should be. I like that you can see how Chichen Itza looked due to the wonderful restorations going on but it doesn’t make it feel like history. It makes it looks like a representation of history, not even real.
The other problem with Chichen Itza is since it brings in millions of tourists a year it also brings in hundreds of vendors. Rows and rows of people all selling identical looking items. All yelling out to you “ Lady, only one peso, only one dollar” Which is just a scheme because when you get closer they tell you only one dollar off. Ah I see sir, you almost had me. The worst part of the scheme is most of the wood is actually painted in gasoline. Thats right gasoline. To give it that aged look. However the smell is atrocious. You know immediately which vendors are doing it because you can smell it a mile away.
Good luck getting something covered in gasoline onto an airplane. Do not buy anything that smells like gas.
History is the reason I travel. It is the reason I read. Im so glad that Mexico is a country proud of theirs and continually work to repair and market theirs. Go to Mexico for the Margaritas but I urge you to explore their past.