Deep into the Yucatan peninsula, majestic feathered kings ruled like Gods in what was one of the most remarkable civilization on Earth, the Maya.
After almost 4000 years of history, Mayans left behind stunning evidence of their advanced astronomical, engineering and mathematical knowledge scribed in hieroglyphs, calendars and sophisticated architecture which can easily rival the romans and greeks masterpieces.
Chichen itza, one of the world’s wonder
Determined to find out more about this enigmatic antique civilization and mark in the same time my 4rd wonder of the modern world I am embarking in a long journey to the other side of the Planet Earth, Mexico.
The first stop it’s Chichen Itza which used to be the largest and most influential city of mayans and now represent the main touristic attraction of Central America, bringing to Mexico almost 2 million visitors every year.
After 3 hours drive from Cancun, we finally reach the archeological site fighting not only the tiredness of a long day but also the high temperature and the burning sun, which seems to descend from the sky same as Mayan predicted long ago.
The sun, or Kinich Ahau how it was known by the Mayans represented an important God who, like any other deity required a certain level of worship and sacrifices for not releasing his jaguars and devorating the mankind in a second. He is featured as an angry man with aquiline nose and cross-eyed and I would not attempt to upset him any longer during my visit.
The most imposing construction, El castillo was built as a pyramid and incorporates 365 steps and 52 panels equaling the total days of the mayan solar calendar, impressing not only by size but also for its incredibly engineered accustic; a clap in front of the pyramid staircase returns an echo that is said to resemble the chirp of Quetzal (beautiful bird of Guatemala), allowing you to have a conversation with another person 165 meters away without shouting. Probably the first microphone ever invented.
Rituals and holy ceremonies were performed on top of the pyramid, involving the most sacred substance of human existence: the blood. Unless Aztecs, the mayans didn’t rely heavily in mass killing, preferring instead to pierce themselves, bleed into a paper and burn it as offering. However, sometimes the Gods would ask more than a drop of blood and it was vital to satisfy their request or the mayan world would seize to exist. Preferred by the Gods was not the common crowd but the royal blood such as kings and nobles.
The heat becomes unbearable and I am losing my interests in the informations offered by our tour guide, running away from the group and finding shelter in one of the restaurants which offers refreshments and wi-fi, decision that I am about to regret deeply. Tearing apart an important page of history its not the most wise thing to do in this place where every stone has its own history, spilled with blood of a lost civilization.
Mayan population today
Certain is that most of the mayan population have disappeared and not in one of the coffee shops around Chichen itza but deep in the jungle leaving behind deserted cities and temples swallowed by tick layers of forest. What made them abandon the center of their existence remains an mystery even for the 7 million indigenous people who are still alive today, participating actively in the modern life but without forgetting their ancestors.
The local population nowadays resides mostly in the jungle and base their income on touristic activities which has proven to be more profitable than agriculture that used to be the main occupation in the past.
As part of the same tour we were invited in a short trip to one of the mayan village to experience the life style of an authentic mayan.
A shaman wearing white clothes welcomes us with a sacred chanting meant to allow the flow of positive energy throughout the day and even though normally I would be a bit skeptical about the incantations spoken in a language totally unknown to me, I decide to let myself go with the flow and receive with an open heart whatever the Universe has prepared for me.
Since the old times the shamans were acting as mediators between the spiritual and the material world having in the same time extensive medical knowledge used to heal people in need using natural remedies and sacred rituals.
One thing I didn’t share that day was a glass of Tequila, being my less favorite drink, fact which is about to change after a week spent in Mexico.
Tequila? Si por favor!