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Yucatán-Playa del Carmen & Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza Temple

Our four lovely and relaxing nights at Belmond Maroma ended and a new chapter began in time for my birthday at the Hilton All-Inclusive adults only resort in downtown Playa del Carmen.

To some readers it may sound a bit crazy to trade locations but for me it is about maximizing experiences and balancing quiet with activities. This hotel swap allowed for that and made an efficient private visit of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza very easy. I will report back in more detail on the resort experience later. First is the trip to the Mayan ruins though.

Route via toll road

One of the seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is believed to have been used as a sacred temple complex to honor the gods and make sacrifices for fertility and prosperity. Our early morning tour of the site was perfect to avoid the tropical heat that makes this place sweltering even in low December sun. A private driver and guide is the best way to get a comprehensive overview at your own speed. Our Mayan native Joel Martin was outstanding with his knowledge and kindness that made us both smile all day.

The temple swallowed by the mythical feather snake that represents wisdom and knowledge
Trying to throw a hoop – winner gets his head chopped off to honor the gods

After our extensive walk on the grounds, we drove through thick jungle to a cenote “sink hole” with pristine aquifer water. There are thousands of these cenote across the Yucatán peninsula.

Cenote from the top down
Cenote from the bottom up
Cat fish farming Yucatán style

The cenote not only represent tons of tourism dollars to local families, these underground aquifers sustain life on so many levels. This family chose to introduce cat fish whom as bottom feeders keep the 150 foot depths clean

Cathedral of Valladolid built in 1605

Our final stop along this 9-hour day of exploration was the colonial town of Valladolid with its stunning cathedral. One of the oldest churches in the New world, the Spanish erected it by using local Mayan temple stones to put their stamp on society. It is a stark reminder of Western influences on the North American continent.

All in all a beautiful day in great company. I recommend it to all coming to the Yucatán to explore the Mayan heritage and influence.

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