From The World Of Parks & Recreation
By Doug Comer
I recently returned from my honeymoon at the Riviera de Maya in Cancun with my wife, Jeovanna, and, as expected, a week of sun and relaxation was the schedule for the week. However, I did not realize that the week would turn as educational as it did.
First, never travel to another country when our country is celebrating a holiday. Customs was not prepared for the thousands of people that wanted to take part in the festivities and attractions that Cancun offered; and after a long wait and a loss of luggage, I was more than ready to hit the pool and forget about all the happenings.
Besides the boring parts of sitting by the pool, sipping fruit drinks, soaking up the sun and eating meals equivalent to the Wonder Bar or Oliverio’s, we took a day to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and the Ik Kil Cenote in the Yucatan.
Our guide, named Filipe, told stories growing up as a kid in the area and his upbringing in the Yucatan area laminated my belief that the day was going to be informative.
Chichen Itza, which means “at the mouth of the well,” is dominated by the Temple of Kukulkan, which is also referred to as El Castillo (the castle) de la Serpiente Emplumada (feathered snake). The 98-foot step pyramid is known as one of the Wonders of the World because of its detail.
At the northeast staircase of the structure are two carved heads of snakes. And during the afternoons of the spring and autumn equinox, an undulating combination of light and shadow casts a series of triangular shadows that evokes the appearance of a snake wiggling down the staircase. Some scholars suggest that this might be a representation of the serpent-god Kukulkan.
Another feature of the tour is the Great Ball Court where the Mayan’s, who were great competitors, would play their games. The field is 545 feet in length and 225 feet in width and there is no discontinuity between the walls and open to the sky. Each end of the field has a “temple” area and whispers can be heard at the other end 500 feet away and through the length of the field. The sound waves are unaffected by wind direction and to this day it is still unexplained.
Ironically, the stories etched in stone tell that the winning team’s captain must present his head to the losing captain as reward. Strange, but true, the Mayan’s believed it to be the ultimate honor as it is believed he would get a direct ticket to heaven.
Later, we took a 15-minute drive to see the Ik Kil Cenote, which is a deep well that is normally formed during the collapse of a cave. The Ik Kil is roughly 190 feet in diameter and around 115 feet deep. Carving in to the limestone rock are steps that descend down to the well area. After jumping into the chilly waters, I noticed small black catfish swimming along the edges of the well. I was only in the water for 5-minutes, but, it was very refreshing.
Our enrichment program has been looking at various ways to improve and this would be an ideal story to pass on some fun facts to the kids that attend. And personally for me, I feel fortunate to learn about the area from a local and, of course, to share the experience with my wife.
Remind me to tell you about my experience swimming with the dolphins in a later article.