Back to the Maya World: Chichén Itzá

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And we are back in Mexico for the final leg of the trip–one more week to go.

Crossing the border turned out easier than planned, as we discovered there was a boat from San Pedro to Chetumal. We didn’t even have to backtrack to Belize City—a 90 minute-long ride, a smooth one this time, took us across the border.

As soon as the boat arrived, we jumped on the quay and were told to stand in line, a few feet behind our backpacks. The military and a trained dog inspected our luggage but no one traveled with a few pounds of cocaine so we were let go quickly. At the other end of the spectrum, the migracíon officer didn’t even bother looking at our passports—he just stamped them without checking our IDs.

From Chetumal, we jumped in a bus to Tulum, three hours away. We somehow got a chicken bus that stopped everywhere. “Directo” in Mexico doesn’t mean “direct” as in “this bus won’t stop every five metres to pick up passengers on the ride of the road”, it means that you don’t have to change bus to reach your destination. Semantics…

By the time we arrived in Tulum, we were starving and tired and we didn’t accomplish much other than eating quesadillas and marveling at the modern convenience stores. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a franchise person and I’m not a huge consumer in general. But we hadn’t seen a real convenience store (and much less a well-stocked supermarket) since southern Guatemala. Most stores in Belize and Honduras are just little tienditas where products aren’t always fresh. And I’m not buying yogurts unless I take them from a fridge that is actually plugged in and actually cold.

From Tulum, we headed to Valladolid—more on that later as soon as I learn how to pronounce the name of that city properly. Our first stop was of course in Chichén Itzá, a few kilometres away.

Chichén Itzá is probably the most famous and most visited Maya archeological site. The main temple is one of the icons of Mexico and it never fails to impress. We’ve been there three times and I’m still in awe!

Because Chichén Itzá is easy to access (unlike Tikal, for instance), you have to share it with hordes of tourists from Cancún. It does get very crowded and the parking lot was packed with tour buses. You can’t climb any of the structures anymore (we did in 2001!) which is kind of a shame.

Another annoyance was the number of tacky souvenir stalls in the site. Usually, in such places, souvenir stalls are outside or right at the entrance—it used to be like that in Chichén Itzá anyway. But now, stalls are lined up between each structure and it feels like walking in a market. Every two metres, someone tried to sell us plastic “Maya” masks and other tacky stuff. I know, the sellers are only trying to make a living, but it doesn’t make the site very enjoyable when you have to say “no gracias” every two minutes. I wonder if there are more sellers this year because of the whole “2012 end of the world” prediction?

Regardless, it was great to be back at Chichén Itzá and we enjoyed it despite the buzz.

Arriving in Mexico, Chetumal

Road Block in Mexico (one of many!)

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, The Main Temple

Lazy Lizard on Top of the Pyramid

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

The Only Round Building in the Maya World

Chichen Itza
The Ball Court
The Ball Court

Chichen Itza

The Ball Court

Chichen Itza


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. That’s what some of the people I met on the road said too. I was in Copan, and there was an English couple I bumped into, they told me that Chitchen Itza was so different, there were people wearing bikinis entering the complex, it felt like a Mayan spring break!

  2. I agree that the tourism orientated stalls and busy crowds can be a bit off-putting as you go in, but as you reach the impressive and commanding main temple, you will soon forget all about this.

  3. Loved this historic site. There isn’t much there so you probably won’t be there very long unless you get a guide (we were there probably about an hour). The guides are extra, and we were told “Without me, you’re just looking at a pile of stones”. Fabulous! There is good information at each “pile of stones”. Lots of people selling things, just politely say “No gracias” and they’ll usually move on. Haggle a bit at the stalls! It was scorching when we went and there isn’t much shade so take hats, cover-ups, sunscreen etc.

  4. It is amazing to think that many centuries ago civilizations were walking our planet before us. It looks to me that there were bigger civilizations than we thought. If that’s the case then they must were more advanced than we actually know about them. More discoveries will let us know them better.

    I want to share with you this music about the mystical place Chichen-Itza. The message of that music is about a CHANGE all humans must do in order to live in peace and harmony. Maybe that’s the message ancient civilizations wanted us to know.

    Arriving at Chichen-Itza 2012

    In Lak’Ech. Peace from Mexico.

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