Chichen Itza, along with Palenque and Machu Picchu, has always been on my bucket list.  So, on Christmas Eve I got up and got moving early, in the hopes that I’d make it to Chichen Itza before the crowds.  That was easier said than done without a car of my own, but I managed to get there by 10.   I knew I wanted to give myself plenty of time to see it all, since it’s a pretty big site.  Thankfully, the size of it reduces the crush of the crowd once you’re past the entrance, and I was able to wander where I wanted.  It was awe inspiring, to be sure: massive pyramids and other structures, all of close-set stonework; intricate carvings with a clear sense of purpose; temples designed to shockingly accurate astrological specifications.

The one thing that marred the wonder and awe of it were the vendors.  I realize that people need to make a living, but being harassed along every pathway by people selling t-shirts, masks, pottery, and myriad other Mayan inspired souvenirs stole much of  the sanctity from a place that should have felt sacred.  Still, once away from this nuisance, there was a sacred calm that made it well worth an entire day of my trip.

Click the first picture and check out the slide show.