Reminiscing The Pyramids Of Chichen Itza, Mexico

It’s cold here in Canada as of this writing and I’ve been reminiscing our 2003 honeymoon in Tulum, Mexico on the Riviera Maya. Relaxing on the warm sunny beaches of the Caribbean, viewing the wonderful small towns and especially touring the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. It was one of the high points of our honeymoon.

The Castle at Chichen Itza

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are 91 steps to get to the top of this pyramid or castle (El Castillo,) one set of stairs on each of the four sides. With the top step being the alter you see here, the

total number of steps is 365. The same number of days in the year. The sides are aligned to the four directions of North, East, West and South.

Image by ramonbaile via Flickr

Chichen Itza’s Castle became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, after a worldwide vote enthusiastically named El Castillo to the list.

We were fortunate to still be permitted to climb the steps of this pyramid on our Honeymoon in June 2003. We explored that little structure at the top too. It was cool inside, I mean the temperature was most agreeable. We had to pause for short breaks several times climbing the narrow steps getting to the top. It was so hot that day and the cool air of the alter at the top was a welcome relief. Some poor tourist had been ill and vomited in a corner of this little room at the top. Totally understandable. It was beastly hot that day despite the slightly overcast semi-cloudy sky. We were most definitely in a different latitude than our familiar Toronto, Canada.

I remembered only blue skies and blazing sun that day but the 35MM photos when developed showed that there was a thin blanket of white cirrus-and cumulus type clouds. Beach-goers will tell you that on a clear, sunny day they tan while on semi-cloudy days, they burn. The explanation for this is that UV radiation from the sun actually reflects back and forth under the clouds. This provides more opportunity for UV exposure and people sometimes think that they do no need to use sunscreen because it is semi-cloudy.

More UV is present even under cover of shade on semi-cloudy days versus cloudless days as a result. You might not tan but you can ‘burn’ in the shade of a tree or parasol as a result! Even using liberal amounts of sunscreen lotion we got sunburned pretty badly that day. It could have been much worse though. We didn’t blister or anything and only peeled a very little bit. It was only mid-June. The hottest part of the summer was still a month or more away!

Almost Ready to Explore El Castillo

(image source by author)

Here, our tour group is receiving final instructions before being turned loose to explore for several hours. Among the instructions was a defacto deadline when to return to charter bus. I recall the tour guide’s words clearly. “Be back at the bus by 4:15 PM. If you are NOT back at the bus by 4:30 PM sharp, -WE did not leave you, YOU left US!“

Notice the line-up at the base of the pyramid, just to the right of the ramp. Yes, this is a doorway which was blasted into the structure by early explorers. Brave tourists are led through a tight, circuitous passageway to an inner chamber where they can view more Mayan artifacts. We did not go through this although I sort of wanted to. I wish now that I had when opportunity was present. This too may now be closed to tourists.
Back in 2003, Tourists Were Still Allowed to Climb the Pyramid at Chichen Itza

(image source by author)

By the way, the woman with the blue blouse and tan shorts (image above) standing in the distance just in front of the ramp is my wife. She is eagerly calling me over to begin our climb of El Castillo.

Close-up view of the Steps of Chichen Itza
El Castillo (The Castle)

Image by ramonbaile via Flickr

The stair steps are narrow but one can climb them straight-on without much difficulty. One must by convenience descend standing sideways for the steps are about half as wide as your shoe. One does not ‘walk down’ the steps in the vernacular sense. The incline is too steep and the steps are too narrow. It is idyllically and


somewhat romantically purported that the steps were designed that way to force the faithful to not turn their backs on their Gods.

At any rate, it is more than a little dangerous to descend standing-up. Most people just sit on their bum and descend that way, spider-walking like young children. It can be quite treacherous any other way. A San Diego woman a few years later (2006) fell to her death on these steps, and since then climbing this castle is no longer permitted.

Temple of the Warriors (Templo de los Guerreros)

Image by ramonbaile via Flickr

Tourists are not permitted to climb these steps at Temple of 1000 Warriors but are permitted to explore the columns.

Another View of Temple of the Warriors (Templo de los Guerreros)

(image source)

At the Top of the Temple of the Warriors

Image by ramonbaile via Flickr

Tourists are not permitted to climb the Temple of the Warriors. But at the top resides this reclining figure. This can be seen from the top of the Pyramid ‘El Castillo‘ and I believe that it is visible in one of my photographs.

A Mathematical Curiosity

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

or Definitive Evidence of Grey-skinned Aliens?
This (above) rather looks like the Pyramid/Castle at Chichen Itza

This little demonstration of some oddities of mathematics caught my attention and it reminded me of the pyramid El Castillo. What do you think?

(image source by author)

Me, taking a break about halfway up the 91-step climb to the top. Notice my footnotes on the image about ‘one could easily tumble all the way to the bottom.’ In 2006, San Diego woman fell to her death on the steps of El Castillo and as a result, climbing here is now forbidden.
Cimbing the Steps of El Castillo, in Chichen Itza, Mexico

(image source sketch by author)

My wif and I, climbing the steps of the pyramid El Castillo, Chichen Itza MEXICO. June, 2003

Temple of the Warriors as seen from the top of El Castillo

(image source by author)

Sunburn on our Mexican Honeymoon

Even though we were slathered in sunscreen lotion all that day, we still both got very sunburned. We both ached to move! Our skin felt like stretched plastic wrap. It hurt to wear a nightshirt, it hurt to lie down. We could not stand to rub lotion on each other it was so bad and I recall that we were both a little feverish that next day. Fortunately we took it easy and had little planned that next day in the way of excursion, activities or outings. We just lazed in the shade in and around the many pools of our resort for the next day or so.

(image source by author)

But you might ask, would we do this again? Go to Mexico and Chichen Itza in particular? You bet we would!



Article Written By thestickman

Writer, hobbyist, blogger.

Posted on: Last updated: 28-07-2016 454 0

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