23 December: From Cancun to Chichen Itza

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Off to Yucatan

We woke up in the morning, packed our bag, checked out, and off to Chichen Itza. We first said our goodbye and thank you to Porfirio and went off to Wal Mart to buy some stuff. Noe’s sterilizer water bottle went missing and I guessed we just needed to survive without it.

Noe slept along the way to Chichen Itza. The expressway is smooth and pleasant to drive on, but there were not many cars, perhaps because we drove off in the morning. On the sides of the expressway were just subtropical forests and swamp. We saw many black eagles flying low to gain leverage from the hot air above the expressways. We even saw a group of eagle eating a carcass of a rabbit on top of the expressway. I guessed that’s why the Maya uses a lot of eagle symbolism in their murals and ceremonies.

We then paid the toll fee at the Yucatan / Quintana Roo border, which is rather expensive, about 20 USD. Trailer with 7 axles would have to pay 100 USD!


 
 

Off the expressway, the road became smaller and we had to drive more carefully. Finally at about noon, we arrived at hotel Dolores Alba, which is located near Ik Kil Cenote and Chichen Itza. The hotel was simple but pleasant, with bungalow style rooms painted in pink. It is just a simple one-storey building. There were two swimming pools with natural limestone as their floors. They even have a trampoline and hammocks!


   

The room is a bit old, but clean and comfortable, with a window opening towards the forest. There is warm water in the bathroom, too.

The Most Delicious Lunch in Mexico

After settling in with our stuff unpacked, we drove off to Piste, a village near Chichen Itza site and our hotel, to find lunch. After driving around the village, we finally settled for Pollo Asado (Grilled Chicken) in Los Pajaros Cantina, that smelled very nice from the road. But the lady (her name is Berta) said that it’s not ready yet, and we had to wait for half an hour. So we took a stroll along the village, bought some fresh melon and watermelon juices for only 5 pesos each. It was a very small, laid back village, and there were not many people on the street. Most of the people there were of Mayan heritage. We observed that Mayans in general are short, and they have a short neck and a narrow forehead, but they look similar to Southeast Asians (or rather, Southeast Asians look like Mayans). They even speak Mayan in their daily lives among themselves. They are also quite poor, which was puzzling to us since they live right next to a major tourist site attracting international visitors.


     

Then we returned to Los Pajaros and the chicken was ready! It was served with some lettuce, tomato, salsa, tortilla, rice and the best of all: Barbequed whole onion. It was the best Pollo Asado we found in Mexico! During lunch, Berta’s daughter helped to serve the food, and she was very diligent.


 
 

After lunch, we asked Berta for the recipe. It was very simple. Just make a paste from garlic, salt, oregano, and pimiento, then mix in lemon juice. Immerse the chicken into the marinade, making sure everything is well-covered, for fifteen minutes only. Then off to the grill, and cooked until it’s done, perhaps half an hour, but the fire shouldn’t be too close to the chicken.

Touring the Expensive Hotels in Chichen Itza


 

It was raining in mid-afternoon so we decided to see what was in Zona Hotelera near Chichen Itza ruins. We saw Club Med resort that looked sub-standard (as compared to the one in Bali). However, we were impressed with the Hacienda Maya that was built from an old Spanish colonial real estate with lush garden. Each bungalow costs 190 USD per night! Hotel Mayaland just nearby the east entrance of the ruins was also interesting with a combination of thatched roofs and solid brick structures.

           

Indi and Noe tried the pool near the lobby. They made friends with two American kids of Northern Indian heritage living in Seattle. Ek Balam was where they came from the day before and after Chichen Itza they went to Merida the next morning. It was a good idea to have Noe swim since it made him hungry and eat more of the Mayan grilled chicken and rice we bought from Berta. His pants were dropping after having eaten less than he normally would in Singapore.


 

Chichen Itza Light and Sound Show


 

Light and sound show started on time at 7pm on the grounds of Chichen Itza. Perhaps there were less than 500 people in the audience across the lawn but then it started to rain before we could catch the first half. Yodhi managed to stay in the rain with his digital video cam while we waited at the lobby avoiding rain. Indi did not want Noe to get sick on this trip. The last part of the show was quite nice it had Spanish narration on speakers in-sync with various lights projecting onto the facades of the ruins.

After the show Indi and Yodhi went to buy take-out salbutes, panuchos and fajita de polla in Piste while Rani waited in hotel with Noe who was fast asleep. It was a good dinner to close the day.

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