TRAVEL THERE: A VERY LONG DAY
Our visit to Chichen Itza was a very long day and there is no way I can cover all of it in one post, so I’ll start with the logistics of the day and we’ll work from there.
Finally Chichen Itza
Though Chichen Itza has always been at the top of my Yucatan Wish List, I didn’t make it either of the other two times we visited the area. Both of our previous visits have been via cruise ship to the port of Progresso and Chichen Itza is significantly inland from there, so we chose more accessible Mayan sites.
The first time we visited the ruins at Dzibilchaltan and it was a particularly enjoyable shore excursion, complete with lunch and a rodeo. The archaeological site was interesting and there was a wonderful museum. Last time we went to Xcampo. It was a smaller site, but still interesting. So, we’re getting pretty knowledgeable about the Mayans, but nothing can prepare you for Chichen Itza. It is both marvelous and horrid.
Up Early & Out Late
The first thing the guidebook I bought warned me about Chichen Itza was to avoid excursions from Cancun, because so much time is spent in transit. Well, I appreciated the advice and understood the reasoning, but this was it. If I didn’t go this time, chances are I might never again get the opportunity.
As we shopped excursions I saw two versions of the trip over and over. Either you had to be on a bus by 4 AM or you left between 7 and 8. The problem I discovered however, was that when you took later tours, you were in Chichen Itza during the hottest part of the afternoon, because all the tours stopped for lunch before going to the site.
Then Sandra Rubio, my travel agent at CTC Travel turned me on to ShoreTrips.com and they had a package called the Chichen Itza Plus. This version of the trip would pick us up between 7 and 8, but we’d go to the site before lunch. SOLD!
Since we were among the first to be picked up, we had to be in the lobby at 7:10. When we got there after a quick visit to the breakfast buffet, they were waiting for us. It was quite the ordeal to get out of town though. The bus they picked us up in was bigger than the airport transport vans, but not as big as the full-sized tour buses. We stopped at several hotels in the smaller bus and then traded to the big bus, but even then we had many more stops to make.
All that driving took a long time, but it was interesting to drive around and see other parts of Cancun. I’d say it was about nine when we finally headed to Cancun. They served a small breakfast – pastries, coffee and orange juice. We were glad we’d hit the resort’s buffet.
The drive to Chichen Itza was about an hour and a half. They stopped off at a shopping opportunity to use the restroom. I was focused on sightseeing, not shopping, so they didn’t get to sell me anything. Another short drive took us to the archaeological site – which I’ll go into in detail later.
After a couple of hours at the site, we went back to the shopping opportunity to have a very nice buffet lunch. In my opinion, they would have gotten a lot more shopping out of me if they’d have let me use the restroom at Chichen Itza and given me shopping time after lunch.
Then, after lunch we made another short drive to Ik Kil Cenote. I’ll also tell you more about that in a later blog, but it was a great way to end the day. Well, the day wasn’t quite over. We still had to drive back to Cancun, which seemed to take forever in the dark.
As we neared Cancun, the lights inside the bus switched on, a recorded version of “Tequila” was played on the loudspeaker and one of our guides had donned a wild get-up that I supposed was intended to be Mayan. They served shots of tequila to anyone who wanted one, but right then it didn’t even sound good to me. I was whupped.
It seemed like midnight when we got to the hotel, but I think it was only about 8:30. Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our time in Chichen Itza.