Chévere Chichén Itzá

Authored by:
Jennifer Tubbs

Jennifer Tubbs

Tuch, xik’, hach - if this all sounds Greek to you, you wouldn’t be far off! Last week we learned some Mayan vocabulary to prepare us for our trip to Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world and home to some of Mexico’s most impressive Mayan ruins. Despite centuries of conquest, Mayan culture still flourishes in the Yucatán in the form of colorful huipils, delicious cochinita, and, of course, the ancient remnants of their civilization’s great cities. 

At night, students had the special privilege of seeing history come alive with the Chichén Itzá light show. The history of the Mayab - or Mayan ancestral land - was narrated and accompanied by artistic images projected onto the pyramids. 

Our tour of Chichén Itzá during the daylight was just as impressive as our time at night. Our guide explained the significance of the ancient Mayan ball game called pitz that seamlessly intertwined with their cosmology and belief system. The winner of the game - or the loser, depending on who you’re asking - was sacrificed to the gods. 

Anthropologists generally agree on a rough translation of Chichén Itzá as “people of the water” or “people of the sinkholes.” It was only fitting that we visit a cenote, or sinkhole, since the ancient Mayans saw them as sacred and revered them for their connection to the underworld. Students enjoyed swimming in the sacred waters and practicing their Spanish with fellow cenote visitors. 

On the way back to Mérida, we took advantage of the Yucatán’s cultural diversity and stopped in Izamal, known as the “yellow city,” to have dinner at a hacienda. Students rested under the palm trees and sipped agua de jamaica before heading back to their home stays, where they were welcomed by their host families. 

We’re rested and ready for another exciting week in Mérida!

¡Nos hablamos pronto!

 - Jennifer

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