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Tales of Chichen Itza


Canek had been awaiting a sign but none had come.  His priests had sacrificed a captured boy from an enemy state by throwing him into the sacred cenote to drown, but there was nothing.  The king had called together a game in the ball court--it had lasted hours and both teams had played honorably--the winning captain met his death with no fear.  Still, nothing.

Kukulkan was real, the king knew, as real as the seasons and the harvest--everyone had seen the god's undulating shadow come down the temple steps every spring to bring life to the crops to come.  But, he also knew that the winged serpent was nowhere near as predictable as the stretch of days, so long ago mapped out by the learned men of the Mayan people.

Kukulkan was displeased at him, for taking his finest warriors to Uxmal and taking Sac-Nicte for his own.  She was so beautiful, and she loved him, in a way that Ulil would never know.  But Canek had broken tradition, had broken the laws of the Maya, and for as long as the Itzas had ruled here none had ever done so.  Canek was the first.  And yet he felt no shame, looking upon Sac-Nicte, sleeping idly in their bed.

Ulil was coming, and he was bringing an army with him, one large enough to kill all of his warriors and try to take Sac-Nicte back.  She had already pledged to die before allowing that to happen and the thought of her blood on the limestone made Canek's heart weep.  He thought of throwing himself to his knees, of begging Kukulkan for help, but it would do no good.  The god answered only to sacrifice of blood and if the blood already shed was not enough then Canek would rather...

He called his priests and his governor.  He had a new plan.  It took less than two days for all of his people to abandon their homes, to melt into the jungle, and find a new place among the outlying villages, far from Ulil's army who would find nothing but an empty city.  It had cost him a kingdom but Canek had Sac-Nicte, and his people lived on. 

As for Kukulcan, thought Canek,  let the ungrateful serpent starve.

***

Jesus Hat was a Baptist missionary out of Portland, Maine.  He was a broad-shouldered figure in a hat that bore the name of the man he devoted himself to--and he was on holiday to Mexico with his son.  He had a lot of opinions about Playa Del Carmen (It's basically Miami!), certain ancient knowledge (It's antediluvian!  Sons of God!  Giants, man!), and about Latin American countries (The Dominican Republic has some the nicest people in the world!). 

Altogether I rather liked him, despite the fact that I think he and I would never be able to find common ground on politics or religion or whatever else.  But so what?  We all don't need to be perfectly compatible.  We were all taking the same tour and that was common enough ground for today.  The culture war could wait until were both back from vacation. 

Son of Jesus Hat was a harder read.  In his twenties, I got the distinct impression he had reached the point where he just kind of let his dad talk, and chimed in a little with the stuff he agreed with while softly chiding him on the stuff he didn't.  Your standard adult-child-on-vacation-with-parent relationship.  Mostly he was on his phone.

***

Today was a long day.  7am pickup to 9pm to drop off.  Probably 6 hours total in the bus.  I think it was worth it though.  Crossing Chichen Itza off my list was the main reason I came to Mexico in the first place so it feels good to get it done.  Everything else from here on out is gravy.

I will, however, never understand why tour companies need to 'Value Add' onto tours.  People want to go to Chichen Itza, but there's no straight up tour for that.  I got the bare minimum tour which was a visit to the site, preceded by a visit to what was effectively a giant gift shop (forced by the Mexican government to improve the local economy which was fair enough), and then two hours afterwards for a 3pm lunch and swimming at a sinkhole (it was nicer than it sounds).  I would have rather gone back to the hotel immediately after lunch but no dice. 

Thank goodness I didn't get the deluxe package.  That had a whole extra stop at a historic Catholic church (which we drove by and got the story of anyway).  I get that they want to make it a whole day, but just give the people what they want.




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