Chichen Itza Dark Tourism 

27.08.20 10:17 PM By Putri

One thing I'm really really good at is finding something totally unrelated and not even near to important when I have something else more pressing to do. It’s not procrastination, it’s more like focus deviation. Like when I'm supposed to wrap up our Mexico trip posts, I suddenly have this idea to write a novel, A. STEAMY. EFFIN. ROMANCE. NOVEL.

Why? Simply because last week I found a novel with a cute cover and bought it compulsively without even reading its summary. The title was quite innocent with daisies on the cover, which by the way, is my favourite flower. I was very (pleasantly) surprised when I found those steamy chapters in it. So I told myself; you know what, I can write something like this too! I too have some perverts ideas and visions of irrationally physically attractive figures with questionable moral compass characters to write about! I told Nico about this and although he knew me and my randomness, he still sighed and rolled his eyes at the idea so violently I was surprised his eyeballs didn’t fall out from his both ears onto the floor. 

I managed to write up a few first chapters of my steamy romance novel in just a couple of hours, which I wanted to share here but at the same time I want it for sale. Getting rich by selling my perverted ideas has just become my resolution for this year. 

Now, let's get back to blogging.

You see, I'm a good person. My parents told me I’m the best daughter. And according to the online quiz I took two weeks ago, I’m a people pleaser. I’m not fluent in swearing nor make witty, heart-jabbing comebacks, but I have a soft spot for everything that screams unnatural death.  And that’s what charmed me to visit Chichen Itza; horror sells. 

Why visit Chichen Itza?

Every travel destination has at least one iconic landmark that becomes the reason to travel there by itself, and your visit won’t be justified without visiting that one particular place. Like, what’s the point of going to Paris if you don’t get a selfie with the Eiffel tower in the background kind of thing. Yucatan is no different, there’s this one most visited site that every one that went to Mexico has to visit: the CHICHEN ITZA.

Chichen Itza is one of the largest ancient Mayan ruins and has some of the best preserved architectural work of the ancient Mayans. The buildings are mostly intact and the carvings are far from faded. These two qualities are definitely one of the reasons for Chichen Itza to be the most visited ruins in Yucatan. People from around the world came to this site to enjoy a cultural tourism experience, but would you believe if I say dark tourism is strong in this one? Let me show you why:

1. Cenote El Sagrado

By the time we visited Chichen Itza, we'd visited a lot of other ruins, like this,this, and this here. It was a lot of old sticks and stones. Chiche Itza has all that, but it also has a huge sacrificial pit cenote. Rumour has it, back then, the local Mayan seeked celestial assistance to survive drought seasons and prayed to the God of Rain. They often offered live humans in exchange for rain. I don’t know y’all, but it didn’t sound like a fair trade to me. 

2. The Great Ball Court 

Nearly every great Mayan society played this death ball game as a sport. Almost all ruins we visited have one, although they differ in size, they all have similar standard features; a rectangular pitch, walls of stone on the sides, and two horizontal stone rings on the side walls. These hoops were the aim of the game, the players had to shoot their ball to pass the hoops to win. 

There are two versions of the game result; the losers were sacrificed either by decapitation or removal of the heart while the other version was the winners were voluntarily sacrificed, as they saw winning the game was a great honour that they should pass to the other world and sit among the gods. Either way you’d died, or at least lived till your next game. It’s a death ball indeed, I don't think the NBA would approve of this. 

I wouldn’t be surprised that most of the bones found at the bottom of Cenote Sagrado belonged to those players. There’s a dark connection between this Great Ball Court and the cenote, I’m sure of it.

3. The Zompantli or the Skull Rack 

Yup, you read that right; the skull rack. I told you this ruins is dark, but Chichen Itza is not the only ruin that has this structure to display decapitated heads of sacrificed humans. You only get to see the structure made of stone decorated with carved human skulls, which made sense, they could no longer display the head of the victims because they were thrown into the cenote, so they made an endless-growing Tzompantli to represent the sacrification instead, like some kind of a sick way to tally.

4. El Osario

El Osario, also known as the Bonehouse and High Priest’s grave, is a smaller pyramid in Chichen Itza, notable for its beautiful serpent heads carvings. Was once believed as a tomb for priests, El Osario was also known to be built over a cave, possibly considered as a door to the underworld. 

5. El Caracol

El Caracol in Chichen Itza’s observatory tower, it is also one of the oldest world’s observatoire. Okay, this one probably doesn’t seem to have a dark tourism in it, instead, it represents a modern society. It even seemed to me that the modern observatoire took its basic shape from this ancient structure.  Ancient Mayan, playing deadly sports by the day, observing the sky by night.

6. El Castillo or Temple Kukulkan 

This four sided pyramid with a rectangular temple on the top is one of the tallest examples of Maya architecture. It has 365 steps total which represent the number of days in the Maya solar year. The facade of this extremely symmetrical structure bears decorative motifs of snakes and jaguar. El Castillo and its ingenuity represents the Mayan accurate astronomy. The temple was built for its astronomical use and as a symbol of worship for the God Kukulkan (the Feathered Serpent). Despite all the advanced culture evidence, still to this day no one could tell how this extremely advanced society, especially the one in Chichen Itza met a mysterious end. What happened? Where did they go? Why did they go? 

Is it a tourist trap?

I’ve been to a worse tourist trap such as Marrakech in Morocco, so I won’t say Chichen Itza is one. The archeological structures you find in this place are truly awesome and the history (and the dark secrets) behind it is very, very interesting, even for those that aren’t much into histories of ancient civilization. I recommend to anyone visiting Yucatan to visit it. 

Chichen Itza attracts thousands of tourists every week so expect the place to be a lot crowded compared to Tulum ruins. There are also more vendors that try to sell you overpriced gifts and trinkets, although they are absolutely not as pushy as the vendors at Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech. 

The vendors in Chichen Itza though, sell the most annoying thing on the planet, which, IMHO, should be banned: the Jaguar whistle. It’s this small flute that is supposed to imitate jaguar growl, and it’s so loud you can hear it from the underworld. Okay, probably that’s an exaggeration on my part but seriously, it’s freakin’ loud. 

The very intention of the Mayan architectural design is to amplify sound, so imagine these flutes being used by the vendors and those tourists children whose parents were idiotic enough to buy it for them amplified and echoed for hours. It made me want to commit a misdemeanour. Or a felony even.