Sunday, May 12, 2013


Rhymes with "Chicken Pizza"

Chichen Itza
Road trip! While Jonesy stayed aboard the boat, I took a LONG one-day road trip with some other cruisers. It was one of those last minute what-the-heck decisions. Our ultimate goal was to tour Chichen Itza (rhymes with chicken pizza) Mayan ruins in the Mexican state of Yucatan.

The day started early with a ride on the 6:30am ferry from where we are anchored here in Isla Mujeres to the mainland city of Cancun. Upon arrival in Cancun, we were met by a tour group van, picked up a few more passengers at a resort and then headed into the "Hotel Zone" of Cancun. Whoa! Cancun is like the Las Vegas strip! Giant hotels line the road combined with all of the big dollar restaurant chains. But, from the road all we really got to see was the back yards of the hotels. On the beach front is where all the action takes place. These hotels are so big that it is really a hike to walk from one to another - guess they want their guests to stay put and just spend all their money at the hotel.
Chichen Itza

The van took us to a big over-priced tourist souvenir store to join up with the other folks going to the same destination. We had to wait about a half hour for our bus at this "aggregate and separate" facility. That was obviously planned by the tour company so that folks would shop while waiting. We boarded our bus and were off to Chichen Itza.

The scenery was...nil. After I made a great effort to get a window seat on the bus, I discovered that - seriously - there was nothing to see. The Yucatan
Chichen Itza Skull Platform
area is flat, flat, flat and the road is lined with what the guide called "savanna" but what I would call "scrub" that was just high enough that it blocked any long-distance viewing. But before we got to Chicken Pizza, we needed to be fed. Included in our $50 per person price, we were fed a Mexican buffet at a large facility. There were literally hundreds of tourists here. Again, we had to wait about a half hour for the buffet to open and, in the meantime, we could shop at the ridiculously priced tourist shop. I had to gasp when a tourist was told the price (no prices were marked) of a nylon string hammock - $95 US!!! These are usually priced at about $12 bucks for tourists and $8 or less for locals. She bought it.
Chichen Itza

Finally we boarded our bus again and continued to Chichen Itza. Admission was included in our tour fee and we were able to quickly get to touring the grounds. Even though there were hoards of tourists, the grounds are large enough to spread everyone about. Interestingly, I'd guess that most of the tourists were Mexican nationals or otherwise Spanish speakers as that's what most of the tour guides were speaking.

Also interesting was the fact that Mexico allows vendors to sell their wares INSIDE of the heritage parks (saw this at Pelenque too). These vendors line the walkways selling just about the same stuff. It's kinda distracting and annoying. But then, after I thought that this city probably had similar vendors doing the same thing in its heyday I relaxed and...went shopping.

I bought a batik cloth with a "Mayan" influenced design and a carved wooden mask. I got a chuckle out of the male vendors sitting by their goods - all with unfinished masks at various stages of carving in their hands. Nope. These guys aren't the carvers. But tourists like to think they are so it makes for good business.

Chichen Itza columns
What I noticed here in Chichen Itza was the unusually high number of gruesome skull carvings compared to other Mayan sites that I've toured. Our guide told us that there was a lot of sacrifice which went on at this site (mostly of enemy warriors historians think).

Even the vendors picked up on the skull thing and featured them on their wares. I thought of my son Brett who likes all the Mexican "Day of the Dead" stuff when I saw this serving platter. Very special. I can just see me serving cupcakes to the
knitting ladies from one of these beauties.

And speaking of KNITTING...I've been hard at work on several new designs mostly for socks and mittens (did you see that segue coming?) That means that I've spent many hours on the computer in Excel and Word charting and writing the knitting tech talk. Frankly, my eyes started to give out and my seat was sore from sitting for too long. But I got them done!

Usually I wait until a pattern is officially published before I put a photo on my blog but after all that icky talk about skulls I thought y'all would need a little break. So here are my brand new SNOWY KITTENS Toddler Mittens.

Somewhere in my travels on the Internet one day I saw a photo of some hand knit socks that were for sale in Russia that had these kittens on them. I loved the motif so much that I carefully charted it and squeezed it into a pair of little size 2-4 mittens for a small child. The sample pair here is knit with Knit Picks Palette fingering weight wool yarns.The pattern is being tested right now and will be released to the Holiday Mystery Gifts group for the month of June. After that it will be on

So Jonesy has been busy too with boat chores as usual. But this morning he had a bigger adventure! Today, as we were enjoying the local cruisers' net on the VHF radio,  a boat broke into the chat to ask for help. Seems they were sailing north from Providencia (an island owned by Colombia) up to Isla Mujeres here and had engine problems. They had been at sea for six days and were exhausted and needed a tow into a marina.
Iguana at a local marina

Many cruisers volunteered their dinghies and within an hour the boat (s/v Ducks in a Row) was safely tucked into a marina. Jonesy has had quite a bit of experience towing sailboats with our dinghy when we were the Host Vessel at the mooring field in West End, Roatan (Honduras). So he was the perfect guy to be out there to help. I think he's the perfect guy anyway - that's why I have him sail me around in our big boat!

Our open sea cruising season is almost over for another year. Already the weather forecast warns of a low pressure area down in the southern Caribbean which means that the area is heating up for hurricanes. We're planning to hoist the anchor on Friday and sail south to Belize. From Belize we can do a quick dash into the safety of the Rio Dulce in Guatemala should an early hurricane form. But until then, we'll stay out at sea. Life is good.

I love all your writings of your adventures. We went to chicken pizza over 30 years ago when a guide had to hack thru the vines and we got a glimps of one corner of it...completely buried in vines and vegetation.. We were early explorers when the only way there was by small boat and a walk thru the jungle. Sort of sad that it has become a tourist trap. Thank you for the the sox. Darrlaa
I would love to see the ruins, but the massive amounts of tourist turns me away. Our son went to Chicken Pizza on his ride up from San Jose,CR. He liked the ruins in Guatemala better.
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