In my life, I’ve been fortunate to visit some truly fantastic historical sites. This past August, I added another one to my list when I traveled to the Mayan pyramids in Chacchoben, Mexico.
I decided to book a tour with the cruise line since I was going alone for this tour and couldn’t find any tours for solo travelers that were as cost-effective. I opted for the tour limited to 10 people though, so that I could have a more personal experience. On the driver to the Mayan pyramids, our tour guide enlightened us on the port (Costa Maya), the port city (Mahahual), the state (Quintana Roo), and the area (Yucatan). We learned about indigenous animals, the people, the culture, the fauna/flora, and the history of the region.
The Mayans were ancient masters of science, mathematics, and astronomy. To my horror (I jest…slightly), our guide made us learn and practice Mayan mathematics. We also learned about Mayan calendars. This lesson became important when we visited the site and saw the temples; I particularly enjoyed seeing how the Mayan pyramids were built as a calendar and learning about the various dating cycles of the ancient Mayans.
As a child, I wanted to be an archaeologist and, although I chose a career in the related field of history, I still get as excited as a toddler on Christmas morning when I’m at an archaeological site. Chacchoben was no different.
When we arrived to the place of red maize (what Chacchoben means), we were first greeted with what I’ve come to recognize as a hallmark of these great ancient sites—a parking lot filled with tour buses and a gift shop.
Leaving that behind, however, we were able to walk through a tropical forest and leave modernity behind.
As we wandered through the jungle, I felt like Indiana Jones—if Indy came across archaeological finds with hordes of tourists flip-flopping around. I blocked out the noise from the tourists around me and explored the ancient Mayan archaeological site which had been inhabited 3000 years ago.
A U.S. archaeologist, Peter Harrison, is credited with finding Chacchoben. According to our guide, Dr. Harrison found 110 ancient cities (depicted aerially by mounds) in 1972, but only five of these ancient cities remain to tell us about Mayan history.
The building we first came upon was Temple 24, which was a fantastic pyramid. From there, our guide took us through the forest and explained the fauna of the area, especially the…