Chichen Itza is another ancient Maya city thought to be inhabited between 600 and 1200 AD. The name Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of the itza,” relating to the cenote found at the ruins. The iconic photograph of the ruins is of Kukulcan pyramid, a large structure at the center. Due to tourist foot traffic causing irreparable damage to the steps, you can no longer walk up to view the ruins from the top of the pyramid. Because it is so close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this was the most crowded ruins we visited during our time in Mexico. Even the shops and restaurants nearby accepted US dollars and waiters spoke English. It was kind of let down, to be honest. I much preferred the traditional Mexican cooking with cheap tacos and no English in ear shot.
After Chichen Itza, we visited a local family’s home for a traditional meal of cochinita. The pork is marinated and cooked underground in a pit of hot rocks overnight. Handmade corn tortillas are made fresh just before the meal consisting of cochinita, cucumber marinated in lime juice, pickled onions, roasted tomato and onion salsa, rice, black beans, pumpkin seed puree dip, guacamole, and chips. It was by far the best meal we had during our stay in Mexico.
Our two days in Playa del Carmen consisted of some beach and pool time, massages, and cringe worthy moments of disgust with the whole “spring break” party atmosphere. It is definitely not our scene. It appears to be a westernized and exploited view of a country we have come to love over the last few weeks.