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The Great Chichén Itzá Bazaar.

sunny 35 °C

For hunters of bargain-basement tourist trinkets in the Yucatan there is no better place than the Chichén Itzá bazaar. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of stalls laden with all manner of Mayan flavoured products shelter from the scorching sun under umbrellas of palms and banyans.
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Enthusiastic stallholders eagerly informed us in broken English that the variously sized and vibrantly painted pottery dishes had each been individually hand decorated by their ancient, arthritic, Mayan grannies. We wanted to believe them, despite the fact that every stall had identical pots which had obviously been knocked out in a pottery manned by robots. However, unlike Mexican DVD’s which all appear to be fakes, some of the goods on display in the market were the real McCoy. But even when we spied a guy sitting behind his stall carving a face mask or a Mexican jaguar, (the cat not the car), we still couldn’t tell the difference...
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Were these tasseled blankets painstakingly hand-woven by Jose’s ageing grandmother in a thatched cottage like this one in rural Yucatan…?
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or were they spun up in a few seconds by one of Mrs. Chow’s relatives in Shanghai? And what of all the embroidered blouses and dresses? Could they possibly all be hand-stitched…?
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But wait. What is that giant stone thing peeking out from behind the clothing stalls?

Goodness - It’s a pyramid, but not just any pyramid. This is the Kukulkan Mayan pyramid which has been named as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. We had been so sidetracked by the plethora of souvenir stands that litter the grounds of Chichén Itzá that we had almost overlooked the pyramid – rated as one of top 100 sights in the world to see before you die. Here’s a clearer shot…
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But where are all the tourists? Buying little plastic models of the pyramid in the market of course. Who wants the real thing when you can take home an exact miniature copy to put on the bookshelf? But there is more to Chichén Itzá than a 1,500 year old pyramid. There’s an ancient observatory…
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An ancient market hall…
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And a ball court where the ancients used a ball made from a human skull wrapped in rubber to play a game similar to basketball, (without the Coca-Cola and hotdogs)

Chichén Itzá is, according to the tourist guides, a must-see place, one of the last great cities of the Mayans, but we can’t help feeling that much of the hype is driven by the thousands of vendors who vie to fleece the tourists and, in the process, turn this important archaeological site into a zoo.

Posted by Hawkson 15:40 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

It looks to me like Uxmal's ruins are more beautiful... but wait till we get there...I'd love to see them again, less vehdors, closer to where we are staying and almost free of tourists (like Dzibulchaltun) Hasta pronto :)

by catherine

There appears to be the ouline of a head and shoulders of a figure on the rectangular section of the pyramid elevation a god or king ? I wonder how the quality of the stone wall in the picture of the cottage compares to those found lining English roads

by David Henderson

Me and my girlfriend really wanted to see the awesome chichen Itza ruins and were really happy to have seen them. However as your article points out most vendors take the enjoyment out of this historical site by soliciting tourists that are uninterested in their wares. I did see some nice vendors and did make a purchase. Beware of phoney merchandise!!Nice article!!

by Jay

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