The City Tourists Built

In a rather harrowing taxi trip from the airport, we saw topiary along the boulevard. Taxis, small 4-door cars, all dark green by a variety of manufacturers, were driven with vengence making exciting times.
Hotel security guards were ever present no matter what hour we walked on the beach. And we spent lots of time floating on the air mattresses we brought with us, watching the frigate birds soar.
The Calinda hotel looks like a Mayan pyramid. The grounds were covered with centipede grass so thick and even that it looked like artificial turf. Bright red hibiscus bloomed everywhere.
We boarded a launch for a jaunt to the Island of Mujeres, an island with devastation from the hurricane of September 1988. We wore our bathing
suits under our native dresses, which we took off to sunbathe on the trip.
Although it was hot and humid (as usual) we walked out to the south tip of the island where ancient ruins looked out over the Caribbean. The limestone cliffs were eroded and so were the ruins.
Another day we rode a bus to Chichen Itza. These Mayan ruins cover about ten acres divided into two areas that were a hot 500-foot walk apart. The ruins are significant to the Mayan calendar.
We walked up the 364 stairs of El Castillo, the 75-foot pyramid 52 panels on each side represent the 52-year cycle of the Maya calendars and 18 terraces represent the 18-month Maya solar calendar.
Games played in any of nine courts in this city used a hard rubbery ball. Players knocked the ball through this stone ring using only their elbows, knees, or hips. The winners or losers - historians can't agree which - were sacrificed to the gods.
The symbols of the early Maya period were the armadillo, crab, snail, and tortoise, although the frog also appeared. The four shelled creatures were the bacah, whose job it was to hold up the sky.
Every day the clouds were incredibly pretty. They rolled awsomely across the great expanse of sky. Rain fell almost every night in short-lived torrents.

Naomi Sherer


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