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Mexico - October 2012

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1: When we arrived at our hotel we were pleasantly surprised with an upgrade to the Maya Palace and a great treat waiting for us in our room! How romantic! Champaign and an anniversary cake for two! | BARCELO'

2: "Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone."



7: Enjoying our time on the beach together

11: We enjoyed great dining at the various restaurants on the property. Caribe (left) is Caribbean style, while La Brasseria (right) is French Cuisine.

15: Chichen Itza' Between 680 & 1250 A.D. this ancient city whose name means " at the mouth of the itza' well" was the center of political, economic, religious, and military power, not only in the Yucatan, but also in the entire southeastern part of Mesoamerica. It is calculated that during the age of grandeur approximately 50,000 inhabitants were spread out over an area of 15 miles. The center photo is a structure that has 4 stairways with balustrades adorned with intertwined serpents. This served as a place of worship and is the central element in a ceremonial complex composed of a temple, a platform, a road and the Xtoloc Cenote.

16: Ball Game The Ball Game proper is 160 yds long and 42 yds wide. While the entire enclosure inclusive of the north and south temples measures 197 by 79 yds in breadth. The Ball Court is flanked east and west by long platforms from which rise boundary walls to mark out the field. The walls of both platforms are composed of three panels with a border formed by a bas-relief representing a serpent. In the center of both walls of the game, at the hight of 9 yds there are 2 stone rings in the form of intertwined serpents.

18: This is the largest ball court in Mesoamerica. The long slightly sloping walls are decorated with scenes of the sacrifice of ball players. The size of the court and the hight of the rings indicate that, in this case, it is not likely that the ball was hit through the ring by the hip alone, although such games rules were generally applicable at the time of the conquest.

20: The function of this platform was to exhibit the skulls of enemies and sacrificed prisoners. The platform displays the skulls inserted in a vertical fashion one above the other. This custom resulted in the creation of lasting monuments significant acts of war and sacrifice and reflected the obvious intention of frightening neighbors and potentially rebellious subjects.

21: Plataforma de los Craneos known as the Platform of Skulls or the Tzompantli

22: Temple of the Warriors This building owes its name to the rows of pillars displaying carvings of warriors. It was erected over an ancient structure known as the temple of Chac Mool. On the upper building there are three sculpted masks along the outer wall and corners. on the inner walls of the vaults there were murals with scenes of war and daily life. The altar-table and benches may have served as seats or thrones for dignitaries.

24: Pyramid of Kukulcan known as the Castle The body is formed of nine platforms each smaller than the one before. There is a stair of 91 steps on each side that represents the four cardinal points. The dimensions of the pyramid represent the 265 days of the solar year. The 91 steps of each stair also represent the number of days between the solstices, so as to indicate the exact half of the year. The pyramid not only sets out the days of the year and indicated the movement of the planet round the sun, it also indicates the arrival of the equinox on September 21 and March 21. The technique of the Pyramid is so exact that, with the arrival of the equinoxes, seven triangles of light are projected onto the steps of the north side. When these combine with the head of the serpent at the base, one has the illusion that the serpent is falling from the sky and slithering down the stair, while its shadow crosses the square. The equinox at that moment when the sun, twice a year, crosses the equator, thus giving the same length of day and night in all parts of the world. The serpent of light represents the day, the ascendant light, that creates wise men and saints. The serpent of shadow, on the other hand, represents the night, darkness, that brings men to perdition.

28: Cenote also know as a water sinkhole are unique in the world and were once the only resource for fresh, sweet water in the local Yucatecan jungle. They were the sacred places of the Mayas for that reason, but also because they represented the entrance to the underworld..

30: COBA Is situated near the lakes of Coba and Macanxoc. It has an important network of white roads (sacbeoob) of varying lengths, which connect it with other building groups and pre-hispanic settlements. The most notable sacbeoob is approximately 62 miles long and reaches the site of Yaxuna, near Chichen Itza. The major roads or causeways were built between 600 and 800 A.D. During this same period of time, the stelae of Coba were erected. These were sculptured stone monuments on which the basic events of the ruling class were registered. The inhabitants, who did not belong to this social class, lived on the outskirts of the central zone and their dwellings did not differ much from the ones inhabited by present day Mayans. It is estimated that the population of Coba in the 8th century was approximately 55,000 inhabitants. Between 800 and 1100 A.D., construction development reached its peak. The classical architectural style of Coba resembles more that of the Peten of Guatemala than that of the northern Yucatan. By the time of the Post-Classic period, Coba lost its superior force and other cities from along the coast, such as Tulum, Xcaret, Tankah and El Ray began to flourish.

33: S E A S I D E

35: O C E A N

37: Nohoch Mul meaning 'large hill', is the main pyramid at Coba and stands 138 feet tall and is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula. Templo de la Iglesia, 'Temple of the Church' stands 65 feet tall and is the second tallest structure uncovered at the Mayan ruins of Coba. (below)

38: Marc & Jan

40: Day of the Dead Is a Mexican holiday which takes place November 1 & 2, and dates back hundreds of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. Family's built private altars honoring the deceased using sugar, skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. They then would visit the graves with these as gifts.

42: The pool and lounge area was to die for. Nothing like a massage on the beach!

47: "Mi corazon esta en Mexico"

50: TULUM Is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá. The ruins are situated on 39 ft tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayas; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise. The Maya site may have been known by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn because it faces the sunrise. Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence, wall or trench, and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub. Tulum had an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants.

52: El Castillo (left), The Temple of the Frescoes and The Temple of the Descending God are the three most famous building at Tulum. The Temple of the Frescoes was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. Niched figurines of the Maya "diving god" Venus deity decorate the facade of the temple. The construction of the Castillo appears to have taken place in stages. A small shrine was used as a beacon for incoming canoes. This shrine marks a break in the barrier reef that is opposite the site. Here there is a cove and landing beach in a break in the sea cliffs that would have been perfect for trading canoes coming in. This characteristic of the site may be one of the reasons the Maya founded the city of Tulum exactly here, as Tulum later became a prominent trading port.

53: Templo Dios del Viento (God of the Winds Temple) guards Tulum's sea entrance bay.

58: Temple of the Frescoes

63: Playa Del Carmen

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