Wednesday, January 19, 2011
CHECK MARK CHICHEN ITZA!
My wife and I traversed the Panama Canal (though we did not swim it as Halliburton did); we have visited Niagara Falls (only fifty-one years after we were married); and this past week we experienced the thrill of walking on the sacred ground of the Maya at Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
There are four major structures to be seen at Chichen Itza. The signature temple called “El Castillo” (pictured above) is over 200 feet high. The ancient ball court is the largest ever found and the astronomical observatory was the central location for the Mayan priest’s study of the skies and the development of their astonishing calendar.
But my interest always centered on Halliburton’s description of the sacred well where (according to his somewhat hyper-ventilated narrative) gold bedecked Mayan maidens and armored Mayan warriors were sacrificed to Yum Chac the God of Rain by propelling them off a ledge and down some eighty feet to their watery deaths.
Although Halliburton's prose is a bit too breathless for today's media generation, to a kid in Milwaukee in the late 1940’s it sounded like heavenly music. To top off his visit Halliburton wanted to experience what it might have been like to be thrown into the well so he jumped in himself. A grainy picture of his leap appeared in the book and that photo entranced me then and fired my drive now to see that place.
Look for more in the next week as I put up some additional material on our trip.