Alexis’s drone injury was probably the best accident we could have asked for—his doctor’s orders to stay away from water activities for the next 72 hours and subsequent shifting of the itinerary led us to arrive at Chichen Itza the same day as the equinox. Twice a year during the Spring and Fall Equinox, thousands of spectators visit the phenomenon crafted by the ancient Maya. Ancient architects and astronomers constructed El Castillo pyramid’s main stairway to showcase seven perfectly shaped isosceles triangles to form down the pyramid during the equinox—the triangles then form the illusion of a body of a snake, joined by a serpent’s head at the foot of the stairway.
(Check out the serpent head at the bottom)
This ancient monument is hailed as one of the Mayan’s greatest inventions. For example, there are 91 steps on each of the four sides of the pyramid, adding up to 364—the same number of days in a year within their calendar and revealing their affinity for space cosmology. The pyramid is also composed of two smaller pyramids inside. The inner pyramid is argued to be dedicated to the moon whereas the outer pyramid is associated with the sun. Our tour guide informed us there are numerous working theories for why the Mayans created the design; however, no can dispute their genius in mathematics and astronomy as evidenced by this twice a year event.
As my friends slowly watched the triangles form, we talked about our newfound appreciation of history while traveling compared to when we were children. As children, at least for us, it was hard to appreciate the historical significance of architecture. We were more interested things that were tangible or things we could touch and play with. As an adult, the yearning for adventures hasn’t quite disappeared, but it seems less pressing or urgent compared to our childhood counterparts. As we age and our intellectual pursuits become more defined, our desire to rationalize and impose meaning on things increases as well (even more so when you travel with three engineers). There’s so much we can’t understand as we try to unravel the mysteries of this ancient people, and perhaps that’s the allure that attracts visitors to the site.
(Not sure if it was my tattoos or the equinox giving me energy)
We also played witness to a lot of locals casting their arms out facing the pyramid; it’s said that the equinox allows visitors to capture Mayan energy. As I let the sun caress my face, I felt a sense of renewal—a weirdly cathartic and spiritual experience. I would never declare myself a religious person by any means, but I’d like to believe someone was looking out for us that day to help construct that exact chain of events to be there at that exact time and space. I’m not sure what the next couple of months have in store for me, but I hope I absorbed some Mayan magic to help me along the way.