Chichen Itza – One of the 7 world wonders

Walking on the dirt path that led to the pyramid, a sound of jaguar’s roar echoed from somewhere, children were running away from the tour group as their parents try to stop them, coatis were sniffing around on the grass for food, and sellers at the vendors were shouting in Spanish, trying to get my family’s attention to buy their products.

While walking around, I was wondering where was that jaguar’s roar coming from. I thought it couldn’t be possibility actually be here but still wanted to confirm. (Roar) The sound echoed again. I couldn’t tell it was from my left or right or wherever. Generally, we Deaf people don’t have the ability to tell where the sound is coming from. Is it my right? My left? My eyes wandered around, wondering if there are real jaguars around here; my brother detected the confusion on my face and told me that it was coming from a wood-carved jaguar flute. Ah! I was hoping to see jaguars (I love animals) somewhere although it can be frightening!

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El Castillo, also known as The Temple of Kukulcan

My eyes probably sparkled when I spotted the famous pyramid called El Castillo. Chichen Itza is one of the 7 Wonders of the World – UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was told that the design is thought to relate to the Mayan calendar. There are a total of 365 steps as each four faces of the pyramid possess 91 steps to ascend to the top platform. I was also told that if you clap, the doorway at the top platform of the pyramid would echo back. Well, I can’t hear that but perhaps you would!

Generally, the tour group isn’t Deaf-Friendly because of lack of providing an interpreter.

Therefore, when the guide spoke the history and meanings behind the El Castillo and other architectures, I understood nothing. My brother did his best to interpret for me in American Sign Language (ASL) which I feel thankful that he thought of me. At the time, I didn’t bother asking if they have any visual aids (such as brochure), because the heat and humidity was getting to me and I was running out of water – and I was hungry, haha. So, I didn’t want to the the hassle of walking all the way back to the front. That was one of my mistakes for not bothering asking. Despite the fact that there is no interpreter, I didn’t let it ruin my day. I was still engrossed with this place 🙂 What mattered was that I had the opportunity to see this.

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I was told that the Mayan used to play soccer with a rock, instead of a ball. This game would takes a great amount of time to finish due to bouncing the rock with your hips, attempting to aim it to the hole that is more than 15 feet.

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Back then, we were allowed to walk up there to explore until the government decided to put it off limit.

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There were many vendors, selling from chess made of minerals to a jaguar-carved wood flute that makes jagar’s voice as you blow in it. When they talk to me and received no response  from me, which was because either I didn’t know they were talking to me when I wasn’t look at them or because I didn’t catch what they were saying. Their mouths often mouthed:

“No habla Español? Porque?!” (“You don’t speak Spanish? Why?!”) 

I nodded and told them that I’m Deaf/Sorda and gestured by pointing my ear and waving an index finger “no.” Many of them frown and have hint of pity in their eyes, sympathizing me. “Oh,” they would say. Others would look away, as if they were trying to hide their embarrassment or avoid an awkward moment.  Not that I’m complaining or do I care, I’m accustomed to these reactions. I often get this back home in America. What bothered me when they sometimes said, “You should learn Spanish anyways! Learn more!” which had me foolishly questioned my own cultural identity. Just because I don’t speak/write/read Spanish, does that mean I’m not “Mexican” enough? (I’ll be writing about that post soon!).

Overall, my adventure to one of the greatest wonders in the world was fascinating. The scenery was beautiful and definitely a place that you should visit!

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One Seven Wonders of the World, 6 more to go.

General Tips:

  • On hot humid day, it’s highly recommended to bring enough water, umbrella and hat or sunglasses.
  • Go at earlier time (before 1pm) to avoid large crowd

Deaf Tips:

  • If possible, ask if they can provide an interpreter prior your trip- even though it may be highly unlikely
  • Request if they have brochure to read about the history and their meanings behind Chichen Itza

Which one of the seven world wonders first captivate your eyes?

Feel free to share history about Chichen Itza if you know anything 🙂

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