This little figure is part of the decoration on the Temple of the Warriors in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, Mexico:
I’m not sure how tall he is, since he’s mounted at a significant height off the ground, and can’t be seen from up close — you need a reasonably long lens and some perspective correction software to get a shot like this. Still, if you look closely, you can see that the figure is emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent, with most of the serpent’s details carved in bas-relief into the building’s stones.
Another view of the always-impressive Temple V in the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal, Guatemala:
This shot is from the northwest of the structure (unusual for a number of reasons, including its north-facing orientation). Temple V also has rounded corners, a feature unique to major structures in Tikal and its surroundings.
Ages ago, I published a photo looking up at Structure II in Calakmul from ground level — if you were curious, here’s the view from the top looking down:
Getting up and down again is definitely a good workout, if your knees will take it!
A segment of a panorama from the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal — covering the Governor’s Palace (left) and the House of the Turtles (right), along with a few scattered tourists:
I initially didn’t expect this image to be of much account. It’s part of a panorama I made for later reference, one of many I made at a number of sites on my last trip to the Yucatán, primarily so I can double-check the quality of the maps I draw for my eBooks.
But in the process, I discovered that a modern iPhone (!) can make surprisingly good panoramas.
This past autumn, when I returned to the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, I had the opportunity to spend a night in a nearby hotel and so could watch the evening light show at the ruins. The main action takes place in the Nunnery Quadrangle, but as you can see here, the Pyramid of the Magician isn’t left out of the fun.
Granted, the colors can get a bit… garish… but the show as a whole is pretty impressive. And if you know a little Spanish, you get to hear a concise history of the site while watching the colored lights splashing on various buildings.
In our case, as happens pretty regularly (I’m told), we also got drenched right after the part of the show in which recorded voices (portraying plaintive inhabitants during the site’s historic drought) chant the name of the Maya rain god Chaac. Interesting coincidence, that…
A few years ago, we were fortunate to be able to visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre, a.k.a. ATM) cave in Belize. It’s a 3-mile long wet cave (i.e., there’s a stream flowing through it), and a pretty “tough ticket” in that only a few guides are permitted to take tours through it — and the number of groups passing through on any given day are strictly limited. It’s a physically demanding visit, too — you wind up climbing over and under boulders, swimming a significant part of the way, etc.
But the restrictions are all for good reason. The cave was used for sacrificial offerings by the ancient Maya, largely during the classic period (roughly 250 – 900 AD). As the classic period wound down and the local situation worsened, increasingly dear sacrificial offerings were made increasingly far into the cave. Tours extend as far as “The Crystal Maiden,” the calcified skeletal remains of a teenage girl sacrificed near the end of the classic — but she is only one of 14 individuals whose remains have been found in the cave, and less macabre offerings predominate anyway.
Sadly, in 2012 a tourist dropped their camera on one of the 1,000 year old skulls in the cave and fractured it — the skull was repaired to some degree, but as a result of that one tourist’s inattention, visitors are no longer allowed to bring cameras into the cave.
One of the iconic sites at the ancient Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, seen from its north end looking to the south:
For some reason, this view doesn’t show up as often as does its opposite from the south end of the field. Still, you can really get a feel for the ball court’s size — particularly since those are two people just to the right of this two-frame panorama’s center.