For the past few decades, one of the leading destinations for Americans and Europeans wanting Mexico vacations has been Cancun. The now-popular resort metropolis on the Yucatan peninsula was a sleepy fishing village until the Mexican government decided to promote it just a few short years ago. Today, it is one of the more famous tropical locations in the world. Cancun is located in the relatively new province of Quintana Roo. The area of the city itself takes up much of an island that is shaped like a backward seven. There is a lagoon to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the east. The Gulf boasts some of the most beautiful turquoise ocean water on earth.
Resorts in Cancun Area
There are many all-inclusive resorts in the Cancun and Riviera Maya areas, and visitors who so desire can have a great time without leaving their chosen resort. Many of the resorts have numerous restaurants and adjoining beaches. Some have health clubs and golf courses. There is much to see on Mexican vacations. Hotel concierges can book outings to a variety of Mayan archaeological sites. Those who want to see the most impressive ruins should book a trip to Chichen Itza.
The ancient city of Chichen Itza was one of the leading Mayan ceremonial centers for many years before its decline a few centuries before Columbus. There are numerous structures that, although somewhat damaged, still stand in the jungle on the Yucatan Peninsula. The most famous of the buildings at Chichen Itza is known as El Castillo. The first Europeans thought that this pyramid was a sort of castle. It was actually used as a temple. Until recently, visitors could trek to the top of this marvel of Mayan architecture that the ancients built without the benefit of large beasts of burden.
The Ball Court
Another of the major buildings on the site of Chichen Itza is the Ball Court. Ancient Mesoamericans of several differing cultures played a similar ball game in which players attempted to get a heavy rubber ball through a vertical hoop (rather than the horizontally-oriented hoops used in basketball) attached to the sides of the court at a height of about 20 feet. The players of these ball games could not use their hands and games could take days. The losers would then be sacrificed to the god Kukalkan, a feathery serpent whose image is everywhere in Chichen Itza.
The Mayan Calendar
The Mayans had a very unique understanding of time and had a calendar that cycles through and resets approximately every 52 years. The long count calendar had much longer cycles and the latest cycle is supposed to end on December 21, 2012. On this date a new era is supposed to dawn, and many are worried that the end of the Mayan long count calendar will lead to a major cataclysmic event. Traditionally, the Mayans held celebrations at the end of a cycle. December 2012 is a great chance to celebrate one of the most unique of Mexico vacations. The opportunity will not come again for thousands of years.