MEXICO - THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
if one set of ruins isn't enough for you and if you're sick of swimming, splashing and tanning on the beach, you can make a short trip to the ruins of chichen itza.
they offer the largest mayan pyramid in the world with an impressive architecture: at sunrise during the spring and fall equinoxes, the rounded terraces cast a serpentine shadow down the side of the northern staircase.
the sculpted serpent head at the bottom of the staircase completes the illusion and it looks as if a serpent-god creeps down the steps.
the spooky atmosphere (only if there aren't too many people around) is enhanced by other animal-chimeras sitting on different monuments and pyramids where the mayas used to sacrifice humans
in the picture on the right, e.g. I am sitting on the "diving platform" of a cenote: a 25m deep hole in the ground, filled with water. the mayas used to throw people down there (who couldn't climb up again, of course)
and sacrifice them to their gods (the rain god chac was believed to dwell beneath the water's murky surface and would request frequent gifts to grant good rains).
if by chance, somebody survived the dive, he had to swim there until noon, was fished out again, asked after his metaphysical experiences and then killed.
it seems that the maya weren't your friendly next-door neighbours after all...
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