But What Did The Mayan’s Ever Do For Us?
Well, let’s leave their prowess as pyramid builders to one side and first take a peek into the ancient Mayan larder, where we’ll quickly start to appreciate how the Mayans have helped shape contemporary Mexican culture and cuisine.
Take tamales for starters: filled with cheese and chillies, pork or chicken, these delicious corn based treats are traditionally wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and gently steamed. When they’re done you can un-wrap them, slather on a spicy salsa (another Mayan invention) and enjoy! Made by the Maya for centuries and often enjoyed during holidays and festivals, they’re as good today as they were centuries before Europeans ever clapped eyes on them.
In fact, most of what you might think of as being typically Mexican cuisine can trace its origins back many years. The avocado that grow in such profusion in these parts were being combined with chilli to make guacamole long before it became a staple of summer barbecues and picnics in the park.
How The Ancient Mayans Used To Spend Chocolate Money
Considered a gift from the gods, seeds of cacao were often used as a type of currency by the Mayans: quite literally, chocolate money! More practically, perhaps, the Maya were adept at roasting the seeds to create a hot chocolate drink that was held in high esteem and widely used in ceremonies and rituals.
When the Spanish arrived they were quick to spot the drink’s potential and took to adding sugar and milk to it to create a hot chocolate drink that took Europe by storm.
What Were Mayan Pyramids For?
The lands of the Maya must have felt like a paradise and, given the bounty that nature bestowed on them, it is perhaps understandable that they came to believe that their gods needed to be appeased and thanked for their generosity. Aside from presents and offerings of food, a human sacrifice was deemed to be the ultimate gift to the gods and a guarantee that the Maya would continue to prosper. These sacrifices would take place at the top of the distinctive stepped pyramids under the auspices of the priests.
However, not all the pyramids were used for sacrificial ceremonies. You’ll notice some of the pyramids are simply too steep to climb, even though they sometimes incorporate steps. These were the sacred pyramids that celebrated the deities worshipped by the Maya.
Take A Tour To Chichen Itza From Progreso
If you want to properly experience the essence of Mayan civilisation, then there’s no substitute for a visit to some of their most sacred remains. A tour to Chichen Itza is simply a ‘must’ for anyone looking to get up close and personal with the Maya. Best of all, you’ll get to see perhaps the most famous of their pyramids, the Temple of Kukulcan, dedicated to the feathered serpent-god.
Or Immerse Yourself In Archaeology Before Diving Into Those Mexican Waves!
If the thought of spending an entire day communing with the Maya is a tad too much, then why not combine the archaeological wonders of Dzibilchaltún, where the Temple of the Seven Dolls is irresistibly intriguing, with a trip to the Mexican seaside and a chance to relax on the beach among the Mexican waves?
Cruising Down Mexico Way? Make Sure You Meet The Maya
For many seasoned cruisers a voyage to the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean spells relaxation with a capital R. However, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t combine relaxation with a fascination for the ancient world on a cruise to Mexico.
Looking for glorious white sand beaches that stretch off into the far distance or resorts that contain more bars and restaurants than you can shake a swizzle stick at? Do you want to snorkel or sail board in beautiful, clear seas in unseasonal sunshine? No problem, you can certainly cover all these bases on a cruise to Mexico. But, in addition to all this, you can also discover an ancient civilisation that still permeates modern day Mexico, yet has left the most extraordinary remains for us to puzzle over and admire. So, why not join us on a cruise into Mexico’s past and present?