Plaza Las Americas, Cancun posted by on March 23, 2010

Plaza Las Americas is a large indoor shopping mall that has been around for several years. It has been undergoing an expansion for at least 3 years. Just before Christmas this past year they opened the new area  to the public. It is located at: Av. Tulúm 260, Downtown and is really something to behold. Modern, spacious, bright, airy, and architecturally interesting. I thought I would post a few pictures that I took yesterday so you could see how up to date Mexico can be.

One of the entryways into the new section. It can also be accessed from inside the parking garage which is also new and has a least doubled the amount of parking spaces available to shoppers.

Entry from the older part of the mall

The new part of the mall has both an indoor and outdoor part. The outdoor part is sheltered from rain but still remains open. It is very nice. Check out those ceiling fans.

These have to be the mother of all ceiling fans………they even have end-plates on them like airplanes or racing cars……

Some of the various stores and brands you might recognize……

First up is “California Pizza Kitchen”

Next…………..Michel Domit shoes

iShop……………..the Apple stores in Mexico

adidas’ sporting goods

Tommy Hilfiger

Massimo Dutti

Haagen-Dazs………..yummy but very expensive

Yes they have a SEARS store in Cancun!

McDonald’s, McCafe, and GNC

Hang Ten and Dockers’

Good ol’ Ben & Jerry’s

aldo’s Italian Gelato

Upper level stores…..

Imaginarium entrances for adults and children on the right…..

Johnny Rockets for a taste of USA burgers, malts, and fries


First level from the second level…………

Chili’s on the lower level outdoor section

If you have shopping plans then be sure to venture out of the hotel zone and check out Plaza Las Americas. I promise that you will be impressed and have a great time shopping.

Chichen Itza posted by on March 19, 2010

A photographic journey to Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza  means “at the mouth of the well of Itza “. The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen-Itza is known as “El Castillo” (the castle).

(photo: by Jeff Phillps)

Chichen-Itza, is located in the Peninsula of Yucatan, in the Yucatan State; Mexico, between Valladolid and Merida. Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan centers on the Peninsula of Yucatan. Throughout its nearly 1,000 year history, different peoples have left their mark on this city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their surviving artistic works and stone monuments. The Maya originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The Mayan empire flourished in the southern regions from around 250 AD to 900 AD. The empire in the south collapsed around 900 AD for unknown the reasons.  While the empire in the south waned, that in the north, especially in the Yucatan, flourished until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD. The Maya were very skilled farmers and also created a very sophisticated written language, some think it might have been the first written language native to the Americas.
The Maya also developed a social class system which was well-ordered and carried on trade throughout a network of cities that went as far south as Panama and as far north as Central Mexico. Their number system included the concept of zero, an idea unknown to the old Greeks, expert mathematicians themselves.
The Maya used their mathematical knowledge along with celestial observations to finesse a calendar created by the Olmec which is a culture from the Mexican Gulf Coast and to create monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the moon, the sun, and Venus.
Spectacular examples of these monuments can still be seen at Chichen Itza today.

This is the layout of the site:

Possibly the best known construction at Chichen Itza is Kukulkan’s Pyramid.
El Castillo (The Kukulkan Pyramid), a square-based, stepped pyramid is approximately 79 feet tall.
Kukulkan Pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and the autumnal equinox (September 21) at about 3pm the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid’s main stairway.
This causes 7 isosceles triangles to form imitating the body of a serpent roughly 37 yards long that creeps downward until it joins the huge serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway. (Look closely at the side of the stairway going down to the serpents head at it base and you will see the shape of the undulating serpent)

(photo: public domain)

The following 3 pictures will give you an idea of the scale of El Castillo

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

A few pictures taken in 2001 from the top platform of El Castillo. (It is no longer possible to climb the structure for safety reasons).

(photo: Tom Price)

Inside the room at the very top

(photo: Tom Price)

Mesoamerican cultures periodically built larger pyramids atop older ones, and this is one such example. In the mid 1930s, the Mexican government sponsored an excavation of El Castillo. After several false starts, they discovered a staircase under the north side of the pyramid. By digging from the top, they found another temple buried below the current one. Inside the temple chamber was a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of Jaguar, painted red and with spots made of inlaid jade. In 2006, INAH closed the throne room to the public after visitors stole the teeth and eyes from the statue.

(photo: unknown)

The Mayans were great sportsmen and build huge ball courts to play all their games. The Great Ball Court of Chichen Itza is 225 feet wide and 545 feet long overall. It has no vault, no discontinuity between the walls and is totally open to the blue sky. Each end has a raised platform to the temple area. A whisper from the end can be heard clearly enough at the other end 500 feet far away and through the length and breath of the court. The sound waves are unaffected by wind direction or time of day and also night. It is easy to imagine a Mayan King sitting here presiding over the games. Legends say that the winning Capitan would present his own head to the losing Capitan, who then decapitates him. While this may seem very strange reward, the Mayans believed this to be the ultimate honor.
The winning Capitan getting a direct ticket for heaven instead of going through the 13 high steps that the Mayan’s believed they had to go through in order to reach peaceful heaven.

At one end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, popularly called the Temple of the Bearded Man. This small masonry building has detailed bas relief carving on the inner walls, including a center figure that has carving under his chin that resembles facial hair. At the south end is another, much bigger temple, but in ruins.

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

The “hoop” through which the players had to direct the ball for a score

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

Tzompantli is called The Wall of Skulls, which is actually an Aztec name for this kind of structure, because the first one seen by the horrified Spanish was at the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan.
The Tzompantli structure at Chichen Itza is a very interesting Toltec structure.
The platform walls of the Tzompantli have carved beautiful reliefs of four different subjects. The primary subject is the skull rack itself; others show a scene with a human sacrifice; eagles eating all human hearts; and skeletonized warriors with arrows and shields.

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

The Cenote Sagrado ( Sacred Cenote ) was a place of pilgrimage for ancient Maya people. Archaeological investigations support this as thousands of objects have been removed from the bottom of the Sacred Cenote, including material such as shell, gold, jade, wood, obsidian, and cloth, as well as skeletons of men and children.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a limestone plain, with no streams or rivers. The region is pockmarked with natural sinkholes ( Cenotes ) which expose the water table to the surface.
One of the most impressive is the Sacred Cenote, which is 60 m. in diameter and shear cliffs that drop to the water table some 27 m. below.
The legendary Sacred Cenote (natural waterhole) of Chichen ltza was special to the people for its social and religious significance.
On occasions, the sacrifice of human life was part of the offerings made to the Water God.

(photo:Emil Kehnel)

Because of the very small doorway, there is a belief that this building might have served as a Maya version of the sauna. The door is less than 1 meter high, which would have required someone to crawl on their knees and hands to get inside.

(photo: Tom Price)

Venus platform

(photo: public domain)

(photo: Jeff Phillips)

The Observatory

(photo: Schwen)

The Nunnery

(photo: Sybz)

Along the south wall of the Temple of Warriors are a series of what are today exposed columns, although when the city was inhabited these would have supported an extensive roof system. The columns are in three distinct sections: an east group, that extends the lines of the front of the Temple of Warriors; a north group, which runs along the south wall of the Temple of Warriors and contains pillars with carvings of soldiers in bas-relief; and a northeast group, which apparently formed a small temple at the southeast corner of the Temple of Warriors. It contains a rectangle decorated with carvings of people or gods, as well as animals and serpents. The northeast column temple also covers a small marvel of engineering, a channel that funnels all the rainwater from the complex some 40 metres (130 ft) away to a rejollada, a former cenote.

(photo: Keith  Pomakis)

Group of a Thousand Columns

(photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen)

Please don’t pass up an opportunity to visit Chichen Itza. It was recently named as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. These pictures have only scratched the surface of all there is to see and learn from this magnificent place.

Text by : Tom Price, Wikipedia, & Public Domain

Pictures of the Day posted by on March 13, 2010

Tom w/ Cognac & Chocolat

Dylan & Cognac

Our friend and Dylan’s favorite playmate……….Sombra