The last of the four blogs on our Merida holiday is a place Brion has had on his ‘bucket list’ for quite a while. Located midway between Merida and Cancun, Chichen Itza is the northern most of the major archaeological sites in the Yucatan. Consistent with the Maya culture at large, written information about the site is rather scarce. The Maya used their exemplary knowledge of mathematics along with celestial observations to construct monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the Moon, Sun and Venus.
The instantly recognizable structure of Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulkan or El Castillo. This imposing step pyramid has 365 steps – one representing each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, with the top platform being the 365th. An amazing natural phenomenon takes place on the spring and autumn equinoxes each year. The sun’s rays falling on the pyramid create a shadow in the shape of a serpent. As the sun begins to set, this shadowy snake descends the steps to eventually join a stone serpent head at the base of the great staircase up the pyramid’s side.
The observatory, called El Caracol (or snail in Spanish) is another sophisticated structure of Chichen Itza. It has an interior staircase that spirals upward like a snail’s shell. The Maya’s were known to be advanced enough to predict solar eclipses.
Chichen Itza’s massive ball court measured 168 meters long and 70 meters wide. During games played here, players tried to hit a rather heavy rubber ball through stone scoring hoops set high on the court walls. Visiting these sites definitely gives you a lot to think about.
At the end of this part of the tour we were taken to a place called a ‘cenote’. The northern part of the Yucatan is arid and the interior has no above ground rivers. The only sources of water are the natural sinkholes called cenotes. Some of these are small, while others are quite large. The one we stopped at was called X-CAJUM. You could swim in it if you wished. Due to it’s height, people needed to go down several meters underground to do that. It’s blue water is 35 m (115 ft) deep and full of fauna. Interesting!
For my recipe today, I’ve made a Mexican dessert. The word taquito is essentially a diminutive of the word taco, with the suffix ‘ito’ meaning small. Translated means ‘small taco’. The difference between a taco and a taquito is basically in the size. A taquito can also be a small tortilla and filling that’s rolled with the ends left open and fried. This version has an alternate name, ‘flauta’, meaning small flute.
The taco is such a beloved culinary treasure because it is so portable. It can be stuffed with just about anything and can be eaten at any time in the day. There are breakfast tacos and savory tacos but Mexican cuisine is not all about being spicy. There is an amazing dessert side that is simple and delicious.
No doubt this is a very American/ Canadian recipe, but still a tasty version.