Back to Cancun. This is for you, Kylie, our biggest silent blog fan! We’ll have to take you with us when we go back:) See what flattery gets you?
We took a tour of nearby Mayan ruins. This tour came highly recommended by friends and relatives since it is from a Latter-day Saint perspective. We don’t KNOW that these are locations referred to in the Book of Mormon, but there is a familiarity and several pieces of convincing evidence. Regardless, it was a spiritual day and our tour guide Helaman (yep, that’s his real name!) did a great job of bringing the Book of Mormon to life and relating its lessons to our lives today. It was definitely one of the highlights to our trip and we can’t wait to bring Justin back.
Helaman is one of 9 children of Mayan and Aztec descent. His siblings include Alma and Lemuel, and he has a son named Nephi, all famous names in the Book of Mormon. Lemuel’s namesake in the Book of Mormon is quite rebellious, so it’s interesting and kind of funny that his faithful parents would choose that particular name. Helaman says of his brother, “But he’s a good Lemuel. In fact, he’s my Bishop. He also has a son named Lemuel. We call them 1st and 2nd Lemuel.” Awww, that Mormon humor. Gotta love it. Justin would be slapping his knee at that one! Now this is a family COMMITTED to the Gospel!
Helaman picked us up at our hotel. Our tour included our family and one other couple. I sat up in the front because he needed someone to help with his visual aides. Helaman is the master of multi-tasking. At one point, he was MERGING onto the freeway, SHIFTING gears (manual transmission), ANSWERING a text message, and HOLDING a microphone EXPLAINING the water routes Lehi’s family may have taken while POINTING them out on the chart that I was holding for everyone else. He never missed a beat.
Our first stop was Ek Balam. Ek Balam is one of the least visited of the Mayan sites around Cancun, which makes it especially lovely to visit. (Note the absence of people in the pictures above!) They are still actively excavating and restoring the location and surrounding the buildings that are visible are little “hills” which will eventually be excavated to likely reveal other buildings for this city. You can still climb these buildings as opposed to other ruins which have been roped off to preserve them from over visitation. Of course, once I climbed the temple at Ek Balam (and then had to figure out how to GET DOWN), I was not sure that this was a FEATURE.
In the parking lot, we enjoyed a little coconut with chili powder and lime. Bryce’s favorite part was watching the guy cut the coconut in half with his machete.
Our next stop was Chichen Itza.
In contrast to Ek Balam, this is one of the most popular tourist locations, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, so there were many more tours, people and vendors, but it was never oppressive (except for the HEAT). It is a fascinating location. Helaman talked about how the Mayans had the basis of true principles but they became warped with time. For instance, they began by worshipping God and expressing gratitude for the things He provides like rain and corrupted it into worshipping the THING they need, rain. Do we do that today?
It was bright. Tyler had a tough time posing for pictures.
This one was a little better, we caught some cloud cover.
Helaman also posed an interesting theory about Mayan human sacrifice. Our doctrine states that Christ’s sacrifice ended the need for sacrifice by the shedding of blood (Law of Moses). Christ states in 3 Nephi 9:
17 And as many as have received me, to them have I agiven to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me bredemption cometh, and cin me is the dlaw of Moses fulfilled.
19 And ye shall offer up unto me ano more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a asacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. …
21 Behold, I have come unto the world to bring aredemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.
So, Helaman’s theory is that the Mayans may have perverted the commandment to offer a broken heart to mean a literally broken heart, thus creating the tradition of human sacrifice.
Below is an ancient precursor to the game of basketball—only the “Winner” became the sacrificial offering, a great honor. Below are pictures of one of the hoops and the large ball court. The spectators sat on the top of the walls.
On our way home, we also visited a cenote, or a sink hole filled with water. It was also, incidentally, filled with people. So a quick dip and we were on our way.
I loved driving on the 2-lane roads on the way home. We drove through several villages that were throwbacks to an earlier, simpler time with anachronistic things like modern advertising and vehicles tossed in the mix. Truly a different glimpse of Mexico.