Chichen Itza - It's Alright!
When it comes to popular destinations, I've usually formed opinions and painted a picture in my mind of how things are going to be, well in advance.
When I arrived at Chichen Itza early in the morning there were hardly any tourists; I had a Wonder of the World all to myself! I was also surprised to see that there was a whole city of amazingly preserved ruins. Now, I'm no Ross from Friends - I don't dig relics or swoon over ancient pottery, but I have to say - Chichen Itza blew me away.
It was one of the places on my trip that completely bulldozed away any preconceptions I had, teaching me the importance of travelling with an open mind.
The internet has revolutionised everything about travel - from how we get to our destination, to where we stay, to how we rate where we stay. All the information we need to explore the world independently or otherwise is accessible at the touch of a button.
It's become increasingly difficult to approach anything in life with an open mind. Something you've seen on TV, read about on someone's blog or in a guide book, ultimately influences you. You develop expectations. The more you look into something, the higher your expectations become. If it doesn't turn out to be the Monet you quite envisaged, the world stops.
This is how I lived most of the time. Sometimes I would find myself so disappointed if things didn't meet my expectations that the world would seemingly stop as I entered into state of blind panic. It happened when I stumbled into a bit of bad weather when I first arrived in Mexico.
I plan a lot. I set myself goals, I have high expectations. I had a difficult childhood and came from a volatile home. I was very much one for controlling my environment in adult life. In a way I was just trying to create a safe 'controlled' environment for myself.
But life is unpredictable, so I had to change my mindset if I was to get the best out of my experiences. I had to start trusting the world again.
Tulum gave me a quote that stuck with me throughout my time in Mexico: "The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be." I need to keep reminding myself of these words.
Chichen Itza showed me that no experience is set in stone. You paint your own picture while you're there.
If you're interested in visiting this epic site, getting there independently is easy! I recommend staying in the nearby town of Valladolid, famous for its cenotes, and travelling early to beat the coach tours from beach resorts.