Friday, August 21, 2009

Journey To Ixchel and San Gervasio



One of the things that excited me most about Cozumel was the chance to explore the Mayan goddess Ixchel's shrine at San Gervasio. The 2,000 year old structure covers 125 acres in the Cozumel rain forest. Mimi, our authoritative guide above, showed our group the intricacies of ancient Mayan culture.




San Gervasio is the biggest archaeological site in Cozumel and is located in the center of the island. Ixchel is the Mayan goddess of the moon and fertility and women made the pilgrimage to the shrine from as far away as what is now Belize and Guatemala to ensure that they birthed the average 18 kids expected of a Mayan woman.




The structures were created from a mixture of stucco, honey, gum and crushed shells. Temples typically boasted a sauna and a steam bath with hot rocks so that followers could purify themselves by sweating, praying and meditating.




The steps to the shrines are very small, forcing worshipers to walk sideways so as not to look the priest in the face, which is a sign of respect.





This is the the entrance to the 9 mile road called Sac Bey or white road,that they Maya took to reach the shrines. They would walk by moonlight when it was cooler, leaving their canoes back at the end of the road. The arch is about 5 feet tall and dates from 1200-1650 A.D.




The Maya cut the limestone rocks using onyx knifes. The innovation and details of these shrines and altars still remain, thousands of years later.
An aura of the sacred hovers around the site and Mexican women still make pilgrimages to Ixcehl's shrine. In a little box in front of the shrine below, we saw flowers, coins and incense left as offerings to Ixchel. They say that Cozumel retains something in the water and that couples routinely return home pregnant. I don't know about that but I was happy to pay my respects to Ixchel.


15 comments:

http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/ said...

You certainly are getting around, aren't you?

Have a great weekend!

Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

Eighteen?!! Momentarily flabbergasted...
 
I've visited a couple of other Mayan sites (Coba and Tulum) -absolutely fascinating bits of preserved history. Interesting post; I learned even more...
 

Tiffany,Ebony Intuition said...

would love to visit there.

marina villatoro said...

Great pictures, I never saw this part of Cozumel when I was there.

PS, your tortillas sound a lot tastier than the ones eaten here:)

Fly Girl said...

Geoffrey, this post is from when I was in Cozumel 2 months ago. I'm afraid I'm still in Chicago this weekend.

Heather, San Gervasio isn't as big as Tulum or Chitzen Iza but it packs just as much history. The women got married starting at 13 so there was time to pump out 18 kids!

Tiffany, Cozumel is a really pretty island.

Marina, I'm afraid this is the part of Cozumel that many people never see. All the resorts are on the other side.

http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/ said...

Farsighted, I'm just giving thanks for what i learned here on you blog. For many of us, Cozumel is merely a tourist destination. You have added meaning to your travels.

1Love,
Geoffrey

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Thanks for showing me around Cozumel

Fly Girl said...

Geoffrey, thanks so much for your appreciation. I try to take readers beyond the tourist persepective.

Jean-Luc, I thanks for joining me!

Heather on her travels said...

Wow - waht a lot of interesting details - it certainly brings the rocks to life to know all this happened there

Fly Girl said...

Heather, I'm glad I managed to bring all the piles of rocks to life! They don't really look very interesting if you don't know all the history behind them.

jessiev said...

beautiful photos. i like learning about places, you've certainly piqued my interest in this place!

Wendy said...

The archaeological sites of Mexico never cease to amaze. Thanks for bringing this one to life.

Fly Girl said...

Jessie, I hope you visit soon.

Wendy, I'm so glad that I could offer another side of Mexican culture.

Anonymous said...

Hi!
I found your description of the site very interesting. I will be stopping in Cozumel while cruising in December. What do you recommend best for a shore excursion: Tulum, Coba, or San Gervasio?
I am guessing Chichen Itza is too far for a day trip, considering we have to be back on the ship before 5pm. Thanks!

Fly Girl said...

Well, San Gervasio is the only ruins on Cozumel and it's not as big as the others. You'll have to travel further but if you have the time, I'd suggest Tulum. It's very impressive with tall ruins and has a broader range of history. Just remember to take shoes for climbing!