Today, we crossed the state border from Quintana Roo and entered Yucatan, the state of Mexico famous for the Yucatecan Mayan archeological site Chichen Itza. Once upon a time when Chichen Itza was fully open to the public, you could climb the very steep stairs up the main Temple of Kulkulcan. Unfortunately, we learned from our guide that since 2006, the temple steps have permanently closed, and no one is allowed to go up. A sad event led to this closure: an 80-year old woman climbed up the steep steps, only to fall all the way down during her descent. There’s definitely a sense of vertigo on steps that steep, and given how high it was, and the vibrations and echoes you hear in the complex…. her fall would have been quite brutal, not just for her, but for literally everyone else there who could hear the fall.
Initially, I was a little disappointed to hear that we couldn’t climb up. The first time I visited Mexico City, I went to visit the famous Teotihuacan Aztec site, and I remember climbing up the steep steps of the temples there. I had a lot of vertigo climbing down the steps and remember thinking how much more challenging it would be if I had to carry something (or someone!) down with me. But it was really enjoyable to have that experience of being at the top and envisioning what it would have been like to be a part of this ancient civilization from so long ago. Given we had Kaia with us, plus our stroller, I didn’t really care much about this after I thought about it. It just would have been a lot more nerve racking and scary in our case with a baby, or we’d just have to go up and down one at a time while the other stayed on the ground with her.
On our way there, Chris missed the sign that would have expedited our drive to Chichen Itza, so while we added some time to our trip there, we reduced the cost of the trip, as there are road tolls, and they are quite steep (and apply both to and from). On our way back, though, we miscalculated how much cash in pesos we had in my wallet. When we got to the toll booth, I was a little bit worried because when I counted the cash, we had approximately 20 pesos (just over $1 USD) less than what the toll sign said (the toll was 385 pesos; we had about 365). When Chris told the toll booth worker that this was all we had in cash, she told us to move the car to the side of the road; she was not going to let us through. I tried to ask if we could use credit card, but they didn’t accept them, nor did they accept U.S. dollars. After about five minutes of waiting, another worker came up to us to ask if we had U.S. dollars. We didn’t realize this at the time, but they weren’t going to accept them. They were going to ask if ANOTHER car had change for the U.S. dollars in pesos. We didn’t realize what was happening until another car gestured towards us, paid a toll, and sped away, and the worker explained that we could go through and didn’t have to give them any cash at all. So…. THAT RANDOM CAR was so kind and generous and ended up paying our entire toll (that’s about $21.94 USD), not just the tiny $1 amount we didn’t have! They must have taken pity on us because they saw our baby in the backseat. We didn’t even get a chance to thank them for their generosity and altruism given they had already driven off so quickly. All they gave us was a small smile, no words, before speeding off.
It’s easy to forget with all the horrible news, the Reddit rants, the parent group complaints about spouses, parents, in-laws, friends, and nannies, but friendly, generous, kind, selfless people are all over the world. These are people who do a lot for others, even complete strangers, and expect absolutely nothing in return… not even a thanks. It’s in moments like these when I am reminded of that, and it’s a reminder to me to also pay it forward to others.