and Flat Stephanie had a wonderful time in
the Mayan Riviera. He swam with dolphins, went to some Mayan
villages, visited ancient ruins and relaxed by the pools.
swam in a sacred cavern
In September, 2003, Flat Stanley visited the
pyramids of Egypt and in February, 2004, he visited the Mayan
pyramids. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids that were built by slave
labour, the Mayan people considered it an honour to build the
pyramids. There are many pyramids still covered by jungle but
there is not the money to excavate them.
This picture shows an area that has not been
Below is a
portion that has been excavated.
The Mayan ruins were amazing! The temples of
Coba and Chichen-Itza were built in the Classical Period more
than 1500 years ago. 60,000 people lived in this city.
Only the Mayan priests were allowed to climb
the pyramids back then, but tourists are allowed to climb them
today. Flat Stanley didn’t have a fear of heights, but many
tourists sure do! Flat Stanley liked watching them go back down
the pyramids- many sat on their bottoms and went down very
slowly, one step at a time.
At the top of the pyramid in Chichen-Itza a
woman recognized Flat Stanley. She had used him in her classroom
and now teaches teachers at a college. She posed with Flat
Stanley in the room at the very top. Here are some pictures of
Flat Stanley at the top of the pyramid and the view of the
surrounding ruins and jungle.
Even the experts disagree about important
parts of Mayan life. For example, the Mayans played a game with
a large rubber ball that weighed 8 kilograms. The team captains
tried to put the ball through the stone hoop. In one version of
the game they couldn‘t use their hands or feet- they had to use
their hips. Another way of playing used sticks that were used
like racquets. You can see the stone hoops in these pictures.
We’ve all played games like this, but here’s the interesting
part about this game- when the game was over, one of the team
captains was put to death. Some experts say it was the captain
of the losing team who was killed and some say it was the
captain of the winning team who was killed.
Ancient Basketball or Quidditch?
good arguments for each side. Those who say the losing captain
was killed say the game was a type of test. Those who passed the
test would be able to go on to the next test, while those who
failed would not be able to go on. Those who say the captain of
the winning team was put to death say the Mayans believed the
gods needed to be fed blood. The best food was the blood of the
best athletes. It was an honour to be killed for the sake of the
gods. All that we know for sure is that the game was a very
important part of Mayan culture and that someone was killed
after each game.
Flat Stanley didn’t like the part about the
blood. He turned pale when he heard that Mayans used the sharp
part from sting rays to pierce their bodies and bleed. They even
pushed the sharp spine through their tongues, ears and other
sensitive places, then burned the blood with incense as an
offering to the gods. Later on in Mayan civilization, after the
arrival of the Tolteks, human sacrifices were added to their
rituals. Things are very quiet at Chichen-Itza now, apart from
the tourists, but many years ago this place was known for the
blood and the human sacrifices.
The arrival of the Spanish in 1572 changed
Mayan life forever. That is why Spanish is the language spoken
by so many Mexicans today. The Spanish were very cruel to the
Mayan people. The Spanish leader, Cortez, insisted that he be
allowed to climb to the top of the pyramid at Chichen-Itza but
when he got to the top the remains from all the sacrifices
almost made him sick.
and leaders of the ancient Mayans had a very important role. It
was believed they could communicate with the gods and ask the
rain gods to make it rain by giving gifts of blood and
sacrifice. Unfortunately, there was a very bad drought that
lasted for years. The Mayan people lost faith in the powers of
their leaders and even had many of them killed. When the priests
and royal families were gone, there was no one to continue the
Mayan traditions and the culture collapsed.
forget, though- there are still Mayans today. Here are three
who made lunch for Flat Stanley and his friends. they posed
with him, but didn't really understand him. Imagine trying to
explain the Flat Stanley Project to people who don't speak much
English and don't have electricity or the Internet.