I was extremely thrilled knowing that I would be seeing one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans. Previous vacations meant swimming at the resort pool, and sipping delicious pina colada. However, this year my dad booked us a trip to learn a little more about history. The ancient city that we visited is called Tulum. Tulum is an ancient Mayan ruin in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This year my grandma Li, who is 80 years old, came with us on the trip. After having knee surgery she wasn’t able to walk well. I was a bit anxious because the ground was rocky and would make it difficult for her to walk. My dad recommended that she stays back in the resort for the day, but she insisted that she wanted to go.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
When we finally arrived, we went through a wheelchair accessible entrance. We met the tour guide, Mario, who passionately shared the history of this ancient city with us. He said the original name of the site was “Zama” meaning sunrise. He also told us how the sunrise helped the people tell the days of the year and how the buildings were known for praising the gods. He also described how the people looked differently and even offered sacrifices. Tulum was the site of where the upper class lived and they altered their body to look distinct from the lower classmen. Mario then passed around a picture of an early sketch of Tulum. The facts were so fascinating that I absorbed every detail into my mind.
As I stood there in the scorching heat, I imagined how it was like a thousand years ago when the site was first constructed. I envisioned myself going back in time when the land was filled with the jungle like it was illustrated in the picture. I was brought back to the present by my grandma who was confused because she did not understand what Mario was saying. She immediately asked me to translate everything for her. She even got up from her wheelchair so she could explore the entire site. She looked at me and put out her arm as a gesture for me to help her walk.
My grandma was so eager to look at all the buildings. She stared at the stone walls but was not yet satisfied. There was an upper view of the buildings which required her to walk up the stairs. She really wanted to see the view even though the whole family was reluctant because it would be risky for her. She refused to listen to us so I held my grandma’s hand and we slowly walked up the stairs to see the beautiful sea cliff along with the back view of the El Castillo building. When we finally got up there, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and soaked in the magnificent view. Afterwards, I slowly walked her back down to her wheelchair. She then told me “This is so much better than the pictures! You are very lucky to have seen so many places while you are still young. I wish I had the opportunity to see these places when I had the ability to walk properly.” At that moment, I understood her desire to see more of the world. I believe that it is so important to discover the world in a first person perspective. Places look different in pictures than when you are actually there. My grandma made me realize that real-world experiences really broaden your horizon.
You have to see the world through your own eyes.
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