Lluvia means Rain

One of several acts from Luzia where the ceiling opened up to bring the rain was this duo of Cyr Wheel artists.  One was twirling in the air, the other spinning inside a big metal wheel while a downpour drenched them both.

How the performers do these amazing feats with all that water being dumped on them without drowning or slipping off the stage is beyond me!  It is also a very cool to see the water dripping and spraying all over.  A fantastic show.

Cirque du Soliel – LUZIA
Atlantic Station
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
270mm @ f/6.3 – 1/80 sec – ISO 2500

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Luzia – Light and Rain

On Sunday, we went to see the Cirque du Soliel show – Luzia which is now playing at Atlantic Station.  The show’s inspiration is Mexico and the title is a combination of the Spanish words for light (Luz) and rain (LLuvia) which are both prominenet in the show.

The spectacle is impressive in this production.  There are a number of large-scale animal puppets (similar to those used on Broadway for Lion King and War Horse) that are pretty amazing.  The image above shows the big, silver horse that appear several times along with the masked wrestler and the clown, an everpresent character in Cirque shows.

I was happy to see that the restrictions on photography have been relaxed here.  It was a bit confusing to determine what the rules were.  As long as you don’t use flash and you’re not trying to video the whole show, it’s pretty much OK.  I had someone tell me on the way in that I couldn’t use my camera at all during the show but then, at the opening of the show, they announced that photography was allowed.

In any case, I would recommend this show as it was very well done and amazing to watch.  The one thing I would warn people of was the contortionist.  This act is mind-blowing but also somewhat disturbing.  The guy bends totally in half, backwards and twists himself literally into a pretzel.  Made me kind of queazy.

Cirque du Soliel – LUZIA
Atlantic Station
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
110mm @ f/5.6 – 1/160 sec – ISO 2500

 

Inspiration for stone carvings?

The structures of Chichén Itzá are covered with carvings of powerful wild animals.  Today, the ruins are also covered with local inhabitants like this iguana.  I can easily picture ancient Mayans looking at these miniature dinosaurs and imagining dragons or feathered serpents, perhaps?

If you don’t look closely, you could mistake this one for another carving.  Basking in the sun on a chac mool (sacrificial sculpture) the lizard blends in with the colors of the stone and seems not the least bit bothered by the tourists who wander about the site.  I guess they just get used to all these silly people being awed by this amazing history.

Chichén Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
78mm @ f/16 – 1/30 sec – ISO 200

Kukulcán the Feathered Serpent

On the great Plaza, between El Castillo the main pyramid, and the Great Ball Court, are several smaller structures. The Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars and the Temple of Venus are two very similar structures with steps on each of the four sides and a flat platform at the top. The top of each staircase is flanked by images of the winged serpent, the God Kukulcán.

Chichen Itza-082
The walls of the Eagles and Jaguars platform are carved with Eagles and Jaguars gruesomely grasping human hearts.  The story here is that there were two groups of Toltec warriors responsible for capturing sacrificial victims. Eagle Knights, who attacked the enemy using bows and arrows and Jaguar Knights fought using clubs fitted with obsidian knives.

 

The platform was likely used for religious and ceremonial purposes and may have been a sacrificial site.

The Platform of Eagles and Jaguars
Chichén Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
44mm @ f/16 – 1/250 sec – ISO 200

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Lucky number 13

In Mayan culture, the number 13 was considered to be of special significance and many of the structures at Chichen Itza feature repetitions of images in this number.  This building, the largest of the Classical Period (600 – 950 AD) architecture is known as “The Nunnery”.  The early Spanish explorers gave it this name (Las Monjas) because the building has many doorways that reminded them of monastery cells.

This structure is actually not believed to be a temple but a royal palace.  The face of the building is covered with intricate carvings with a focus on the Rain God “Chac”.  The side entrance shown in this image  includes 13 images of Chac, 8 on the bottom level, 4 on the top and the whole side is a huge face with the door representing the mouth.

Las Monjas (The Nunnery)
Chichen Itza
Yucatan, Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
11mm @ f/16 – 1/500 sec – ISO 200

Dance of the Flyers

Hurricane Irma has given us some bonus cruise time while we wait for the storm to clear.   Last night, we made a move about 100 miles south from Cozumel to the port of Costa Maya, Mexico.

This port was built for the exclusive purpose of attracting cruise ships to stop along Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.  There is no major city here but it’s actually not a bad place to stop.  The port area is quite touristy but not over-run with people hawking cheap stuff at every corner like some other places.  Everything is pretty new and clean with a beach area, swimming pools and lots of little shops.

At the center of the shopping area, there is a tall pole where a demonstration is done on days when ships are in port.  This is described as a Mayan rain ritual which ties in with  the local history but the ceremony, known as  the Danza de los Voladores, is a centuries old tradition practiced by numerous indigenous peoples of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

The ceremony involves a dance of 5 participants with music and chanting followed by a climb up a 30 meter pole.  Once the “voladores” have climbed to the top, four of them tie themselves to long ropes and launch into the air, spinning around the pole 13 times (a magical number to the Mayans) until they reach the ground.  In this demonstration, there are only 4 flyers but the original includes a fifth person who stays standing atop the pole while the others spin their way down.

This was a neat display which was only diminished by the fact that it took a fair amount of time to complete which made it hard to watch looking up all that time with the hot, Mexican sun beating down on you.  I am glad we got to see this as it added to our Mayan history lesson.

Danza de los Voladores
Costa Maya, Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/10 – 1/800 sec – ISO 200

Predicting the Weather

This column is believed to represent the four seasons of the year – one on each side. The images on the closest side show a representation of the rain god – Chac shown with the nose of an elephant.  Chac is one of the most frequent images that we saw throughout Chichen Itza.

Obviously, rain was extremely important to the Maya culture.  I assume this was primarily because the Yucatan peninsula is very hot and they would have been highly dependent on rain for drinking water and agricultural irrigation.  On our visit, we have been more concerned with the over-abundance of rain related to hurricane Irma.  Either way, it is obvious that predicting the weather has been a chief concern of people for a very long time and we still don’t quite have it figured out.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/10 – 1/800 sec – ISO 400