Chichén Itzá

This Mayan pyramid is inscribed with magnificent hieroglyphs and symbols of Mayan cosmogony. The plumed serpent Quetzalcóatl runs the entire length of the pyramid's lateral steps, a wondrous sight brought to life when the summer solstice casts light and shadow that transform the lapidary surface into a fiery, undulating likeness of the god.

If you're intrepid, you can climb the time-worn stone steps until you reach the summit, which, it must be remarked, lacks safety railings, but does provide views of the various magnificent temples, sacred game courts, and observatories that constitute this Mayan stronghold. You can see me clinging in a most non-intrepid manner to the summit wall; this is meant as encouragement! Here's a tip for climbing up or down: just focus on each step, please do not look either at the gaping abyss beneath you or the dizzying almost vertical expanse ahead of you; and you'll be just fine!