Let the games begin! In Merida, MX, there are reenactments of the Mayan ball game Pok Ta Pok every week in the street in front of the Cathedral on the Gran Plaza. The performances were even better than I had hoped for. Fully costumed and painted players play an actual game and you will find yourself rooting for one team or another. Just when you start thinking that this is so fun that you will NEED to return the next week, they bring out the flames. Yes, real fire.
I have been to Chichen Itza and our guide described this game as we were viewing the world’s largest Pok Ta Pok ball court there, but somehow it never seemed this exciting. I didn’t remember any mention of fire, but I did remember that this game could end in a deadly ritual sacrifice and I was starting to worry that might be portrayed here as well. Fortunately, it was a family-friendly reenactment and the fire was as far as it went. Teams score when players force the ball through a hoop in the air, using their hips and thighs. There were so many close calls and the crowd would groan in unison. This was so fun to watch and learn from.
This is wheelchair accessible for any sort of mobility device. You can roll over from a nearby hotel or Airbnb, or do as we did and take an uber in. The roads are blocked off around the square, so our driver dropped us off a block away and we hurried over to claim a spot. There are limited folding chairs positioned in the front and sides for viewing, and some raised bleachers at the edge of the park. There were crowds gathered by the time we arrived, so we stood off to the side by the barricades set up in the road. The view was still good but, Pro Tip: Get there early if you want a front and center spot. The performers posed for photos afterward and since it was in the middle of a flat road, any sort of wheelchair should be able to access that as well.
Did I mention this was free? Yeah, so now you have absolutely no excuse to miss this event. It was held on Wednesday evenings at 8 PM when I was there, but you should verify if the schedule is the same when you are in Merida. Watch out for those balls of fire!