December 2005: Mexico
The Mayan Rivera…wow I was in for a treat! I visited Mexico many years ago, but this time it would be a two week visit. Backpacks, shorts (which I hardly ever wear) and lots of sunscreen. Oh, and my camera!
I got to the airport many hours early and promptly started my adventure…I slept on the airport floor. Finding someone to take me to the airport at 5am was tough, so I opted for a friend that could drop me off at 1am. Going on little sleep, a full day of work at the office and our holiday party I was beat. When it was time to board the plane I was anxious to sit in a seat that was comfortable. Thankfully I had the exit row seat that had no seat in front of me.
I slumped back but couldn’t sleep, couldn’t read, couldn’t listen to music. I was distracted. I wasn’t even thinking about the in-flight entertainment…the sunrise was beautiful and a perfect way to start my trip.
The most popular question I get is “so what did you do?” That’s a tough question to answer because I feel like I a did a lot, but I really did a whole lot of nothing! I got to see some amazing sites, but really I spent a lot of time relaxing and just being a regular person…not running around. It was perfect from that standpoint; more then I could have asked for.
We stayed in Cancun for a few days then left via bus to Playa del Carmen. The public transportation system was amazingly clean, new and reasonably priced. The U.S. could learn a few lessons from ADO Bus lines! Once in Playa del Carmen we knew we hit the jackpot! Unlike Cancun’s washed out beaches will little to no sand, we had tons of sand, tons of places to eat, tons of hotels and tons of nice friendly people.
There were only two things I really wanted to do on this trip, renting a sailboat was one of them. Thankfully I found a place that had a reasonable deal for a new boat. After a quick run out with the owner to show I could sail, the boat was all mine. Sailing a ways out in the the Gulf I felt like I knew what heaven was for a moment. Crystal clear water and the boat quietly skimming across the waves…I was more then happy.
A few days later we traveled to a local water park called Xel-Ha (Shell-Ha). We went snorkeling and saw a barracuda (see the pics on flickr for a scary shot of that one!), stingray, dolphin fish (I think) and a a lot of other sea life. I got the underwater case for my camera before I left and my friend had learned a little about underwater photography, so I was left with some great shots to share! We spent the entire day at the park, swimming, floating down a river and eating as much as we could. I slept like a baby after all the excitement. :)
What did we do for New Years Eve? We made up our own plans of course! We had gone on a pub crawl within a few days of arriving in Playa del Carmen so we knew what bars we really liked in the area. NYE we went out to a few places we went to before, first place? Where our new friend Danielle worked. He tried to kill us with a concoction he made a different night, so NYE I wanted to start it right: Tequila! We spent the moment of the new year dancing in the streets where a makeshift party appeared then we headed off to a mambo bar. that place started to fill up after 2am and then it was dancing all night until the sun came up. Well at least we were told the place to be at 5am is the beach with just about everyone else watching the first rays of sun in the new year. Unfortunately my feet were tore to pieces from wearing sandals and dancing, so we headed home before we saw the sunrise. I suck :)
Now it’s about time we did the other thing I wanted: go to Chichén ltzá to see the Mayan ruins. We scheduled a tour and a bus ride, then we were off for an adventure. We stopped at a cenote before the ruins. A cenote is basically a cave that holds filtered ground water. There are cenotes all over the Yucatan peninsula and in this case, you could go swimming! The top had caved in where a tree was growing, the lines you see in the photo are the tree’s roots that went all the way down to the water. The view was beautiful and the rays of sunlight cut through the clear water like butter to reflect off the bottom. It was amazing!
Chichén ltzá…an amazing ancient city created by people with an uncanny understanding of astronomy. The main pyramid with 91 stairs on each side, adding up to 364, with the pedestal at the top making 365: one step for each day of the solar year. Carvings at the top so that during the equinox twice a year a shadow would be cast of a intertwined snake (scales and feathers) running down the stairs. Even with people wondering around in modern clothes, it was hard not to think about what an amazing city it must have been hundreds of years ago.
The rest of my trip was spent wondering the streets, watching kids play in the parks, and sitting on the beach just listening to the waves hit the shore. It was an adventure, but also a vacation from my routine…something I needed more then I knew. It feels great to be home, but I wouldn’t mind returning to the Mayan Rivera sometime in the near future.
For the rest of the photos of the trip and some nice shots of the ruins, check out the Mexico set @ Flickr.