S: Riviera Maya, Mexico - January 2011
FC: Riviera Maya, Mexico January 27 - 31, 2011
1: The traveler is active; he goes strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.
2: After a tense night of watching the weather, and an early morning of snow blowing - we were off to the airport. Parking the car wasn't easy, but we managed to drive over the mound of snow left by the plow and into a spot. Walking to catch the airport bus was a puddly mess, but we finally checked in for our flight. After a two hour delay we took off for Cancun...
3: Excellence Riviera Maya
4: Started our "Paradise Adventure" with a Sol. Yum. Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures of this adventure, but, we did have an eventful day. The ATV's had big tires tied to the fronts...we were told those were our "Mexican brakes:.. glad we didn't need them! | We took off on our ATV, with Tom driving and me the happy passenger, behind about 8 others. It was slow going -- the two ATV's in front of us who we (in the nicest of ways) nicknamed "Muffy" and "Buffy" were a little unsure of navigating the turns. They couldn't seem to bring themselves to go very fast and we lost our group a few times....it was amusing but not a very exciting ride. The guide, realizing that we had been very patient, allowed us to go around the last part of the trails on our own so we could use some speed.
5: Next we took out a small speedboat - me driving and Tom, well...maybe not such a happy passenger. We were totally cutting up the waves and wakes when we looked at each other and realized we were slowing down. We were not close enough to coast to shore when we came to a dead stop. Opps, outta gas! We only sat for a few minutes when our guide circled around and gave us the cute Mexican "I'm sorry" smile., did something to the engine -- I assume gave us some gas and we were on our way again. | When it was time to dock...I was really sorry we didn't have any Mexican brakes because the boat would not stop and I had to use the pier as a brake. We ended our Paradise Adventure with a Sol and it was still Yum!
6: We spent all day on Saturday at Xplor Park. At the center of the park was a large beating heart. All roads from the heart led to the various activities.
7: First up was a drive through the park in an amphibious vehicle. Not too exciting, but we did get to look around and see the various towers where the zip lines originated and ended. We then rafted through a cenote using hand paddles. Took us a bit to get the hang of it, but we were able to navigate through.
8: The park had two courses of zip lines; 7 lines in each. We took the higher and longer course first.
9: The various lines took us from tower to tower. The first course took us zigzagging across the park and through a waterfall. The second course took us back across the park where we unhooked and took a water slide down.
10: We made the long ride through Mexico in a rickety old van, but had the best tour guide. The poverty was apparent, but every so often one of the small homes would have a satellite dish -- it was explained that these homes serve as schools and use the internet as an aid to teach the children.
12: After a walk through the woods, we entered a clearing where we were met with a Maya Shaman standing before a shrine. The shrine represents the three layers of the universe and the four points of the compass. The Shaman wafted incense over each of us and recited a prayer.
13: Being appropriately cleansed inside and “ready for the afterlife”, we took a quick shower before were were allowed to swim in the cenote.
14: We descended a steep stairway through a narrow cave opening and down into an underground cenote. We swam in the crystal clear, cold water which felt much more dense than normal water. Our guide explained that the water contained a high amount of calcium which caused it to feel thicker. The calcium also caused the Mayan people to be smaller in stature as it hardened their bones more quickly during growth.
16: A quick kayak ride through the canals and we were back to our van and on the road again. We navigated the kayak much better than we did the raft!
19: By the time we got to Playa del Carmen, we were already zipline experts!
21: We stopped to have a traditional Maya lunch. We served ourselves delicious vegetable soup, chicken, rice, beans, and corn tortillas. We ate at outdoor tables and were able to see the Mayan women preparing our meal in an open-air kitchen. We all got back into the van and took the hour ride to Coba to see the Mayan Ruins.
22: Between 400 to 1100 A.D., nearly 50,000 people lived within Cobá confines. | Besides the structures, there are mysterious ancient roads through the jungle called Sacbes which radiate out from Cobá. | Only a few of the estimated 6,000 structures are restored or uncovered, most are still buried under centuries of thick jungle growth. | Stele are large stone slabs containing drawings and glyphs. This stele is dated November 30, 780 A.D. in Mayan glyphs.
23: Coba has two ball courts. The game was played between two teams, using only their hips and elbows to get a rubber ball through a hoop. Inscriptions and other pieces of art show that human sacrifice was a part of the game. There are different theories as to who actually got sacrificed - the captain or the whole team? Did the losing team have to pay with their lives or did the winning team willingly and proudly go to live with their gods?
25: Nohoch Mul (meaning large hill), the Grand Pyramid at Cobá, has 120 steps to the top, is 138 feet high and is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula. Standing at the apex you can see over the jungle canopy for miles.
26: We had decided that we'd visit a local tattoo artist and take home a permanent souvenir from Mexico. After our long day of exploring we were off to Cancun. Our cab driver generously agreed to wait although I'm not sure he understood that we were going to be a while even though we did attempt to explain. | The city of Cancun was very different than all of the other areas of Mexico we had visited. Lights, restaurants, lots of people bustling around. We stumbled across this sign in the middle of the plaza -- "no smoking" with a convenient ashtray beneath. | Typically Mexican...
28: Those born under the Muwan sign have an affinity for fire and water. They possess the ability of vision and are seers of the truth.
29: The Maya Tree of Life represents the stable world center. It constitutes a symbolic vertical line that unites the three realms of the underworld, earth and heaven.