I forgot to mention that we saw a small stingray in the surf on Friday. That was unexpected and very cool. There didn’t seem to be a lot of wildlife around, which I found strange. We did see pelicans floating on the surf – right before it broke on shore (and since there were no waves, it was easy for them) and picking off fish.
Saturday morning we rose early and met my sister and her very hungover SO in the lobby. We waited outside for our special transport to take us on this expensive excursion to Chichen Itza and Cenote Maya. There were 18 of us in the small bus. It was climate controlled and the tour guide, Brazila (or Priscilla – she spoke quickly and I’m a gringo, so I’m not sure), frequently offered us water bottles. She was a lively guide, walking and talking fast. She gave the history of Chichen Itza and the Mayan culture on the trip there (about two hours drive inland from Moon Palace Resort). She’d call us “family” and frequently say “guys, guys, this is super important.” Every time she said that I expected her to give some safety information, but it just turned out to be historical information.
Chichen Itza was full of people and had a long confusing line to get in. It was hot and humid and icky, but very interesting. We spent too little time there. Brazila gave us 20 minutes of free time and so CWB and I went to find the Observatory – in the older part of the ruins, while my sister and her SO took a rest and shopped. We wanted to shop too – there were many tempting vendors lined up on the walk to the ruins – but we wanted to see the observatory more. We got lost and never did see it – and we were late getting back to the bus. Brazila was not amused. We were not the only ones who were late but I had a feeling she didn’t like me to begin with. Just a feeling. Ah well.
We then drove to a “Mayan” village – set up for tourists to see how the Mayan people used to, and currently, exist. It felt uncomfortable. The children would wave at the tour bus, because, according to Brazila, they knew we were bringing income to their families. The abject poverty seen in the village did not differ much from the abject poverty seen in the non-Mayan villages and towns we drove through on the way back to the hotel. Interesting though. Many skinny dogs, a few chickens, lots of red chilies drying on mats on the ground, and hammocks under palapas. At the cenote, they fed us excellent food – the lime lentil soup was my favorite – and then we were blessed in a ceremony to please the Mayan gods – which was interesting. The ceremony leader spoke mostly in Mayan, but switched to Spanish in the middle and then back to Mayan. Then we changed into our swim wear and had the option of either repelling into the cenote or going down the stairs. My sister doesn’t like to swim, so she and CWB chose the stairs. Her SO chose to skip the entire thing and found a hammock to sleep in. I repelled. First time ever. It was challenging in that I don’t have much arm strength – hand strength from typing yes, but upper arm strength, not so much. I ended up going last, but that was okay. Amazing. Totally worth it.
They wouldn’t allow pictures because they wanted to sell us pictures – but then their electricity went out and we didn’t get pictures. That’s okay. I don’t need to see myself grimacing as I stepped over the edge into empty space 120 feet or so above water. I would have liked to take my own pictures. Once at the bottom of the well, there was a platform with various levels to jump off of or zip line and fall into the water.
We didn’t have to climb up the stairs, thankfully, but rather went up a long tunnel to the surface. Changed into our normal clothes and then took the long drive back to the hotel.
That night we gathered with everyone from the wedding party and ate at a Brazilian steakhouse (in the lobby of the resort). Several people had to leave really early – per the government, you had to be at the airport 3 hours early to go through customs. Yuck. So our 5:30pm flight meant that we left for the airport at 2pm on Sunday. We didn’t do much before then – hung out with my siblings and ate a few times. It turns out that there’s not much to do at an all-inclusive resort other than eat and drink and lay by the pool. On the other hand, not much to do at normal hotel either. Our hotel was isolated though, and it was expensive to get a cab ride into Cancun proper – which we didn’t do. The resort offered jet skis and small sailboats and parasailing – none of which we wanted to do before we had to check out of our rooms. No wet bathing suits in my suitcase, thank you.
The airport had some shopping and I purchased a bag of limon peanuts – which I did not eat on the flight to Denver. So when I arrived, I had to declare that I had produce – which put me in a different line – and then, because we arrived at 8 or 9 pm, the only checkpoint open was the one at the front of the airport, so we had to hoof it there. And of course I couldn’t keep my peanuts because there was no outside food allowed. Should have eaten them in the air. We finally got to our final destination and hotel at one or so am Monday.
Next time – not Moon Palace and maybe not Cancun, although I’d like to see more of Chichen Itza. Maybe not southern Mexico. Cabo San Lucas? Or somewhere in the Caribbean. And I’ll know to bring more money and expect to pay a lot for things. Such is the state of travel in the world these days. Worth it? Yes. Do it again? Maybe not.