Land of the Sun God

27 05 2009

Built on a bluff facing the rising sun and crashing waves, is a spectacular Mayan city built in the honor of the Sun God, named Tulum.  It is one of the very few walled cities that ancient Mayans ever built, and we were lucky enough to get an up close and personal tour during our trip.

After an hour and a half trip out to the ancient sites we were introduced to Tulum by our tour guide, Victor, who took us through every single building, ruin and stone.  He even found us some pieces of old Mayan glass and pottery from the site.

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It is amazing that after thousands of years, these structures are still standing in mostly full form (with the exception of all of the stones that were stolen through the years to built other people’s homes) and that you can still see hand prints on the buildings.

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We traveled through these ancients paths, along with many many iguanas, and learned the significance of all of the different temples and the importance of the placement of all of the buildings in relation to the position of the sun.  Each building had a small window on the top, which was the foundation of their calendar, since they were able to determine what time of year it was by the position of the sun in these different windows.

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Our guide took us to this one spot that was bare, really just a small incline covered in gravel.  It was nothing spectacular to see, and most of the other people there were passing it by.  It turns out that this spot was the most important spot in this ancient Mayan city.  This was the reference point for all of the other buildings.  From this point, you had a view of all of the temples in the city.  From this point, you were able to determine the position of the sun in relation to the buildings to keep track of the yearly calendar.

tulum

One of the interesting things our guide mentioned, was that the first calendar was found here and that it ended on December 21, 2012.  There are a lot of spectulations as to what this means, and some say that this date is the end of the current cycle and that the world is meant to restart and begin its next cycle (the dark (black) cycle) at this time.

After these puzzling thoughts, it was time to head to the beach that ran along the cliffs of this Mayan city.  The water was clear and turquoise, the waves nearly knocked me off my feet, and it was all a beautiful sight!

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Water Baby?

26 05 2009

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m the most comfortable in the water.  I’m definitely not a ‘water baby’, and my preference is never to be in water where I can’t touch the ground.  So it’s safe to say that I frolick in the water and I have a mean doggy paddle.  So with this being said, it makes ABSOLUTELY no sense that I would be off in Mexico snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and scuba diving.

But, that is exactly what happened.  We went out snorkeling twice and saw some amazing parrot fish and coral.  We were able to snorkel 5 minutes away from our resort at the 2nd largest coral reef in the world.  We saw a young sea turtle swimming along by itself, live conch shells, moray eels, baracudas and held baby star fish in our hands.

We were lucky enough to enjoy all of these water excursions by ourselves with just our guide.  Our snorkeling guide was Jaime (pronounced Hi-May) and all week he kept asking us if we wanted to go scuba diving.  Finally on our last day there, he said, “Traci, just admit it, you’re just scared.  You’re fine, so I’m going to bring the equipment to the pool and you can practice with all of the gear”.  So, Nathan went off to drink, and I frolicked in the pool with my flippers, my mask and my tank and respirator.  Let’s just say, I looked pretty cool.  So cool that I had a crowd of little mexican children swimming around me as if they were little fish trying to get in my way.

The pool practice worked and within the hour we were back in the boat and on our way to 25 feet under the water.

nathan on boattraci on the boat

It’s a good thing that we had another private excursion, because I definitely needed some one on one attention.  It appears that my body is very bouyant.  I had all of my gear and an 8 lbs weight belt on me, and no matter what I did I kept floating to the top.  I was following the lessons, breathe in to float up, breathe out to sink.  I got rid of all the air in my lungs….and nothing.  At one point we were maneuvering in between coral reef beds and with Jaime leading the way we followed.  Jaime looked back at us and looked past Nathan and all of a sudden zoomed over Nathan’s head, arms stretched out as if trying to catch a runaway balloon.  That balloon, would be me….  So he dragged me back down and pushed me forward.  Little did I know that he was adding weights to the back of my tank.  All of a sudden I started descending.  I didn’t know there were more weights on my tank so I started filling my lungs to give myself some lift.  I couldn’t get any more air inside me, and I was still sinking.  I had to exhale, and then I hit the sea floor with a not so graceful thud.  And that was it.  I couldn’t get myself going again and I was lying spread eagle on the bottom of the sea floor.

We spent 50 minutes 25 ft under water and it felt like 10.  We saw a huge lobster, crabs, trumpet fish, baby starfish, and unwittingly I pretended to be an injured fish to attract the attention of a 5 ft barracuda (I thought it was just another hand signal….apparently not).

I apologize that we don’t have any photos of our underwater sights, but here’s a video from one of our kayak trips to give you an idea of our surroundings.





Oh Mexico, How I miss you

22 05 2009

Let me set the scene:

White sand, turquoise water, bright blue sky, ocean breeze and no people. 

Cancun1 063 Bright blue pool, poolside bar, Bali beds, and no people

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We woke up at 3:30am to get to the airport for our 6am flight.  Almost got trampled by a bridezilla and her family (all wearing matching outfits) at the airport, and went through a health check to ensure we weren’t arriving to Cancun with any flu-like symptoms.  But, as you can see from the photos, it was all worth it. 

When we arrived at the resort, “Hurricane Influenza” had struck and we were two of 20 guests staying at the resort.  If you’ve ever gone to an all-inclusive Mexican resort, you know this is unusual.  I had expected to see row upon row of sunscreened bodies baking in the sun by the pool, and even more on the beach. I expected to hear the infamous Activities staff on the PA system speaking in spanish/english about water polo, dance lessons, pool tournaments, etc.  I had expected to hear the screaming of kids splashing in the pool, a bunch of college guys and girls heckling each other and yelling ‘dos cervasas por favor!’  Instead….it was quiet.  Serene.  Empty.

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Who knew we had actually bought our own resort for the week…