Monday, June 17, 2013

Mexican Adventure Log Day 4 Part 2 of 2

      Alright ladies and gents, I left off at the cenote - travelling to the ruins. We spent an ungodly amount of time in the van driving across the country that day (seriously it took up about 4.5 hours of the schedule). The road trip for the day looked like: Dirt road - dirt road - two lane road that everyone knows is just a one lane road - side of the road trash - wild dog - repeat. I have never seen so much litter in all my life. Back home I feel bad just throwing a banana peel out the window (that usually goes well for me, remember this post?). Back to the two lane one lane roads...We hit a traffic jam on the way to the ruins caused by road construction (which really just looked like a bunch of random dudes playing with heavy equipment) in which we watched a large commercial coca cola truck smash, and scrape, the side of the cement roller. Just scooted right a long too. One interesting factoid I want to point out: we were shown a small concrete building (let's guess, maybe 300 s.f.) with a 100s.f. satellite parked right on top of the building. The guide told us that it was the satellite school for the local mayan children. The mexican government felt that it would be cheaper to provide a teacher via satellite and on a screen for these kiddos vs. a real teacher in the classroom. That seemed very strange to me. I wonder how well these little guys can learn via screen and not hands on?

       Litter and odd schools aside, that is neither here nor there. We arrived at Ek Balam, mid afternoon. Just the perfect time to feel like your face is melting off. Our tour guide gave us all a hefty bottle of water for the trek. We regrouped with a new tour guide provided and listened to the history of the ruins, and what some of the magnificent structures were used for. We were embraced by the shade of a few outlining trees during our history lesson, and we all dispersed accordingly to get a good shady listening spot. However, during the tour guides schpeel I kept hearing a spitting noise. I disregarded it at first because, people spit right? Sometimes. I guess.  But wait, I heard it again, and again. Much to my surprise, the Russian duo (a mother and daughter) were standing right behind us. What do you think they might have been doing? Think for a sec. This might throw you for a loop. You think you got it?

The mother, was taking her water bottle, taking a big sip of water...AND THEN SPITTING IT ONTO HER DAUGHTER. Swig, spit, swig, spit. All over this ladies shirt, shoulder area, back, the whole deal.    ..... I KNOW RIGHT?!      $%&*#@!
        She couldn't have come up with a better method of cooling her off? I can think of like, at least 5 ways to incorporate cold water FROM THE BOTTLE to cooling someone off that don't require sloshing it around your gross (and considerably warm) mouth first. For starters, just drink your own cold water, jesus. Brett and I were fairly terrified of them from that point on. And if it weren't for the small shady parameter we had secured we would have gotten the hell away from the spitty Russians. I can't be thankful enough that they were socially awkward and far from cordial or they may have offered to spit on us too. I would have died. If I had known that this was going to go down I would have attempted to see if during our lunch she actually chewed her own food, or had her mom do that for her too. Hello Alicia Silverstone.

We proceed, and wander through the amazingness of the ruins. Once I could regain my focus it was really an awesome experience. These structures are said to have been inhabited 600 BC-1600AD, and it was once a very powerful city. It had several large structures on its grounds. We were able to climb the main temple. At first I laughed at the idea of actually making it to the top, being perfectly content just touching the structure and photographing it. But our entire goofy gaggle slowly crept and crawled to the tippy top. That's almost 100 feet high, narrow stairs with no railing, no rope, no nothing! Going up wasn't the issue, climbing down sorta sideways sorta backwards was the hard part! At least I have little feet to fit nicely on the narrow stairs - Brett's monster feet in his ski sized flip flops had a hell of a time scaling the stairway down. I am pretty sure I just freaked myself out into closing my eyes most of the climb down. Intuitive feet, ftw.

Brett really liked seeing all of the lizards roaming the grounds too:

All in all, it was everything I had hoped to see, and more! One more thing to cross off the bucket list. Maybe when Adeline grows up we can take her and she can experience the greatness too. I will be sure to bring a cool rag for her, and make her drink her own damn water so I don't have to resort to spitting on her to keep her cool! Oy. 

Mexican Adventure Log Day 4- Part 1 of 2.

When I started thinking about the "things to do" in Mexico, the only thing I really wanted to experience was a trip to some Mayan ruins. The rest of the trip? Relax! I won't lie, I much preferred the relaxed environment of Ireland where we were free to roam the countryside in our ridiculously small (and pink, damn thing was pink) rental car. There weren't people every ten feet trying to sell you a tour, and I really liked that. Not that I thought Mexico would be anything like Ireland, I am just stating aloud my travel preferences.

I digress. We actually had an appointment the first morning of the Mexico trip to discuss the thousands of tourist traps stops that were at our disposal. They bring out the big guns first. The stops that require you riding on a huge tour bus packed to the brim with 40+ hungover idiots such as ourselves (to the tune of $150-300 per person). No thanks. Then time to discuss the "booze cruise" tours. Same concept, but on a tiny catamaran with no escape from the freakishly hot Mexican sun (yes, I realize we all share the same sun, but it seriously feels hotter there). No thanks. Then the Mayan ruin tours. She busted out several lovely laminated sheets of combo tours with glamorous photos of Chichen Itza (Chicken Pizza), Coba, Tulum. Then she hesitated to pull something else out of the bag. I asked what else she had rattling around in there that was a little less, crowded? A little less, commercialized? She then pulls out this poor little flier for Ek Balam. I am not going to say it isn't commercialized, hell, the fact that the Mexican government is practically forcing the Mayan people to open up shop at any of these stops to us stupid tourists is bad enough. I would like to note I also requested somewhere we could actually climb some of the temples. Many now have restricted access.
Slowly yet surely they are shutting down climbing opportunities to a lot of these ruin sites. Apparently when big fat Americans drink Tequila all week and then attempt to climb the intricately narrow stairs of these Mayan temples...they fall. Thus, ruining any possible awesome experiences for the rest of the world.

Long story long, we signed up to go to Ek Balam which also included a pit stop to a cenote (underground cave/water system). When Wednesday rolled around we went to the lobby of the resort to join our fellow vacationers on this nice little tour. To our surprise, we were the only folks on that entire resort going to Ek Balam, so we hopped onto our small, empty bus van and geared up for an eventful day. We had a great tour guide for the day, named Danique. She is from the Netherlands, so I thought it odd she happened upon being a tour guide at an obscure spot but hey whatever! Went to another resort where we picked up: a slew of  crunchy canadian kids, some french people, and 2 bat shit crazy Russian ladies (I will explore further soon enough). I was the only American on board, I am glad they didn't feed me to wild dogs that roam countryside.
*Insert long bus ride here*
Factoid, factoid, factoid.

Stop #1 - The cenote. We were told ahead of time that this would be occurring, but it was neat to be a part of a Mayan blessing. In a nut shell, when the Mexican government politely asked practically forced the Mayan people to get on board the tourism money train they said that they would be comfortable allowing strangers into their sacred water systems aka, these cenotes, IF they went through a blessing performed by a shaman beforehand. Followed by a thorough shower before touching these special waters.

We went through the blessing, and the painfully cold shower - saw that there were two methods of entry for the cenote. 1- Rappel  or 2- Take handy dandy stairs. I decided against being hooked up to the intriguing system of levers and pulleys and took the stairs. As most tourist spots do, they had entertaining stations inside the cave. Zip lines, rope walks, floaties for relaxing, and so on. My idea of adventure did not involve any of those things, I got in about knee deep and my mind started to shut down it was so cold. While Brett prepped for a refreshing zip line dip I scoured for a floatie. I knew he wouldn't let me leave without at least getting in the water. Whilst finding a floatie to suit my size to my dismay I also found 3 spiders and abandoned project. Stuck my feet back in the freezing waters and grinned at Brett as he proceeded to do ALL THE THINGS. You go hunny.
Other buses started showing up, gaggles of really awkward tourists started to fill up the poor little cave and it's frigid waters, and we headed out and had a yummy lunch.

This post seems to really have gotten lengthy, my apologies. I will break it into a two parter and wrap up with the good stuff: THE MAYAN RUINS.
Wandering the grounds at the cenote.

some photos of the cenote provided by the photographer there. 
The group with the shaman. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mexican Adventure Log Day 3

Well, Day #3 can be summarized into 1 (ok maybe 5) easy bullet points, and no photographic aids.

1 - We drank the water. Welp, that concludes Day #3 folks!
2 - We attempted some earlier morning sun bathing. Not the best plan for 2 of the ginger-est people at the resort. I can fake it, as you read from the last post I had a spray tan. I still managed a good, and quick, burn. In order for Brett to prep his freckles skin he has to allot around 45 minutes to cover himself in sunscreen. Kudos to him for the time and attention he pays to preventing sun damage. All efforts being futile because he always gets a good burn going regardless of SPF/YMCA/JK. I think that if his freckles would just get on board, and join forces they could all group up and pretend to look like a tan. Poor guy.
3 - After we gave up on our summer glow we retreated to the room to cry about our skin, our digestive systems, and spent a good portion of the day watching forensic shows on tv.
4 - We conquered our fear of the mexican atm machine and finally procured some pesos.
5 - Realized that we really, really miss our kid.

Once again- my apologies for not providing photos of Day #3, it is better this way.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mexican Adventure Log Day 2

Father, it has been one month since my last confession blog post.

At this rate, I am going to finish reliving the story of my Mexican Adventures in 7 months... Really, it took me one month to post Day #2? Why didn't you guys slap me?
So, how about this, I just churn this stuff out in a day or two. And move on? Sound good? I haven't even attempted any posts about crap that people have forgotten too. For shame, for shame.

Ahem, Day 2.
I am pretty sure I woke up around 5am, but I would also like to note that it took me about 4 days to figure out what time it actually was. The room clock, the room tv, and both of our phones all displayed different times. That's 4 different times to choose from. And if you ask a resort staff member? It is tequila time, every time. I gave up.

Decided to take a shower, harmless right? Apparently the entire time I was showering I was unaware that I was also flooding the entire room. THE ENTIRE ROOM. Oopsy. Brett hopped out of bed, and into standing water. I would like to explain how I managed to do this, but I really can't. I am just special like that. Nothing that a few clothes lines and furniture re-arrangement can't fix.

If you happen upon Playa del Carmen, 5th avenue district is apparently the bees knees. We wandered it's street(s) as we were located a block away. It was nice, and it was touristy. Got my fill of local handmade chotchkies in all the souvenir spots. Declined dozens of offers for special tours. Learned that Brett will be widely recognized for the next week as Red beard/whiskers/or some other combo nickname for a large man with a large beard. One fellow selling tours specifically stopped him to ask what his plans were:

Random tour seller (R.T.S): "Whiskers! What are you guys up to this week?"
Brett:    "We have a tour tomorrow to see Ek Balam."
R.T.S.: "Well, what are you doing the rest of the week?"
Brett:    "Her."  *points to an extremely red faced me*
R.T.S.:  *blinks*
He definitely knows the right things to say huh? I couldn't possibly be more proud.

The last stop we made was to another souvenir shop to browse and an old white lady stops me to ask an important question: "Ma'am, do you work here?".
Me:  "Not unless my husband has just made some sort of terrible arrangement, no, I don't".
-This did however, make me want to give my spray tan lady an extra tip, as she apparently made me look like a local for the week.

*Insert some detail about more delicious food and drinks for dinner, and going to bed here*
Oh! And a photo or two, because visuals are generally entertaining:

This pretty much sums up our relationship. Brett being lewd, me being embarrassed. It is a delicate balance, in which he usually tips the scales of.  

A forced normalcy photo, you can tell he really just wants to go back to his original pose.