Monday, June 17, 2013

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.