I scurried frantically getting Zoe set up with All Yours necessities – email account, forwarding all emails (not excluding all Viagra offers), client files, payscales, etc.
I skipped Chinese class to finish packing while Phil taught Chinese lessons. We left for the aiport and arrived casually for a change. We got our flight on-time and had plenty of room on the airplane to stretch out and sleep.
We arrived in Cancun and got a collectivo (large van taxi) from the airport to Isla Mujeres. Our collectivo took us through Cancun, reassuring us that we didn’t really want to spend much or any time in downtown Cancun. Around 7:30am we got a big boat to Isla Mujeres. The scenery was gorgeous – crystal clear and turquoise blue with white sandy beaches. Phil was rockin his espanol.
Got off the boat and the inundation began. Taxi drivers, dive trip sellers, scooter renters, restaurant waiters… everyone wanted a piece of our tourist action. We bypassed all offers and walked around to find a place to lock our stuff and to sleep that night. After walking and looking for about an hour or two – asking for rates and checking availability, we decided on Pocna hostel. Clean enough, but definitely reminded me of a jail cell. The cinderblock walls were covered in plaster not dissimilar to any other building in town. Most of town was vibrant with color, however, our room was just white. White walls, gray cement floor, white sheets. There was one window that opened to the inside of the hostel and thin vertical slats high up in the room that were open to the street for increased ventilation. We were not in a dormitory style room however due to these slats, we shared our room with some ants.
We dropped our stuff in our room, got some quesadillas at a restaurant, and hit the beach – Playa Norte. The beach was beautiful and crowded. We went for a swim. There’s not much on the ocean floor at Playa Norte other than white sand. Phil managed to find a huge starfish, though. We took a nap on the sand under a palm tree and lounged around all afternoon. We thought about going to the tortuga place so we started to walk there to see how far it was. On the way we got sidetracked by some iguanas, which are apparently everywhere in Mexico. We got dinner at a great mexican restaurant where I got enchiladas with green sauce. We went to sleep probably around 8pm.
Exhausted, we slept like rocks despite the noise from our fellow hostelers.
After our jaunt yesterday, we decided the tortugas – sea turtles – were a bit further than we wanted to walk so we took a taxi to get to the turtle restoration program on the island. The turtles were really cute, though there were not as many as I thought there would be. Each day, breakfast consisted of granola bars, twizzlers, chocolate covered pretzels (thanks mom!), and cheese nips, all of which I smuggled in from the States, and toast which was included with our room price. We ate wonderful falafels for lunch and phil got lobster for dinner. Went snorkeling in the evening and saw some cool critters – 2 octopus, skates/rays, angelfish, gobi fish, and other unidenifiable sea creatures. We crashed early again, this time being lulled to sleep by a drum circle and some horrible singers.
We left before our free breakfast (boo) and got the boat back to mainland. We took a public bus to downtown Cancun, where we picked up another bus to get to Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza is a huge area of Mayan ruins in central Yukatan… a real center of religious and civic activities for the Mayan people.
The bus ride to Chichen Itza revealed common Mexican life – bungalo homes with trash all through the yards, windows – maybe, maybe not, dilapidated fences of all sorts, palm branches for the roof, all tucked into an overgrown jungle. Street dogs roamed the towns lounging and scratching in the heat.
We got to Piste and quickly found a place to stay and some quesadillas at a restaurant across the street. We walked from Piste to the ruins at Chichen Itza. We got our tickets and, with them, tickets for a light show at the ruins later that evening. We saw the main pyramid – El Castillo, we saw the huge ball court that determined the fate of the ball players, we saw the temples of venus, and wall of faces.
Phil was psyched to see 2 cenotes, big limestone sinkholes in the ground filled with fresh water. No, not lakes… I can’t fully describe what the difference is between a cenote and a lake… it has to do with how the water came to be there. Anyhow, throughout the years, divers have found the remains of 30,000 individuals who these Mayans sacrificed to the rain god via the main cenote at Chichen.
As we wandered the ruins, the tourists seemed to dissipate and the ruins were more and more amazing as evening approached. Astounded to have the entire place to ourselves, Phil and I took our time roaming the ruins – just he and I and the Mayan spirits. After an hour or two of exploring, we made our way around back to the entrance and ran into a staff member. He informed us that the attraction was closed and we needed to leave immediately. We left and sat on the steps, eating the last of our twizzlers and granola bars and enjoying the hour or two that we had alone with the mystical ruins.
We got great seats for the light show – front row, as we were already there waiting long before other tourists arrived. It was a frenzy getting seats – the tourists ran to get good seats after getting through the ticket gate. Unfortunately I did not understand a lot of the show as it was in espanol. Phil translated some and I picked up other parts; the light show was nice, though, and I’m glad we went.
After walking back to Piste, we got some dinner… more quesadillas… at the only restaurant that was still open. And went to bed.
Got the bus headed to Tulum early. Picked up more passengers in Vallolidad and was momentarily entertained by some American lady who, despite a 50% empty bus, insisted on sitting in the assigned seat numbers listed on her family’s tickets. She informed Phil that in some places when you travel, you must sit in your assigned bus seat.
Tulum was not our thing so we got some pizza and got a collectivo to Playa del Carmen, where Phil’s boss Tim vacations annually. Couldn’t find any cheap rooms in Playa as it was Easter holiday weekend and everyone from Mexico City seemed to have the same idea as Phil and I. On a tip from a hostel worker, we decided to backtrack to Akumal and look for a place at the hostel there. After getting another collectivo and walking about .5 miles to Akumal from the bus stop, we found no vacancy within our price range at Akumal either. Hungry, tired, and frustrated, we walked back to bus station and got another collectivo back to Playa. I was sad and sat on the beach while Phil found us a hotel room. Sick of walking and sick of quasadillas. Our hotel was more than what we were hoping to pay per night but was convenient and clean.
We spent the evening walking the beach at Playa and eating at a fantastic vegetarian-friendly restaurant called Media Luna.
I would guess it was around 4am that I woke up to the cock-a-doodle-doing of the rooster next door. Then again at 5am and 6am, etc. Finally got up around 7ish and got some breakfast breads and orange juice in a box (I don’t recommend it) from a little shop downtown. Sat on the beach and at our breakfast. Got our beach stuff and went to the beach. Swam around a bit and dug a big hole. So deep that we hit water in the bottom of it. Unfortunately while we were sitting in the hole digging, the abrasive sand we were leaning against rubbed off our sunscreen in places. We went home with a patchy sunburn over our backs.
Lunch at the Crepes Factory was fantastic. Had some margheritas and pina coladas while sitting on swings at a bar, and dinner again at Media Luna since it was so good the day before.
Cock-a-doodle-do. Breakfast breads on the beach again. To take a snorkel trip or not to take a snorkel trip, that was the question. We walked the beach and spoke with some snorkel companies about trips but they were pretty pricey. Walking back to our hotel, we ran into a friendly young lady tour trip seller who we spoke with the previous day about all kinds of stuff. We had decided to go to Cozumel snorkeling for the day and to rent a scooter. She was going to to rent it to us but it was going to take a little while to rent the scooter so we would end up missing the ferry to Cozumel. I told her nevermind and Phil and I ran to get ferry tickets. I bought tickets at a booth which provided tickets for not one but 2 ferries. Phil was running to catch up and we got to the ferry entrance ramp just as one of the ferries was pushing off.
The ticket collector looked at the tickets I gave him, and told us that we had to wait for the next one. We ran back and Phil told the guys he sold us the wrong tickets and the guys reexplained that we had tickets for BOTH ferries and we needed to run to get on the other one. By the time we got back to the ramp, the other ferry was pushing off as well and we had missed both ferries. I was infuriated.
I hate the street vendors. They wasted so much of our time in Mexico it was horrible. And they all acted like they were your friends and cared about where you were from and whatnot, but they just wanted your money in the end. It was pretty sad and made me really sad.
We finally got to Cozumel 1 hour later than I wanted to, rented a scooter on the island for cheaper than that jerk girl who pretended to be our friend was going to rent it to us, got a bite to eat, and scooted down the Cozumel coast. We swam out to the same places the $40/person glass bottom boat tour takes tourists and saw some great fishes and non-fishes. When we were done snorkeling, we cruised around a bit on the moped and found a tarantula!
Getting the boat back to mainland was another ordeal as I we could not find our return tickets but had paid for round trip tickets for the boat. I thought I accidentally threw them out while emptying our backpack of tourist brochures in a frustrated, stressed-out stupor. It took about 15-20 minutes but Phil managed to talk our way back onto one of the boats so we did not have to pay another $20 for fares.
We walked back to the hotel, packed up as best we could, and went for some crepes. The place was closing so we got them to-go and sat under a palm tree on main street and ate our dinner. We went back to the hotel room, finished packing, and set the alarm (which I assumed we would not need due to the cock-a-doodle-doer next door). I was right. The rooster and I woke up at 4:30am before the alarm went off and Phil and I got a taxi back to the airport.
The best parts of the trip (in no particular order):
* Snorkeling: seeing octopus, baracuda, huge angelfish dudes, an eel, and more!
* Eating and Drinking
* Scootering – riding off into the sunset on a paradise island with my man (and seeing a tarantula in the process!)
* Spending time with just my husband and appreciating him for all he does for me – making me happy when I’m sad, making me happier when I’m happy, keeping track of our monies so I never have to worry that his lobster dinner is going to cost us our retirement savings, talking to Mexicans who I don’t want to talk to, those sorts of things.
* Touring ruins (especially when we weren’t supposed to be)