Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cancun with the fam!

On my way back from Cuba last year, we stopped in Playa del Carmen for almost a week. We ran out of money and new Mexico was cheap enough we could finish our vacation off right. I went right home and told my mom how awesome it was. I knew she would really enjoy it. Annnd it just to happens that their timeshare is available to transfer at a resort just outside of Playa.
Perfect!

So, we called it my brother's graduation trip and booked :) My mom brought her good friend, Kerrie, and I invited my good friend, Robyn, from San Diego.

I took the red eye from SF and arrived in Cancun at 6:00 AM. I slept maybe 4 hours but I was really excited to see everyone and get the trip started so it didn't make a difference. This photo is above the clouds, so awesome. I woke up just long enough to snap it before zonking out again (I spent almost 4 hours in at LAX).

We started out Saturday by heading to breakfast, then the beach. It was just as beautiful as I remembered. We all ordered Pina Coladas, I painted watercolors, swam, and we all enjoyed the sun.

Afterwards, we walked through Playa del Carmen and just checked things out. It was a really relaxing day and we spent most of our time catching up. There's a little taco restaurant right on strip called Yo Taco - delicious! They also have reasonably priced drinks and a very friendly staff. Once we made it back to the resort, their Grand Mayan pool was calling. It has to be one of the biggest in the world...it's like 8 pools in one. With swim up bars!


Me, Kerrie, Robyn, Brother, Dad, Mom

I had the BEST night's rest in the super comfy bed with feather pillows and soft blankets. They even put a little chocolate on your pillow every night! It was nice to sleep so well since Sunday was a big day. We had plans to take a tour of Valladoid, the sacred Blue Cenote and Chichen Itza (one of the 7 wonders of the world!)
The buses are so nice with A/C and reclining seats that we were comfortable on the 4ish hour ride through the Yucatan.

Our first stop was in Valladoid to see the oldest church in Mexico. Valladoid is the modern name for the ancient city of Merida. The church is built on top of the Mayan city of T'ho. Stones from ancient Mayan temples were used to construct it. The Spanish forced Mayan slaves to tear down their own temples to build a Christian church. Americans weren't the only people to carelessly destroy ancient cultures for their own gain.
 Cathedral of San Ildefonso

 This little yellow string going through the center of the church is the only way to ring the bell.


Next up was the cenote. One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It's a sinkhole. The sun drifts slowly through the small hole in the upper cave. Little particles float down and the light reflects just enough to bring light to the entire cave. The contrast is high between the cave and light - you can see everything. It was cold water, but I swam all around. There were what looked like small catfish and lots of moss. Other people were swimming as well, but when you got a little further out the water was still. No waves, no current, kind of like you can feel the life underneath.
My mom and I just before swimming in the cenote!

Afterwards we had lunch and headed over to Chichen Itza. The traffic around the park was insane. Chichen Itza is already a big tourist destination, but we happened to catch it on "free for locals" day so it was even more filled with people.

We got the BEST tour guide. His father and wife are Mayan and he has an archeology degree - this guy knew his stuff. We heard all about the sacrificial statues, their version of soccer/basketball using elbows and two small rings, and the eagle clicking that radiates from the pyramid when you clap near it. All really fun stuff. It was hot...and too many bugs. Still worth it.


Me and my mom looking small compared to the pyramid.
 For every captain that was killed from playing their sport, someone would carve a skull into the wall.

All of the pyramids (there's like 8 and counting...they keep finding more to re-build) have a serpent head at the bottom.

This statue is what they used to sacrifice humans...if you haven't seen Apocalypto, you should!

The tour guide told us all about a game they played using their elbows and a rubber ball (no idea how they made rubber...). This is the top box where the Mayan chief would sit to watch the games.

At a certain time of the day on certain days, it looks like a crawling serpent because of the shadow from the steps with the head at the bottom.

Monday I planned for us to go snorkeling to see the underwater sculptures. I read about them online, such a must see. I love the idea of incorporating man-made art with natural art. And wow, such a cool installation.

See the person curled into a fetal position on the hood of the VW bug?

We didn't expect it when we arrived, but we got to ride on the Twister! A speed boat they whip around and drive really fast like a roller coaster. It was especially cool for me, since I haven't ever been on a speed boat. For a first boat experience, I couldn't have asked for cooler.



There was white moss growing on different areas/pieces within the exhibit. It really made you feel like these humans were walking along the bottom of the ocean, chained to each other and too heavy to swim. Then they just blended in with the life around them and started sprouting coral.




I felt like the artist was trying to comment on the bonds of societies norms. One sculpture the people are shown literally burying their heads in the sand. What a profound idea of leaving your body vulnerable while you hide your face. Keep your emotions hidden and let the world judge exactly what they see. The groups of individuals were chained together and all looking down. There was pregnant sculptures, elderly, all kinds of people just chained together and walking on the ocean floor. It was poignant, you could find all kinds of meanings here.



After we left the museum we took a city bus through Cancun and stopped at my favorite little taco stand in the old part of Cancun. Yummy tacos, cheap drinks, and a nice relaxing time. I wish I knew what it was called...but the same guy was working as the last time I was there! I could sit there for hours, but its a good thing we didn't because we were just in time to make it to the bus back down to Playa.

Once we got to Playa we walked around, ate haagen dazs, and caught a Mexican maypole dance!

Those guys are brave.

After that Robyn and I decided we couldn't leave the next morning without going parasailing! We happened to catch it right at sunset...so beautiful. It's peaceful up there :)





Such an great trip! There's like a bazillion more photos...maybe I'll make a Cancun/Playa part II.
Thanks to my family for putting the trip together and to our friends for joining !

Stay tuned for more adventures from last weekend, xo
Ellie