VaCaTiOn TiMe: Mayan Ruins and Turquoise Centoes

Sunburned faces. Pool side card games. Palm trees. Turquoise water. Sugar beaches. One word sums all of that up. Vacation. To be more exact, one on the Caribbean Ocean in Mexico.

Our whole vacation idea got into our head in February. Our faithful dog had just passed, and we hadn’t been on vacation in a little over 3 years. Some of you might be thinking “Isn’t your whole life a vacation?” In a way, yes. But we wanted to go someplace tropical, somewhere new. Our first idea was Hawaii. Why not? We loved it when we had gone before, and maybe we’d try a new island. Dad called, to see if there was a room there in May. At first the women who answered the phone was a little puzzled. “Next May?” she asked politely. “No, this May,” Dad answered. “Umm… The rooms for this May sold out about 9 months ago.”
Alright, we weren’t going to Hawaii. When we searched again for someplace to vacation, we found Cancun, Mexico. It looked tropical and one of our friends had gone not long ago. She encouraged us to go, saying that it was beautiful. Might as well try it. We had never been to Mexico. First we invited Grandma Red, then booked a room for 2 weeks. Grammy Red, after being layed up all winter with a shattered wrist, was glad to take us up on the offer.
The time before the Mexico trip passed quickly, with all our work at the park. We were to leave on Saturday. On Friday we moved Nigel over to a glass workshop to leave him there so the windshield could be resealed. We spent the rest of Friday with our friends the O’Donell’s (Check out our fun Utah trip with them here).

We awoke early on Saturday, and finished our last minute preparation, and left Nigel at 9:30 in the morning (after a early game of cards). We drove the car to the  parking garage, and took the bus from there to the airport. The bus dropped us off, and we made our way towards security. Right before going through, we stopped, because we were early. Mom and Marc grabbed two burgers for us to share, then we went through security. We went to our gate and sat down, 23 minutes early. We boarded the plane. Our seats were in the furthest back row, near the restrooms. They didn’t recline and they had the worst windows. Well, that’s what you get when you buy the cheapest tickets you can find. Turbulence was quite bad on the way out. They showed a movie, Hidden Figures, on the plane. Great movie, by the way. We arrived in Mexico in 3 hours and 50 minutes. Our passports were checked and we filled out multiple forms, about immigration and such. After lots of check points, we were almost out. Then we were pulled over to podium, to talk to a guy about our travel plans. I didn’t really listen to him, but turns out Dad signed us up for a sales pitch for timeshares. We already own one in Key West, Florida. In return for our time, he would give us a free trip to Chichen Itza and a bottle of tequila. Oh, and breakfast. It was a late night, as Marc and I stayed up late watching Karate Kid with Spanish sub-titles.

Next day we just hung around the pool. I haven’t mentioned Grammy Red yet because she didn’t arrive until the 9th. On Monday we went to the sales pitch Dad signed us up for. If you’ve ever been to one you know what I mean when I say it was BOREING. They were upset when Dad said no. They kept trying again and again to get us to buy a timeshare with them. If we said no to one guy, they would go tell us to talk to someone else. When we told that guy, they moved us on to someone new. Ugh. At least we got that free bus trip. And don’t forget the tequila. 😉

Back at the hotel we hung in the sun, swimming. On Tuesday Grammy arrived. All morning we were anxious for her to get here. She finally did. The rest of the day was spent pool side.  Wednesday we rented a little Sunfish sailboat for the morning. Dad and I went out first, then him and Marcus. Next Grammy went out with Marc. I won’t say it was a disaster, but I don’t think Grammy will be going out with Marcus again. They sailed away from the dock just fine, but then the wind died. After 30 minutes of tacking (for those who don’t know sailing terms, tacking is going in a zig-zag pattern to make it up wind), they weren’t any closer to the dock. Then the man who rented the boat to us, Robert, said he was going to go out and check on them, make sure they were okay. Dad was a little worried, so he said he’d go with and sail the Sunfish in. The rescue boat was called for. I do not think that Robert had much need previously to get the boat out. He rammed it multiple times into the dock. I thought it was going to break.   They motored up to the sunfish. Marcus got in the Rescue boat and Grammy and Dad sailed it in. Everything was just fine, but it was quite funny, seeing Marc in the rescue boat.


By now I think I should mention that lots of people speak English. But then many don’t. Some are nearly impossible to decipher what they are saying. They really do try though. Everyone is really nice, so far at least. Another thing I think I should mention is the money system down here. Mexicans use Pesos. And that means all the prices are in Pesos. When ever we want some thing, we need to mentally covert it to American Dollars. There about 20 Pesos to the American dollar, in case you want to know.

Now, on with the story. Because we had gone to the sales pitch, we got free ticket for a bus trip to Chichen Itza. So far the best thing about our vacation, the trip. It’s going to take a while to explain the excellent trip, so please stick with me here.

Our bus arrived at the hotel at 7:20. Early, but necessary to get to the ruins before 2 o’clock. The trip had many stops, and the first one was at a small village store and for lunch. In a large blue building were local goods made by the local people. We looked around a while, then had a nice Mexican lunch. It may sound weird, but my favorite food there was the pineapple. We ate, then boarded the bus again. For the whole trip we kept the same seats. I sat with Dad, Marc sat with Grammy and Mom sat with the backpack. Next stop, Chichen Itza.

The large yellow bus stopped. “Everyone off. You have 2 and a half hours to explore. Be back on the bus by 3 o’clock.” We unloaded, leaving most of our stuff on the bus. We walked through a large, open air pavilion, then pushed trough turnstiles. They checked our ticket and introduced us to our tour guide. The whole bus was to be on the same tour. We walked through a tunnel of trees, booths filled with Mexican goods lined the path headed towards the center of everything, a tall pyramid shaped structure called El Castillo.
Our tour guide was very good, but he was very into the gory side of the Mayan people. He liked to talk about the human sacrifices they gave to their gods. The Mayans are considered a modern civilization, because the men and women were of equal status. A women could be the ruler of the whole city, as could a man. The Mayans are known for their trapping skills, along with their skill in a Ulama. Ulama is an ancient ball game using a 1/2 to 8 pound ball. Because the ball is so heavy, the only part of the body that you could hit the ball with you hip bone. It’s the only bone that can take the weight. If you hit it with your wrist or ankle it would shatter the bone to a million pieces.

The stadium in which this game was played also has great acoustics.  Popular singers, like Jennifer Lopez and Elton John, have sung in the stadium. The only singer they have refused was 7 month ago, and it was Justin Bieber.
Our tour was soon over, and we had only scratched the surface of the history of the place. Marcus LOVES history, so he soaked everything in like a sponge. As I am writing this, if I have a question about all that I just wrote, I ask him and he knows the answer.

Before this point, I haven’t mention the heat. But it deserves a sentence. It was HOT. Not the dry, oppressive heat in Phoenix, but drippy, sticky, disgusting heat. After being outside for and hour and a half Grammy and I were sick of it. Marcus wanted to explore everything, see all the ruins, understand all the history, so Dad and Mom walked around with him while Grammy and I sat on a rock in the shade and people watched. Soon it was time to head to the cenote. Do you know what a cenote is?
Because the whole flatland is made of limestone, it just soaks up all the water on the ground. If you where to cut open the Yuactan area, it would look like swiss cheese, with holes throughout. Sometimes one near the surface will open up and form a deep water filled hole.

I fell asleep on the 40 minute trip to the cenote. We arrived, payed a dollar to rent a life vest each (they were required) and headed down into the hole. We followed wooden step down to a dock-type structure. I took my shoes off, then climbed a set of steps, to jump into the deep pool below,  about 17 feet. I was to be the first one to jump, as Marcus likes to follow the “Ladies first” rule in these situations. I was a little nervous, if I must tell the truth. But I had good reason to be. I was jumping into 140 foot hole filled with water. The Mayans used to take there human sacrifices, load them up with jewelry (to help them sink) and drop them into the cenotes. Divers have found the bodies and jewelry.
I jumped. My stomach dropped. After a second I hit the water. I bobbed up to the surface and called to Marc, saying it was great. Dad was next, the second tester for Marcus. He hit the water with a huge splash. Marcus’s turn. He kind of just fell of the platform, not totally ready. He thought it was awesome and ended up the one who jumped the most. I only jumped about 6 times. The last time I hit the water weird and decided that I had enough. We stayed down there for around 20 minutes, then changed from our swimsuit into clothes. We boarded the bus for the 2 hour ride back to Cancun, Mexico. Only one stop left.

None of us cam remember the name of the town we stopped in, but we saw a cool old Spanish church and wandered around a Mexican department store. Grandma bought chocolate, and we ate the melty chocolate on the bus. Our trip back was uneventful and we were back at the hotel at about eight o’clock.

We had been gone for around 12 hours. We took quick showers and fell into bed, tired. But we were up early the next morning for another timeshare sales pitch. Spoiler Alert: That sales pitch was much better than the first. I think I have spent enough time talking about our trip. Maybe I’ll go put my swimsuit on now and jump in the pool.
-Cali

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