November 21, 2012
On February the 6th Andrei was 50 years young. We had to celebrate! The first part of celebration was “Swimming with the dolphins”, and that was super! They sell tickets to the attraction everywhere. There are three levels or sorts of packages. We picked the most inexpensive, it was around $100 US per person. We went to the delphinarium, with a taxi about 10 min drive, at about 9 am. The activities there start at 10 am. but before that we had a wonderful chance to stay in the beautifully built grounds by ourselves, observing the trainers feed and doctor the dolphins in special parts of the whole big fenced area from the sea. They also swam loops with the dolphins at their sides as if competing or keeping company. They are the smartest creatures from the animal world I ever observed. And they seemed to be the most loyal. I never noticed a dolphin not fulfilling the orders…It was very touching:
The dolphins were having fun before their very tense work day. They were jumping in coordinated manner in twos or threes, quite a spectacle:
Then at 10 am the boats from Cancun started coming and crowds of tourists occupied the area. No more peace and quiet/ Everyone was lined up into groups, depending on the ticked they bought (the most expensive tickets were $150 US). We got instructions, left pour clothes in the safe boxes and lined up for our attractions in groups of 12. WE were taken to certain areas on the bridge and then went down onto a lower bridge in the water up to waste. Each group had a dolphin trying to please us…poor guy…At first he had to greet us, then one by one we would step up to the front of your bridge and he would come and kiss with you or reach your hands or lay in your arms like a baby:
The nicest two tricks were when we had to swim further from the bridge and wait with a special sign making with our hands for the dolphin to come and pick us from the bottom. The first time he pushed my heel and I was swimming like a rocket. And the second time he came from under me on his back, with his belly fins in front of me- I grabbed them and he pulled, it was fantastic! Those amazing dolphins, how can people be cruel to them…it breaks my heart.
So the program lasted around an hour during which my teethe were shaking, so cold to stand in that water without moving much. After that – whatever you want to do. they feed you buffet lunch, then you can lay in hammocks, swim in their little pools and play in the fountains, or go and watch the sharks in a special tank, or snorkel in a cage with manta rays.
There were also a manatee and a sea lion – you could get an individual encounter with them for a special price.
What I did was watch others have fun with dolphins and watch the sea and birds, so that the day went by very fast. It is hard to understand how those cute pelicans balance on the wire fence with their water shoes…
Here is a man who bought the mos expensive package – their group had 2 dolphins and he is pushed by both on each of his soles.
After the wonderful encounter with nature and a little sad that poor dolphins have to work so hard for their fish, we walked some 2 km to a place which Leo and Susan ( also from Zion ) rented, on the beach. They had a table set right on sand and Susan had a dinner cooked, it was a good celebration of Andrei’s Birthday!
The next morning I went for a walk with Nancy and Craig to the other end of the island – 7km – to the very tip of it. On the way there were beautiful, creative villas, this one resembling a shell:
there was a peculiar cemetery:
at the very tip of the island there is a sculpture park:
and the very very tip looks like this, as if two seas meeting:
with Nancy and Craig having fun:
We returned home by bus – were lucky to nice on on our way. there are some buses there, but nobody knows their schedule because there is none .
The trip back was easy, so much easier than going and coming form Thailand…So this is my big suggestion – go to Yucatan! people are friendly, mellow, the food is great the hotels, motels and hostels are clean, the sights are beautiful and interesting, what else can one wish?
After returning the car in the center of Cancun we were taken by the car rental guy to the ferry pier where we took a 40 min boat ride to Isla Mujeres – the Island of Women which is seen from the coast of Cancun. It was a small enough and big enough island to spend the last 6 days Mexico and rest. It is 7.5 km long and maybe some 2km wide. Lots of Americans have their villas there, but there are also two towns and many Mexicans living there. They say that in comparison with the whole country their life standards are higher. We landed in the bigger town, I don’t even know the name . And walked through its cute little streets towards the sea to the hostel Poc-Na that we made a reservation and that I have mentioned in an earlier blog, it is owned by Argentinians. Interesting that we met Argentinian youths on every step. They work in maybe all offices and travel agencies in the town. Summer jobs. In our winter it is summer in Argentine.The good part about the hostel was that it was close to the sea, they had breakfast and also you could order dinner, cooked very well. The sitting area or dining area were always full of people fro all over the world so it was nice to hear about their lives. You could order any alcohol there, they had a bar and didn’t let anyone to bring alcohol to the hostel. In other words- it was their business. They also had music groups performing over there every evening. Some of them were really good. They had different classes every evening- macrame, Spanish language. etc. But the bad thing was the noise at night…They had very loud music till 2 am, seems it was enforced by the owners with the idea that guests will stay up and drink more alcohol…That is the main thing we are never going to stay there again. But this time it was convenient- our friends from Zion Nancy and Craig lived there for 3 months, so we spent some time together, went on to hikes, or just wandered in town and by the sea.
The room wasn’t very small, very light- windows on both sides, but nothing special Just how they make towels into swans .
This big yard or park on the sea shore or whatever it can be called – belonged to the hostel, to Andrei could stay in the hammock and work, as usual he does.
The building near by is without windows as well as some other son this stretch. Hurricane’s job…also – the sea was so close but it was not recommended to swim there. it is the open sea, therefore the waves are big and strong and many people have drowned there. So I had to go to swim on the other side of the island – the west side -where the waters are calm for the island is like a barrier from the open sea. Here is my Canadian acquaintance who is a very big traveler of the world:
The little doggie was everyone’s favorite, not hers, somebody’s. A real Chihuahua in Mexico! (it is a Mexican breed).
Here is another building near by, which used to be a hotel before the recent hurricane:
There was this Belgian guy at Poc -Na who had a talent to paint such a big painting from a picture in 2 hours! He got permission form the hotel owner and painted and painted because he cannot not paint . Here is him painting a wall at our hostel:
What a gifted guy!
The name of the boat was Heyerdahl – I guess it was traveling around the world. And as usual – I like cemeteries…This one is almost at the tip of the island surrounded with big fancy hotels:
And of course – iguanas are there, too.
Even on the walls of certain buildings that they like:
Behind those romantic curtains they do a massage.
This is what we most often ate! The fish was tasty. Especially the cheeks as our friend Leo suggested .
What concerns snorkeling – we tried to snorkel on our end of the island in a lagoon, very few fish. the waves too big, no fun. then we went to the other side of the island and snorkeled there closer to the other end of the island , we even tried a “park” – where you pay the ticket and a wild area, no ticket . the wild area was better. there by the legs of a bridge we even saw a lion fish which we later found out to be very poisonous. Thanks God we didn’t touch it. The inner sea there is very beautiful:
November 18, 2012
From Koba we drove to Tulum, there is a direct road. Had a reservation at El Jardin de Frida Hostel.Actually it was called bed & Tacos. We didn’t see any tacos there, but there was breakfast included and a little strange one/ In the morning we found a kitchen with lots of dirty dishes – self serve …, and a lot of different veggies, fruits, eggs, all the product you may imagine that can be used to cook breakfast. And people were cooking, in full speed! Doing different fancy twists and turns on their pans. Single German men were especially particular what they were cooking and French ladies were more into making just juice, fruit salad and yogurt. But they set their table nicely. And of course – while cooking breakfast or eating – everyone is exchanging ideas what to see, what to do here, how to get from there to there. It is very convenient to stay in hostels in case you are not driving but using public transportation – you can get all the info about it and also companions for the trip. But we still had the car.
Our room was really big:
The hostel was owned by Mexicans. Which needs to be mentioned. because many of them are owned by foreigners. Like the hostel on Isla Mujeres is owned by Argentinians and therefore the order of things is a little different and and all the employees except janitors were Argentinians/ So here- Mexicans and I would say – a very good hostel! Rooms had two balconies each. This view was towards the yard:
This “Mushroom” house was seen from the other balcony:
And here are some room names on the doors:
And as it usually is – the hostel had a yard with different sculptures in it:
This time I already felt tired of pyramids and decided to skip the so called – picture perfect Tulum Pyramid, left it for the next visit. Just ate in the praised Fish restaurant across the street from the hostel, and drove to dip into one more cenote. This time cenotes here were outside. I man not bellow the surfaces, but like lakes – little openings in this white Yucatan limestone:
This one was called Casa cenote. We found out about it from the guy in hostel, there is so many of them to choose around…A really good place for people who prefer cenotes versus swimming in the open sea – like me! . The water in cenote sis so pleasant, the right temperature, very clear and blue and some people even dive there and look at their interesting floors and shapes, maybe some fish. Here is the alternative:
Winds, waves, what is attractive about that? And Andrei was tired of everything, so while I was swimming in the cenote. he was observing a family of racoons which surrounded him there while sitting on the bench and reading his i-pad:
So that was that, we checked some towns closer to the beach, saw how many villas are for sale…and how dangerous it is to have a villa there (hurricanes). The next day after breakfast I still had an hour to try two more cenotes. I have to tell that cenotes are not free. Each has facilities, some taken care of paths, definitely a rope or two stretched along them, I guess for making some water acrobatics or at least stopping for a rest. Here is a path to another cenote close by:
This is the last cenote I visited. They were peculiar in the sense that both were located on different sides of the highway…hard to cross, better to drive from one to the other, and they both belonged to the same ticket office .
So transparent… so clean…I wish we had more time here. I would suggest to stay at least 2 night sin Tulum – there is much to investigate. But we were heading towards Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
November 15, 2012
A good thing about Yucatan peninsula, maybe the best thing is that there are so many cenotes. So first thing in the morning we did what – ran to Zaci cenote that we already knew from last time – it is in the middle of Valladolid – engulfed into its super pleasant waters, refreshed and re energized ourselves and then drove towards Koba. Though the feeling was – isn’t it too many pyramids in a week? But I was eager to climb the tallest pyramid there, which I heard was still permitted. On the way the girls were walking to school:
We saw some ruins:
and some mansions with rabits:
It took us only 45 min to reach Koba. Andrei gave up, he already saw too many pyramids. But I didn’t , so went to see Koba alone:
Koba is in a jungle forest, unlike many others are in the open. It was a big Mayan city wit lots of structures, a very few of them are restored or preserved:
They would make sheds on remaining sculptures or reliefs. There is some rain there and plenty of humidity, so pyramids are dark form moss. And here is how Mayas built their arches and tunnels:
The paths there are straight and white. I heard guides telling that they made them white on purpose, for the climate is so hot and humid, poor pyramid builders could work only at night. So they would see better while walking on white paths. But i also noticed that there is almost no soil in those areas, mostly while little stones and rocks. So how could they make the roads that would not be white…
The distances between structures or pyramids are long. maybe it takes 20 min, to half hour to an hour to walk from one to another. Some rent bikes. Some enjoy walking. As every Maya city,. this one also had a stadium, a smaller one.but with prominent rings for their ball game , the prototype of football, where they pushed a ball into the ring with their shoulders, as if…
Some more pyramids on the way to my goal:
And here is the tallest one and the one which is permitted to climb!
As you can see -there was a thick rope where people could hold on. Very good! it was scary climb it though from the bottom it doesn’t seem steep:
Flat jungle underneath, very few other pyramids seen around. And here the the temple on the top of it:
And then going down:
From Oxkutzcab we drove more than half of the day, with stops, until we reached Valladolid. There were those 2 cenotes -one across the road from the other, but their ticket offices are side by side – you have to be careful which window you are buying from – you may end up buying to the wrong cenote. I mean – the one you have already seen/ So we caught this catch in time and went to see the cenote Samui:
This cenote had no stalactites as Dzitnup, but had the roots of a tree extending all the way to the water and a bigger hole into the air. But I prefer Dzitnup. Here we had to descend down the stairs quite some flights, and as the water was the same – clear, pleasant and blue, the ambiance in Dzitnup is much better. Couple more of Samui:
That night we stayed in Valladolid in the same La Aurora hotel that we liked from last time:
And walked around the city till late at night. It is a very pleasant city, colonial streets, a big cathedral, a big Franciscan Monastery, lots of nice restaurants and shops. One of them is established in maybe a previous monastery:
and has its own outdoor chapel that is seen at the end of this passage way.
St. Mary is dressed in Maya clothes and the altar is made from little tiles and not little ceramic vases. A mango tree growing in the yard:
a Day of the Dead character greeting and offering you some vodka everyone at the souvenir store:
I even visited a small chocolate factory where they tell you stories of how chocolate was discovered and introduced to human usage. It used to be an energy drink for Maya kings, took a while until general population could get enough of it. The guide in that little museum was very informative and spoke good English, she told me how patriotic she was about her country and how good it was to live there, their social medical system and support for those who have no jobs. I wonder- why is the Right wing of US blaming Europe for its socialism, Mexico is so much closer and easier to be blamed .
The English speaking guide is in orange. the Spanish speaking guide is in Maya dress, both very beautiful girls, but both from different Indian tribes. The guide even explained how their face bone structure differs, so it would be easy for me to distinguish Maya and Acteks in the future … . I ended up buying their handmade chocolate.Sorry girls, i forgot your names…