Hi everyone! I'm back from my adventure to the Yucatan. I had the time of my life. In fact, it was the best vacation I've ever had. There is so much I want to say about it right now that I doubt I'll get it all in one post, so I'll probably add more later.
My favorite part about the trip was the snorkeling. I saw lots of marine habitat in the ocean and in several cenotes. Cenotes are popular in the Yucatan region. The water in the ocean there is very warm and easy to walk right into, however, the water in the cenotes is very cold! I had to take my time and tip-toe gently into the water. The best part was when we went to a cave called "Dos Ojos" - Two Eyes - and snorkeled through hidden tunnels. Our personal guide had a 1200 watts light and we were able to see beautiful cave formations deep in the clear cool water. In the ocean and lagoons we went to, we saw colorful fish, unlike anything I've seen in the Louisville, KY area.
The Mexicans there were very friendly and surprisingly almost every one of them spoke some English. There were a few that didn't, and I had a chance to practice my Spanish with them. A few times I got a good laugh out of some of them as they could probably tell my Spanish wasn't perfect. In the end, we were still able to communicate.
We went to two different sites of ruins: the ruins in Tulum and the ruins in Coba. It was a beautiful sunny day when we went to Tulum, so I was able to get some great pictures. However, the day we went to Coba we didn't fare so well. It rained so hard it was practically a monsoon! The funny thing is, Coba means "waters stirred by the wind". As soon as we got to that site, it started pouring. It poured the whole time we were there. As we were walking out the gates of the park, the rain stopped.
I saw some things I'll never forget: a poor young Mexican girl reaching her hand out to our car asking for money, a Mexican worker on the side of the road cutting weeds with a machete, huts made out of palm tree leaves, rugged roads through the jungle... Everytime I went to a shopping village the vendors would run up to me and try very hard to get any money out of me that they could. I learned how to bargain with them. Of course they always wanted more money than things were worth, so I'd offer a lower price and they'd come back with something halfway between my price and theirs, and we'd continue until either I bought or walked away, and usually when I walked away they'd run back up to me and say, "OK, you can have at this price." To tell you the truth, it was kind of sad. I wish I could give them more money, for they are more poor than I am, but I am not rich either.
I know I said I would swim with the dolphins, and that that was one of the activities that I was most interested in pursuing. However, when I entered the park that I was going to swim with them in - "Xel-ha" - and saw how small of a water-pen they were kept in, my heart broke at their loss of freedom and I couldn't pay the $115 to support caging an animal in this way. I didn't really think about this before going down there, I guess it just took seeing it to spark the negative emotions.
Yes, I did give in to my desire for material things. I wanted to bring some items home with me from Mexico, so I bought a few souvenirs, all of which were handmade in Mexico. I did find my Mexican skeleton, handcrafted beautifully out of cedar wood. I also bought a Mexican opal charm laid in silver, and the most interesting of all my souvenirs - a sterling silver ring with an amber stone. Inside the amber is a perfectly preserved carpenter ant. I wonder how old it is. There also appears to be a tiny gnat. I spoke with the jeweler about his handicraft and he really seems to enjoy it. He had the most interested jewelry of all the shops I had been to. Sterling silver shops are found all over Mexico.
Another thing worth mentioning is that I really enjoyed learning about the Mayans. Maybe later I'll talk a little more about the ruins I went to and the various gods they worshipped. I will say that they were astronomy wizards and built their architecture according to the stars and directions.
Well, that's all for now. It is 1:15am my time and I am very tired from all the traveling. I will do my unpacking tomorrow. I just had to get on here and say hello to everyone and give you an intro to what happened while I was in Mexico.
Oh, and I definitely missed you guys! One of the first things I did upon my return home was to get on this computer and post this. :)