Saturday, October 15, 2005

I'm Back!

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. :)


RedBark said...

Hurray! Stacey is back!

I am glad to hear you are back and ok. It sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for checking in with us right away.

I will be waiting to hear and see more about your trip.

utenzi said...

If you have time, Stacey, I'd love to see pictures of the jewelry you bought.

Regarding the dolphins, I agree 100%. I'd assumed that they were offering guided encounters in the free water--not some prison pool. Our species definitely has some bad karma to work on. I just don't know if we'll be around long enough to make amends.

Rob said...

Welcome back!

Sophia said...

Hi Beard,

I think I most post a picture or two here and there. Either that or I'll just create a new blog full of nothing but vacation pictures.

I haven't decided yet. I do know I took around 400 pictures, several of which didn't turn out so well so I can delete those.

Sophia said...

Hi Utenzi,

That's a great idea. I'll take some pictures of the jewelry and post it on this blog sometime soon. You've got to see this ant to believe it.

It would have been much nicer had the encounters been in free waters. I'll never forget walking by those pens around closing time and seeing those dolphins swim back and forth.

Sophia said...

Thanks, Rob! I had a good time but I'm glad to be back. It was hard leaving Mexico at first, but I really needed time with my pets.

Change said...

Welcome back. I've missed you.

I myself just got back from a lengthy trip, boring, not like yours.

Good to see that you didn't swim with the dolphins (I happen to know a lot about these friends) and that you enjoyed your holiday.

Later I will post a few comments about Mexico, the Mayas and their gods (for good and bad). I love the country after many stays.

Sophia said...

Hi Change,

I missed you, too!

Where did you go on your trip? Was it business-related? You said it was boring so I'm assuming it was.

I had to keep myself from crying about the dolphins. They weren't the only things I saw caged. On the way to a back-road cenote, I saw a monkey roped to a tree. I was so tempted to go there in the middle of the night and cut it loose. Its rope was short in length. It couldn't move very much.

I'd love to read what you have to say about the Mayans. It would be nice reading it from you because sometimes I had a difficult time following the guides because I couldn't understand their English. The first guide at Tulum was named Mosiah. (I made the mistake of calling him Messiah!) His name was supposed to be pronounced "Moe-see-ya". His father was Mayan and spoke only the Mayan language. The other guide at Coba was Mayan and therefore spoke Mayan. His English was even more difficult to follow.

I learned of some differences between the Aztecs and the Mayans: when they play their ball game in court, the Aztec winner gets decapitated while the Mayans didn't do such a thing. Also, the Aztecs would perform human sacrifices while the Mayans sacrificed foods and animals to their gods.

How many times have you been to Mexico? I'll definitely be going back.

Castor said...

Hoi Stacey,
My brother lived and studied in Mexico for a couple of years.
But he didn't have time to tell me all about it. Later he studied in the Netherlands, stayed in Paris for awhile but didn't tell me anything.
Now finally I might have the chance to know a little about
I had two years of required college Spanish, but didn't have much chance to practice even when I went to Spain for vacation sometime ago. There is something about the country that made me really homesick. The sunny beaches, the "poblacion", and "la ciudad de Barcelona" gave me a lot of nostalgia.
Welkom terug! Mooi!

Gretchen Coleman said...

Hi Stacey - I am so glad you didn't swim with the dolphins. I lived in Seattle for a number of years and grew to despise zoos and aquariums. I was involved with a group - Orca Alliance - that advocated release of captive whales. Anyway - glad you didn't do that.

I have been to Tulum and found it fascinating. I've also been to Chichen Itza - if you get a chance to go there it was more interesting (to me) than Tulum.

I am really drawn to the Central and South American "Indians". If you have read some of my older posts you understand about the Incas. But I am actually more drawn to the Mayans. I found out in Peru that they are discovering Mayan artifacts at some of the Inca sites. Very interesting...

Sophia said...

Hi Castor,

I'd be happy to share anything you'd like to know about my trip to Mexico. I hope to soon get some pictures up. You can look at them if you like whenever I get them set-up. (I must warn you, though, I'm a terrible procrastinator!)

By the way, what does "Welkom terug! Mooi!" mean? I think it means something like "Welcome home" or "welcome back", but I'm not sure. What language is it?

Sophia said...

Hi Gretchen,

I do wish there was a place where I could have swum with them in the ocean... a place where they could be free yet come and see their visitors, but I hadn't time to look for other spots. It was only the one park. But yes, I'm definitely positive that I made a good decision regarding the dolphins.

I sometimes have inner-conflicts about visiting zoos. I do dislike that the animals are caged and away from their natural habitat, but sometimes I do still visit them, though not often. Yes, I do feel guilty about it. After all, I wouldn't like it so much if I was kept in a cage.

There is still so much more I want to see in Mexico. Chichen Itza is on that list!

OK, I have to admit something. Disney World used to be my favorite vacation spot, but now I think Mexico is the winner. :)