Sunday, October 24, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

I can´t seem to decide what´s worse, trying to avoid pot holes while driving, or trying to avoid crabs while driving. At night the crabs come out to feed, then scurry back to the ocean to breathe. Unfortunately for the crabs, this requires them to cross roads, which is the equivalent of surviving an air raid in 1940´s London. I try to avoid the crabs, but sometimes I think I´m the only idiot swerving quickly to protect an animal known for cannibalism. Colleen and I have seen signs to try and protect the crabs, don´t eat them, etc, etc. But I think it´s hard for a country to protect a semi-aquatic species when your citizens and tourists are running over them.

We´ve eaten at a few carts along the side of the road. The one thing about this that have to say is whatever Mexico is doing to its beef, the U.S. better adopt pronto. From a mexican cart I´ve had one the best burgers ever. I haven´t had ground beef taste like that in years. It puts every restaurant I´ve been to to shame. Cheaper and more delicious. And no case of the runs. Sometimes you might get that from McDonald´s.

Today we´ve went to Hidden Worlds and took the Ultimate Adventure pack. This included a sky cycle, zip line, snorkeling, rapelling, roller coaster zip line and snorkeling a cenote. All for a fairly reasonable price. We also zip lined into water in the cenote, which was one of the more fun events for me. We went twice, forwards and backwards. It´s hard to describe the feeling of a drop off rushing away from you while zipping down a line and not being able to see where exactly you´ll hit the water. The roller coaster zip line was really awesome, just imagine a regular zip line, that goes up and down through the jungle, down a water slide, into a cenote into cool water. All under the power of gravity. The roller coaster does have a few kinks however. The couple we were with were having a great time, but the guy got stuck in the middle of the roller coaster, twice. He went down the first time and got stuck in the cavern above the water. Our guide told him to push off the roof of the cavern. The second time, his whole handle bar came undone, and he dropped. Fortunately he was on the water slide when this happened, but this slide is about
40 feet above the water, and shallow water at that. Our guide had to go up, climb into the slide, and help him out. Perhaps a weight limit would be advisable.

Colleen has been very demanding. She peeled and cracked a coconut, to get to the milk inside, only to find it was rotten. So she found a more healthy looking coconut and went for a second go at it. It turns out non rotten coconuts are harder to get into. One of the cabana staff came by and saw her working tirelessly on this coconut. He told her it wasn´t right and there would still be no milk inside. She stopped and giggled and thanked him. He then said would go grab some coconuts and open them for us. We told him it wasn´t necessary, but Colleen must have given him some kind of look, because he showed up with two coconuts opened and straws poking out of the top for us to enjoy.

Drinking from a coconut. I thought I could only do that with Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. I miss Looney Tunes.

We watched the full moon rise last night, then the sun rise this morning. Sometimes you´ll see pictures of a full moon next to a sun, or in mid-day. The sheer mechanics of this are mind boggling, as it is impossible. However, I did see a full moon in daylight, but the circumstances must be right. It should be about a day after the true full moon, that way the moon wont set as the sun rises. As the sun rises, you can watch the moon lower in the sky, all the while the sky becomes more blue. After the sun completely rises, the moon should still be above the horizon. You also have to have no clouds, did I mention that? That one is important.

Oh, yeah, we crashed a wedding. I´m glad no one did that to us. We were looking for a party on the beach and we found one, just not the right one. That´s the problem with having a wedding on a public beach, it might get confused with some other celebration, like a moon rising party.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We have no images to give you

Blogger´s image posting is down, but that´s just fine as we probably won´t upload our photos until we get back. We went and saw the ruins at Coba yesterday and I think both of us have seen enough stelae (carved stone slabs usually commemorating some local ruler) for a life time. Ah, but we haven´t even been to Chichen Itza yet. But those stelae are a bit different as the rulers of Chichen Itza were non-Maya mostly. Totally doesn´t count at all, those stone carvings are going to be dastically different. I swear.

We snorkled in the Grand Cenote. Fresh non-salinated water is and pretty much always has been a bit scarce in the Yucatan. Cenotes are collapsed parts of the underground water system (all that limestone has come in handy) that can be really helpful ,say, if you´re building an empire. Usually there are ruins nearby. Cenotes were considered sacred and various things were thrown into them to encourage benevolence from the rain god. Pottery,  precious stones, people (children seemed to be a favorite), etc. Alas, no special items were discovered but the underwater stone columns are breathtaking. You could probably go quite a ways through the whole underwater river system if you were so inclined. It´s all been mapped, so some enterprising person has. Those branching off parts were deep and dark. Matt and I preferred to stay in the brighter fun areas. I guess we don´t have the hearts of cave explorers. Fish nibbled on Matt and we saw a turtle.

Today we went snorkeling by the reef near Tulum ruins. Matt can´t seem to find a mask that fits his high cheekbones. We can´t get a good seal to his face so water comes into his vision quickly. Makes it a bit stressful and not as fun for him. The reef was lovely though. I went back down for another dip without Matt and saw one of those fish that suction to the side of sharks - Remoras. It wanted to sucker on to me, but I was thinking "no", so I wiggled my hands at it like I was going to bite it with my fingers. There he goes after our guide instead. The boat dropped us off right at our hotel´s beach and we got to wade into shore. That was the idea until a big wave come through. Ah, everything is drenched. Camera was safely at home. Matt was still in the boat, he was worried the boat had run me over a bit in the push. All was well, and exciting.

When they dropped us off they pointed out that just off the beach of our hotel was a small cenote, under water. Matt was up for yet another swim so we went out to take a peek. I´ve never seen anything like it. Visibility was terrible up on the top of the water. It was oily and swirly looking. I thought, "maybe it´s just so warm on the surface" because when you dive down, the water is fine. I thought it was strange but then we found the small cracks and 2 ft holes of the cenote. The oily substance isn´t oil, aha it is the cold fresh water gushing up from these underground rivers. There must be a current that is pushing it, and then it roars to the surface and the mixing of the temperatures creates motion and shift and blurs the water. You could see the different waters, it looked like clear smoke coming up from a fire. I took an underwater sip of the cenote. Fresh and delicious. Not salty at all. The fish seemed attracted to the area as well, must be something to eat, or maybe they like the cold? Hmm, doubt it. Since then we´ve dried off and stopped for ice cream. Matt had chocolate and I had rum and almond it turns out. Having a fine time and might be a bit adventuresome with a more local dinner tonight. This might spell gastronomic disaster but nothing ventured, etc.

Monday, October 18, 2010

White Ocean Noise Wave

I´m not sure if I´ve ever been more at peace while falling asleep than here in Tulum, Mexico. Our cabana is so close to the beach you can hear the waves crashing upon the shore all night. I´ve always fallen asleep to white noise, usually a fan, but the ocean waves are by far the best thing one can listen to while falling into a deep sleep.

Our cabana is much smaller than I imagined, though I´m sure that just means it´s cuter than any of the other places we could have stayed at. We are right on the beach which makes swimming fun and convenient. The town of Tulum is about a three minute drive away and while I´m on the subject, driving here is much easier than I imagined. It´s still different than the United States, but it seems the rules are you drive at least 20 kilometers over the speed limit, don´t worry about people on the side of the road, go around them, but go around them as close to them as you possibly can and don´t slow down for speed bumbs until you´ve already passed them.

Our first night here we experienced both the glory, and the depression of arriving in the off season. We ate dinner at a nearby hotel, where we were the only diners, so service was great. However, you could clearly tell there was a mood in the air, that most of the dollars have stopped coming in, the locals who work the area are starting to settle down from the hustle and bustle and there is a more laid back approach to just about everything.

We were exhausted after traveling and were asleep by 9pm. We slept for twelve hours. We agreed to take it easy the first day. Go swimming, grab some pesos from an ATM, go shopping for some sodas, beer, snacks, a cooler and ice to keep it all cold.

One surprise is the place we´re staying at now has 24 hour electricity. The wonders of the twenty first century! They ask us to still conserve as they are completely off the grid from the rest of the area. The electricity comes from a wind turbine on the premises. We´ve seen several of these, so I imagine each place supplies themselves. This is a community that is practically self sustainable. We see truck shipments come in, but that´s about it. They have their own water purifier and I wouldn´t be able to tell if Colleen hadn´t seen it.

The showers are a bit salty, even though every one has drilled into the local aquifer. Which means that too much fresh water has been pulled from the aquifer and the carribean sea is now seeping into it. The salty shower means I never feel clean, but I guess that´s a small price for living on the beach.

Today we´ve seen the Tulum ruins, which was very cool, but not quite the all day event we imagined it would be. I´m not sure what´s ahead, but I´m looking forward to our stay here.