skulls at chichen itza
food, travel

SO not Xibalba

Cenote Ikil

Swimming with the black catfish

I find myself very disappointed that the first few things that come to mind about my trip are the technological frustrations related to it. But I’ve just finished editing (how did the camera get set to tungsten white balance, ever? So many photos to remove mega-blue from!) and uploading my photos, and I’ve already gone online to confirm that the nice international AT&T accounts rep did in fact reduce my data roaming fees from over $1000 to around $75. So, it’s likely that my happy sunshine memories will usurp my new-century learning experiences, very soon. The margarita I have just made, for myself, is helping.


    • The Ikil Cenote. We went swimming in a huge natural sinkhole, 2/3 of the way through an exhausting but excellent excursion to Chichen Itza. This was the highlight of the trip for me. And, it fulfilled a lifetime dream for Steve. After several hours of taxi, ferry, and van-riding, as well as a 2-hour interpretive tour of of the ruins, and just before lunch, we paid a short visit to the cenote. After showering off all our sunscreens, malaria defense, and other fresh-water poisons, we walked down a long limestone staircase, to the water’s edge, and jumped in. The water was refreshingly cool and dark blue, full of black koi-like catfish, and other bathers like ourselves. Seemingly bottomless. What delicious fun. How ridiculously human it felt, to splash around in it. People have done this for centuries.


      Gobble Gobble

    • Snorkeling along the western Cozumel coast. We did two trips, one via catamaran, and one via tiny glass-bottom boat. Unlike most prior snorkeling trips, it took very little time to get to the areas where there was stuff to see. In fact, it barely seemed necessary to even ride a boat to them. Which is unfortunate, as I love riding boats, especially sail boats. And it made for very rushed preparation to jump in. Still, we were able to see and swim among some beautiful creatures of yellow, blue green, orange, and other colors, a large sea turtle, and at least 10 small jellyfish (that’s how many light stings I felt, anyway). The few of those transparent bullies that I spotted were very elegant; one looked more like a silken ribbon of kelp. Another looked like a small, squishy “Pom” juice bottle! A late addendum, which I have to mention as it was so highly entertaining: we shared the glass-bottom boat and snorkeling guide with a group of people from Mallorca. They were having a great time – talking and laughing constantly, even when using snorkels. Fascinating talent and energy, there!
    • Our whole Chichen Itza trip was great; Guillermo gave a very informative lesson on Mayan culture and mythology (including brief explanations or demonstrations of the Mayan ball game, Chichen Itza’s impressive acoustics, and Xibalba). The near-constant barrage of souvenir vendors over the whole day was a little overwhelming, but, well, they were polite, and I can’t blame them for trying. We only caved when the van stopped earlier at a huge handicrafts emporium: we had a drawing made, showing the Mayan calendar representation of our wedding date, and I found a silver ring with a lovely ocean wave pattern. The only detractor from the day was that lunch wasn’t until around 3:30. It seems I had something to learn about meal times, why siesta is from 5-8pm or so, and the need to bring along snacks.
    • We rented a car and drove around Cozumel island, on our first day. The outer eastern coast was very rugged and beautiful. Our lunch at the recommended Coconuts Bar & Grill was fun: the bar sits atop a cliff and for years, visitors have stapled t-shirts, business cards and other identifications all over the place, and there were a few friendly pets around – a few colorful tropical birds, a dog, and a very fat tabby. The shrimp fajitas and margaritas (the best of the whole trip!) were very tasty. With all of the above, plus a mix of 80’s pop and reggae music piped in, the place felt like it was the model for Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville.”
    • Some enjoyable time, relaxing and exploring with my husband and his parents. I was thankful that Bill speaks some Spanish, and I’ve resolved to learn to speak some of it, before we return to Mexico. We enjoyed many delicious meals and hours near the beach, together.

Wild Side Rocks

  • Great hospitality of the staff at the El Cid La Ceiba resort. The food, smiles, and care of the staff were top notch. I indulged in a massage on our last day, one that included a hot-stones style of therapy, as well as some reflexology: Lulu the masseuse was fantastic.
  • By the last day or two,  I’d even grown fond of the cruise ships that arrived and departed every day, and filled most of the view of our room’s porch. It was oddly fun to watch hordes of happy vacationers pour out of, and back into, those ships, each morning and evening. I still don’t think I’ll ever find that mode of vacationing appealing, but like my visit to the cenote, the sense of we’re all in this weird earth life together was oddly comforting and uniting. There’s my little bit of yoga, for the trip (though I did manage to do some asana and pranayama practice, on two days, in the quietude of our hotel room).
  • My takeaways from this trip include a) learn to speak Spanish. My neighborhood is full of it, and I definitely would like to go back to Mexico for another visit. b) start planning our next vacation. c) get the darn basement finished so that I can place vacationing higher in my ranking of Important Things in life. d) continue to appreciate the fact that I have so many people in my life with whom I enjoy spending free time. e) have people over to visit, for meals, more often. Cooking for others, and supping together, is a wonderful thing, which carries a similar, sometimes even higher rank, to vacationing (all this “rank” talk originates from the 90+ minute El Cid timeshare sales presentation that we experienced on Day 3).

The rest of my photos, as well as some additional commentary, are available here. Enjoy!