Category Archives: Mexico

Chichen Itza

The ruins of Chichen Itza sit in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula. A three hour bus ride from Tulum. We arrived at the bus station around 9:55am for our 10:00am bus. Like most things in Central America it was not on time. We waited around for the bus to arrive and it finally did. We climbed aboard and made ourselves comfortable for the long  and bumpy ride. Benji brushed up on his mayan culture via Kindle, Emma read Game of Thrones, and I watched House of Cards season two.

Three and half hours later the bus came to a halt and its passengers emptied out like chickens running from a fox. Everyone eager to see this newly acclaimed wonder of the world. We found ourselves at an empty terrace (that I guess at some point during the day is a restaurant) and emptied out our PB&J onto the table. Lunch was finished and it was time to see this massive temple.

Upon entering the site you walk down a gravel road lined with vendors on either side. Tables overflowing with small silver trinkets and carvings of wooden masks forming their own forest. There are a few phrases the vendors know in english “Silver one dollar!”, “Very cheap very cheap!”, “Good price one dollar!”, “You buy!”.  It is endearing at first but that fades rather quickly. As the trees break the road comes to an end and opens into a massive field. In the center El Castillo looms overhead. Staring up at this massive  structure I feel as if I am merely an ant. It’s hard to wrap my head around how the ancient civilization built such a monstrosity.

Just past the great temple lies the “Thousand Columns”. I am not sure if there are quite a thousand or not but there are more than I could count. Walking through the first of the columns and out into another courtyard I am surrounded by more stone structures rising from the earth. I am amazed at how extravagant the city must have been. Upon closer inspection I can see the hieroglyphs that have been forever etched into the walls.

We wander through the forest and end up back in the center by the great temple. The ball field is on the opposite side of the pillars and is massive as well. Standing in the middle of the “arena” I picture mayans on top hooping and hollering for the players below. Exiting the ball field we cross by the temple and head back into the woods. Another gravel walkway lined with more opportunity to purchase trinkets. Surviving the road with all of our money we are spit out next to the observatory. It quite literally looks like a modern day observatory. I was astonished at the similarity. Passing the observatory I realize just how huge the entire grounds of Chichen Izta really are. We have been wandering about for nearly 3 hours now and still haven’t made it to the Sacred Cenote on the other side. We decide to pick up the pace and make our way over.

Standing on the edge and looking down on this massive hole in the ground with a diameter of two hundred feet, the Sacred Cenote has an eerie feeling. This was not used for drinking water as one would think but for offerings to the gods. People were sacrificed here in order to bring rain, healthy crops, or anything else the Mayan people needed. Leaving the cenote we shuffle back down yet another gravel pathway filled with “ancient artifacts” for sale. Surviving the road we are back at the main temple and have managed to see the entire site.

Chichen Itza was well worth our nearly seven hour bus journey. Breathtaking, inspiring, and mysterious are the three words I would use to describe the ancient site. I have to agree it is a must for those traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula. Seeing Chichen Itza gave me an understanding of the Mayan Peoples true capabilities.

 

Fly By El Castillo Thousand Pillars The Observatory

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Tulum Ruins

Tulum, Mexico sits roughly 7 kilometers from the beach and in order to visit the ruins you either need to hop in a collectivo or take a cab. We opted for the collectivo. We were dropped off on the main road and it was about a fifteen minute walk to the entrance. This seven hundred year old city is believed to have been used as a port for trading jade and turquoise. There is a wall surrounding the three land bearing sides and a cliff seaside to provide protection from invaders.

The Mayan Ruins of Tulum are situated atop jaw dropping cliffs gazing out over the turquoise waters of the caribbean. The mayan name of Tulum was Zama, meaning “place of the dawning sun”. I can only imagine the people of Zama waking each morning as the sea gave birth to a new sun. This is home to the most breathtaking views of any mayan archeological site. It is no wonder why the name Zama was bestowed upon this bustling trading post.

A small doorway in the outer wall is the entrance to this mysterious city. As I take my last step through the passageway and out into the courtyard I am stunned by the pristine grass and what seem to be perfectly preserved ruins. Taking a left I wind upwards towards the edge of the cliff. Standing on top of the cliff I am able to look back down on the city. I can’t help but imagine it bright and colorful, full of people shouting like a modern-day market. Below me on the beach are a hundred tourist sun tanning and soaking up the salty water of the caribbean.

Moving back down away from the cliffs edge it seems to grow more peaceful. A path curves through the brush like a snake and I follow it willingly. As I look to my left there is suddenly a beach. A break in the cliffs provided the perfect landing spot for the century old ships. I can see the days catch and the new product from other trading post being unloaded as people stumble in the sand. I continue on and am overtaken by a smell that can only be attributed to a beautiful flower. I take a deep breath and inhale the soft aroma of the Frangipani. Aww… yes, this is the life. I close my eyes and relish in the moment. A historical site with great friends and the perfect aroma to match. A fantastic day indeed.

 

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Ancient Cenotes

The Cenotes in Mexico are world-famous. These fresh water caves have been around for thousands of years. It is estimated that there are over thirty thousand cenotes or entrances to these underground waterways. The Mayan people would use the cenotes as sacrificial sites. Some believe that because the cenotes are so interconnected that the decay of bodies in the water could have led to the demise of the ancient civilization.

We went back to Scuba Tulum, the scuba shop we had dropped our bags off at when we arrived in Tulum. We scheduled two dives with them. After a forty-five minute ride in an old Toyota forerunner we arrived at our first dive site The Pit. The Pit is quite literally a hole in the ground filled with water. First we all put on our dive equipment in the parking lot. Everything but our fins of course. Then we made our way down to the water’s edge. This is no easy task. In order to get to the edge we have to carefully make our way down a forty-foot staircase made of wood while carrying our tanks on our back. It was a little nerve-racking. Whew, I made it to the bottom, entered the water and was now ready to descend. The bottom of The Pit lies almost four hundred feet below me and I couldn’t be more excited. As I descend into the depths my heart is racing. It’s my first freshwater dive and also my first cenote. We descended to the max depth of one hundred and thirty feet had a look at some “bones” and then started our ascent. It was a slow ascent. We did a circle around the pit until surfacing by the wooden ladder to climb out. After climbing out of the water we started our next ascent up the water-soaked wooden stairs to the parking lot.

Next we dove the bat cave. The bat cave is route in Dos Ojos one of the cenotes around Tulum. We started the same spot as the snorkelers however we descended underwater and continued farther back into the cave. The water is not all that deep maybe 20 feet but it is cold! There are no fish in these caves but the formations are unbelievable. Massive limestone formations and ten foot long stalactites and stalagmites. We rounded corner after corner until the guide told us to ascend. We ascended and found ourselves in the “bat cave”. It is part of the cenote you can surface in and feels quite literally like you’re in Batman’s bat cave. We finished our dive where we had begun and climbed out of the icy bath. Once on dry land we made our way back to the vehicles, stripped off our wetsuits, and basked in the sun. It was a perfect day of diving and it was all over by one o’clock in the afternoon.

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Playa Del Carmen

Now that I had fulfilled my desire for some Cheese in my life I headed north back to Playa Del Carmen. Emma was flying in from Sweden to meet Benji and I. She is traveling with us. Benji and I waited around Playa Del Carmen for three days. I am not a big fan of that city. Tourism to the max. Massive hotels on every corner Gucci and Rolex stores lining the main avenue. Read the rest of this entry

International Incident

Good bye OKC. I was starting to freeze to death in tornado alley. Time had come to head south for some live music. I landed in Cancun, Mexico walked off the bridge-way and out into baggage claim. Benji was waiting for me leaned up against a pole reading a book. We said our hellos and had our manly embrace as we waited for my bags to come around the carousel. Once through immigration we hopped on a bus to Playa Del Carmen found a hostel ( http://www.Hostel3b.com ) and locked up our bags. We hung around Playa for a few days then headed south to the Hard Rock Hotel in Puerto Aventuras. An all-inclusive hotel with 10 restaurants pools everywhere and countless waiters perusing around offering you drinks. Cheese played 3 nights and killed it all three. It was a good run. I enjoyed the shows but surprisingly not as much as I enjoyed Hulaween in Live Oak, Florida. Although the set up in Mexico was pretty unbelievable. The ocean was the back drop for the stage. The dance floor was surrounded on either side by four fully stocked bars with two bartenders each and a buffet of; chicken wings, chips, guacamole, salsa, tacos and of course queso was in the middle. As The String Cheese Incident poured there love on us Hard Rock employees squeezed through the crowd balancing trays of margaritas, beers, and tequila shots. It was wild. All “free” of course. People were spilling drinks left and right. After every spill you would hear “I’ll buy the next one” followed by an encore of laughter.

The crowd was out in full force hula hoops, funky attire, pins galore, and of course glow sticks. I was amazed at how many people were able to bring all of their “show” gear. Every night got weirder and weirder. The venue seemed to shrink day by day. Every night I felt as if it were half the size as the night before. The venue wasn’t shrinking I was just recognizing more and more faces. The crowd was becoming more intimate note by note.

Staying sober was a different experience all together. I still enjoyed myself just on a different platform than everyone else. Not a better platform just a different one. I wasn’t running around like a mad man collecting every glow stick in sight, nor was I hovered around the bar taking multiple shots of tequila. Instead I was taking in the music and watching the madness ensue. I felt tranquil. I was content; watching the dance party, listening to Billy’s voice, hearing Kang pull the bow across the violin, Travis and Hann banging out percussion perfectly in sync, Keith looking chill as ever on the base, and Kyle cheesing from ear to ear as he rips apart the keyboard.

The weekend came to a close just as quickly as it had begun. All the fans checking out and catching cabs to the airport. This was their vacation. This was their break from home. Now that the show was over they were boarding planes and headed back stateside. I however was on a much longer journey. An open-ended exploration. All my belongings placed carefully into my duffel surrounded by freshly washed laundry. I brought one backpack and an eighty liter duffel bag. Now into the abyss I go.

 

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Room with a hammock

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