Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cancun Adventures

Our week in Cancun with the Theissens went so quickly! What a beautiful spot - even with windy, cloudy "winter" weather, we were able to get a little bit of color. Between a tour booked through the resort and the public transportation system we were able to get around the area and enjoy the local culture, food and shopping.
On Tuesday, we traveled south of Playa Del Carmen to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. Tulum was a walled city on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean. It was an active trade center from about 1200 AD to the early 1500's. The people of this area were obsessed with astronomy and calendars. The main building, El Castillo, was built with a small window that directed the suns rays into the Temple of the Frescos on the days of the solstice and equinox. The rays then illuminate beautiful fresco art on the walls. The Mayan civilization is noted for the only known, fully developed, written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its art, architecture and mathematical and astronomical systems. The city was abandoned when the European explorers brought new diseases into the indigenous people. It wasn't discovered again until the mid-1800's, when it had been overgrown by jungle. Most of the artifacts are in museums in England and France. At the end of our visit to the ruins, we walked along the wall and found lots of 2 to 2 1/2 foot iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks.
After Tulum, the bus took us a few kilometers north to Xel-Ha' - a huge water park on a lagoon. The park centers around a big salt water lagoon. There are 3 or 4 restaurants and a few more bars and snack shops. Your entrance fee includes all you can eat or drink at the restaurants, snorkeling, hiking and a large hammock area for resting! We spent most of our time snorkeling - it was Diane's first experience and she did great! We saw lots of fish - striped fish, yellow fish, blue fish, big fish, little fish! Jeanie & Joel loaned us an waterproof camera so we can share a few pictures.
We took advantage of our time in Mexico to sample lots of local food and restaurants as well. In addition to great margaritas and cervesas just about everywhere we went, three restaurants really stood out - the Captain's Cove, where an alligator named "Willy" cruises the side of the dining deck and gets fed by the waiters - rib bones, fish leftovers and more! Willy is about 7 feet long - and he eats really fast!!!
Another evening we went with Rick's brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Marlene, to Locanda Paolo, an Italian restaurant in downtown Cancun. We had everything from shrimp and conch to fresh clams and linguine, calamari and fresh Italian sausage. A great meal and great atmosphere - Paolo, the owner and chef was so nice and visited our table a couple of times to be sure we enjoyed our dinner. Perico's was the other great restaurant. It was a fun evening - one of those places with "participatory" entertainment - dancing and singing and balloon art! The appetizer was called Molecajete - beef tips in sauce and cheese served in a stone pot! It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious - esta rico! Then we shared an order of chicken fajitas - and brought home leftovers! Diane and Rick have more pictures to add to this group - I'll share them in the next few weeks. And again - a great big GRATIAS to Rick and Diane for inviting us to share the week with them.
It was a wonderful week and I know we both want to visit those warm Caribbean waters again some day! Feliz Navidad!!

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