Tulum and Casa Cenote, 12/6 Sunday
On Sundays the admission is free to Federal parks in the Yucatan. Because of that, we decided that today would be an excellent time to explore the archaeological wonders of Tulum. We got around somewhat early, and after some disorganization got rolling South on Highway 307. About halfway to Tulum, we encountered major construction that featured a detour on a rough gravel road for about ten kilometers. The new road they are building is four lanes and all cement. It will be nice when finished, but now it is tough, dangerous driving. There is a 12-inch drop off the cement shoulder of the road, and if you were to drop off it while you were driving, it would be bad news!
We still managed to arrive at the archeological site in about 20 minutes, and found that we were among the first ones there. We hired a Mayan guide who presented an informative and philosophical tour of the ruins, which are surely among the most beautiful in the world. Our guide contended that the Mayans colonized parts of Asia, and the Mid-East. He pointed out language similarities and the presence of the Star of David in the Yucatan as pieces of evidence. He also showed us a special temple that the ancient Mayans constructed so that the sun would shine through a hole to mark the Winter and Summer Solstices. Then he took us to a point where we saw in his words: "the most spectacular view of the Caribbean". Preston discovered many large iguanas living in the ruins and sunning themselves on the rock walls of the temples. The colorful flowers, shrubbery and green lawns make Tulum a special place of beauty. A sacred feeling permeates the grounds, and it was wonderful to be there so early in the morning. However, by 11:00, the tour busses were rolling in and disgorging hordes of people, and it was getting hot and crowded. After some brief shopping, we made our escape, traveling the rough road back towards Akumal.
About half way back, we came across the "Casa Cenote" sign and turned towards the ocean, following the road for about 2 kilometers. We passed the Tankah resort and a few other "casas" before eventually coming to the Casa Cenote. There we found Randy and the kids already enjoying a swim in the cenote. We went across the street to the bar and staked out a table. Then we helped ourselves to the "Texas Bar-B-Que" which turned out to be quite delicious. The restaurant was a large open-air space covered by a thatched roof. It was full of tables that overlooked the sea. The underground river from the cenote ran into the ocean right at the restaurant. We liked the snorkeling, but concluded that it was much better in Half Moon Bay. We spent much of the day eating, drinking cervazas and watching the pet Kwati-Mundi make a nuisance of himself. Karen and I took a nice walk up the beach and collected some conch shells. After one last swim in the cenote, we returned to our condo and prepared a late supper of spaghetti on our infamous "stove that never heats". Eventually we ate a very nice dinner and spent some evening time looking at the stars before retiring after a busy and active day.
Chemuyil revisited, 12/7 Monday
We went to the Akumal post office this morning and mailed post cards to Stephanie, Shandra and our respective mothers. Akumal was barely stirring so early in the morning, and we found the Turtle Bakery not open for business. We determined that more food shopping was needed, so we organized another trip to Chemuyil. Tom gathered up some more school supplies, and we were off again to Chemuyil, which is about 5 kilometers south of Akumal. The Ninos recognized us immediately when we arrived, and soon we had a large crowd of children following us around. Tom set out for the nearby school with intentions to give supplies to the superintendent, but he had not gone more than a half a block before the children cleaned him out of all the supplies he had. What an excited group of ninos! The owner of the panaderia was glad to see us again, and recognized us for the very good customers that we were. We bought another enormous bunch of different kinds of sweet rolls and pastries, and some regular bread rolls. It was such great food! Next we explored different stores not previously seen such as the "loncherita" and a corner "mercado". Before leaving, we noticed a person who was selling plastic wares out of his truck on the street. There we bought sand toys for Lauren at a fraction of the price they were in Akumal. Then we drove back to Akumal where we filled out our shopping at the Super Chomak, and returned for the afternoon snorkeling.
In the late afternoon, all of us walked down to "La Lunita" which is one of the better, and more expensive restaurants in the Akumal area. There we had excellent fish dinners while Preston and Lauren hunted crabs nearby. After finishing dinner, I walked with Shelley back down the beach to our condo while the others walked on the road. The dinner was great, but we did manage to spend $110 US dollars. We retired contentedly as the crashing noises of the breaking surf lulled us to sleep in the humid night.