Sunday, June 22, 2008

Voyage To Turquoise Waters of Half Moon Bay, Akumal (Day 12-13)

Last Day at Vista Del Mar, 12/12 Saturday

We slept in a bit until 7:15, and then got our snorkeling gear together and drove the short distance to Yakul Lagoon. There we paid our 50 pesos each and continued our succession of world class snorkeling experiences. We spotted many colorful fish not seen in Half Moon Bay, including one gigantic rainbow colored parrotfish, and some beautiful angelfish. While I was sitting on a rock in the water near shore, a little brown fish darted out from the bottom of the rock and bit me. When I did not respond by moving off his rock, he bit me twice more, letting me know that I was not welcome on his rock.

After a wonderful snorkeling adventure in Yakul Lagoon, we returned to our condo for rest and relaxation, just reading and laying on the beach. Late in the afternoon, Tom and Mary went to Akumal Bay to snorkel, and saw two more sea turtles there! We all made plans to make one more attempt to see the turtles Sunday before we left for Chichen Itza.

We put together a meal of leftovers and spent the evening somewhat sadly packing our bags, as we knew that our time at Half Moon Bay was coming to an end.

The Tortuga Club goes to Chichen Itza, 12/13 Sunday

Last night Tom and Mary returned from their snorkeling adventure in Akumal Bay with excited tales of sea turtles. They agreed to guide us early in the morning to the spot where they had seen them. Despite the fact that there was no water in our condo, we managed to arrange our final packing and took our snorkeling gear with us as we drove over to Akumal Bay. We snorkeled directly out from the Akumal Dive Shop about 400 or 500 meters. Almost immediately we all spotted a small sea turtle grazing on the grass at the bottom of the bay. It was an exciting moment for all of us. We watched the turtle for 15 or 20 minutes, and then caught a glimpse of a much larger one that moved quickly away, not wanting to be as social as the smaller turtle.

After the turtle snorkel, we appropriately had breakfast at the Turtle Bay Bakery, and bought some turtle shirts at the nearby shop. Tom and Mary gave the rest of their school supplies to a friend of a schoolteacher who promised to get them to the children. We formed the "Tortuga Club" and all of us were qualified members, having seen a sea turtle! Then we returned to the Vista Del mar one last time and packed our many suitcases into our Tusuro, saying a reluctant goodbye to Half Moon Bay and the Vista Del Mar.

It was 10:40 AM when we left Akumal. We traveled back down to Tulum, filled up at the Pemex and once more braved the pock-marked Coba road, with Randy almost being swallowed up by the Mother of all pot holes!. As we passed through the Mayan villages on the way to Coba, Randy stopped at the topes and gave the rest of his school supplies to the children. The children became so excited, that they almost caused a small riot, and Randy had to be careful to keep the doors closed! They seemed somewhat desperate. At Coba we turned north to Nuevo Xcan. Then we traveled west along the "free road" through little "poblados" such s Candelaria, X-catzim and Chemax before arriving at Valladolid, a major city of 29,000. We were able to continue on the "free road" by turning left just before entering the Autopista and going through the center of Valladolid. We followed the blue signs pointing to the "Convent" and that led us out of town back to the "free road". Just out of Valladolid, we saw an ominous Mexican prison, one of the most foreboding sights we witnessed. We continued through Dzitnup, where a spectacular cenote is located. We filed that location away for future exploration. Then we passed through Kaua and Xcalacoop where children greeted us at the topes with items to sell. We could tell at that point that we were close to Chichen Itza.

We arrived at the Hotel Hacienda Chichen at 2:15 PM. It took us 3 hours and 35 minutes to negotiate the old road from Akumal to Chichen Itza. We suspected that we missed a cut-off road at Coba that would have saved us an hour, as we saw a road coming in at Chemax that had a road sign that pointed to Coba.

We found the grounds at the Hacienda Chichen to be elegant, with many different trees, birds and plants. A beautiful fountain stood in the center of the grounds with old but comfortable cabanas located near the main building. The cabanas had rocking chairs on the front porch, and air conditioning and dehumidifiers inside. A large swimming pool was nearby with recliners, sun umbrellas, easy chairs and tables placed for convenience. A waiter was on hand at the swimming pool to take orders for food and drink. Three waiters hurried out to take our entire considerable luggage to our cabanas, and soon we were checked in and ready to explore the ruins.

The ruins were a 5-minute walk from the hotel, so we hurried over to take advantage of the fact that it was Sunday, and we could get in free. It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for the physical exertion necessary for touring this immense group of ruins. We went immediately to "El Castillo" which is the imposing world-famous pyramid at Chichen Itza. We climbed the steep face of the pyramid, and were rewarded with an outstanding 360-degree view of the rest of the grounds. Lauren once again showed her adventuresome spirit by climbing up and down the pyramid with very little fear. After climbing the pyramid, we journeyed inside it to see the jade, ruby-eyed jaguar. It was an intense journey along narrow passageways and up and down steep stairways. Next we toured the nearby "Temple of Warriors" with Chok-Mul residing on top, his hands awaiting the next bleeding heart. Then it was on to the "Ball Court", where one can get a real feel of the savage "games" played by the Toltecs and Mayans.

We then returned to our hotel room, "Pollack #9", for showers and a change of clothes before dinner. When dinner time arrived, we assembled at the outdoor section of the restaurant where our ever vigilant waiters had prepared a table for us. We dined elegantly in the beautiful atmosphere of the hotel veranda surrounded by sumptuous tropical gardens.

After dinner, we hurried to make the 7:00 PM laser light and sound show in the ruins. When we got to the entrance, we found that the first showing was in Spanish, and the English showing did not start until 8:00. So we returned to the hotel and relaxed in the rocking chairs in the front of the hotel, observing the night insects and enjoying the clear star-lit sky in the warm, humid night. We returned at 8:00, and enjoyed the hour-long show that was an entertaining, dramatic cultural perspective of the Maya-Toltec civilization in Chichen Itza. The drama was heightened by many shooting stars that seemed to fall in concert with the colorful lighting effects splashed across the temples.

At the end of the show, we were ready to return to our hotel where we gratefully fell into bed in our wonderfully air conditioned rooms.

No comments: