Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
Trip End Aug 15, 2005

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Where I stayed
Las Palmas

Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Friday, April 22, 2005

I had no real desire to come to Mexico as part of this trip as I had never read or seen any programmes about the place to inspire me to. And it´s such an amazing surprise, having not had any expectations at all I am most impressed. Rich has always wanted to come here due to reading stuff on the Mayas and Aztecs but we never expected stunning white sand beaches, swimming with dolphins and very friendly and fun people. Its great! The first night out we had here in Downtown Cancun was great, it was Saturday so all the Mexicans were out on the town. We ended up in a little club with no tourists in it which had live bands on intermittently with latino fused dance music. A few poeple were tring to chat to us but with me knowing next to no Spanish and Rich knowing the very basics it was hard to understand let alone hear above the music! ¨No comprendo!¨
Dowtown Cancun is really pleasant, fairly touristy but has a really nice atmosphere and a nice amount of night life. The beaches nearby are good but vastly developed, big hotels, and lots of American bars like Harley Davidson cafes, Hard Rock cafes, Hooters and of course the enevitable Mac Dons. So we´re glad we stuck to staying Downtown. The guest house, Las Palmas, is great, really lovely people.

The 18th was Rich´s 32nd birthday and after a lovely meal in town where Rich had his 1st lobster we came back and had a few drinks with some guys at the guest house: a German called Aberhart, a guy from South Korea called "Max" and an American called Matt from Arkansas who had the most hillbilly accent I have ever heard and I couldn´t help myself from mimicking him all night long. Get ya banjo out boy, yeeeeeha! (He thouroughly enjoyed it). So we went to bed at 4 in the morning and woke up 5 hours later to pick up our red VW Beatle and go for a 2.5 hour drive to swim with dolphins.

So 3 days ago we fulfilled my biggest ever dream and swam with these beautiful creatures in a ´dolphinarium´ at a place called Xel Ha which is based on the cost around a natural lagoon where you can swim with turtles, dolphins, tropical fish etc. For the dolphin swim you had to pay $115, which, when you compare this to the prices in the USA its very reasonable. When we 1st got in the pool we were able just to spread out and let the dolphins swim around us and rub up against us. I felt like a child with a huge bag of sweets and kept making excited little noices. It was even more overwhelming than I thought and I must admit, I had a lump in my throat and had to stop myself from crying infront of all the American kids! The dolphins seemed to make sure that everyone in the group had equal attention, they´d swim up to you and let you stroke them and occasionally they´d make those lovely little clicking noices and look you in the eye. Magic. After that we had them perform tricks; jumping over us, swimming round us in a huge circle getting us all soaked, and also kissing us. They were obviously enjoing it and seemed to be incredibly well looked after, one of the girls who trains them told us that her job is ¨true happiness¨ and that they were just like family to her. She was also saying to us that their biggest threat is still humans from fishing nets and far too many are being killed every day. After spending time with them now and hearing countless stories of people being rescued by them out at sea from sharks etc, I just can`t imagine how we could have so little regard for them. So don´t eat unfriendly tuna guys.
Later that afternoon we went to an old Mayan temple right on the coast at a place called Tulum. This particular Mayan temple was nothing too special except that it is one of the most beautifully positioned, right next to white sand coves where you can swim.

Yesterday we went to the most famous Mayan temple of all, Chichen Itza. The Mayas were around southern Mexico and central America from the 5th century to the 15th, And this temple was the biggest and most preserved of all built between 800AD and 1000AD. The main pyramid in the heart of the grounds is famous for its astrologically lined postion and twice a year at the spring and autumn equinox the sunset alines with one of the outer lines of the pyramid and casts a shadow of a snake from the very top to the very bottom, where it joins the serpant´s tail and head carved from stone built into the structure. The serpent represents the god of rain - Venus which is the morning and evening star and thought by them to be the greatest of all the gods. Also the steps on each side number 91 when multiplied by 4 = 364 plus the single step to the main entrance at the top makes 365, eh voila, one calendar. The pyramid is built over another pyramid from an earlier time and you can to climb inside, (up the steapest of steps)to the top, where there is a stone carved Jaguar with jade for its eyes . Mayas were also famous, like the Incas, for there detailed knowledge of astrology, which they used to predict the future.

The walls around the religious center had stone carved sculls which depicted the heads of the men who were sacreficed to the gods (these were thought to be prisoners of war) These same people were used in games, much like the Gladiators, and the arena nearby showed images carved onto the walls of what took place in these games. Basically, there were 2 stone hoops 30 ft high above the wall on each side of the arena and using your hips only you had to get the ball through the hoop. . . once!. This could easily go on for days and whichever side got it in won and chopped the opponents heads off to sacrifice to the gods.
Also nearby were huge, natural wells. One of them was thought to be too special to use for its water as it was green in colour and thought to be the home of the rain god so this was also used for sacrifices. An American guy ´discovered´it and found thousands of artefacts as well as skeletons and the artefacts are in the Harvard museum today.
One of the other things we learned was that some of the Mayan tribes purposely deformed their bodies in order to be considered beautiful and ´different´ They would tie a piece of string which had a tiny ball at the end onto the baby´s head so that the ball would fall inbetween the eyes and the baby would thus go cross-eyed and stay like it for life. Also, they´d crush the skull of an infant at birth so that it would have what i´d imagine to look like a Frankinstine forhead (or slap-head as you´d be known at school)

We´ve had a lazy day today and are off to Isla Mujeres for a day tomorrow. Followed by a flight to Lima to meet up with Miss Carter.

Hasta la vista baby!
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