Chichen Itza

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
Trip End Dec 31, 2009

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HOLA everyone!  We had an active week so we'll try to catch you up.

Earlier this week we went to Maroma Beach, which is a resort about 20 minutes south of us (also ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the world!).  The girls all went horseback riding, which ended on a beautiful beach.  They took us individually into the ocean, riding bareback.  This was everyone's favourite, especially Monique who wasn't so thrilled with the trail ride (a bit too hot & dusty).  Raymond & James had a lot of fun on an ATV and then on a speed boat. They were told "remember this is speed boat tour not slow boat".  That turned out to be a little too fast for James who said he didn't like Raymond's driving.  After lunch, Sabrina and Raymond went on a snorkel tour of the reef and really hit the jackpot. Sabrina held a squishy octopus in her hand; they saw an unquantifiable amount of fish, sting rays and a baby barracuda.

Monique attended her friend's 5th birthday on Friday.  She was very excited.  They had fun trying to break a real Mexican piñata. She is in heaven having these two sisters (Lacy & Tallia) to play with every day.  They are the most creative children!  The 3 of them have developed play areas all over the complex;  in the pool they pretend to be Aquamarine (a mermaid), behind one set of condos they have built a 'Barbie' house out of mud, at night they hunt crabs on the beach and near the basura (garbage) pretend to be animals.  

We decided to spend a day going to Chichen Itza.  Chichen Itza (City of Gods) has magnificently restored temples of the Mayan people, surrounded by the jungle. It was recently chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Sunday evening we picked up a rental van so we could get an early start.  Yesterday at 5:30am we left, taking the toll highway which got us there by 7:50am, just before opening.  We saw El Castillo, the most famous pyramid in the Chichen  Itza complex, in the early morning fog.  It was a quite a mystical site.  After 2 hours we had seen all we wanted, and headed down the road to experience a cave.  

Its name is Balamkanche, which translates to 'Place of the Jaguar Cave'.  We were the only tourists there.   The guide led us to a hidden door in the middle of a jungle and proceeded to lead us into a very large cave.  It took about 30 min. to get to the end (30 meters underground) and back.  There were plenty of bats, swooping down on us and brushing against us.  This was neither my, nor James' favourite part. Sabrina, Sophia and Monique seemed to think it was great fun. The cave was lit just enough to see the way; Sabrina spotted a little yellow and black snake near one of the lights.  Luckily, for me, as soon as the guide shone his flashlight on him, he slithered away. It was a great new adventure for us all.

We then headed down the road to cool off at Cenote Ik kil. (A cenote (pronou [seˈnoˌte] is a type of sinkhole containing groundwater typically found in the Yucatán Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands. The term is derived from a word used by the low-land Maya to refer to any location where groundwater is accessible.)   Located in the Eco-archeological Park Ik Kil, just 1.8 miles from Chichen Itza and Pista. Also called the "Sacred Blue Cenote," it is a perfectly round well-type cenote with exuberant vegetation and waterfalls. It is a wonderful place to swim amongst the catfish in fresh water. We all had fun at this unique cenote, and it quite possibly was the most memorable event of the day.

We took the libre (free) highway back to Cancun via the town of Valladolid, seeing lots of colorful butterflies along the way. We stopped in Valladolid only long enough for some Torta's, Quesadillas and a bit of shopping.  According to the guide book, it is supposed to be a run-down colonial town and that's exactly the way it was.

We had our first experience with the Federales (Mexican police).  We were pulled over on the highway just as we were entering Cancun.  The speed limit had just gone down from 70 to 50 and the policeman pulled us over 50 meters from the 50 km sign and claimed we were speeding.  How they could know that without any kind of radar equipment, was beyond us.  We were going the same speed as everyone else. 

Anyway, I (Raymond) had to get out of the van and negotiate with the two policemen that took my driver's licence and asked me to 'follow them back to the truck'.  These two where smooth (obviously well rehearsed) and had the 'good cop, bad cop' down to a tee.  As one cop who couldn't speak English was yattering at me in Spanish the cop that could speak some English turned his back and walked halfway to the back of truck with is face in his handkerchief shaking his head.  I couldn't tell if he was suffering from too much tequila from last night and too much sun today or trying not to laugh as his buddy was robbing me in broad daylight.

I must admit that they 'eased up' a little once they found out we were Canadian - not American and started using the phrase 'amigo'.  Politics aside, I quickly found that this was a 'business' venture more than maintaining peace and order for these two policemen.  To make a long story short I tried all my tricks and was able to get my 'gift' down from $1500 pesos ($150) to $50 (although I was trying for $25)   I could feel Janice's eyes piecing me for 'haggling' even as she peered straight ahead out of fear and demanded the kids do the same.  I rationalized away this little episode when we filled the van with gas at HALF THE PRICE OF HOME!!
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