You know it didn’t quite occur to me until after my Dad had come and gone on his visit with us that we were using him rather like a drug mule. You see we had lots of little trinkets to send back to the USA and didn’t really like the idea of stuffing them in a package and mailing them home. But Dad, who had decided to come visit was the perfect plan. Sorry Dad, we used you to slip our packages home.
It didn’t quite start out that way. Nefarious. We had arrived in Isla Mujeres Mexico and settled in. We did some thinking on our Cuban experiences and started decorating our boat with memories.
We were really having a good time. We wanted to share it with people we love. So I checked the prices to fly to Cancun online and they seemed rather reasonable. We called Dad and sure enough he said he’d like to come visit us. Our first visitor!
Dad came a week or so later and after getting up at 3am and flying to Cancun, we met him at the airport a little past noon. Then we promptly stuck him on a “second class” bus for another four hours. We’re not exactly the most hospitable hosts. But it was for good reason!
TECHNICAL: From Isla Mujeres we took the “UltraMar” ferry to Cancun (75 pesos/person for one way trip). We took a cab to the bus terminal. (40peso/total). Then a bus to the airport. We met Dad there and took the same bus back to the terminal and then boarded the “second class” bus bound for Piste for about (150peso/person). The Piste bus crosses paths with Chichen Itza.
The bus ride was a bit of a riot. As you cruise along through Cancun on your way different locals seem to board the bus and ride until the next stop. They included a pair of clowns (literally) that hocked a show later on and asked for donations. Women selling different foods and beverages. An old blind man that begged along the bus. I think Dad was getting the feeling he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. We crossed numerous street signs and finally about 4 hours later we approached our destination.
Now having never ridden on these buses before, we didn’t quite understand the protocol to get off the bus where you wanted. We wanted to stop at KM marker 122. When we got to about KM128, Dani (our best espanol speaker), went to the bus driver to ask if he could stop there. He spoke to her but it seemed in the negative. In the end we determined that he thought we had luggage in the luggage compartment which could only be opened at official stops. I guess he was looking at us like, “What are these crazy Gringos thinking!? (We were some of the only “white” people on the whole trip). Right as we passed our destination though, we hustled up to the door and demanded exit and the man stopped and let us out. It was only a short overshot so we made it back to Delores Alba hotel for our check in.
I’d found this hotel online. It was a ways from the ruins of Chichen Itza but the rate was very reasonable and it claimed to have food and drinks onsite. The photos of the pools there were wonderful. It didn’t disappoint. The place was extremely low key and just what the doctor ordered for Dad to wind down after an extremely long day of travel.
While sitting outside the next morning and preparing ourselves for the visit to Chichen Itza, a bird came and landed right next to us. I believe it was some sort of bird of paradise. Dad called it the “Tick Tock bird” because of its distinctive tail which it cocked back and forth looking like the pendulum of a clock.
The hotel provided us a free ride to the ruins and we bought our way in and hired a guide to take us through the ruins. (Entry to the park was roughly 260peso/person and the guide costs between 40-60 dollars).
Our guide was quite a character. He came equipped with many photos to show us things as he spoke to us bout the ruins. Some of these, such as the dinosaur one, Dani found comical. But the guide was rather good if only a little hard to understand.
The temple of Chichen Itza was as impressive as I’d heard and seen in photos. We were lucky to be there very early and avoided the main crowds of tourists that show up after 10am. We got some shots of a relatively uncrowded temple.
And here the guide Pedro, showed us where they sacrificed people. I had wanted to put Dani on the alter but unfortunately they no longer allow people into the actual ruins.
Pedro told us all about the Mayan ball players. Apparently these people lived some sort of hellish life, complete with illustrations. The Mayans wanted you to have a perfectly round head, so they just crushed your head when you were a kid.
And you know, if crushing your head weren’t enough, they then made you play some sort of ball game using your belly to move a ball around. And coated you with cancerous war paint for the games. Then if you lost you had to kill yourself. Tough huh?
But the reward if you stayed alive through five games was a place of honor at the parade grounds, you know, while you nursed your cancer.
Some scenes from the older parts of the ruins.
Dad and Dani present…
We left the ruins and tried to find a cab back to the hotel. Unfortunately we left from the wrong entrance where there were no cabs so we had to ask the security guard to get us one. The cabbie brought us back though he didn’t seem happy about it. I got the feeling we were doing something wrong going out the in door. But that is Mexico for you. You just ask around until you get what you need.
Back at the hotel Dani and I had noticed that there was a Cenote across the street. Now I had been telling Dani I wanted to go to one. We’d seen stuff online about tours to these places at crazy prices. Like 100 bucks a person prices. Dani never seemed too enthused about this and got a funny look when I told her how much I was willing to pay just to see one. You see, you can’t quite explain to a person what a Cenote is.
But here was one right across the road! The hotel sold discounted tickets to enter at 64pesos/person. So we rested up, had a drink and then crossed the street.
I’ll just let some of the following photos explain what a Cenote is:
Now that you have a visual… The Cenote is actually a hole in the limestone that has a pool at the bottom of it. Usually they connect to a very large underground river system. Ik-Kil was 150ft deep! The drop from the top of the hole to the water was about 100ft. There were plenty of natural water falls flowing into it and man… The roots that hang down in that circle. It was spectacular.
The roots of all the plants around it seemed to do well as evidenced by this massive bougainvillea, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.
I don’t really have words that do justice to the whole site and especially the Cenote. It was a natural wonder that I think you should experience. It was surreal. That night back at the hotel while we all lounged in the pool we went over the day in our minds. It was really like two days but smashed into one. The wonders of an ancient civilization mixed with one of nature’s true wonders.
But we weren’t done dragging Dad through Mexico yet. The next day we got up and took the bus back to Cancun which involved us standing on the side of the road for an hour and then flagging down the second class bus as it approached and hoping beyond hope that it would stop. The hotel is on a desolate little patch of road and you never quite know. But it stopped and we got back to the bus, back to the ferry, and finally were on our way home to Sundowner.
We made it back just in time.
The next few days we spent bumming around Isla Mujeres and showing my Dad island life.
Dad is a land lubber. And when he first agreed to come visit he wanted to know about accommodations. He isn’t used to boat life. Well I shot my mouth off and said to him, “If it doesn’t suit you, we’ll find a hotel on the island, no big deal.” Unfortunately for me and my big mouth, I didn’t realize that Spring Break had just gone into full effect and hotels were filling up quickly.
But luck smiled on me. One of the bars we enjoy in Isla Mujeres is Bahai Tortuga which is also a hotel. We asked Danny, the owner, if he could fix Dad up and he sure did. So Dad stuck it out in swank accommodations for most of his visit at a supremely reasonable rate! Plus they have a band every night.
Dad also got to go snorkeling with us. Here is a photo of us walking around a sand bar getting ready to swim out to the big rock near the light house.
And of course what vacation is complete without a lot of bumming around and relaxing?
Dad was our first boat visitor and we couldn’t have asked for a better guest! I’ll miss you Dad, come visit again and thanks for the memories.
Oh and thanks for serving as the mule.