We've arrived in Mexico!
We flew into Cancun airport on Tuesday 6th May and spent our first night in an airport hotel.
We had a little trouble adjusting to the time difference but had expected some disruption due to the distance we travelled over the last couple of days and our crossing of the international date line.
On Wednesday morning we took a taxi down the coast to Playa Del Carmen where we will be based until we meet with our organised trip on Saturday.
We settled into our lovely little hotel. We were allowed to select our own room and took one to the rear of the property and away from the busy streets. We selected the hotel having read its reviews on Trip Advisor which is a useful tool if you don't believe absolutely everything that's posted. The hotel was right in the centre of the town and on moving in we arranged some activities prior to our group meeting up on Saturday.
On Thursday morning we had different activities and spent the day apart.
Nigel went diving in the mainly fresh water caverns that are in the Mexican jungle and Helen joined a snorkelling trip.
Nigel joined up with a couple of Germans and a Mexican diving guide and completed two dives in the underwater caverns known as "Cenote"
As there are open faces and daylight entering the caverns you could if you had any difficulties swim out quite easily and as a result this is not considered cave diving. The cave systems and separation of salt and fresh water made the lighting conditions absolutely amazing.
There is a general photo which is copied from the internet to give you an idea of what it was like.
So Helen went snorkelling with 11 others, Helen being the only Brit and the only one on their own (all say ahh). We drove south for 25 minutes and then took a dirt road to a clearing. Then, kitted out in bathers, mask and snorkel, we descended a stairway into the ground which opened up into a good sized cavern (cenotes) which had a platform and (importantly), water. We were instructed to "just jump in" which a German couple and Helen did - unfortunately, no-one else did. Some apprehensively got in via a set of steps and 3 were refusals and stayed on the platform. The remaining 9 then followed the guide through small passages deeper into the cave system which was good fun and unique from all previous snorkelling trips. Having dried off, we drank beer (well, just Helen and the German couple) and headed off in the bus to the sea. This time we only had 1 refusal! Once 10 meters out from the shore, we were swimming with turtles. They seemed ok with us being so close as we obeyed the rules of no diving down, no touching them and not swimming over them. We saw at least 6 and were able to spend time watching them. We then moved on to a small coral reef, having been instructed (but surely everyone knows this already?) to not touch the coral. Unfortunately, one member of our party decided he needed to adjust his mask and the 'best' way was to stand on the coral. This was spotted and a severe talking to was had. Helen wanted him to be fined a large sum of money and made to walk home - unfortunately, she didn't get her way. Having showered, we headed off for a huge buffet lunch before driving back to town. A very enjoyable day.
On Friday we went on an organised trip to Chichen Itza to see the famous pyramid style temples of the Mayan's. We rather trustingly arranged this trip through our hotel as there were so many touts and agencies asking for our business.
We were picked up at about 8am and started our epic journey in a mini bus. Helen realised that we were going in the wrong direction and so we asked the driver if we were on the right trip. It turned out the hotel had booked us on a multi activity trip visiting caves and a church as well as the Mayan pyramids, so in some way we got better value and a much longer day.
We stopped for a buffet lunch with about 30 other mini buses and the entertainment involved dancers with various bottles and trays of drinks on their heads - very very very touristy!
We managed to survive the day which was obviously targeted at tourists who were staying at all inclusive resorts.
Chichen Itza is the classic Mayan site in Mexico and was great - we really enjoyed visiting this site. We had an English speaking guide and 2 hours to look around the site which was just about enough.
A little bit about Chichen Itza.
It was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people. The archaeological site is located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza" and covers an area of at least 5 square kilometres (1.9 sq mi).
Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the northern Maya lowlands from AD 600 to 1200 and was one of the largest Maya cities. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site.
Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.2 million tourists visit the ruins every year.
The buildings are mainly made of Limestone and are constructed and then given the limestone blocks as a final layer. The blocks were apparently made by burning the limestone and creating the block using the powder.
We then had a long drive back arriving back at our hotel at about 8pm just in time to go to our favourite restaurant and have a couple of Margaritas.
Today is Saturday 10th May and we have had a domestic day. We have walked over to where we will meet our new group at the joining hotel.
The humidity has arrived and we nearly melted as we carried our bags to the new hotel which was only a couple of streets away.
We are eagerly waiting to meet our fellow travellers which will be at about 6pm tonight.
Our next entry will be in about a week or so from somewhere in Central America, Internet permitting.