Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cruisin' the Caribbean - Cozumel and Playa del Carmen

After sailing for two nights and one day (the second night was in very rough seas, a story in itself!), we docked at Cozumel, an island off the coast of Mexico.  We were very excited for the shore excursion we had booked - a day-long trip to see the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins!  Unfortunately, the rough seas the night before had caused us to come into port too late to leave the time needed to make the ferry ride to the mainland, the bus trip to and from the ruins and the ferry trip back to the ship.  We were so disappointed!  A quick change of plans, facilitated by the ship's staff, and we were off to some smaller ruins and a visit to the beach - not a bad trade off, it turns out.

We didn't get to even set foot on the Isla Cozumel, as our ferry located on the same dock as the ship.  A 45 minute ferry ride from Cozumel to the mainland started our adventure.

A ferry similar to the one we took.

My attempt at a selfie!  Need to work on my technique, I think.

Playa del Carmen looks like a typical border town in Mexico even though it's on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  Shaded plazas, colorful statues, recycled shopping carts and stone streets lend ambiance to what is basically a tourist trap.

Our organized tour began with a short bus drive, narrated by a great local guide.

The bus was, thankfully, comfortably air conditioned, as it was very hot and humid.  It was a welcome change for us, though, after all the rain and tornadoes that have been our constant companions since leaving Colorado!

Our guide.  
One of the great things about this tour was the audio system. Each of us were given a radio with earphones and the guides' commentary could be heard no matter where in the group you were.  I wish all guided tours used this method.

The ancient Mayan city of Tulum was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade and its ruins are very well preserved.  It was the only Mayan city built on the coast and is surrounded by a rock wall.


The main temple

Overlooking the sea

The exterior wall

A tomb

I hate to say it, but I was a bit under-whelmed by the ruins.  Not sure what I expected, but "Mayan ruins" have always been described as so fantastic that I was a bit let down.  Perhaps the Chichen Itza site is more spectacular - I'll never know.

After a bit of shopping at the ruins site, we hit the bus and headed to the beach and lunch.  Most of the beaches along the coast are privately owned and you have to pay a fee to access them.  

Small beach club with chairs, tables, a restaurant and, of course, souvenir shops!

We were served a buffet style lunch of chicken and fish tacos with habanero sauce (very hot!!!), rice with black bean gravy and fresh fruit.  Then it was out to soak up the sun on the beach for a bit.

The Caribbean waters are so beautiful!

And for those of you that followed the blog a couple of years ago, you know I can't leave the beach without a picture of a beach bird!

Probably just a crow or something, but, hey, it's my thang, you know!

I could have gladly stayed here for the rest of the vacation, but the cruise ship called and it was too soon time to leave.  We may just have to look into flying back to the Caribbean coast of Mexico for a longer stay.

Until next time...

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