Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cozumel & The Tulum Mayan Ruins

One of the stops on the cruise was at the island of Cozumel, Mexico. We had nine hours at this stop, and our whole group had booked an excursion to go see the Tulum Mayan Ruins, so our time in Cozumel itself was limited to transportation on and off the ship. I did snap a few pictures of the part of the island in which we were docked tough. 

A place that appears at just about every cruise stop you go to is Fat Tuesday. One of the things I love about the Caribbean and Mexico is the fact they live a very colorful life. Homes, bar stools, shops, and everything else you can image are all painted in beautiful, vibrant colors. It is very different from the palates you see in housing communities here in the States, in which the Homeowners Association tells you which colors you can use to paint your house. 
 In order to get to the ruins, we had to take a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland, and then a long bus ride. The photo above is of the dock we walked down to get into Cozumel, and onto the ferry.

My family and I are not fans of being "tourists." We enjoy seeings the main attractions, but we do not go to places so we can spend our time with other people speaking English and snapping pix. That's one of the problems with going on a cruise -- when you get off the ship at a stop, majority of the shops, restaurants, and other places to spend money are all owned by the cruise ships. They make a killing by owning the shops, and create an area that seems so full of life, that many don't even consider that they aren't getting an authentic experience. We refuse to spend all our time at a stop in the manufactured city, and often try to find a taxi driver to take us around wherever it is we are. In this case, we had booked the excursion to the ruins and the beach, so we had ourselves a touristy, but spectacular day.
 We got off the ferry in Playa del Carmen on the mainland, and went straight to the bus that would take us on our day of adventure. I have a heavy coconut obsession, and had to take some photos of da fresh cocos hanging. :)
 On our way to the ruins, we took a 30 minute stop at a gift shop. At first, I was a little annoyed that they pit-stopped us at such a tourist trap, but after just passing through the door, I realized how wonderful it really was. Everything I saw was artistic, detailed, well-made, and significant to the culture in some way. Obsidian, a precious stone that holds great importance to the Mayans, could be found everywhere. The shots above are of some of the items that caught my eye.
 The ruins were set in one of the most beautiful locations I've ever seen. The Mayans that decided to make camp there, were brilliant. It was absolutely amazing to stand there, knowing that a whole city once existed where we stood. The people of the Tulum Ruins were so blessed with the land they found. They farmed a lot, and enjoyed a community that was small. I just wish we'd been able to explore the insides of the buildings!
The final part of our excursion was a little trip to one of, if not the, most beautiful beaches I've ever seen in my entire life, El Paraiso. The sand was whiter than it appears in the photos, soft to the touch, and the water was so many shades of gorgeous. It may have been a great tourist spot, but my gosh, I could spend a week there, no problem! The beach is a private beach that is only open to guests of one of the hotels there, but because we were in an excursion group, we'd been granted permission to spend some time enjoying what it had to offer. 

In this area, they have worked incredibly hard to ensure that they preserve as much of the natural culture and lifestyle as they can. They do not allow hotels to have more than 15-20 rooms, and have not turned the beaches into horrifying sites of imported sand and shops as far as the eye can see. I have a great respect for how they have treated their land, and that they have not decided to take profits over proper cultural experiences. 
 The sand was so nice, that I took our moment there to really mesh with the earth, which turned into a sneak-attack photo moment for my sister. I highly suggest that you hug the earth and mesh with it as much as you can. I got the sand built in a way around me, that when I was hugging it, it felt as though it were hugging me back. Few things feel as good as showing her some respect, telling her thank you for letting us inhabit her, and letting her recharge you with her natural energy and power.
 Swings at a bar are never a bad thing.
 Now, you may think that this photo is really cute, exhibits love, and is a great candid, and you'd be right, but you'd also be missing information. This photo followed the sighting of a lifetime. 
I am a huge fan of watching people fall. Granted, I do get concerned when they hit their head or look like they've endured serious injury, but let's face it, watching people eat is is one of life's great pleasures. Here there were three females, probably around the age of 17, who decided to SPRINT from the sand into the water, and all but one had success. The other, she biffed HARD, face-to-sand, wet sand, and provided all who saw with a moment of pure laughter and "oh my gosh." The photo above captures my sister probably saying something about how awful the girl's fall was to my dad. 
And what sort of an end to a day's post would it be if I didn't conclude with a photo of the gorgeous sunset we saw over the ocean?

Overall, my experience was really great. Because we were on an excursion that had so many different components, we were kind of rushed all day, so I do feel like another trip to Tulum would be nice. I'd like to be able to really absorb the ruins and sit there and imagine what life was like when the Mayans were there. I am so glad to have been blessed with a chance to see some Mayan ruins, experience a beautiful beach, and learn some about the people and area. I'll have to return so I can really get a feel for Cozumel itself, but I am pleased with my experience and feel enhanced and wiser because of it.

Happy travels!

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