Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Barceló Maya Resort and Clearing Weather

(Breakfast burritos, fried plantains and lots of salsa!)

(Gideon, my four month old nephew. And yes, he's big for his age. You have a problem with that?)

(Tegan, my two and a half year old niece.)

(Finally, the sun came out, the water cleared, and we had a beautiful beach waiting for us.  Although there were a good number of people at the resort, it never felt too crowded, and it was easy for the kids to hang out and play around.)

(In the mini golf course, Tegan stands tall atop some Mayan ruins, with a bit of help from Craig.)

(Nice water, nice beach, etc.)

(Palm trees, clear water and coastline - everything you hope for with Mexican resorts.)

(Clear water.)

(Our last night at the resort before heading back on Halloween day.)

Barceló Maya Resort and Hurricane Rina

(Though it was rainy and a bit windy, Hurricane Rina didn't have TOO much of an affect on us, though we were certainly worried, since the path of the storm came directly through the area where we were staying.)

(Mom, Jess and Baby Gideon along the nice wide beach at the resort where we all stayed, the Barceló Maya, situated about halfway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum - about an hour and a half South of Cancun.)

(Craig, on the left, and me, noticing that it was eerily calm before the storm...Yes, we're twins. No, we've never switched places on our teachers.)

(Roger, Tegan, Jess and Gideon roaming the beach before the rains. We played a nice soccer match in the pouring rain just before the hurricane hit and locked down the hotel one evening.)

(Hurricane Rina.)

(Roger has a patented ninja kick, and Craig can never quite get it right, those his is also not bad.)

(More hurricanes and ninja kicks. I think Roger must've been floating backwards in this one.)

(All you can eat buffet was one of the highlights of the resort. I had dozens of breakfast burritos and tacos for lunch.)

(Finally, after the hurricane, the sun started to peak through the dark skies.)

(The hurricane "hit" on Thursday, though it was never all that bad, Friday was ok, and by Saturday, the weather was great again.)

Izamal, a hint of Mérida and back to Tulum

(A random little church in a random Mayan town. I loved passing through these little villages.)

(Entering the convent at Izamal. Known as the Yellow City, this is a beautiful little village of about 15,000 people, with the center covered with yellow buildings and cobblestone streets.)

(Pope John Paul II visited back in 1993, hence the statue and the proclivity of everyone in the town to tell you all about it. The people there were very nice, and I actually stumbled upon a street party and carnival that night in honor of our of the saints from a local town. It had a live band, carnival rides, fried food stands, games for kids, etc.)

(The convent sits right in the center of town, actually built on top of an ancient Mayan temple, in a very obvious effort to promote Catholicism over the prevailing beliefs of the time.)

(The myriad arches of the convent of Izamal are quite impressive, enclosing a grassy square about the size of two football fields, fronted by the facade of the church.)

(An arch leading to the center of town, on the backside of the convent.)

(Another streetscene in Izamal.)

(Burritas! They were filled with chicken, and the green salsa on top was great...and spicy.)

(The Yellow City. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to explore the town, but I was very impressed with what I did see.)

(A cheaper version of salbutes, with some sort of ground meat. I'm not exactly sure what it was, and it's possible that I might not want to know.)

(One of the municipal buildings in the central square of Mérida. I was just back in Mérida for about an hour to drop off the car and take the bus across to Tulum, heading right for Hurricane Rina that was on a path to hit that Caribbean coast the next morning. Smart.)

(I made it to Tulum, as did a lot of rain, so I mostly walked up and down the main street in between the storms and got some great food at a little house off the main road.)

(Many of the businesses were boarding up their windows for the impending hurricane. Fortunately, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm just as it was making landfall, and it wasn't as bad as expected.)

(Chilaquiles - basically a soggy, more Mexican version of nachos. Really good.)

Cenotes of Cuzamá - Chelentún, Chacsinic-Ché, and Bolonchojool

The tiny town of Cuzamá is the gateway to three of the more impressive cenotes in the Yucatán. Cenotes are basically sinkholes/underground caves filled with groundwater. The area has no rivers, so all the water seeps through the limestone rocks and finds its way into these clear blue pools. This site has a tiny railroad track connecting the three cenotes, pulling you on a small cart drawn by a horse.

(We took the cart about 20 minutes down the tracks to the first cenote. At each stop, the driver gives you about a half hour to go swimming and take in the beautiful serenity.)

(The hot sun beats down as you glide along, making your way to the caves.)

(The entrance to the first cenote - Chelentún. This one is partially open to the surface, with a set of steep stairs heading down into the water.)

(Apart from my first five minutes with two other Americans, I had the place again to myself, a recurring theme for this trip. I swam around in the stunning blue water, though I did manage to scare myself a bit when thinking about what prehistoric creatures could be lurking in a remote place like this.)

(The water color here is unbelievable.)

(Looking back towards the mouth of the cave and entrance to Chelentún.)

(One final shot of Chelentún before moving on to the next cenote.)

(The entrance to this darker cenote was a little tight, just wide enough to climb down the long, narrow ladder with my backpack brushing the rock wall as I made my way in to Bolonchojool.)

(One of the Spanish tourists hanging out in beautiful Bolonchojool. Two small openings in the top of the cave let in just a bit of light on the blue water. Later, I swam out to the middle of this and was able to barely reach the hanging roots coming all the way down from the ceiling about 100 feet above.)

(Once the other swimmers left, the water was still, and the place was even more amazing. I had been to this set of three cenotes back in 2007, though I decided to do a bit more swimming this time, which is impressive to anyone who knows my attitude towards swimming.)

(Here's my driver, turning the cart around and getting ready to take me down to the final cenote.)

(Another very steep set of stairs requiring you to pass under a rock entrance only about 4.5 feet high leads you down to Chacsinic-Ché.)

(Here you can see the stairs leading out of Chacsinic-Ché. If you look very closely, you can see a platform near the bottom right of the picture that is a diving platform into the pristine water below. I actually made two jumps off here, though it turned out to be a lot higher than I thought upon first inspection.)

(Again, roots from the trees on the surface come down all the way to the water level, eventually turning into stalactites as they calcify.)

(This was probably the deepest of the cenotes. The clear blue water seems to go down forever, and a lot of the cenotes in the area are actually connected, allowing scuba divers to connect between a few of them.)

(A partial view of the entrance to Chacsinic-Ché.)

(A sign on the walls of the town warning against Dengue Fever.)

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