Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rainy Days and Mayans Always Get Me...

(Originally drafted 7/7/10)

Yesterday I met the naked man from the next cabana over. Turns out he's from Whitehorse Canada, in the Yukon. Which explains why he wants to go to warm places and take all his clothes off. He and his wife, who stayed more conservative in a bathing suit, signed up for the same tour that would take us to Chichen Itza, a cenote, and a colonial-style village.

We started in the pouring rain in Tulum. A short man named Florencio dictated the order of the day in English accented with Spanish and Mayan (his mother tongue). He and our driver, Robert, who had great English and a good sense of humor, were only there to transfer us from Copal to the larger tour. Too bad, because we quite liked them and got to know them while we waited for the tour bus in the parking lot of a super market. We had a little while, since the inclement weather was slowing things down.

Once we got on the larger bus it was about 2 and a half hours to Chichen Itza. Our tour guide, gave a long bilingual speech about the history of the Mayans and Chichen Itza. We stopped at a tourist trap to stretch our legs, and avoided buying any Mayan calendars.

It was raining at Chichen Itza but the air was still hot. We struggled to hear our guide, but I enjoyed what little information I caught. We learned the Chichen Itza is actually smaller than Coba (which apparently was the capital city), but far more cleared of jungle. Visitors can no longer climb the main pyramid, which was okay with me since my legs were sore from the day before. Getting in and out of the bus even hurt.

My favorite part were the stone carvings, and the hook-nosed serpent imagery, which reminded me of my studies of ancient Chinese art. I also found the Mayan spiritual basketball courts very interesting. They were shaped differently than the ones at Coba, with straight walls rather than slanted ones.

After an hour the tour guide stopped to let us go on our own. We left the other group, some of whom seemed more interested in posing in front of the ruins than the ruins themselves, and wandered without real direction. Tech Support pondered over why a city would be abandoned. I suggested that the main industry had moved on. I admired the iguanas and birds of the area. We shook our heads at the men trying to sell us $1 wooden masks. We discussed that Inspector Gadget episode that everyone of a certain generation must have seen, that involved Mayan pyramids. We pondered the selflessness of the Penny character, she never seemed to mind Gadget getting all the credit. And how was Gadget her Uncle?

After checking out the sacrificial cenote, we headed back to the bus, stopping only for souvenirs and post cards. We boarded the bus and drove a short distance for lunch.

We sat and ate lunch with our Cabana neighbors and enjoyed their company more than the food. The rice and beans okay, the tacos decent, and the spaghetti strange with a tomato sauce that tended toward soup. While we ate three women danced, a funny tap routine with beer bottles balanced on their heads. As we left they stood by the door with a hat for tips, and I noticed I was a good head taller than all of them.

Next we visited a cenote. We opted not to swim. Tech Support was still feeling traumatized by his last visit to a cenote, which ended in lung fungus. It was pretty neat though, with fish in the water and bats fluttering above. If we had been there for more than 30 minutes, I might deserted Tech Support for the water.

Back in our overly perfumed bus and onto a Colonial Mayan village. Here we only had 20 minutes, not enough to do much. But we enjoyed the architecture style and feeling of being in a real city where people did things besides try to sell Mayan calendars to tourists (though there was that too).

On our way back to Tulum I dozed against Tech Support. After being dropped off, we joined our friends from the frozen north for dinner. We wound up at a busy looking restaurant that had pretty good food. Of course we tried the guacamole. We had a lot of fun together and stayed out later than we'd been up all week. Afterward we all piled into a Taxi together. Our driver was one of the friendlier that we'd met. He'd lived in the area for 23 years and as we sped to our Cabanas and veered around crabs, he explained that they were crossing the road for mating season.

When we got to Copal I couldn't see the Cabana it was so dark.

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