Thursday, February 7, 2013

Heading South for the Summer (by 'the' Summer, I mean 'last year's' Summer!): Mexico

Chichen Itza
My mother was here in the summer of last year for a short three week vacation.
Sidenote: My parents often visit separately because we have a little dalmation at home in India, Polka, who is family to us and none of us can bear the thought of leaving her alone for too long. In 2011, I remember my parents really wanted to travel to Turkey so Rohit and I planned our entire vacation around their holiday- that way, I could dogsit :) I was likely the most expensive dog sitter ever!  And yes, we are 'those' dog people - but I wouldn't have it any other way!
This post has a point and I am about to get to it - so my mother was here and we decided to visit Mexico (I can't believe we had been here 6 years and still havent visited). It was also the year the world may or may not have come to an end per the Mayan calendar so it seemed fitting!  
We went over a weekend and stayed at the Westin in Cancun. Apart from lazing around on the beach and stuffing ourselves with guacamole (pretty much all day) we also visited Chichen Itza.
Fun story (not.) we sat through a 3 hour presentation on time shares to get this crazy deal on visiting Chichen Itza. Three words for you - Not worth it. Those are three hours of my life, I am never getting back and I swear I think I aged another three hours during their monologue so that's at least 6 hours of my life gone forever. Thankyouverymuchtimesharepeeps. I have to say though they do such a good job of selling the thing to you, by the end of it I was like "where's the dotted line??? I need to sign it right now!" Fortunately Rohit had a little more sense and politely declined. phew. Lifetime of regret averted. However, the resort was perfect and (I think) part of the reason I got a little carried away at the presentation!

The day we went to the ruins was hot and very humid, the drive long and our bus broke down half way there but none of that could take away from our visit. 
Putting on my geek glasses for a second and to let you in on a fun fact, like so many ancient civilizations the Mayas created the temple as a physical calendar aligned with the sun. It's designed such that in the late afternoon on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun casts shadows depicting the plumes of a serpent that slithers down the steps. The creature's body eventually links with the stone serpent's head at the bottom of one of the staircases. How cool is that? Every year you'll find hoardes of people on the grounds to view the spectacle.

I am always completely fascinated by how people lived years ago, how they entertained themselves and how they explained what today science has answered for us. More often than not their answer was religion but even then it was interesting how they approached it.
Anyway, this is a pic of the ball court aka the world's toughest game. I can't even begin to describe it. But its somewhat like football (soccer), except you can only make contact with the ball, which weighs nearly 10 pounds, with your hips (in most cases). The objectives vary between, not allowing the ball to hit the ground and having to propel the ball through a tiny hoop about 15 feet above the ground. Our guide also told us that the winning captain was usually sacrificed. I've also read that it may have been the losing captain or at times games were rigged and played with prisoners who were then sacrificed.

The ball field

Chac Mool Statue

One of many Cenotes!

My mother's favorite part were the cenotes. These are deep natural pits or sinkholes filled with ground water. We barely waited two minutes before we changed into our swimsuits and just jumped in - it was so refreshing. The water was crystal clear and had little fish in it! It was pretty much my idea of heaven.


I need an infinity pool. Stat.

Yamil Lu'um
Since we had to make a choice between Chichen Itza and Tulum, we were feeling ever so slightly bad that we missed out on Tulum. But (There's always a but!) but ... there was a very similar ruin adjacent to our hotel! Yamil Lu'um. The site is made up of the templo del alacran (scorpion) and templo de la huella (handprint) and is built on the highest piece of land in Cancun. The stone set amidst lush greenery with a view of the blue ocean was just stunning.

Templo del Alacran

I can't wait to go back! :)

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