Mexico, Guatemala and Belize – In transit. Day 1 Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

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It struck me on the trip from Vancouver island to Mexico how Canada is truly a land of diversity. Traveling solo has a way of pushing you out of your box so to speak and engaging you with the rest of the world. From the Indo – Canadian taxi driver who transported me to my airport hotel, to the Afro-Canadian front desk clerk at the hotel, to the Iranian-Canadian shuttle driver to numerous people of various ethnic backgrounds in airport lines – all friendly, talkative, leaving me with an incredibly positive image of Canada. I am extremely proud of my country.

The good vibe continued throughout the west jet flight. I have never had the pleasure of flying west jet internationally and a pleasure it was. My pre-ordered chicken salad was one of the best I have ever had. I ordered a glass of red to accompany it and the steward gave it to me on the house. West jet also has a very cool app that allows you to watch big screen movies and tv series free of charge on your own iPad or phone. They also rented tablets to folks who didn’t have one. I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures – cheesy sci-fi movies – watching Pacific Rim and San Andreas during the flight. My exit row isle seat was the icing on the cake.

Arrival in Cancun airport 20 mins early. Customs went off without a hitch.  Tourist cards as well as a declaration form for customs filled out , bags grabbed and out everyone went, headed for outside the terminal. I had been warned about being swarmed by aggressive time share people but no one like that was there, probably because our flight was the only one landing this evening. Stepping out into that warm humid air and a glorious sunset was balm to the soul. I had a few minutes wait for my transfer driver, spent it people watching and enjoying the 70’s and 80’s music blaring at top volume from the margarita stand just outside the exit. We exited the airport to the sounds of Dire Straits and the sultans of swing.

Playa del Carmen where I join my group is a resort town in the Mayan Riveria. High end all inclusive gated beach resorts surround the approach into the town with smaller, traditional hotels (much more my style) found in the centre of town. My hotel is close to the beach and right on a small square surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops..

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The entrance is through a restaurant with winding Adobe stairs leading up to the rooms. – a nice bonus is the pool on the second floor surrounded by walk out rooms, many of which have balconies overlooking the town square below. I had a standard room booked at the back of the hotel looking into the alley – for another $20 a night got upgraded to a deluxe room pool side .

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Works for me 😀. A mariachi band is really givin’ er on the balcony across the road adding to the ambience. This is a nice Mexican hotel. Lots of Adobe – pretty basic but a really good feel.

Tomorrow will be busy – a 6:20 am pick up for an archeologist guided trip to Tulum, and then the afternoon for shopping and a dip in the pool plus some photography. I meet the rest of my group at around 6 and we head out to dinner. Will take that type of busy any day :-)))

Tulum

An early morning bus ride got me to Tulum before the heat of the day hit.  Tulum is a walled Mayan trading port that was in its heyday in the 13-15th century. It survived the Spanish  invasion but eventually succumbed to the European diseases that the Spaniards  brought with them. The town was about 37 acres in size and is situated on high cliffs north of Playa de Carmen. Part of the genius of locating the town where it is is due to the type of shoreline in the area.  The combination of high cliffs and a sand bank extending out a long ways from the beach protected the inhabitants of the town from raiders approaching from the sea.

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Only a few channels through the sand were navigable. The Mayans guided benevolent trading ships through these channels using beeswax candles on shore. The Ships captains would calibrate the light from these candles with their navigation and make the safe journey thorugh the shifting sandbanks a few feet underwater.

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Our guide was excellent, pointing out stucco work, stellae and hieroglyphics on a number of the structures.

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Iguanas and a number of lovely birds accompanied us on our journey through time.

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We left the site around noon just as the heat was building. Tomorrow it is on the Chichen Itza and Merida. Stay tuned!

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