About a week before Christmas last year, S and I took a quick trip to Cancun, Mexico. At the beginning of the year we spent a week in Cabo San Lucas and thought it’d be fun to plan another warm winter getaway. Oddly enough winter still hasn’t really hit where I live but it was still so much fun to be on a beach in the middle of December.
I often book our vacations through Travelocity which gives great deals on hotel and flight bundles, but sometimes there’s a catch for the lowest price. The catch during this trip was that the cheapest flight left Denver at midnight and landed in Cancun at 6 a.m. Even though check-in at our resort wasn’t until the afternoon, we figured it wouldn’t be a big deal because we could just lounge and sleep on the beach… well as luck would have it there was a big storm and lots of rain throughout the morning when we landed. Fortunately our room was ready early so we were able to go right in and take a nap which was amazing after flying all night.
This was the view from our room! It was so beautiful but as you can see, there were some angry clouds… and if you can make out the red flag to the right of the photo, that meant that no one was allowed to swim because of the high winds that were making the water really choppy.
Since it was so stormy on and off we decided to forgo any beach plans for the day. We were staying at an all-inclusive resort in the Hotel Zone so we decided grab lunch at one of the restaurants and head to the downtown area that had shops and different things to check out.
After picking up a few suvieners for friends and t-shirts for S (because he forgot to pack a single shirt for the entire trip haha) we headed to the Interactive Aquarium, which was right up our alley.
I definitely expected it to be a little bigger but there were quite a few exhibits and areas were you could interact with some sea creatures. The most memorable part for me was what I found on the second floor…
I’ve always wanted to try out these ‘fish pedicures’ and they were all over the place in the downtown area. If you haven’t seen/heard of these, basically you dip your feet into baths filled with little fishes called Garra rufa that love sucking off dead skin. S haaated this because he’s really ticklish on his feet but I love it! It’s such a weird feeling, like putting your feet into bubbly vibrating water – if that makes sense. As far as if it worked, S’s feet were super smooth after because as you can see in the picture the fish were obsessed with him. There wasn’t a major difference with mine. It was still a unique experience that S said he’ll never do again haha!
The rest of that rainy first day we spent eating, drinking some cocktails and wandering around the resort. Every night the lobby had some sort of show or performer so we finished the first night listening to a Mexican flutist.
Even though the forecast said it was going to be pretty rainy the entire three days we were there, our next day was sunny and perfect! We beach bummed the entire day. I tried doing some swimming but winds were still pretty intense so the waves were as well. S had no problem swimming out to the point where waves were taller than him… he kept saying we should swim out as far as we can and swim down as far as we can. I responded, “Peace, I’m out.”
That night we decided to splurge on a couples massage at the spa. It was one of the highlights of our trip to be honest! Initially when I called there was confusion about the price and it was actually much more than I was expecting, so then the receptionist gave us the 40% off deal that was actually starting the next day, which was awesome! It ended up being such a dreamy relaxing experience! They gave us time in a steam room and this cozy relaxation jacuzzi before the actual massage which was perfect.
We finished that night with a great dinner at one of the resort’s restaurant. Side rant for a second: while I was digging through reviews for this vacation, I obviously found quite a few reviews saying that the food at any all-inclusive resort is sub-par or “gross.” That could not have been further from our experience. Because of those reviews I was even anticipating only “ok” food, but everything was delicious. This is a picture of an octopus appetizer with couscous and lychee. It was so good!!
During dinner, S and I watched as something- that wasn’t big enough to be a boat, but big enough to see from miles away, with a giant red blinking light was floating through the ocean… then eventually we saw it get caught in the waves and then wash to shore about a quarter mile away. So, after dinner we went adventuring.
We eventually found it quite a ways away from our resort with people and staff around it taking pictures. What is this? I’m guessing it must have been a giant buoy that got knocked loose?
There were so many crustaceans and other sea gunk that was stuck to the bottom of it. It has a marina’s logo on it. I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows what this is for sure!
The next morning we were supposed to go on a huge all-day tour of the Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá which was a few hours away from where we staying. We woke up to get breakfast but that ended up being the last activity we’d get to do together during the day. S had woken up with a really bad throat, sinus, cough situation. So he was not feeling up for a 12 hour excursion. He went back to bed and I carried on..
Gotta admit it was a little weird going on such a long tour with at least a hundred other people who were all paired off into couples, best friends, families .. but I was so glad I went! We were traveling on one of those huge coach buses that first took us to Tulum. We spend about an hour in this small village were you could get something to eat or look through their craft shops.
They had so many cool pieces there! These are whistle/noise makers that, when you blow into it, makes the sound of a Jaguar. Jaguars, snakes and men were huge themes in Mayan culture and you see them a lot in their artwork and carvings. I ended up getting my dad a Christmas present here and a few things for S and I.
After that short stop it was on to Chichén Itzá! It’s one of the Wonders of the Modern Worlds and such a bucket list item for me! I wasn’t the best student when I started middle school and I remember the only topic that really caught my attention, and therefore did well in, was studying the Aztecs and the Mayans.
I was so in awe when we checked out the Pokolpok arena. It’s a game they’d play in stone arenas like this one that has curved walls at the top. Players would pass around a rubber ball without using their hands and try to get it through one of the stone rings hanging towards the top on either side. The game would end as soon as a player was able to do that, so sometimes games would last for hours and hours. Sacrifices were a huge part of Mayan culture when it came to what they believed would help their agriculture, weather, trade or anything else. Some historians say the captain of the losing team would be killed and sacrificed, but other experts say the captain of the winning team would be the one killed since it’d be the blood of a winner.
It is incredible to see these massive structures and remember that at the time, there were other civilizations around the world who were already working with steel and some early forms of modern technology … but the Mayans weren’t. They just used the resources that were in the dense jungles around them and still were able to create such impressive architecture. When you hear from the tour guides about the precision, thought and connection to their culture and religion that went into their buildings, it’s unbelievable. This is El Castillo which was meant to mark the spring and fall equinoxes. Apparently because of the way it was built, the number of stairs and the number of levels all made it so during that specific time of the year, the setting sun would cast the shadow that would imitate a snake moving down the stairway of the pyramid.
I could go on and on and on about all the interesting things I learned, but I really would recommended adding Chichén Itzá to your travel bucket list to check out yourself too! After a short guided tour we were able to wander around the archaeological site for an hour. Here’s a picture of the lanes through the jungle that I was walking through and got lost in twice on my way to find this:
El Caracol! Or, The Observatory. According to my tour guide, the Mayan Calendar is the second most accurate calendar in the world. Second to NASA’s and the Mayan’s did it without any computers or modern technology and created it thousands of years ago. It’s so impressive to see how in tune they were with the world, space and time. The three windows on the top of the tower would also help identify when equinoxes where happening. Again, I could just go on and on so here are a few more pictures of some of the cool carvings and architecture around the site.
An amazing experience!
After stopping for lunch, the tour let us wander around Ik Kil which is a huge sinkhole that The Mayans used for swimming, relaxation and sacrificing. It’s 85 feet below the ground, and the water itself is even deeper than that. Pictures couldn’t really do it justice, it was magnificent. This picture was taken about half way down the cenote in a little alcove that you could walk around in. People are able to go to the very bottom where the water is and jump off of cliff sides there. After that it was time for the 3 hour drive back to the resort.
I had a great time but was pretty sad that S couldn’t join because he (and anyone really) would have loved that excursion! He napped most of the day but was able to get this absolutely GORGEOUS picture of the sun setting over the ocean while he was waiting for the tour bus to get back. When I was looking through his phone for pictures for this post I was speechless and honestly really jealous that I missed it! Wow!
The next day we headed back to reality in Colorado. While it was a pretty short trip that ended up feeling a little shorter because of the weather and S not feeling well, it was still such a fun experience and I can’t wait to get back to Mexico soon. We’re hoping to go to a different city next time… any suggestions?