We are in Cancun staying at the Royal Mayan Resort. Mucho Gracias (Thank you very much) MOM. It’s mom’s resorts Time-Share that we are using. LUXURY… and we are enjoying it. Nice relaxing and a view of the ocean and three swimming pools from the balcony.
Actually I am resting up. I got a bit of a cold in Oaxaca and it just took all my energy. So, now I am getting rested and back to health. Soon Jeong is enjoying the beach. We will visit Chichen Itza on Wed. It is claimed to be one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world.
In Merida we stayed at a Youth Hostel. It was pretty good but we had to wash our own laundry….(see photo of “The Queen”)
From Merida we signed up for a tour of Uxmal. I liked it because it had some different shaped buildings. And, getting back to looking at the land and drawing conclusions about how people live….. THe Yucatan peninsula is flat. I mean FLAT. Biggest bump they got is about 180 feet. SOoooo there are no rivers. So how did the people of Uxmal get water?? They built many huge Cisterns. Big holes in the ground that they used to collect rain water or in some cases were filled from underground springs. There are many of them around the peninsula… you can swim in them. Uxmal has a “Light” show at night. It was not what Soon Jeong and I expected. We thought we would experience up-beat music with drums and lights timed to the music. BUt no. It was a narration of the history of the Mayan people and the people of Uxmal with slowly changing lights on the ruins. We did not rent the head phones with the English translation so we just heard the Spanish narration. It was Okay but they need to spice it up.
From here we will go to San Cristobal. Then on to Guatemala.
The following is something I wrote on the bus from Palenque to Merida
Tuesday Oct 21, 2008 On the bus to Merida
We are three weeks into our trip. Already I feel like we have packed in a lot of things that are part adventure and part education and revelation.
My image of Mexico was a country that is hot, dry, dusty filled with poverty stricken towns and sweaty Hombres just hanging around looking for a victim. Of course these are the stereotypes portrayed in movies. But that is all I had to form my image of Mexico.
My image has greatly changed much for the better. Mexico City was the first surprise; With a population of 22 million it ranks in the top 3 of the worlds largest cities. There were lots of nice parks in the city and some really nice neighbourhoods The center of town, called Zocalo, sported many old Spanish colonial style buildings layed out around the center plaza; the classic style of Spanish city planning.
Getting around the city was cheap and easy via the subway. 2 pesos lets you ride to any destination on the entire subway system.
There were more things in Mexico City that we missed than things we saw. And we even stretched our stay to 12 days.
From the capital we moved to Oaxaca City. I wonderful city that sits in a large and long valley sandwiched between Seria Mountains. Because Tourism is the largest industry in Oaxaca, the town is very tourist-friendly and feels rather safe.
Soon Jeong and I really enjoyed the nearby ruins of Monte Alban. On the very top of a mountain is a well groomed flat plaza encased with small pyramids, buildings, and walls that were built by XXXX. It was quite impressive. I have a hunch that the atmosphere at Monte Alban hits at what Machu Picchu must feel like.
Oaxaca to Palenque. I thought Palenque was good but Soon Jeong thought is was nice but not worth the 16 hr overnight bus and two days lodging at a local hotel to see ONLY Palenque. The town of Palenque has nothing of noteworthy interest. Its just one main street of private convenient stores, small restaurants, travel agents, money changers, two banks and one Berger King.
I like to travel on the bus in the daytime. Daytime I can see the terrain. Not only is it beautiful in a variety of way but I can also see some clues as to how the people live, how they harmonize and make the most of their environment. Jarrard Diamond in his book Guns Germs and Steel, make a case of how the economic achievements and wealth of a country is directly tied to the wealth of the land.
In the higher altitudes Mexico has wonderful mountains and yes, snow. Roll down from the mountains and you will go through cactus country. Cactus, actually Agave plants, translate into regions that produce Tequila and Mescal. The blue Agave plant is used to make Tequila. The Espavin Agave plant is used for Mescal. Mescal has a deeper, more earthy taste.
Around Palenque the weather is much more humid and the land is flatter. Lots of Jungle-type of fauna and large pastures spotted with large leaf trees, banana trees and many other varieties. None of the so densely packed as to make a forest, but enough for ample shade and places for lots of birds to hang out and watch the cows in the pastures.
The best surprise has been the people we have met. Genuinely nice people willing to help and share. I get a feeling at some level Mexican people want to change their image of themselves in the eyes of Americans and others around the world.
Well, they are doing a good job of it in my case.
We have 10 more days in Mexico and we are heading to the Yucatan Peninsula. I have been told that the culture there is quite different. We will also visit one of the Premer Mayan ruins; Chichen Itza, and finish our stay by enjoying the Day of the Dead celebration.
Looking forward to it.
All our best
Scott & Soon Jeong