Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Today I am on the Tipico tour and like all the tours, it involves being picked up at the hotel entrance by a tour bus. When the bus shows up today, it has a driver, a guide and me. The guide tells me that she is a French speaking tour guide and this bus will be filled with French speaking tourists. She is going to have me driven to a pick up location where I will be switched to another bus.
Our bus ends up in a Cancun gas station where we patiently wait for the second bus to appear. When it does I say goodbye to my French speaking tour guide as she greets all the French speaking tourists from bus #2. I get on the second bus to meet the tour guide who informs me that she is a Dutch speaking tour guide and everyone on the bus is Dutch. Except me.
After some careful international negotiations, the tour guide and I agree that she can ignore me altogether which means she is spared from having to repeat everything to me all day long except life threatening warnings or specific times to get back on the bus.
My camera and I are thrilled.
"First stop is the small town of Leona Vicario where you’ll visit the local church...
...before boarding the famous bici-taxi, the three-wheeled vehicle that is the most popular form of transport in the region, for a tour of the community."
Photo courtesy of the bici-taxi driver
"You’ll call in at the school where you’ll meet local children, watch them studying and playing and see just how much they appreciate something as simple as a pencil or crayons. A craft workshop is our next stop, where skilled carpenters turn fallen wood into a vase or ashtray in less than 10 minutes."
"During the visit, you’ll also see the village cemetery and learn how Mexicans may fear death but also honor their ancestors. They believe that they return to earth every year on November 1 and 2, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and they mark the occasion with candlelight vigils, masses and altars laden with fruit, flowers and the food and drink that the deceased enjoyed during their lives."
Here was when not speaking Dutch came into play to my advantage. While the tour group stood outside this walled cemetery and listening to the Dia de Los Muertos blah-blah, I walked through the cemetery and took pictures. When I was done, I looked around for the group who had actually left and boarded our bus again. Yup, they never actually entered the cemetery.
This is the local tortilla factory which is a small business in the village that prepares the tortilla dough for everyone to purchase as needed.
"You’ll then meet a local family and visit their home for a glimpse of village life. As they prepare traditional Mexican snacks, they’ll give you cooking tips and you’ll all sit down to share a delicious meal."
"On the return leg of the journey, a visit to the picturesque fishing village of Puerto Morelos for a stroll round the main square and along the waterfront."
With Maggie Ley and a bunch of stiffs on the way to dinner that night.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Today we are off to Isla Mujeres for a boat ride to the Contoy Bird Sanctuary: "Visit a real desert island inhabited only by birds and sea turtles. Take a boat through the Caribbean to Contoy, an island bird sanctuary to the north of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. If you are a nature lover, don't miss this trip. The boat ride takes about two hours through a stretch of water in shades of azure and turquoise you didn't know existed. Upon arrival at Contoy, visitors can relax on the beach, swim or snorkel with placid rays and colorful reef fish in the bay and watch the birds. Declared a national park in 1998, Contoy is a refuge for 150 species of native and migrant birds including the roseate spoonbill, great blue heron and snowy egret. The mangroves are also home to large rookeries of brown pelicans, frigate birds and double crested cormorants."
One of the stops on the way to Contoy was to allow our group to snorkel. This is one of the other boats in the area while our group was in the water. I don't swim so I stayed on board and enjoyed the great view, weather and the sea.
Our boat at the Contoy Island dock
The Contoy Island Research Station
See this great view? See how far you can see? I thought you could not see far enough as I got this idea to hop up on a rock to get higher. Well...evidently I am not the hopper I used to be as all I did was bang my shin against the rock and start bleeding like crazy. To make matter worse, I was about a mile from the research station on a solo walkabout so it was me and an nature. After the shock was over I walked back to the boat and got on board. I must have been more "visible" than I thought as the crew came rushing forward with their first aid kit to administer to my shin.
Luckily my leg did not hurt so I could walk around and see the sights of Isla Mujeres.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Today I went for a solo walkabout Cancun. This part of Cancun is known as The Hotel Zone because pretty much everything is...a hotel. I optimistically felt like if I walked far enough I would see something I could photograph.
Just about a mile down the road to the left as you leave our hotel complex was the an archaeological site, called San Miguelito, on the same grounds as the Maya Cancun Museum. The museum was small but very well done and very interesting to go through. The museum had a display of alebrijes which are well known to me from my trips to Oaxaca where they flourish.
I was so tired and disappointed that I took a taxi home from downtown rather than walking. I am really glad that I went on the excursions that I did as I much prefer the "real" Mexico away from Cancun than the rows of hotels that make up the hotel zone.
Maggie Ley and I at lunch doing the hand thing
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Getting to and back from Cancun is easy and I was on a plane at noon and home by 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
I want to thank my friends Theodore B. Hertel, Jr., and Maggie Ley for letting me see this part of Mexico. It took a bit to get me there but now we can say we always will have Cancun.