The Journey – June 15 – 24, 2014
Linda and I decided to join this trip sponsored by our church, the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa. We had a great time on a trip to New Zealand in 2013 and wanted to repeat the fun. Spirit Tours runs the tour and Jim Cramer is the organizer. He could not make this trip, so his son Tim and daughter Gitana filled in for him.
Packing for Mexico in the summer is easy. All you need are flip-flops, a swim suit, a few T-shirts and lots of sun screen. Actually, by the time we got done packing Linda’s shoes, we were up to two checked in bags and two carry-ons. (My camera and computer did add a bit to this load).
The flight left Sunday evening, was 6 hours+ to Charlotte NC, a 1 ½ hour layover and then a 2 ½ flight to Cancun. A short bus ride got us to our first stop, near Tulum.
These trips are not just about sight-seeing, they are also spiritual. Every morning we start with a ½ hour of meditation and then ½ hour of yoga. Then breakfast—yoga before yogurt! The wonderful meditation that Rev. Edward Vilojen focused on during this trip was…
May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
And may you be happy.
We would meditate on this for someone we loved; then we would think of them doing it for us. Then others: someone with whom we had difficulties, our group, and everyone.
Our first stop was the luxurious Maroma Hotel near the Tulum ruins. It was one of the most graceful and charming places that I have ever visited. Frequently I saw the wait-staff in caucuses and I assume that they were discussing how to make each visitor’s stay perfect.
Here are pictures of our room and the unique way they serve beer on the beach—it’s in a cone-shaped vase filled with ice, and the beer glass is also cone-shaped and fits inside the ice vase. The only problem is that you never want to put the beer down.
The food was a marvelous blend of traditional Mexican dishes. In the morning I had Huevos Rancheros Oaxacan style—complete with a side of fried grasshoppers. They had a rich smoky taste, and were very nutritious (or had better be considering the psychic trauma).
Then we were off to Tulum, the only significant Mayan ruin near the ocean. It is a marvelous site rising up to a “castle” on a bluff that overlooks the sea. Castille was a Spanish word that the Europeans used to describe that they saw. In reality it was a religious site. Here are photos from the site.
Can you see the face in the corner of the stonework below?
The next day we took a bus to our hotel at the site of the Chichen Itza, a World Heritage site. Along the way we stopped at Valladolid, Yucatán, a typical Mexican town with a square (zocolo) and a church. We had lunch there and watched Chile defeat Spain in the World Cup.
At Chichen Itza, we stayed at the Hacienda Chitzen Resort. It is within walking distance of the site. While it was not quite as luxurious as the Maroma, it made up for it in its history and informal setting in the middle of the Yucatán jungle. For history, it was originally built in 1523 by the Spanish. In the 1920’s explorer Edward Thompson bought the hotel and the entire Chichen Itza ruins for 70 dollars in silver!
For our visit to the site, we dressed in clothes for warm weather. Even with this precaution, the heat and the humidity melted our Northern California bodies. It’s hard to imagine people building these huge temples in this site without wheels and without metal for the stonework.
We learned that Edward Thompson and other explorers not only cleared away the vines and trees that covered the site, they gained access to the interiors by use of dynamite. Many of the beautiful objects were sold or sent to museums around the world. But the site is still wonderful.
The first picture is of the observatory. It used the Mayan calendar to predict when to plant and harvest crops. The second is the Pyramid. There is another earlier pyramid inside of it! Thirty years ago I was able to go inside and see it and the jaguar statue that it holds. While outside, when you clap your hands, the sound rings out across the site due to the acoustics.
This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Mexican Riviera. Not much to do but swim in the ocean—or the pool. They even have a heated salt-water spa. These two pictures are from Alicia.
The town of Isla Mujeres can be reached by the Mexican equivalent of a Thai tuk-tuk. In this case it is a golf cart that has a maximum speed of about 10 MPH. There are no turn signals, gas gauge, or seat belts. They have centrifugal clutches that buck when you get them to start. Think of an adult version of Mr. Toad’s wild Ride. We almost lost our friend Nancy off the back when I started to move and she was not quite settled…
The town itself has a colorful chock-a-block cemetery with all the graves above ground. Like New Orleans, they can’t be below ground because of the high water table—coffins tend to float. Here’s some pictures of the town.
Note there are hyperlinks to many of the web sites that provide more information.
If anyone wants high resolution copies of these photos, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
I learned about travel logs about 25 years ago when I read one prior to taking a trip to Mexico. No pictures, but the story was very interesting. I started doing the same, and as digital photography became available I included pictures. Ditto for web links.
If you want any copies of past travel logs I have them for:
· New Zealand
· Paris and Munich
· England, Norway and Ireland
· Monhegan Island (a small island off the coast of Maine)
· Thailand (Bangkok, Chaing Mai and Phuket)
· Hawaii (Big Island and Kauai)
· Mendocino, Portland, Gualala and other stops along the west coast
· Wild Flower tour of central California and the coast in spring
· New York
· Vermont and Montreal
· Key West, Tampa, etc
· New Orleans
· Naval Weapons Testing Lab north of Los Vegas