So Monday was a whirlwind. I’m kind of glad we started with this trip, because we were at the peak of our energy, and afterwards, we were whipped! At 7:45am, we took a tour bus with our guide named Alex to Colonial Volladolid in Yucatan, and surrounding areas. Alex was full of life and very passionate about, well…everything. He spoke of something called Mayan Energy, and said that he used his energy to travel the world! He meets people through tours and random places and walks through life with them, staying at their homes across the world. He was a pretty neat guy, to say the least.
We were on our way to a Mayan outpost that takes care of one of the tourist cenotes (the big holes in the ground caused from sinkholes. Cenotes is a Mayan word, meaning sinkhole. It’s meaning in Spanish, according to Alex, is “big boobs”) while Alex taught us many many things about the Mayan culture. We learned about the history of Mayans as it relates to our history books (Christopher Columbus), about how despite the fact that our History channel says they are extinct, there are actually about 3 million full blooded Mayans still living today, about Obsidian, an energy rock that is used for healing, and about Noni, the fruit Mayans eat that scientist thinks is the reason they never get cancer, arthritis, and even diabetes (until Coca Cola started coming to the jungles recently, that is). It was fascinating, and our entire 80 minute trip was filled with information, straight from a guy who really lived it.
This is the first stop we made. The little village had a smaller cenote in the back, but this stop was more for souvenirs. We had the opportunity to get handcrafted items made from actual Mayans. The top left picture is of the Mayan Zodiac, and the bottom left is the toll we passed on the way there. The little hut you see with straw for a roof is called a Palapa, and you’ll see several more pictures of these homes, as they were everywhere in Cancun.
This Mayan woman was making tortillas by hand, and is dressed in customary Mayan clothing. She was living in a Palapa with a hammock for a bed, a table for her religious items, and a fire pit to make her tortillas, which was her source of income. They were really good! We made sure to say the Mayan word for thank you, which sounds like “June Boutique.” We also learned the word for “good day”, which sounds like “Mal-0-keen.” The sauce in the tortilla is usually served with habaneros, which are very popular with the Mayan people, but were too hot for us. We learned that children are started on jalapenos very young, to ween them towards habeneros when they are older. That’s one way to do it…
This was by far the biggest and best cenote we saw. We actually got to swim in it! The water was clear and very cold, and we saw lots of small catfish swimming around. Hardly anyone else dared to get it though, so it turned out to be quite romantic. They had soothing music playing too, but we got out when another tour bus came, and suddenly 100 people were watching us swim. Awkward.
This was the area surrounding the restaurant/experience “Hacienda la Guadalupana.” We saw our third and final cenote, this one looking like a huge pit with trees growing out of it. We learned that in the olden days, this is the pit where young virgins were sacrificed to the “gods” in exchange for rainy seasons, and then thrown into the cenote. Alex demonstrated (almost) with the ceremonial knife they used, made of the energy mineral Obsidian. We also watched a man who made his living sewing hammocks, which takes 15 days to make (watch it here:
http://youtu.be/iiS7aNod9eI), and had an amazing Mayan lunch of lime soup, Pollo Pibil (chicken cooked in a hole, which was succulent), and Lomitos con Huevo (steak with eggs, although it was a lot more like pulled pork).
Next, we traveled to the middle of a city in Yucatan, along the way seeing fields of blue agave (looks like blue pineapple; makes tequila), very colorful graveyards, 16th century homes, and the La Rafaelita, a machine that made the first paved roads in Mexico, but once it broke down, the town decided to leave it there and build around it (bottom right picture).
Once we got to the Tequila Museum, we took a tour that explained exactly how tequila was made (agave takes 8 years to grow and about 22 lbs of it is required for one bottle of Tequila!), and got to taste the different levels of it as well (straight from the barrel- White Tequila, aged three years- Anejo, and aged five years- Extra Anejo). There is a funny little toast that we did every time we drank (see it here:
http://youtu.be/Yf1J2gnCKGI). We met and spoke to a Mayan boy who worked in the family business of making Xtabentun, and the “Mayan Paparazzi” put our picture on a bottle of it. Of course, we bought it. It tastes like really really really strong licorice and honey booze (two videos:http://youtu.be/uCkc3P_adQ0 tells a little bit of history, you get to see our reactions to the drink, and hear the guy speak Mayan, and http://youtu.be/9v-Psn3oEbw is the Mayan guy telling us all about the drink .
Our last stop of the day was the town square of the city of Volladolid, and we got special permission to visit the City Hall for 15 minutes and saw these beautiful paintings, that depicted pretty much all of the history we had learned the entire day. I would have been interested, but by that point we’d been on the tour for seven hours and it was SO HOT. After the 15 minutes we just went to a bar with Alex and relaxed.
We came back to the hotel and went swimming, utilizing the swim up bar for Pina Coladas and a Blue Hawaiian. Once we were cooled off we got ready for dinner and took bus to the Sunrise lobby. We were trying to go to all of the restaurants (17), so we had sushi appetizers at Momo restaurant and then dessert at Palapa Fragatta. Then we shopped around the vendors and watched fire painting (so cool, watch
http://youtu.be/IPdgK4ujL0g) and got ice cream cones (yes, our second dessert of the night) while we waited for our evening show…
Yep. Michael Jackson. It was awesome of course, and I got some videos (here
http://youtu.be/TNv6_3BYYPo and “Bad” http://youtu.be/QD-ZWHBbKvI). After some late night drinks at the bar (strawberry daiquiri and amaretto sour), we ordered room service (burger and chicken nuggets) and went to sleep. Epic day. I get tired just writing about it…