Thursday, October 09, 2008

Second Honeymoon in Playa del Carmen

What a trip we had! I spent way too much time researching and planning (Jared was in charge of the anniversary itself and I was in charge of this trip - and after he did such a great job with our anniversary I really wanted to do my part to make this trip great! And with all the great information available on the internet, it's hard to know when to say when) but everything turned out really wonderfully - all my research and hopes led to experiences better than I even imagined and we had lots of great serendipity and bonus discoveries along the way. We enjoyed beautiful scenery, ate really amazing and authentic but way cheap food, explored exciting new places, and had some great adventures. I'll let pictures do most of the talking here, but some favorite parts were:
  • BEING TOGETHER: enjoying just hanging out together and experiencing new things together with no worries about kids or work or schedules - it was just so fun to try so many new things and discover fun stuff together and just relax with each other. Jared is one fabulous traveling companion - always up for everything, always excited about everything, always interested and observant, always helpful and accommodating. Wow, I married me a great guy!
  • FOOD: ordering random stuff off menus we totally didn't understand in places stuffed with Mexicans and just us two "gringos" - turned out to be some of the best food ever - amazing tacos, perfectly spiced beef, wonderful salsas, amazing fresh fish prepared mouth's watering remembering it all.
  • MUSIC: hearing music everywhere we went - great live music on the streets, mariachi bands playing in every restaurant we passed, fun, upbeat, happy music pouring out of every home and shop and car.
  • GOING CHEAP AND NATIVE: riding on a "collectivo" van out of Playa and heading for what we hoped was Akumel Bay where we'd heard there's great snorkeling (hard to tell if the driver really understood us at all...) - so fun to bump along the road in this van with a bunch of Mexicans headed to the different little towns on the highway, mariachi music blaring, wondering where we might actually end up. We did end up exactly where we wanted to be and it worked out perfectly.
  • SNORKELING: spending a whole afternoon snorkeling in Akumel where we found gorgeous reef fish, so many beautiful sea turtles and a sting ray. Wow - God must have had fun creating so many wild and wonderful sea creatures and sea plants! We chased down a few turtles and Jared tried grabbing onto one for a ride but that turtle gave Jared a backwards glance that told him on no uncertain terms to back off. It was seriously like swimming in an aquarium full of tropical fish - we were right in there with them, watching them dart around in and out of the coral, floating over the reefs and getting that "Superman" feeling of soaring above it all. We really had a remarkable afternoon and were out there snorkeling for 3 hours. It poured with rain for a little while and that seemed to make all the fish congregate in the hollows of the reefs and we could see them all the better. It was so beautiful and interesting and just plain fun!
  • OCEAN: Hearing the ocean, seeing the ocean, walking in that perfect white talcum powder sand, swimming in the ocean and feeling that rocking of the waves, seeing the many colors of the beautiful Caribbean.
Look at that white super-soft talcum-powder sand and beautiful water!
  • JUNGLE AND RUINS: spending a day exploring the ancient jungle of the Mayans - visiting a Mayan home complete with monkeys and pigs all about, seeing crocodiles, walking through a monkey reserve and seeing amazing butterflys and monkeys and beautiful lush moss and ferns and plants and feeling the coolness in the dark of the jungle floor on a hot hot day, taking a fun zip line ride through the jungle and over a lake, rappeling down into a mysterious and beauifully cool and clear underground pond (a cenote) after exeperiencing a Mayan cenote ceremony, exploring the still-jungle-covered ruins of Coba and climbing to the top of one of the tallest Mayan pyramids in the world.
Here we are getting ready to do a zip line through the jungle and over a lagoon -
those sticks in our hands were the "brakes" they gave us -
you hold the stick against the cable and it slows you right down.

We got to rappel down into a cenote
(beautiful, mysterious, crystal clear underground lake) - what a fun adventure!

This is the tallest pyramid at Coba (and one of the tallest in the world) and
we got to climb to the top. Coba's so beautiful and really sparks the imagination
with so many ruins still partially covered with jungle -
makes you feel like you're in an Indiana Jones movie or something like that.

View over the jungle from the top of the Coba pyramid -
mounds of covered ruins all around and a few other pyramid tops sticking up.
Coba was the government center for the Mayans and it covers about 35 square miles.

We visited a Mayan home and met a cute family and their pet monkey -
so interesting to see people living in much the same way as they did 1000 years ago.
Inside a Mayan home with our new monkey friend in the rafters - see the blackened ceiling? They were cooking tortillas over an open fire in this little one-roomed house.
  • GREAT HOTELS: We stayed at a great, cheap little place smack dab in the center of Playa del Carmen for the first three nights - Hotel Cielo. The guys who run it gave us wonderful recommendations of excellent and cheap places to eat and things to do. The bed wasn't exactly comfortable and the air conditioner was pretty darn loud - but the great people and location and ambiance made it totally worthwhile.
In our room at Hotel Cielo - loved the terra cotta tiles, beautiful wood work,
nice veranda, lovely handcarved one-of-a-kind furnishings.

View from the veranda at Hotel Cielo - fun to see all the vendors set up and tear down each day, great to hear the mariachi bands, fun to be right in the heart of it all.

View from the beautiful roof terrace of Hotel Cielo.
Sat up there on Sunday evening and listened to converence - such a perfect evening.

We stayed at the Magic Blue Hotel for our last night - decided to upgrade a bit for our last night and enjoyed a beautiful room with canopy bed and cool combination of thatched roof and very modern furnishings. The management sent up free tropical drinks and chocolate covered strawberries when they heard we were celebrating our anniversary - very nice!
Outside our room at the Magic Blue - beautiful pool, great balconies for every room -
and wow, just look at that handsome guy!

All in all, it was a wonderful wonderful trip. We had our overly hot and sweaty times, a little more rain than we'd hoped for, some sleep-deprivation, our share of confusion over directions and communication in Spanish - but everything worked out remarkably well and what great adventures we had! I'm more in love with my husband than ever and so grateful for this amazingly diverse and beautiful world we live in.


shawni said...

Hey Sar, Dave's waiting for me so I gotta run, but I wanted to tell you the pictures on here look awesome. I want you to plan the next trip Dave and I should be a travel agent! IT looks like you found the very best places and those hotels look awesome! I'm so glad you got to go. I'll be back to read all the details soon...and I want to talk and catch up. Sure love you adn I'm so glad it all worked out so well!

brittanimae said...

What an awesome trip!!! Congratulations on 10 years--you two sure are a great match. And Shawni's right--you should plan trips for the rest of us too.

Sleepless In St. George said...

great trip....lets plan our next trips together! HOw about Friday night?! You are such a great couple...great parents, friends, etc.

Eyrealm said...

I'm so glad you got to relax and kick back for a while...and this was a great place to do it! Thanks so much for the opportunity to be with your adorable kids! I liked the tub full of everything including the curling iron the best. Luckily there wasn't a plug that the cord could reach!


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