Maya Riviera – Akumal
26 March – 3 April, 2006

Usually we have gone to Mazatlan sometime during the winter for anywhere up to 5 weeks, but this year, it was just too busy and when the opportunity came up to visit a different part of Mexico, we took it…and what a wonderful week it was.

We had been to Cancun before, in fact been there more than once and seen quite a bit of the area but it had been at least 10 years since we had been to this side of Mexico. Our plane landed at the airport and then it was an hour and a half ride to Akumal situated in the heart of the Riviera Maya, 100km (62 miles) south of Cancun. Akumal was the first resort on the Riviera Maya, created in the 1950’s. Our wonderful little one bedroom suite right on the beach was in the Hacienda de la Tortuga. Our balcony overlooked the ocean and a hammock greeted us there for that afternoon siesta. Some pictures of our room including this really neat turtle on the wall.

Even Tom found time to relax, although he did have to make the trek to the internet café every day to collect email for us. We walked a lot while here, especially down to the main entrance to the resort where all the restaurants were. All great places to eat and the fresh seafood was my favourite! That was our way of getting some good walking in each day, plus we got to see what was happening in the resort. What we noticed along one of our walks was the use of vegetative beds to help with waste water. I took a picture of the sign that was with one so you could read about it yourself. There was a wonderful little outdoor market that that had fantastic fruit and vegetables. I also saw at a little shop the Crocs that I bought...they are everywhere now!

There is an incredible lagoon close to our place call Yal Ku Lagoon. This is where Tom got in some fantastic snorkeling while I walked around the area and took photos. It is a very special eco system and has received the protected status of an ecological zone by the authorities and as such there are certain rules that should be adhered to. NO suntan lotions or blocks of any kind, so be aware of that and wear a t-shirt and hat to protect your head from the sun. Tom kind of learned that to wear a hat was to protect his head from a good sunburn! The water was so clear you could see all kinds of fish right from the rocks surrounding the lagoon. The water is not deep at all so it’s a family place as well. I saw a dad teaching his small daughter how to snorkel while there.

I also saw something else in the garden surrounding the lagoon, many pieces of sculpture! All kinds of different pieces of artwork that looked wonderful in among the garden…a beautiful place indeed to spend some time, especially once all of the little vans had left with their guests who were there to snorkel.

We then decided to rent a vehicle for a day and drive down towards Belize. I have a couple of pictures of that including Tom standing on a pier and looking back towards the beach. That was so much fun we kept the Jeep for another day and drove to Coba and Tulum before taking it back.

Coba is another impressive site of Mayan ruins just 40 minutes west of Tulum and one area that we had not seen on previous trips. The site features a pyramid over 100 feet high set in the jungle. It seemed to take longer to get there than we thought but the road is less traveled and the scenery along the way was of little villages and quite interesting. We arrived late morning and although it was quite hot, not than unbearable because there was a lot of shade from the trees…bring lots of water though as you do get thirsty! Tom decided to get a guide to tell us about the place. We had about a mile to walk to the ruin and passed by a lot of carts coming out holding people that had walked in but were too tired to walk back…we did the same and were thankful for those carts on the way out.

I also took some photos of these tiny little houses with thatched roofs, quite unique to this area and of course a local garden center on our way back to the hotel.

We decided to visit Tulum on the way back from Coba and to Akumal. I hesitated about seeing it again, as we had seen it twice before but since that was a while ago - we thought why not! Glad we did because it had sure changed since the last time. Much cleaner and more organized now. At the entrance you can watch the local pole dancers before proceeding. Even with my filter on the pictures are really too bright for my liking but at least you can see a bit of what we saw while there. Tom is standing just at the entrance. The site itself is set on the most magnificent cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea ... and now they have built stairs so that you can go down to the water and enjoy the bath like temperatures. We had a lot of fun in the water – Tom getting splashed by the waves and me worrying about my camera getting soaked! Tulum is the only Mayan city built directly on the sea and thought to date from 400-900A.D. The main pyramid, El Castillo, has an impressive view of the Caribbean and is also aligned with a natural break in the world's second largest barrier reef and functioned as a lighthouse for Mayan boats. Tulum means , "walled city". Note that you cannot walk on the ruins anymore - that had changed from the last time we were there.

Then I finish off the trip by taking some pictures of this couple who had just gotten married an hour before. We were sitting at a bar having a drink when she came up to the bar and we didn’t realize that her new husband was behind us getting a drink himself. After chatting with them a few moments we discover that they are from Calgary and on our walk had walked by the hotel where they had set up for their wedding outside. Anyway to make a long story short, they could not believe we had been married for 30 years and we were happy for them to be celebrating their first hour of marriage. Hopefully someday they will see these pictures of themselves when they were at their most happiest!

A super relaxing week in a country that we just love! As a side note, our plane that was supposed to leave on Saturday afternoon from Cancun did not leave until 6:30 am Sunday morning, so we booked a room for the night, took the bus down the strip and walked around for awhile. Found a fantastic place to eat, brand new, facing the lagoon and enjoyed our meal while watching the sun set. Even though we were ticked about the flight change we made good use of the Cancun has changed in ten a very good way!



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