Saturday, 19 June 2010

Underwater adventures and fun in the sun

This is the first time I've had a chance to stop and draw breath in about two weeks.  I'm not complaining though.  The Boy and I are just back from a week's holiday in Mexico on the Mayan Riviera.  We stayed at a fantasic resort called the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya.

Day 1 (Mon): Up at 5am.  Travel and more travel.  Went back in time and arrived at the hotel at 17:30 Mexican time.  Then food and bed.

Day 2 (Tues):  The Boy was looking forward (very unlike him) to a leisurely float around the Rio Lente or Lazy River in the resort.  He'd been looking up stuff on the web before we went and decided that floating round the lazy River in a big rubber ring was just what the doctor ordered.  Unfortunately he almost needed a doctor after he fell off the rubber ring while trying to get into it and skinned his elbow off the bottom.  Did I laugh? Absolutely!

So, off we went to explore and while we were wandering along the beach we found the Dive Centre:

We arranged a trial scuba session in the pool and then had out first real diving experience 45 feet under the Caribbean.  It was awesome.

Day3 (Weds): Fat Cat trip on a catamaran.  Stopped at a little bay with coral reef and got into the water with snorkels.  I can't say I was impressed with the sea water's refusal to vacate the snorkel tube and my mouth for most of the time my face was in the water but I got used to it and we got really close to some big turtles.  No photos though as we didn't have an underwater camera.

On the way back we all jumped into the sea wearing lifejackets like nappies and drank beer.  Health & safety? What's that?

Day 4 (Thurs):  Double trip today to visit 2 ancient Mayan heritage sites.  First of all to Coba.  Lovely place in the middle of the jungle with little bits of history scattered all over.  There are still piles of unexcavated rubble dotted about the jungle waiting to have their contents discovered.  The highlight of the trip was being able to climb to the top of a Mayan pyramid called Nohoch Mul.

Given my fear of heights, climbing up was the easy bit.  It was steep.  It was high - 122 uneven steps of varying heights. It was downright terrifying on the way back down.  Needless to say to The Boy bounded both up and down it while I slithered back down on my behind, holding on to a rope hand rail and refusing to let go of it for anything.

After that we had lunch and drove a few miles to Tulum.  It has been properly excavated and is all very well manicured and pretty.  Sadly, you can't climb or enter any of the buildings there.  You can only wonder at the abilities of the Mayans from the outside of them.

Day 5 (Fri): Scuba again.  We decided to go for our scuba diver licence so it was back to the pool for more training first - practice swimming a breadth of the pool with no mask, take your mask off under water and put it back on, then clear it, practice mastering your bouyancy, etc.  Then lunch and back to the dive centre for a trip out to the reef.  There was a bit more panic associated with repeating the training exercises at a depth of 45 feet.  If you get it wrong down there you can't just stand up to get your head above water like you can in the pool.  We bought a cheap underwater camera in the hotel shop and took it down with us.  The photos aren't great but you can see us in them, just.

This is me doing the "throw away your regulator and find it again" exercise 45 feet down:

This is The Boy:

Afterwards we sat in the Dive Centre and did our exam for the Scuba Diver licence.

Day 6 (Sat): Our last trip. We went to Chichen Itza, recently proclaimed one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.  Coba and Tulum were wonderful but Chichen Itza is just out of this world.  There is so much to see there and it is all amazing.  It's a shame you have to constantly dodge the local traders offering all sorts of Mayan souvenirs for "one dollar".  They'd probably sell a lot more if they'd give people a chance to breath.  We were expecting an unbearably hot day but, fortunately, it rained, with a vengeance, and cooled us all down. This is a slightly soggy me after the downpour:

We went for food after Chichen Itza and then were taken to Ik Kil Cenote for a swim in the underground pool.  That was a gorgeous place as well.

Day 7 (Sun): Our last full day.  We had arranged another scuba session at the dive Centre.  This time we we descended to 60 feet and went down mob handed. Ok, there were 5 divers and 2 guides but that's twice as many people as we'd had before.  The fish we saw down there were amazing, every colour under the sun and all shapes and sizes. There was everything there from tiny fish hardly a couple of cm long to a sting ray that was over 2 metres.  The colours and shapes in the reef are amazing too.  Thankfully we didn't see any sharks on any of our dives.  I'm not sure how I would have reacted to seeing one.

Before dinner we went for a walk on the beach with the camera and The Boy took our photo.

Doesn't that view behind us look blissful?

Day 8 (Mon): Time to go home.  Long day again.  Left Mexico at 16:30-ish, went 6 hours forward in time and landed at Glasgow Aiport at 7:00 am Tuesday.  Thankfully we didn't start back at work until Thursday so had time to try and recover from jet lag.

A week was not long enough.  We'll just have to save up our pennies and go back some time.  I had been hoping to be able to buy Mexican silver and other local stuff that I could use to make jewellery but we never went anywhere that I could do that.