Saturday, November 24, 2012

MEXICO: More Than A Beach Part 1 - Tulum & Riviera Maya

A photo of old photos of Tulum
CANCUN, QUINTANA ROO
I happened to be somewhere at the beach in Mexico when the San Francisco Giants were playing in the World Series. Perhaps it was not a complete coincidence. I found late October (World Series season) to be the best time to go to Mexico. My recent visit to Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas took me back to my trip to Cancun many years ago. I was in Cancun when the San Francisco Giants played in the 2002 World Series. I stayed at Club Med, a resort that offered beautiful surroundings - powdery white sand, pristine beaches, snorkeling area and lagoons – and various water sport activities. So it was an unlikely place to stay inside and watch a game on TV. Besides, my European friends did not care about the game of baseball. So I found myself at the beachside bar watching the World Series on a large screen TV and cheering for the Giants all by myself. That experience stuck with me since. But that was not the only reason why the trip to Cancun was one of my most memorable trips.

I went to Club Med Cancun to check out the beach scene and to relax. What I found was a beautiful playground. The amazing color of the white powdery soft sand contrasting with the blue Caribbean Sea was a delight to the senses. The atmosphere fostered camaraderie and friendship. I met a few people my age and I participated in all water sport activities: diving, snorkeling and windsurfing. As if we did not get enough snorkeling around Club Med, my newfound friends and I decided to take a side trip to the marine reserves and the caves near Tulum and to visit the Mayan ruins. Little did I realize that the resort that offered an ‘antidote to civilization’ was my bridge to discovering an ancient civilization.

We walked among the ruins in Tulum and climbed up the very narrow steps to the top of the pyramid. Our local guide gave us some narrative on the Mayan culture while showing some interesting points of interest such as the Mayan architecture and engineering: the walls, the base, the narrow columns, the doorway, the narrow windows, the watch tower, an observatory for tracking time or the movement of the sun. While the visit was culturally enriching, the sight was equally inspiring. The whole structural ruins emerged from the middle of the jungle. The pyramid seated atop a bluff with the blue Caribbean Sea in the background. While it was an exhilarating experience to climb up the pyramid, coming back down the very narrow uneven steps was another unforgettable experience.

On our most recent cruise to Mexico, the San Francisco Giants were once again playing in the World Series. This time I did not have to watch the game on TV because I wanted to make the most of my visit to Mexico by participating in on-shore excursions. So I just waited for my friends to ‘status me" with the Giants score on Facebook.

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