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Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
I have been hearing about Cancun for years as my brother and his wife used to go there every year. I finally made a trek down there in 2002 over the Thanksgiving break in the USA. It was balmy when I arrived at about 11 a.m. and continued to get hotter but the breeze kept it pleasant. After being assaulted by all kinds of taxi cab drivers and tour operators we made it out of the airport and took a bus to our hotel, a Hyatt, right on the beach. It is right in the center of the night life, at the tip of the point that is the northern most land on this part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
It was beautiful, but the beach was not very large, so my companion went cruising the strip that runs south of the point and the busy nightlife area. There the sand is talcum powder White and runs for miles in both directions. Indeed all you see is high rise hotel after high rise hotel and White sand beach as far as the eye can see. She worked some killer deal with the Ritz Carlton and then went down and magically got the Hyatt to refund our money. She really knew how to charm hotel workers!
So we stayed in the Ritz where the service was impeccable, and the breakfast buffet was to die for. In fact we stuffed ourselves every morning and just ate a light snack for dinner before partying in one of the numerous dance clubs.
I did love the Ritz Carlton, but there are many beautiful hotels there, so if you are on a budget, you can check Hotels.com to find one that will suit you.
In the daytime we went to the market and sampled local food and beer. It was quite fun and the Mayan people who are everywhere in this region of Mexico were charming and gracious. After we had seen all the local charming village, we spent our afternoons on the beach where the weather was perfect and the water was unbelievable. I have never felt such perfect ocean water. Not too cold, and not too warm, just exactly right for walking straight in.
And they have put a net across the inlet so no fish get in the swimming area. You can walk out very far before your body is submerged as the sand slides away very gradually. It’s more like a sand bar. So the temperature is perfect, there are no fish, and its shallow for at least 100 yards. Can you get any more perfect? No, I think not.
We also took advantage of being in Cancun to sample two local attractions, XCaret, and Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan Pyramid.
Both of the attractions were mind blowing in different ways and deserve their own page but I’ll summarize here. XCaret is an outdoor adventure wonderland. We arrived in the morning and were greeted by hundreds of parrots and other exotic birds on perches and trees along the path. They seem to have no fear of humans at all. Also swans and geese and other water fowl swam around in a small lake. All of this beauty is before you get to the main events. We chose to ride horses around the preserve, for that’s what it is, a nature preserve, The tour is to support its mission.
The horses lead you through wild jungle, and to a beach where we rode along the shore, and finally back to the mouth of a cave where we would later visit from inside. The cave tour was our last adventure of the day and the highlight of many a tourist there. We drifted on a tire along an underground river twisting through ancient caves that are filled with Green minerals so the river looks Green too. Curiously it’s fresh water and is refreshing, not too cold. At the end of the cave the water emptied out on the beach to mix with the ocean salt water and thus was transformed forever. This was the same beach we had seen earlier that morning by horseback. It was a magical experience that I still remember vividly and won’t ever forget.
So if you go to Cancun, I recommend you take time to visit XCaret!
As for Chichen Itza, if you are into pyramids, or the Mayans, or ancient history, you will love this place. It reeks of history and is a fascinating monument. Here is a photo from Wikipedia of one of the largest and most famous Mayan pyramids, Chichen Itza.
There are many tour operators who will take you to see the pyramid, and it’s a 3 hour bus ride from Cancun itself so they usually stop in a village to let you shop and have a little lunch. The same company who manages XCaret also conducts a tour that includes a wonderful air conditioned bus and stops at several quaint villages to let you sample the arts and crafts of the indigenous people.
At the pyramid itself you are given plenty of time to explore the whole ancient complex and take a try at climbing the steps. I made it up and down twice without falling and it felt like a giant accomplishment as the stairs are quite steep and small! I highly recommend this company’s tours. Since the time I was there they have also added a zipline experience and I’m sure it’s just as cool. They know how to entertain you!
My Poem about Cancun:
Ancient Mayan culture meets modern tourism
Tropical birds and talcum powder sand
Tequila drinks and dancing till dawn
Shopping till you drop in markets galore
Swimming in underground rivers and
Riding through jungles in the sun,
Music and laughter all along.
© Heather Burns