Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cancun, Mexico (Oct-2013)

As is with almost all of our vacations, the trip to Cancun, Mexico was planned well in advance. I couldn't have been happier with the choice of holiday destination as we were just about to head into winter here in Canada. Here we are waiting for the flight; Megha and Dad having a great time at the airport, running around.
On 19th Oct 13 AM we left for Cancun. The moment we landed in Cancun, I knew i knew its gonna be an awesome holiday!

Here is Megha posing in front of Coco-Bongo's a party pub/place or what ever you want to call it. She had woken up at 4:30 in the morning and had slept only for 30 mins in the plane. So, she is not exactly in as high spirits as I was :)
Here is my very first piñacaloda and Anands very first Corona at the airport when we were waiting for cab! I felt silly to be wearing a sweater! No one else was!
We had booked a condo as it's easier to cook Megha's food that way. By the we reached the condo, we had our from Florida (Appu and Ramana) already there. I was so happy to see them!

The condo was cozy, comfortable and it had everything a condo should have, including a small kitchenette. Since we had packed some of the things like pressure cooker, it's supposed to make our life easier...alas, if only we had packed the weight for the cooker! Lol but still, it was very helpful.

The condo looks out to a lagoon. Here is a picture.
In an hour, we went out to Walmart to buy a few things like water, bread, butter, eggs etc. Once we returned to the condo, we had a quick lunch followed by a nap.

The evening came and thus began our vacation. We headed out to the beach.
 We headed out to the sea. Had so much fun! Appu and Ramana watched Megha for a bit while Anand and I swam into the ocean. Ah the joys of swimming in the ocean!! Loved it!
After a quick shower, we went downtown. My first choice of restaurant was Coco-Bongo but wasn’t 100% sure if it was appropriate to take Megha there. So we went to M-extreme! We had authentic Mexican food. The tortilla shells were so much different than the Old-Elpaso which we find in Walmart! And even the chips tasted different. We took a few pictures and headed back to the hotel.
22nd Oct: The morning after reaching Cancun, we decided to visit Chichen Itza. We had multiple stops at different hotels and we stopped over at Mayan village. We bought Megha’s birthday written according to the Mayan way and here it is:

We also had lunch here. It was turning out to be a hot and long day. We bought couple of bottles of Tequila.
Finally we reached Chichen Itza, a large pre-Columbian city built by Maya people. Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza (ethnic linage group”.  Between AD 900 and 1050 Chichen Itza expanded to become a powerful regional capital controlling north and central Yucatán. It established Isla Cerritos as a trading port.
According to Maya chronicles (e.g., the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel), Hunac Ceel, ruler of Mayapan, conquered Chichen Itza in the 13th century.
Now to the most interesting part: At the ruined temple city of Chichén Itzá, the creators of the El Castillo pyramid devised a quirk that would shine on for centuries longer than Mayan civilization. Such is the pyramid’s architectural precision that during the vernal equinox – when night and day are of almost equal length all over the world – the morning and afternoon sun produces a light-and-shadow illusion of a serpent ascending or descending the side of El Castillo’s staircase.
The feathered snake at the bottom helps the farmers decide on harvest (Don’t ask me how).
Mayan civilization was barbaric, as were all the civilizations around that time. Below is a pok-ta-pok court. 
This Mesoamerican ball game was considered a sport  but mainly a ritual associated to worship,  and it was played for over 3000 years by the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica . It is not certainly known how this Maya ball game was played but according to the most widespread version of it, the goal of the game was to pass the ball through one of the rings without touching it, the players needed to strike the ball with their hips. They used a solid rubber ball about 20 inches in diameter and weighed up to 4 kg (9 lbs) or more. It was extremely difficult to get the ball through a ring. In fact, when a player could achieve it, it was then the end of the game. The game ended otherwise when the ball touched the ground.
As is the ritual, the winner of the game is sacrificed to God, as only the best is given to God.
Below is the sacred Cenote located in Chichen Itza. According to post-Conquest sources (Maya and Spanish), pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed
objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. Cenotes are formed by dissolution of rock and the resulting subsurface void, which may or may not be linked to an active cave system, and the subsequent structural collapse of the rock ceiling above the void.

And meanwhile somewhere, we lost Appu and Ramana but then where could they possibly go? We looked around to find them taking pictures! Not to mention, I ended up buying a plain cotton dress worth $50; Megha's dress was $35. If Appu were beside me, she would have steered me away as the dress appeared to be no more than $5. But never mind, some souvenir from Chichen Itza! below are the dresses! awww...arent they cute? A sleeveless dress in would be interesting to see when I would get a chance to wear this again! for Megha? Forget it, she already outgrew it! lol...Appu, if you have a girl, you know you are getting this Megha's dress right?  
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by another Cenote.
Here is Megha playing in the wa-wa at Cenotes.
 It was super cool! Close by was a Tequila brewery and it was interesting to see how Tequila is made.
The day came to an end and we finally reached the hotel.
23rd Oct: The day after Chichen Itza, Anand and I decided that we will take it easy and relax at the hotel itself. Ramana and Appu had gone to X-caret. We woke up at last as Megha woke up…around 8 AM. Had a hearty breakfast of bread with scrambled egg and headed out to the pool. Oh, Megha had so much fun. 
The toddler pool was just the right size with just the right depth. It was already past 11 AM and of course Anand was having Corona and I, white wine. After playing for a while, Megha was dressed in a makeshift toga using a beach towel.
We returned to the room and we all took a loooong nap. Towards the evening, we headed out to walmart to buy a few other things. We also went to a Mexican restaurant. The portions were mui-grande! We packed some food for Appu and Ramana too but looks like they had a long tiring day at xacaret.

They left the next morning :( 

We shifted to their room...loved it. Here is the view from the room :)
The next day was Xel-Ha, pronounced as shell-ha. It is an aquatic theme park located on the coast of Caribbean Coast. It is mainly an underwater natural aquarium where you are allowed to snorkel!
Here is Megha posing infront of the park. We chose this park over xcaret because this is relatively a smaller park with certain of our interests in our minds.
We took all-inclusive package so that we can eat and drink everything we want. The park had lots and lots of small trails connecting various attractions like lagoons, scuba dives, snorkels, swimming with dolphins (which we didn’t do) and looking at the manatees.
It was so peaceful and so beautiful. Megha had so much fun talking to these pretty birds!
Here we had super breakfast; Meg also had her scrambled egg while watching Dora.
Then we went for snorkeling. Xel-Ha is known for its beautiful underwater natural aquarium. I must rush to add, Anand ended up buying a $57 swim trunks because the one he brought from the hotel was too That upset him really bad. But i told him, he is neither the first one nor the last one to spend $57 on swim trunks! Oh ya, we also bought a phone cover to take pictures under water.,,,how much? $50! have we really used it? Ya...once.
We all wore life vests and here is my sweetheart wearing a baby-life vest!
I went to snorkel first while Anand was with Megha. This was the first time ever I was snorkeling and this was also my very first time in water with a life vest. I must say, swimming with a life vest is not really that comfortable and add to that the paddles (?) and the snorkel. But I must say, it was the most amazing experiences ever! The moment my head went under water, all outside noises drowned. It was magical…it was more than magical. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily be underwater/float and my oh my; beautiful fishes I encountered
The first time a big fish came too close to my eyes, I freaked out and immediately put my head above water. But the shock soon was replaced by a curiosity and I went under water again. The lagoons were really clear and I was able to see the bottom of the lagoon. The fishes were so pretty, I saw pinks and blues and even sting ray fish! A baby one at that!
Here are the kinds of fishes you can find in Xel-Ha!
Here is me by the floating bridge (in the water) where we encountered really beautiful fish.
After coming ashore, Anand took his turn to step into water while Megha and I played by the shores, watching lovely colored fish. She wanted to get into water swimming like we normally do in the pool. I tried but the life vest was so weird…I don’t know how to explain this. I felt like I was sinking (yes yes…I can swim very well) and couldn't manage Megha with her life vest on.
Nevertheless, we still had a great time playing by the shores. After that we fed Megha her lunch we brought from the condo (she didn’t eat much and I didn’t push it) and she fell asleep right away giving Anand and me some much needed yummy-lunch-time-in-peace…She is such a sweetheart. I also tasted some really good ceviche and some Mexican coffee.
After lunch we headed out to the floating bridge where we were advised that lots and lots of beautiful fishes swim around. Anand and I took turns swimming across. They were not exaggerating. It really was one of its kind natural aquariums.
Here is Anand snorkeling!
After this, we went for a walk around the park. We encountered iguanas, turtles, mayan under-water caves and many more fun stuff! What a beautiful day we had!
As it was time to go, Anand and Megha trying to relax by the hammocks.
24th Oct: Happy 6th Anniversary! Woke up very late, had a big breakfast and we headed out for shopping. We shopped at La Isla on Kulkulken Blvd. After that Megha had a wonderful time playing in the water fountains.
Here is Anand having equally great time with Megha at the fountains.
After that we had lunch at Baby Lobster…I had baby lobster and Anand had some tacos. Did I tell you all, they charge as much as 20% tip?
The food was really good, surely anniversary-worthy.
Then we returned home, napped, hanged out by the pool and beach and slept again. Beautiful day.

25th Oct: On this day we went to a small island by the name of Isla Mojares. Its 13 km into Caribbean Sea. We took the Ferry out to the Island. The weather was not really good. We rented a golf cart like the rest of the tourists and went around the city. We stopped for lunch too. The rain really picked up towards late afternoon and it was getting cold. While the views were really beautiful, we couldn’t really enjoy the island to its full glory.
We stopped near a turtle farm where they save/breed the turtles. Megha loved this place. By then it was pouring…Megha vomited on our way back.

After 6 beautiful days of fun and relaxation, it was almost time to return home. Once we reached the condo, we packed everything, all set to head home. I was missing home so much and I was ready to call it a vacation.
My favorite picture in the entire trip!
A close second...
A close third!
Thanks Appu and Ramana for joining us for a couple of days…Anand and Megha for all the love, companionship and everything else.

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