Category Archives: MEXICO

Playa del Carmen the Best for Last in the Majestic Mexico Venture; Reasons Why I Adore Mexico

Location of Mexico in North America
Location of Mexico in North America

 

The next morning it was onto our last adventure, “The quest to find the best souvenirs in Playa del Carmen.” This should have been an easy task considering that I danced in one of the hottest night clubs in Mexico last night and knew the location fairly well – “Akumal Beach Resort Pool Day; Majestic Mexico Venture Continued.” To summarize Playa del Carmen, this little Mexican town is recognized for its active nightlife trusty souvenirs, and provides a taste of the sea in each attraction. While Jess and I drove towards Playa del Carmen, we stumbled into a small town located in its outskirts. This particular town encompassed numerous tours on cenotes.
Cenote Dive Center; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
 
If you recall from the previous discussion on cenotes – “Majestic Mexico Venture; a Journey Back Through Time;” these were found in many bodies of water throughout the planet. In this case, Mexico engulfed the best cenotes diving in the world! Unfortunately, we needed a full day to take this memorable dive; we only had the earlier afternoon and evening left before our departure to the states the next morning.  Regardless, we could not partake in cenotes dive, but we were still able to make our last full day in Mexico brilliant! 
Henna Tattoo Hut; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
Playa del Carmen is a great substitution to visit instead of participating in cenotes dives. A little background about this fabulous town – Playa del Carmen is a cosmopolitan town located on the Caribbean Sea about 35 miles South of Cancun in the heart of Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. The town is small enough where you can walk just about anywhere you need to go.
The location of Playa del Carmen and its nearby attractions makes this the perfect holiday destination for a Caribbean Vacation.  A typical day in Playa, as the locals call it, can be spent relaxing under an umbrella propped along the breathtaking Mayan Riviera beaches sipping a margarita. The azure sea is the perfect temperature for a swim, and the ocean breeze is steady enough to keep you cool. Seaside bars and restaurants are located all along Playa del Carmen beaches and are the perfect place to kick off your shoes and enjoy lunch with your toes in the cool, white sand. 
Crafts Sold on Side Streets; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
Crowded Streets; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
During the afternoon, you may browse the many shops and markets along 5th Avenue or Quinta Avenida; to the locals this street is known as La Quinta. It is a pedestrian walkway and a common point of reference. Avenues, avenida in Spanish, run parallel to the beach. They are given numbers in increments of five, 5th Ave, 10th Ave, etc. Streets, calles, are perpendicular to the coast and they have even numbers north of Juarez and odd numbers to the south.
Jess Getting Henna Tattoo; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
When Jess and I arrived in Playa del Carmen the streets were filled with people of all different ages. Automatically we knew were in the right place – a place with lots of activities to partake in. One of the traditions I kept with my mom and brothers was when I travel to a new destination, I always bring some of the culture back with me. In other words, I turned into your “typical tourist” and purchased a few dozen souvenirs. Ever since I started taking my first road trip, I have bought magnets, key chains, and other small trinkets for my family. Now with Adrian, I tend to look for Quicksilver shirts in various places all over the world – he loves his gifts! Did you ever notice how difficult it is to buy for men? 
Jess and I At Swinging Bar; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
 Anyways, slightly off topic! All of my friends will tell you that my souvenirs consisted of shot glasses that I purchased in far away locations. This definitely seemed like a great idea at the time! Unbelievably, I now have a collection of 250! I realized after my 250th shot glass that I not only have a lot of shot glasses, but now I have a very full closet!

Needless to say, I have stopped collecting shot glasses and have just started focusing more on taking hundreds of pictures in each destination. This pleased my husband very much! Regardless of my slight obsession collecting shot glasses, I purchased several in Playa del Carmen. I also upheld my tradition with my family and bought a few quality and meaningful souvenirs that I knew that they would love. On top of this, I purchased a snorkel PADI approved kit – too bad the flippers were too small for my feet! Minor details!

Cenote Dive Center Sign; Playa del Carmen, Mexico 06.2008
Life Guard Hut, Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
 
One of my favorite souvenirs that I started a collection for was artwork. I selected some artwork in Playa del Carmen for my new condominium. The first set of the artwork comprised of a mirror and had fish, dolphins, and the words, “Playa del Carmen” mixed together on a vibrant platform – it was definitely a “fun” piece to remember this beautiful location. I liked it so much, that I also purchased the larger version of this mirror – it had a little more marine life on it and the colors were slightly different.
The second set of artwork that I adored had two mirrors in a dark maroon coloration with dolphins embroidered on the wood – both artworks with the same theme and color, but was different sizes. I absolutely adore locally hand-made artwork; these were perfect for my plain walls in my condominium! 
Center Lobby at Akumal Beach Resort; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
After I had made some large indents in my pockets with my “touristy” shopping spree, Jess and I had more one item on our list to get! Henna tattoos were really popular in Playa del Carmen; there were small tents set up along the streets with artists anxiously waiting to write on your body! Since I was not ready for a real tattoo, this was the perfect choice for me.
Not to mention that I could keep this unique creation temporarily! I also liked the idea that this provided the opportunity to view how a “real” tattoo would look on the location where the henna tattoo was placed. Currently, I do not have a tattoo, but I do plan on getting an “ocean themed” tattoo one day. Our temporary tattoos were a hit and we had some nice feedback on them! Jess had one dolphin engulfed with water on her shoulder and mine was a Chinese symbol of “Ocean” on my ankle. 
We heard from various locals that it was essential that we head to a palapa-roof restaurant and listen to some local music. As I mentioned the nightlife is unbelievable! Jess and I discovered that there are plenty of fun bars on the beach and in town where you can kick back with an ice-cold cerveza and watch live music. Listen to rock, reggae, folk, mariachi, and Mexican bands all around town and dance to live Salsa music at the Mambo Cafe. We mingled with the locals a little bit, but then realized that we had a very early morning. As sad as it was to leave, it was time to say goodbye to Playa del Carmen.
The sun lowered in the sky and we finally made our way back to Akumal Beach Resort. Shortly after we arrived we found the happily new married couple relaxing next to the beach. Some of the wedding guests brought their kids for the event.  Jess and I played in the sand with a few of the kids during sunset.
After we were physically exhausted from everything that we managed to do only in 5 days, we laid in the hammocks reflecting on the new memories that we had created. With the hammock swaying back and forth in the wind, the breeze blowing through my hair, the smell of saltwater and sand in the air, my toes resting in the cold sand, the taste of bits of sand sticking to my lips, and the sounds of the sea gulls navigating over the endless body of water all reminded why I absolutely love Mexico!
Swimming Pool near Snackbar in Akumal Beach Resort; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
My Room Number at Akumal Beach Resort (Also My Birthday); Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
That particular night was the most comfortable I had been in an extremely long time. I recall thinking that, “If the world felt this state of tranquility, everyone would be in a much happier mental state.” In addition, I remember thinking, “How awesome it would be to feel this way all the time?” This leads us into my next mission, “To search the world for the most peaceful locations that this world has to offer.” I welcome the challenges, adventures, and mysteries that I will face diving into the unknown.
 
The next morning before we departed to the airport in Cancun, I went on a little photography activity and captured my favorite moments in Akumal Beach Resort!
House Rules (English Version); Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
House Rules (Spanish Version); Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Outside Swing Bar; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Me at Outside Swing Bar; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Touristy Souvenirs; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Specialty Drinks Written on Surfboard; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Akumal Beach Resort Pool Day; Majestic Mexico Venture Continued

Welcome to Akumal Beach Resort; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
After I unlocked Mayan civilization – “Majestic Mexico Venture; a Journey Back Through Time,” it was time to rest.  The “Snack Bar” next to the pool looked like a good place to start. One of the main perks about staying in an all inclusive resort was that most of the bars opened pretty early – the one next to the pool was around 7am.  Jess and I decided to take a break from sightseeing and indulge our senses into the Akumal Beach Resort – “Eagerly Awaiting the Majestic Mexico Venture; Coastal Road Trip.” The smell of saltwater seeping from the pool tickled my nose, along with the sight of the good-looking tall blonde-haired bartender; both created a rather large smile on my face. The sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks only a few steps from the “Snack Bar” enlightened me why I was there. 
 
Walkway to the Pool; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Life Guard Post Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Reflection on the Water; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Not to mention, the touch of the cool multicolored glass on my fingertips and the taste of strawberries soothed my sun-burnt lips. I had stumbled into heaven – a place where romance never died and the world seemed to stop for a brief moment. As I scanned the atmosphere around me, I could not help to notice the palm trees that lined into the sand and the sun, which harmoniously graced us with her presence. The bartender explained to us that a pool/dance exercise class was about to begin. Since Jess and I wanted nothing more than to relax, we chose to stay afloat in the water and not partake in the ritualistic practice.  

Design on Bottom of Pool; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Beautiful Flower Surrounding Pool; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Senior citizens and children much younger than Jess and I enthusiastically jumped out of the water to meet the younger female instructor. All of these people must have done this before, because as soon as the Caribbean music played the choreography was brilliant. Simultaneously they all started shaking their hips and bottom areas – the moves were really good and the music was well-suited for the tropical location. After an hour of dancing and singing along the grand finale approached – everyone at once dove into the saltwater pool. As Jess and I floated on our backs massive amounts of waves splashed onto our red faces – this definitely felt refreshingly cool on our hot scorched skin. 
Frontal View of Pool Area; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Tribal Design on Wall; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Side View of  Pool Area; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
 
Our invigorating pool day was a huge success, minus the bits of red splotches on our faces. The end was quickly approaching, but I still had one full day left. That night we had decided to make the most of the Mexican city nightlife – we ventured a few minutes down the road to one of the hottest beach nightclubs in Playa del Carmen. The environment in the club was sensational and the scenery was nothing short of disappointment. There were 3 separate parts of the club – the black lit room in the side of the club, the bar area, and the dance floor in the sand. The black lit room comprised of women trapeze artists performing several different tricks on a pole and around the ceiling. Within this room there were loads of people with bright glasses. The lighting was awesome – there is something about black lights, which have the ability to turn an ordinary room “pop” into something magical. The room came to life – it resembled the animated Las Vegas show, “Cirque du Soleil.” The kind of place where creativity and inventiveness created the core, where one stepped into their dreams. 
Signs in the Akumal Beach Resort; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

PADI Diving Sign; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
On the other hand, the bar area held dozens of wooden stools with a large open sand pit in the middle. Located in the middle of the bar were 6 bartenders, 3 females and 3 males – majority of the nationalities were Spanish and American. My favorite part was the dance floor in the sand, with the DJ in the corner and the two tier floor – it was definitely the hottest spot in the entire nightclub. The music was cleverly selected and most of the popular dance hits were from American and Spanish artists. There was also a multi-colored lightning system that turned the dance floor into a Christmas tree.  The black light, sand, and beach-themed atmosphere was a terrific trifecta for one of the hottest dance clubs in Playa del Carmen. As we danced into the night the full moon rose above our heads and the ocean violently crashed in the rocks behind us. An unforgettable night hands down, now it was onto my last full day in Mexico. I was guaranteed that it was not going to be anything short of ordinary. When you are in a world of beauty and tranquility, could there be anything dreamier? 
 
Sea Turtle at Front Desk; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Front Entrance to Check-in; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Majestic Mexico Venture; a Journey Back Through Time



Chillin’ at the Akumal Beach Club; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008



Caribbean Dream Wedding; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

After arriving safely in Mexico – “Eagerly Awaiting the Majestic Mexico Venture; Coastal Road Trip,” the next morning was the “big day” for Jess’s best friend from college. I just purchased an Olympus Stylus 850SW, which was waterproof, shockproof, and freezproof. I was stoked to see how this camera worked underwater, as well as out of the water. I was a little suspicious on how the images would turn out, but for a little digital camera I was quite impressed! The wedding was definitely held in an intimate setting – perhaps one of the most romantic locations in the world and perfect for many photography opportunities! The ceremony comprised of about 25-30 people and everyone was in their beach attire. This wedding was a little informal, but most of us wore shorts and a nice shirt. With turquoise waters, white powdery sand, and the hot sun gracing our presence, the wedding day could not have been dreamier! This was quite the romantic getaway and the newly couple did a great job in picking a fabulous location. I never was at a beach wedding and I absolutely adored every single minute of it. Whether it was the humorous written vowels that the couple spoke to each other or the smiles that were on everyone’s face, this was one of the best weddings that I had been to.  This truly was a riveting experience, especially watching a happy couple state their vows barefoot within the white sand. Absolutely gorgeous! Unlike Jess who was on the verge of tears, I was simply taking mental notes for the future of my “big day.” 
 
The Happy Married Couple; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Fabulous Photo Opportunities; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

A Little Mexicana Flavor; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
One of my highlights of their wedding was that they took photos in the ocean. Kristy had her wedding gown almost completely soaked, while Damien had water dripping from his white button down shirt. His stylish khaki shorts were drenched! Super romantic and who does not love the smell of fresh saltwater in the late afternoon? The beach wedding was a success it complimented the great food, awesome company, romantic moments, excellent weather conditions, and the newly married couple. 
The Cheerful Soaking Wet Married Couple ; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Jess and Kristy; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Amazing View and Beautiful Weather; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
The reception was an absolute Mexican fiesta! The event was complete with men in sombreros! It was definitely a nice touch to a beach wedding! After a great day, it was time to get some sleep for the early morning quest to unlock the Mayan civilization nearby. The following day came quick! Jess and I had planned to see some ruins in the area. We thought that the Tulum and Coba ruins were a must see; we both heard how amazing they were and we had to witness this for ourselves. One of the male wedding guests overheard us talking about driving to see the ruins during breakfast. He asked to come with, so we now had a party of three. Lucky for us, he knew the area pretty well, which made Jess and I get out of being the “GPS” for the trip!  
Reception, Mexican Style; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
  
Visite Los Cocodrilos; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Adult Male Crocodile; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
 
As we were getting closer to Coba, there was a medium-sized white sign that read, “Visite Los Cocodrilos” that quickly caught our attention. Maybe it was the Cocoa Cola umbrella that attracted us more? Regardless, we knew what “Cocodrilos” were – Crocodiles! As we dropped by to see the tourist trap alongside the road, we noticed that the price was a bit expensive. This is something that you do once in your life, so we figured why not pay the pesos that were asked. What made me chuckle was the idea that he accepted credit cards; in the picture above do you see a machine that took cards? Me neither! We negotiated a few pesos less than what was originally asked and soon as we knew it there was the feeding of the crocodiles! I enjoyed this “show,” because these crocodiles were not placed out of their natural environment to entertain guests. In fact, this was a large crocodile nesting grounds and there were several bodies of water leading into this lake. The perks for the crocodiles was that there were served free fish. I was baffled how one guy could make his business on a dock, but I guess here in Mexico these individuals need money too. Good thing there are people like us that fall for these tourist traps! 
No Swimming in Crocodile Lake; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

 

Bait Feeding Crocodile; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
Curious Crocodile; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
A little background about Mayan Culture and Architecture that I learned in my “Ancient Civilization” course – The Mayan Civilization was among the original cultures of the New World and spanned more than 3,000 years. The Mayans lived mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula in the eastern one third of Mesoamerica and at its peak had one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world. Mayan culture is known for its spectacular art, impressive architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems which were all way ahead of their time. Mayan architecture spans many thousands of years. While I was gathering information on Mayan architecture before my trip I read that the most dramatic and easily recognizable are the fantastic stepped pyramids in places such as Chichen Itza and Coba to name but a few. A year ago Chichen Itza was named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 20 years. 
Marvelous Wonders; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
 
Awesome Architecture; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Mayan Huts; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
Once at the archaeological site of Coba, the woman at the front entrance loudly emphasized to “Keep our bearings.”  Apparently, it is very easy to get lost on the maze of dirt roads in the jungle. Our mission for the day was to photograph and possibly climb Nohoch Mul. Not only was Nohoch Mul the tallest pyramid in Coba, but it was also the highest Mayan structure on the Yucatan Peninsula. With just a little over a mile the biggest pyramid awaited us. We instantly noticed that the main routes were on wide, well signed paths, but there were many smaller tracks leading into the jungle, which we did investigate a little bit. While walking down the foliage paths, I wish I would have had my trusty bird and butterfly book! The amount of birds and butterflies were overwhelming, they were everywhere! Especially being there in the hot summer month of June, the heat was intense, but the birds were abundant. As we followed the never-ending pathway, smaller trails seemed to branch off every labeled path.  The smaller trails were representations of the unofficial narrow paths that led into the jungle and were used by locals as shortcuts through the ruins. The same woman at the entrance told us that, “These were good for birding, but be careful to remember the way back!”
Guides on Bicycles Catering People; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
Close-up of Mayan Hut; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Me in the Jungle; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

During our time in Coba, we were able to see a dozen or so unique Mayan ruins. A little history about Coba – this Mayan city is located in the state of Quintana Roo. The word Coba is defined as “waters stirred by the wind.” This settlement is one of the oldest Mayan cities that are rested on the Yucatan Peninsula. Enveloped in the deep green of the tropical jungle, Coba rose between two lagoons. While I was taking pictures of the sights around me, an older married couple had come up and approached me. Instantly, I could tell they were tourists with their bright “Hawaiian” matching shirts and ridiculously large camera lens. The happy couple asked me to photograph them in front of one of the ruins, which I gracefully accepted. After I took their photograph, the gentleman had begun explaining the history behind Coba. It sounded like he definitely did his homework! Wow, I was totally blown away with all the “fun facts” that he told me. 

I remember a few of them for which he stated, “During its history, Coba had more than 50,000 inhabitants, and scholars believed that it was as important as Tikal in Guatemala, with which it maintained tight cultural ties. Coba exercised economic control over the region through a complex network of elevated stone and plaster roads, known in Maya as sacbe, radiating from the center of Coba to many other Mayan cities. The longest of these ran over 100km and led to the city of Yaxuna. Coba traded extensively with other Mayan communities, particularly the ones further south along the Caribbean coast in what is now Belize and Honduras. It utilized the ports of Xcaret, Xel-Há, Tancah, and Tulum.” After he finished emphasizing a few main points, he expressed that he did thorough research before he came to Mexico and used “Lonely Planet” as a guide. This was really good advice, which I never leave without my “Lonely Planet” guidebook (more on this in future post). 

 
Jess Resting; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Mayan Architecture; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Jess and I; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
I did research a little about Coba myself while I was offshore on the Gilavar “6 Humbling Highlights on Gilavar; a Moment of Contentment.” I learned Coba continued to be a significant site in the Post-Classic era. I read that the Mayan archaeology in Coba is truly inspiring and most of it is unexcavated – honestly, I could tell you absolutely amazing this place was, but I would suggest you embrace the experience yourself! I remember reading in my “World Cultures” class that the temples in Coba, both new and old were maintained until at least the 14th century. These temples were still preserved during the late arrival of the Spanish. As I glanced around and saw all these beautifully hand-crafted architectural in front of me, I was memorized by not only the history, but the historical significance in this area. 
Jess and I Posing in Front of Wall; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
Visiting all the Coba ruins took a lot of effort due to the long distances between each landmark, but it was very worthwhile. Astonishing, we trekked a little over a mile to witness one of the most popular and highest attractions, the pyramid of Nohoch Mul. Funny story, I was never truly fond of heights when I was a kid. I had a traumatic accident, which involved me almost plummeting down 2 stories into some shale and trees underneath the rock that I was climbing at the time (more on this in a later post). Nevertheless, it was time to face my fears and “Be a doer, not a thinker!” As I tilted my head back to see this gigantic structure in plain sight, I realized that this was a really large formation, 138 feet of nothing, but stone! My eyes seemed crept further up the structure and soon as I knew it I barely could see the top! The design of this structure was beautifully crafted; the 120 narrow step stairway composed of seven, round-cornered platforms. I knew in my heart that I had to make it to the “top,” regardless of my phobia of heights and the inappropriate footwear on my feet. As I had begun walking up the narrow steps in my flip flops, I noticed there were mothers with a baby latched on their back as they walked and crawled up this structure. I remember thinking, “If mothers with newborns on their backs can climb Nohoch Mul, then so can I!” 

The smaller crevices in between the steps made me a bit uncomfortable as I trekking up Nohoch Mul. When I reached the stone vantage point, I felt a rush of sheer adrenaline overcome my body. I leaned quickly against a rock and caught my breath for a brief second. To my surprise, there was a brilliant view of the treetops of the jungle right in front of my face which spectacled the entire Yucatan Peninsula! The humidity left no air to brush against my sun-burnt face, the birds obnoxiously made loud noises as they flew in the mist of the clouds directly above the treetops, and piles of sweat poured off of cheeks as I stood there examining the jungle that extended to infinity beneath me; however, none of that mattered, because I had defeated my “Acrophobia” (fear of heights) and this moment was blissfully mine.  

The View of the Yucatan Peninsula; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Me Completely Exhausted; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Nohoch Mul, the “Climb;” Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Nohoch Mul Mixed with Clouds; Coba, Mexico 06.2008

Narrow Steps on Nobach Mul; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
The walk to visit each landmark was pretty interesting. There were stelae, protected by palapa roofs. Trekking the wide path provided us a chance to observe the jungle life; butterflies, birds and insects abound. There was the option to take a bicycle ride for roughly ten dollars, but since we were already walking everywhere why pay now? As we progressed towards what we thought was the entrance we encountered an area called, “The Ball Court.”  As I analyzed this structure, a younger man stood next to me. I could tell that he wanted to chat, so I asked him if he knew anything about this structure. Shockingly, he also did his homework like the married couple that I met earlier that day. He exclaimed, “The game played in the ball courts by the ancient Mayans was very important to their culture. We can make some assumptions about how the game was played by reviewing the carvings on the walls of the courts around the area. It is believed that because each player is wearing different costumes that players from the surrounding area would represent their tribes. The game was played with a hard ball that would shoot through the stone ring in the court.” Jess added that this was a violent game and some individuals did get killed due to the nature of this sport. 
The “Ball Court;” Coba, Mexico 06.2008
I have to admit as amazing as all of this was to take in, I was getting attacked by monstrous mosquitoes! All of my family members and friends can tell you that I am notorious for getting bit. I can quadruple layer mosquito repellent on my skin, avoid areas of thick brush, sit next to a fire, but still I manage to have dozens of bites! The same scenario happened that day – lots of insects attracted by the moist jungle environment resulted in a massive blood-thirsty feeding on me for the day! This reminded me of the time when I lay on a beach in San Salvador, Bahamas, which was a little before my Scuba Diving session with my professor and college mates – “Follow Your Dreams; Exceed Your Own Expectations.” I woke up to find hundreds of mosquito bites all over my body! Gross, it makes me itch just thinking about this! Long story short, I had to go to the doctors once I arrived back in the states and was stuck in a hospital for 3 days!  I discovered my immune system was weakened and they wanted to tend to the bites as best as they could. Though I did attain my Scuba Diving certification, it was quite the painful experience! Regarding my time in Coba, the mosquitoes were biting hard and I had my fill of excitement of Coba for the day. 
The day was almost complete, but there was one more stop on our list. In my opinion of the greatest places to snorkel was in Akten Chen’s cenote in Akumal; the water felt amazing on my newly formed mosquito bites! Until I went to this cenote, I had only heard the term used once before. You may ask what a cenote is. A cenote or “Sacred Well” is a break in the limestone shelf, which exposes the underground river systems. During my time swimming in the cenote I learned that they are natural geographical features that were found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. This cenote in particular, was dated at 5 million years old and had an underground crystal clear cenote. A long time ago, dinosaurs roamed the planet and topped the food chain. Humans had not yet come into existence. The form of the continents and the composition of the earth were very different from that of today. Everything was about to change. Many experts feel that the end of the dinosaurs’ reign came about as the result of a major astronomical event. After the impact, incredible global changes occurred including a significant drop in sea level which exposed land masses. The Yucatan’s limestone rock bed, which had been formed from millions of years of sea life and reef growth, now overlooked the sea with great cliffs in place of today’s white sandy beaches.
A little further biological information that I learned from the guide on cenotes was, “Throughout the glacial periods, the ocean level has varied, and this platform found itself submerged by water. When the level of the ocean drops again, the caves begin forming. The heavy rain falling on these formations dissolves through the rock the carbonic acid from the soil and leaves in putrefaction. This carbonic acid mix carved the fragile rock, creating underground passages in which water would find its way back to the ocean. The cenote in return created and became full of impressive stalactites and stalagmites formations. During the last glacial period, the oceans were 100 feet below their actual level. Around 18,000 years ago, the ice started melting and the ocean rose to the level we know now, flooding the passages and generating a wide underground river system like nowhere else on earth!” In other words, the Yucatan Peninsula was primarily made of limestone; since there are no surface rivers in the Yucatan, the rainfall penetrates the porous and honeycombed limestone, which eventually creates an intricate and seemingly infinite maze of underground rivers. The guide also emphasized that, “Not only were the cenotes a fresh water source, but they were also depictions in Mayan civilization. For instance, the cenotes were known as the windows to the “After World” and a key to their afterlife. Thus, ceremonies and rituals were made to the “Underworld Gods.” 
The marine life was absolutely phenomenal! I certainly adored the light effects that shined on the slalom stalagmites and stalactites formations. The water visibility was superb and the Halocline, where the salt water mixed with the fresh water, resembled a large cloud. Snorkeling is one of my favorite pastimes; I could have not selected a better place to snorkel – in the cenote the environment was very peaceful. After a long day at Coba, this was unquestionably needed!
**

There were archaeologically structures separated into 7 different groups and areas:
Grupo Coba Structures Description; Coba, Mexico 06.2008
Lake Macanxoc and the Macanxoc Group: Composed of eight stelae, some of which are protected by palm roofs, and also a few smaller structures.
Frescoes Group: Compiled of twenty structures the best preserved being which is made up of five platforms and a stucco-painted temple at its top. At its base is and has a thatched roof protecting its paintings.
Nohoch Mul Group – Has carved human figures in sky-downward, descending motion most likely depicting Mayan gods. It is thought that a pair of jaguars lived at Nohoch Mul for many years.
Coba Group – Created of several mounds and a large four hundred and ten foot by sixty six foot terrace. This is a difficult site to visit because of the dense jungle vegetation. La Iglesia, a pyramid over 65 ft (20 m) high and the second largest at Cobá, is what you’ll find if you take the path bearing right after the entrance. Walking to it, notice the unexcavated mounds on the left. The steps of La Iglesia are steep and crumbling, and climbing is prohibited.
The Church – The second tallest pyramid in Coba, standing seventy nine feet high and partially restored. Constructed with nine platforms, it was most likely built between 800 and 1,000 A.D. Stella 11 is located at the front of the pyramid. A chamber with a Mayan corbel arch is to the left and to the south is a long, forty nine foot vaulted tunnel.
Other areas – are Lake Coba, the Chumuc Group, the Dzib Mul or Mound of Writing, and the Ball Court.

Eagerly Awaiting the Majestic Mexico Venture; Coastal Road Trip

White Sandy Beach; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Finally after 2.5 months offshore I was home sweet home. I had created a few friendships briefly before I left for my last project – most of the girls were surfers and/or adored the beach. I had the chance to chill with some of the girls – eventually some of them met Adrian during the handful of days that I was home. After I unpacked and unwound in Cape Canaveral for a few days, I had spent my time with Adrian traveling between Orlando and Cape Canaveral. Soon as I knew it my “Majestic Mexico” venture was on its way.  Jess – “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions,” had invited me to her best friend’s wedding as her date in Riviera Maya, Mexico situated in the Quintana Roo state. Since I had a short 2 week holiday before my next unknown project how could I have passed this opportunity? Plus, I love traveling for work, but taking some “me” time and booking a personal holiday sounds like a great idea! Besides, I had time for a 5 day holiday in Mexico. 
Welcome to Paradise; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
I had arrangements when I was on the Gilavar“6 Humbling Highlights on Gilavar; a Moment of Contentment,” to finalize all of my travel details. The plans were to briefly drive through Cancun, visit Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and finally stay in Akumal during our time there. I had flown with Jet Blue (which was surprisingly quite comfortable) and waited for Jess outside of customs in a little wooded area that had a bar and waiting entrance. As I waited for Jess I looked over the tentative itinerary and highlighted which places I wanted to go. My friends will tell you that I am notorious for organizing events; mainly because being active in a sorority you had to balance your academics and your social life. I always made time for both, which in result, has led me to carefully plan my time. Though, I love spontaneity, I do have a few places that I love to visit. I just never knew which days I would get to visit the sights that I wanted to see. Lucky for me, Jess was also very spontaneous, but enjoyed the occasional planning method. Regardless, I finally met up with Jess and we were headed to the rental car location on the other side of the airport. 
Jess and I; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
I have been on hundreds of road trips throughout high school and college. I absolutely adore the open road! In this case, we were driving down the coast to the Akumal Beach Resort located in the heart of Maya Riviera on Akumal Bay. I will never forget the feeling that I felt as the wind touched against my face, the smell of saltwater in the air overwhelmed my nose, the taste of salt pressed on my lips, the sight of the vast ocean welcoming me along the beautiful coast, and hearing the waves violently crash against the rocks; my personal definition of “sheer bliss.”
Turquoise Water; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Once we arrived at the Akumal Beach Resort we were greeted by a gentleman with a glass of champagne. Definitely not a bad way to start this incredible vacation! Life was good; after all we were in paradise! Akumal Beach Resort was all inclusive, drinks and food included – I highly recommend this package as it was worth the extra cash!
Ocean View from Balcony; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
Frontal View from Inside Our Room; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
As we settled down for the evening and finished unpacking our bags I reminisce thinking, “As life passes us by, it is important to remember to treasure these little moments in our lives. Especially, when we have the opportunity to travel in a different country and introduce ourselves to a “new cherished memory.”  
Our Building at Night; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008
My Swimsuit Top Matches Our Walls; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008

Love the Mixture of Green and Yellow in Our Restroon; Akumal, Mexico 06.2008