29 Apr Carnival Cruise (Tulum, Cozumel, Mexico) |Day 3
Day 3 we docked at the port in Cozumel, Mexico. We rose bright and early so we could get dressed and head down to the buffet on lido deck for some fuel for the day. I think we had eggs, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit, and we even both shoved some banana in our bag in case we got hungry on our excursion. After breakfast we made our way down to the ever so gaudy Comedy Club to meet up with the tour group which was to depart around 8:30. We were a bit early, so we bought a couple of cold waters from the vendor in front of the theater. As we sat in the overly air conditioned theater, me freezing my ass off, wearing nothing but a washcloth of a shirt over a bikini top and coochie cutter shorts, the tour guide arrived and told us the rules and regulations of leaving the ship. We were not allowed to take any fruits off the boat, so I had to leave my bananas behind. I saw another guy take my bananas where I left them and put them in his own bag to try to smuggle them in. The nerve of some people!
Avi and filed into the line as we made our way out of the theater and down to the security checkout. The ship was actually docked at this port so we were able to walk right off the ship here. Upon exiting the ship, we entered a circus of excited tourists, ship security, and photo ops with paid carnival employees dressed in pirate stowaways on stilts. We were quickly motioned to hurry up and pose and act surprised or scared, and then whisked away by our tour guide toward little boat tenders which were to take us to the actual Cozumel shore. It was about a 45 minute ride, choppy as ever!! If there is one thing REAL Pirates don’t get, it’s seasick! And boy was I ever! A nice stranger gave me some mint gum to settle my stomach as we got off. We also met up with our tour guide, Angel who told me that it helps if I sit down and elevate my legs a little bit to alleviate some of the nausea. I did this and chewed on the mint gum for a few minutes while the rest of the tour group was filing off of the tender. I fought through the nausea and got up so we could make our way toward our bus. As we walked off of the tender landing and onto the shore, we approached many little restaurants and touristy bistros which looked so relaxing. It was so tempting to just go into one of those and pop a squat and order a cold one after the rough ride we had endured, but Avi and I had agreed that we would have rather spent the extra money on an excursion to learn about the culture. We could sit on a beach any time we wanted to, but we were here, in Mexico, in the presence of one of the most mysterious ancient civilizations… it was a privilege to be here and explore the Mayan territories. So we did just that…
Avi and I enjoyed the air conditioned bus ride, as we listened to our very informative guide, Angel, talk about the Ancient Mayan Ruins of Tulum. He told us about the Obsidian, which is naturally formed volcanic glass that was found on the bottom of the ocean. It turns a gold hue when placed in the light. The ancient Mayans, the REAL LIFE MERMAIDS, would free dive, holding their breath into the depths of the ocean to chisel off this obsidian and bring it back to use in every day rituals, or in making tools, spears, etc. The Mayans relied heavily on nature to give them the answers, the secrets to life. They relied on the sun, the moon, the stars, and Mother Earth to build their empire. They were the most technologically advanced civilization for their time, and when the Spaniards invaded the Yucatan, they sadly tried to destroy most of the Mayan culture. Angel also made sure that he made the distinction that the Mayans and the Aztecs were in no way shape or form related, as Hollywood and American Stereotypes have brainwashed us to think. They actually did not even exist within the same time period, the Mayans establishing their civilization around 2000 BC and ruling their empire until the Spaniards arrived around 900 AD, where the Aztecs did not even establish their empire until about 1400 AD. There were many interesting facts that Angel enlightened us about, especially with the cuisine.
In the Yucatan, burritos do not exist because they don’t have access to livestock such as cattle or pig, like they do in Northern Mexico. In the Yucatan, they feed mostly on fish & other seafood. Also, tacos here were flat, and soft shelled. If you wanted a taco shell here, it is actually called a Tostada. They season their seafood tacos with fresh ingredients like lemon or lime, garlic, cilantro, and fresh salsa that they called Ay Ay Ay! This Ay Ay Ay salsa contained 10 habanero peppers to every 1 tomato, NOW THAT’S HOT! The whole ride there, he shared a wealth of information with us, and also told us about the “Cartouche”. These cartouches were pendants made out of the obsidian I had mentioned earlier, and they were inscribed with mayan hieroglyphs to spell out a name. He gave us forms to fill out if we wanted to purchase one and pick up on the way back to the bus on our way back. I chose the shortened version of my name JUST, so I could all different letters. It was like $10 a letter, so yup, you guessed it, I paid a whopping $40 bucks for this thing.. I will get to this a little later on. Now back to the actual trip.
Before we had actually gone to the ruins of Tulum, we stopped at a little shop area first, so Angel could enlighten us more on the Obsidian. He had actual chunks of Obsidian that he held in his hand which would change to the goldish hue in the sunlight, as the crowd around him Oo’d and Ah’d. We had about 20 minutes after this demonstration to rush inside this tourist trap and gather all of the souvenirs we could carry (or afford) before we had to rush back to the bus and pose for a photo op against a green screen background, to which they superimposed us in front of the Paris Louvre, complete with the saying “I thought we were going to Mexico!” We were able to download this online for free after our trip.
We got back onto to bus and drove another few miles til we got to a parking lot. We all filed off the bus and handed in our cartouche order forms and then followed Angel over to a little village of shops where he told us our local beer and food options. We passed by many vendors and came to an area of people dressed up like ancient mayan warriors. He warned us to have our money ready if we wanted to take a picture with them, because that’s what they did for a living. Note to self: No pictures with the fake Mayan Warriors. Onward. We had a choice to either take a bus to the ruins, or do the mile walk in order to hear more of Angels lessons on ancient Mayan history. We opted to walk! We made an effort the whole way to stay as close to the front of the line as possible!
Angel stopped at things along the way like ginormous ant hives in trees. Since the ground is filled with water, the ants had to adapt to new habitats off of the ground, so they would form huge ant hives which looked like gigantic clumps of dirt up in the trees. We also spotted some wild Guati, which looks like a weird combination of a Monkey, raccoon, and Ardvark or Anteater. Before we got to the ruins, we also stopped along some large trees which the Mayan’s used for many things. They believed that the spirits of the dead would pass through these trees into other worlds because of how hollow it was. They also used the hollow trees as drums as music was a huge part of ancient ceremony. Since the ground is rich in limestone, the trees would absorb a lot of the water into the base, so this was another way the Mayans would use nature in their survival. The leaves would also produce cotton, which is how they made their linens. They really found uses for everything around them. After the tree talk, we went to another little area located underneath a hut with a diorama of the whole island in a glass case centered in the hut area. The crowd congregated around Angel and the diorama as he explained the need for certain things, such as a decoy landing for ships so that the island wouldn’t be attacked or infiltrated. That bit of information was very interesting. Here, we also learned that the hammock is the bed of the Yucatan, since the swinging motion simulates a breeze in the conditions of extreme heat and humidity. After this bit of information, he took us to a rest area to use the bathrooms and stuff one more time before we headed into the ruins area. I quickly went (as fast as I could mind you), and came out to Avi in a panic, motioning me to hurry the fuck up because our group was leaving! I wiped as fast as I could! Jeez! We caught up and walked through the turnstile with our excursion paper wristbands that allowed us to pass.
We walked quite a bit, upstairs, through flora and fauna, and little caves as Angel dispersed more information about ancient mayan civilization. We passed through one more little cave before we finally came to a clearing. From here, you could see the ruins settled on the lush green landscape, and scattered for miles, which were beyond breathtaking. It was a gorgeous utopia rich with palm trees, a warm salty aired tropical breeze that rolled off the ocean and caressed your face, which you could also hear crashing in the background. You could even see the bits of crystal blue waters peaking above the land in the distance. Iguanas and large lizards were everywhere you turned, but they didn’t bother you if you didn’t bother them. These ruins overlooked a white sand beach that lead out to beautiful crystal clear blue waters!! It was unfortunately closed this day due to high tide, so we couldn’t go down and explore. Anyway, the ruins were built in such a way that allowed them to withstand the conditions of erosion over time. They were built at an angle which allowed ocean water, wind, and other precipitation to just go in one direction and roll right off rather than sit on the ruins and destroy things faster.
Angel also told us a lot about how the Mayan culture believed that your birthdate is actually the moment you were conceived, as opposed to the moment you are actually born into the world. He could have written a book with all of the information he had given us. He led us to one more ruin centered in the island before he parted ways with us and told us to feel free to explore the island on our own, as long as we were back on the bus in an hour 1/2 or so. He gave us specific directions for heading back to the bus, “Once you go over the bridge, make a right, because if you make a left, you will end up in Belize!” That was funny since our next cruise stop was in Belize, we were joking that we could just meet the cruise there, if that happened. So we parted ways with Angel, for now, and we took our time strolling along in the Yucatan heat. We walked up the steps past the first ruin and over a hill to get to the cliff overlooking the ocean. We went to the railing and looked onto the white sandy beach. It was no wonder we weren’t allowed to go down and enjoy it, the tide was so high, the white waves crashed past the shoreline and hit the base of the mountain of which we were standing, below. We wandered around this lookout point for the next 20 minutes or so, stopping here and there to take some photos. One nice person offered to take the only shot we have of the both of us, standing on the lookout point above the chaotic beach below. The crowds did start to get a bit annoying, every time we tried to take a picture in front of a nice backdrop, other people would come in and try to take the same picture… I didn’t really have time to pose for many of them, so I got stuck in some of them with the stupid huge water bottle I was carrying, in my arms. LOL! I look so awkward in the photos with them. Anyway on the walk back, I rested on some rocks with my new iguana pals while Avi took a photo of me with them. We decided to leave the beach area, and discover more of the ruins back on the land part of the island, so we made our way back over the hilltop and down the steps past herds of tourists heading our way. Wow! We really beat the real crowd! We decided to explore less crowded ruins for photo opps on the walk back to the bus. I remember stripping my top half down to just my bikini because it was so hot out this day! I remember my sunburnt arms stinging as my backpack straps rubbed against my skin. Each step was a bit painful since Avi and I were burn so bad from not putting sunscreen on the day before. The funny thing was, that morning when Avi went to put his shoes on, he goes, “That’s weird, my feet are the only part that don’t burn”… I was like, “Dummy, your feet were the ONLY thing you decided to put sunblock on.” He just remembered and we both started cracking up. Gotta love him.
So anyway, we made our trek back to the village shopping area, and made sure to hitch a RIGHT off the bridge, instead of the left. Didn’t want to end up walking to Belize! So we walked back, sweating and starving as ever. We walked back on a path between two sides of Yucatan jungle filled with Guati and oversized ant hives. Tourists and Bicyclists bustled about the path as we made our way past fresh coconut water stands, sold right from the coconut itself! These looked so quenching right about now, but I think they were like $6 a piece, so we decided to hold out for our cervezas right outside the bus stop. We made our way through the village where the shop and merchant area was filled with the photo opp merchants and people holding lizards. I walked up to one who had a large scaly iguana draped around his neck like a scarf, and I asked him if I could pet it. I ran my fingers along its bumpy boddess, and then he tried to get me to take a picture with him. I kindly refused his offer and we pressed on. There were toothless island natives selling their homemade wares to us, chunks of obsidian, wooden skulls and crocheted hammocks. We kindly passed up their offers, when all the sudden an island native man with raggedy clothing and a toothless grin appeared out of nowhere, holding a baby lion cub. Avi and I just looked at each other and pretty much read each other’s mind at that moment, “Is this dude seriously holding a baby lion? And where the fuck did he get THAT in the middle of the Yucatan!?” We are nowhere near Africa, or a zoo, so the randomness of this was extremely hilarious. The man asked if we wanted to take a picture with it, and I motioned toward him but then remembered Angel’s warning, “This is what these people do for a living and every picture costs money”, so then I kindly said, “No, gracias, lo siento”. The lion cub looked like it was in a bit of a daze, it was ever so calm, just resting in his arms. It then hit me that it was probably tranquilized in order to behave for touchy tourists dying to pet it. I then felt a wave of disgust come over and walked away feeling a bit sad for the poor little animal.
We soon happened upon the little food stand that made the best fish tacos on the island. Avi and I placed 2 orders of the tacos de pescado y arroz y negros along with 2 of the local beers from the nice little Mexican man taking the orders there. We got one Leon and one Montejo beer for the road. Avi got the Ay Ay Ay extra hot sauce for his! He’s Brave! The good thing about these tourist excursion stops is that we were able to use USD for all purchases. After the food stand, we made our way over to the Cartouche place so we could pick up our customized name necklaces in Mayan Hieroglyphs. We got in line with our hands full of our food orders and told the spanish speaking clerk what our names were. They took awhile to find mine, they kept giving me someone else’s so I had to write it down for her, lol. After we got our necklaces, we made our way to the bus where Angel was there to greet us with a couple tour staff with a drink stand, and clean towelettes to freshen up with. He was also selling Tulum informational booklets that apparently we would not be able to find ANYWHERE else. We decided to pass on this offer, and head into the bus so we could start chowing down on this local cuisine. When we are in the presence of food, there is NOTHING else in our way :-D. We got on the bus, found our seats, popped a squat, and dug in! We were on the bus for maybe 10-15 minutes eating, and waiting for the rest of the herd to get back. As Angel rounded up the rest of the troops, our bus driver, Manuel made his way up and down the aisle yelling, “Quienes Esta Boleta?” Someone lost their bag, YIKES!
We soon headed back on our way to the tender boat port. On the way there, Angel was thanking us for coming with him on this tour. He also told us to come back and check out some of the many other hundred of Mayan Ruin sites all over the Yucatan Peninsula. This trip was just a wealth of information that is hard to come by here in the States. Angel himself is of Mayan heritage and told us things that are not commercially advertised properly here in the US. We see so many stereotypes here, and he really made it his #1 priority to open our eyes to the truth of the Mayan culture & history. He also told us that this tour was the least popular excursion of all of the excursions that Carnival has to offer. It saddened Avi and I, because most people go on these cruises to just sit on a beach all day. I think that’s what separates vacationers from travelers. We were the Scallywags in this case, seeking out adventure in learning more about this ancient rich culture! When you go to a new place, try to learn about the CULTURE! Sure beaches are nice, but you can do that anywhere! I am SO grateful for my experience at the Ancient Ruins of Tulum in Cozumel, Mexico.
We boarded the tender boat which was shaking restlessly amongst the choppy waves. This tender was a bit nicer, it was indoor and air conditioned and there were TV screens playing movies, I don’t remember what movie was on. Avi and I found our seats and got comfortable. I was hoping and praying that the ride back wasn’t as nauseating, so I popped a piece of ginger gum, and closed my eyes as I rested my head on Avi’s shoulder. As the boat made it’s way off the docking station, Angel waved goodbye to us as he disappeared in the distance. The waves were choppy, but not enough to make me nauseous, just enough to lull me to sleep. Before we knew it, we had arrived back to our Carnival Legend port, and walked back to the ship. We went through security and walked up to our cabin to get refreshed, drop some stuff off, and decided to explore the ship a bit more. We went all the way to the highest point of the ship, where there was a walking/running track, mini golf, and I think basketball hoops. There were children playing and laughing, and we just stood atop the balconies taking in the view. Avi also used this opportunity to test his panoramic features on his camera. We started to get a little hungry so we made our way up to Lido deck for a snack. We were supposed to meet Kristin and the whole gang for dinner in the Truffles dining hall, but I don’t think Avi and I had stomachs suited for a full 3 course meal this evening. I was feeling ok enough at this point to stomach some gourmet pizza. We got one personal pie, which was about 2 slices each, so we got half Prosciutto and Arugula, and half a mushroom pie. We tried a bit of each other’s slices as we sat in the dining room looking out onto the choppy Cozumel water. The prosciutto was a bit weird, it was more like Ham than actual prosciutto, so we were calling it Ham-sciutto! LOL! It was still delicious, nonetheless, and after we were finished, we took our drinks and headed out to the Serenity deck area to snag one of those little bungalo beds facing the water. We cozied up in one of those and just snuggled and took in the beauty of the sunset. It was so nice to be able to relax and just have one on one time after such a long and exhausting, but fun day! We were still docked, so my stomach was still pretty settled at this point. Soon, the clouds made their way past the sun as it hit the horizon, so unfortunately we did not get the ultimate sunset experience we so hoped for. Avi brought up a good point that we had to get ready for Kristin’s Magic Show that was in just a couple hours, so we made our way down to our room to shower and get dressed for the night.
I put on a cute Mexican printed sundress with some tan straw wedges, and left my hair a tussled but neat mess once again. I was really loving what the Caribbean salty air was naturally doing to my hair. I put on my little black velour hoodie and we made our way down to Truffles to try to get a little more in our stomach before the show. We started with some shrimp cocktail, followed by some lobster mac n cheese which I could not even finish because I was starting to feel nauseous again. I’m pretty sure the boat started moving again at this point. I think Avi was getting frustrated with the service because we had a show to catch, and also with me cuz I just felt like crap and he felt helpless. We finished up dinner, and left almost full plates to scurry our way through cocktail bars and smoky casinos, all across to the front of the ship to the Follie’s Theater. The front of the ship gets the brunt of the choppiness so you can only imagine what it felt like embarking back onto the crazy Cozumel waters after a full day of on and off nausea, and a full belly of not yet digested food, mind you. We sat there in the front row of the theater with Kristin’s Mom and her friends, as the waves bounced and bobbled us around like porcelain dolls on a water bed. Each motion made me clench my stomach and throat muscles in efforts to choke back the bile from exploding out of me like an erupting volcano. There were reports from the show announcer over the theater’s loudspeaker, that if the turbulence got any worse, that the show would be cancelled for the safety of the dancers. I was secretly hoping this were true so I could go back to our cabin and just sleep off this demon. I tried to ignore my nausea as best as I could and focus on the scantily clad dancers adorned in pleather mid drifts and “come fuck me” boots, sifting across the stage on road cases on wheels, swinging around on ropes, and random explosions of pyrotechnics. The lead magician looked something like Cris Angel’s long lost brother who had a little too much fun with his stick of guyliner, prior to the show. The show was edgy and awesome, backed by dark industrial thumping beats, and I would have totally enjoyed it had it not been for the “choppy” circumstances. The whole time Kristin pranced about on stage in her Gothika gear, I kept a peripheral eye on Alice’s God-fearing face. Her expressions were hilarious, you would have thought Satan himself had appeared right before her very eyes. Before we knew it, the show was over and I so wanted to make a B line right for our cabin, but Kristin’s mother wanted to take a picture of us with the cast and stuff, so we had to wait for the cast to come back out, and the lines of other fans to get theirs in first. I held off the nausea for as long as I could. Finally the cast was free from the surrounding crowd, and Alice actually complimented Kristin on how amazing the show was. We were all shocked! We finally got our picture with the cast and then Kristin asked us to come down to crew bar again. Avi and I told her about my nausea all day, and she told me that drinking would actually help my nausea because it throws off your equilibrium so you wouldn’t be as focused as if you were sober. I’m sure she was right because she deals with this on a daily basis, but I however, was not accustomed to the ways of the ocean, so I thought it was best to pass this one up. I felt horrible, and I really did want to hang out with my best friend who I never see, but I just knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself feeling the way that I did. I think Avi was a bit annoyed too because he is a social butterfly and I was holding him back from having a good time. I felt horrible for bailing on everyone, but what are you gonna do? We thanked her for the invite and headed back to our cabin.
We got back and I slipped into my pjs and asked Avi to order me some room service. The awesome thing about room service on a cruise, is that it’s still all inclusive, and you still don’t have to tip! So why the eff not!?!? I think I just wanted some ginger ale to settle my stomach, and also we split a sub par turkey bacon sandwich or something of the sort. It was pretty late, so I’m sure the staff was less than enthusiastic to prepare food for a call at that hour. It was a bit cold, a bit stale, it could have been sitting around for awhile before they finally got it up to our room. I guess what do you want for free? I got down as much as I could, sipped on my ginger ale, and cozied up next to my love, dozing off to the sounds of late night sitcoms on our cabin tv. I hoped and prayed the next day wouldn’t be this bad.
Next up- Belize!