Hello Stitchers! I’m back!
**Please note that this is an extremely photo-heavy post, so it may take a bit to load fully… Also, this post has nothing to do with sewing or projects – that post should come later this week.**
On Saturday evening I landed in New York after probably one of the most harrowing flight/customs experiences of my life. Barring this, I had the most amazing, restful week of my life in Mexico, and was so sad to leave it! We stayed in Playa del Carmen, which was easily one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been. I’ve never seen water so blue, or felt water so warm, in the 25+ years I’ve been swimming in the ocean. The people were friendly, the food was amazing (OH MY GOD CHILAQUILES!), and we had nothing but sunny skies and perfect weather the entire time we were there. Major color inspirations, too! If there’s one thing Mexicans know how to do, it is utilizing color in the most amazing ways (but there are many things that they know how to do, holy damn, did I mention the food was amazing?).
We stayed at the Grand Mayan, which is a resort on the beach halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The first and last days of the trip (Sunday and Friday) were spent lazing around at this extremely luxurious resort, swimming in the extensive pool system, walking the beach looking for shells, enjoying the pleasures of a pool bar (which continues to seem like a bad idea to me, but the pina coladas were awesome, so…), eating delicious, delicious food, parasailing, and in general having a lovely relaxing time. There were little lizards and pretty birds everywhere (there were even crocodiles on the resort!), and everything was open and breezy. Here are some photos of the resort, where my boyfriend’s parents have a time share (hence why we were able to stay here):
Views from the balcony:
A little lizard:
On Monday, we booked a tour to visit Chichen Itza, probably one of the most famous Mayan temples. I’ve never been the kind of person for tours (I much prefer my vacations to involve seeing how people live their daily lives, rather than visiting parts of the country that native folks typically wouldn’t visit themselves), but our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and gave the tour in such a way that made it really enjoyable for nerdy little me. He went into great detail about the mathematical genius of the Mayan people, which in so many ways is way beyond my ability to comprehend, and told us a lot of interesting facts about the Mayan people in Mexico today. He also talked about the crazy acoustics of the playing field where the Mayans re-enacted their creation myth through a “sport” – stand in the middle of the field and clap and it reverberates exactly seven times (every time!), a significant number in the culture.
Before we got to Chichen Itza, though, we stopped at a cenote, a sort of collapsed cave that’s part of a long network of underground rivers. We went down to swim in this beautiful pool (the coldest water we swam in all week, which isn’t saying much) and jumped off a ledge that was about 16 feet above the water (scary!).
The cenote – the water:
The base of each set of stairs on the temple had the snake/dragon heads at the bottom. This pyramid was so well designed that on both equinoxes, the light hits the stairs in such a way as to create a rippling, which makes it look as though the snake/dragon is crawling down the sides of the stairs. Very cool!
This is the temple at the end of the playing field, where the captain of the winning team was decapitated to complete the ceremony. Human DNA has been found on the little altar in the very center of the temple (the black stone):
Tuesday was spent eating delicious breakfast and wandering around Playa del Carmen doing some light shopping (I avoided shopping as much as possible, since it’s expected for you to haggle, and I suck at haggling) and taking some pictures. I was supposed to go on a learn-to-dive dive in the afternoon, but the ports were closed due to weather (too windy). As such, I waited for the boy to get back from his morning cenote dive (he’s certified SCUBA), passing the time reading Game of Thrones (what a brutal book!). When he came back we had a late lunch (lime soup! delicious!) and caught a taxi back to the resort as I had a pretty nasty case of heat exhaustion. Spent the rest of the evening soaking in a pool and relaxing (there was a lot of that…). The boy got me reservations for the next day for another learn-to-dive dive because he’s awesome and spoils me rotten, and we went to bed early because the next day was going to involve a lot of travel.
The main strip in Playa (known as 5th Avenue), from a cute little cafe where I had hibiscus tea:
Wednesday was Cozumel. I will not go into the lunacy leading up to my getting to the marina for my intro-to-SCUBA dive because it was one of the only stressful moments of this amazing trip. We got up super early and took a cab into Playa, then took the ferry across the water to Cozumel. Another cab ride later, and I was standing in a marina with a group of folks from Florida (they were on a cruise docked at Cozumel – the ships were enormous!), getting ready to march down to the beach for a shore dive! The dive instructor was incredibly thorough and made me feel super safe. He spent a good 40 minutes explaining about the equipment and how to clear your mask and regulator, and then we walked into the water, deflated our BCDs, and were on our way! We only dove to about 10 feet, and came back to the exact same spot later so that we didn’t have to do safety stops to decompress, but this was easily my favorite part of the whole trip. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to dive if you’ve not done it; it really is a glimpse into a completely different world. I felt truly humbled, and lucky to be able to do such an amazing thing and see so many different types of marine life (a barracuda and a moray eel, to name a few!). While I’ve got to get Which Stitchery up and running, I will be exploring the possibility of getting SCUBA certification. Now that I’ve had a taste, I definitely want to do it again (and again, and again!)!
Holy cow under water!
After the dive, I waited at the marina for Chad to get back from his (a two-tank dive in open water, takes much longer) and we took a cab back to the main port at Cozumel. We wandered a bit, had a desperately needed lunch, ate some ice cream in this adorable park, and took the ferry back to Playa.
The marina at Cozumel:
Thursday was another tour day – we went to Tulum, the only Mayan settlement on the ocean (where the Spanish first landed, I believe), and afterwards to Xel-Ha (pronounced “shell-ha”), an ecological water park where you can go snorkeling in an inlet from the ocean, among other things. We did some cliff diving there (13 feet) and Chad and I snorkeled (the first time for both of us!) while his brother got an inner tube and floated around the inlet. Another barracuda was spotted, as well as conch, and these two enormous grouper fish. It was a lovely day, very hot, and a nice way to leave off the crazy busy week we had, though I wish our tour guide at Tulum had been a little more informative.
Loved their clothes:
Friday started with yoga, and then lead to breakfast, lazing in a cabana, parasailing, and swimming around in the pools. It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny, with a perfect breeze. I was so happy that our last day in Mexico felt so perfect. I wanted to stay there forever – I am still of a mind to hop a plane back there and just pitch a tent on a beach! Alas, this was not to be, and now I’m trying to readjust to Real Life.