Back in the Good Ol’ USA…

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:

Entrance to the (amazing) lobby:

One of the many pools, and one of three pool bars:

Pretty little lawn area:

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 ledge we jumped from – 16 feet!

Some roots hanging down into the cenote (there were a lot):

The temple at Chichen Itza!

This area was used as a bazaar, a military training area, and other things:

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!

The “goal post” of the game the Mayans played in the ball court (the one at Chichen Itza is the largest court still in existence):

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:

A cool mural on one of the side street hotels:

The dive shop that I was supposed to learn through:

The restaurant where we had breakfast!  Delicious!

The beach at Playa del Carmen:

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!

Barracuda!  It was closer than it seems in this photo, and to be honest is scared the hell out of me.  But so cool!  

A parrot fish, perhaps?

A top-down view of some fan coral, which was everywhere:

A school of fishies!

My dive instructor and two of the other folks on the dive:

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:

An older gent selling ice cream in the park.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip!

The park where we stopped to have our ice cream:

Chadley eats the ice cream!

The harbor in Cozumel as we left on the ferry:

Some fancy house on the water!

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:

The cliffs at Tulum:

It’s all made of limestone, and this is what limestone looks like after it’s been pitted by wind and water:

After coming through the perimeter wall (that surrounds Tulum on three sides, with the ocean cliffs being the fourth “wall”), this is what Tulum looks like:

The watchtower:

The main temple at Tulum:

An iguana!  There were tons of these guys running willy-nilly about Tulum:

A close up of the main temple:

The back of the temple:

The beach at Tulum (you could swim here, but we chose not to since we were about to get on an air-conditioned bus):

The watchtower from behind:

The protected side of the beach (for sea turtle eggs!):

Those guys in the cool clothes spun from this thing by their ankles, while playing music!  It was pretty cool:

Monkeys!  The only monkey we saw on the trip; I couldn’t get a clear shot of his face:

A pretty pretty that I bought for my sister!

Another thing for the sis:

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.  

Just a note, for those who would like to see all of the pictures that I took (almost 300), I believe I’ll be posting them on Flickr later this week.  These photos aren’t touched up, either, and theoretically when I post all 250+ photos they will have been edited (especially the underwater photos) a bit.

Posts related to the work I’m doing this week to follow!

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About Which Stitchery

For almost as long as I can remember, I have been in love with fabric and all of the amazing things you can do with it. I've made costumes, hats, and dabbled in corsetry. I made quilts and I knit and I crochet and I wonder what sort of crazy things I can do with pretty much every scrap of fabric I come across. Next up: learning how to batik! Welcome to this happy little blog, which will chronicle my projects as I work on various new ways to make the world around me a little more colorful!
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7 Responses to Back in the Good Ol’ USA…

  1. Beautiful photos! Looks like a wonderful time. I’m jealous that you went to Chichen Itza, would love to go there. I hope you had a lovely time. 🙂

  2. sandcastle1015 says:

    Your photos looks fantastic!!! The water looks like a touch of heaven ………. i can tell that you truly enjoyed your trip 🙂

  3. mott says:

    Am sooooo happy you had such a lovely time. I am in awe of your picture taking and descriptions. Made me wish I had been along. You could take me next time 🙂 I’m VERY quiet 🙂
    Glad things are good for you. Love you tons.
    Mom

  4. John Wiswell says:

    Highly enviable, lady. Now to work!

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