So, I went to Mexico. Always wanted to go, but every time I bring it up someone has to mention the frigging cartels. This time I ignored the negativity and booked the trip. Every one we told we were going to Playa del Carmen was all like, “Why not Cancun?” Well, because the Riviera Maya district has a lot more to see and do. If we were going to Mexico to party, we would have stayed in Cancun. But we went to see the Mayan Ruins and experience some of that Mexican culture, so Playa was perfect for us.
We stayed at the Catalonia Privileged Maroma.
Now, we paid extra to be bumped up to “privileged,” which gave us access to all five restaurants. I mean it was convenient to be able to have breakfast and lunch at the restaurants near/on the beach instead of having to walk what felt like a quarter mile to the buffet near the lobby (the food on this resort is pretty good, by the way). But other than that I didn’t feel very privileged. Although, the room was nice, the staff was nicer, and the maids fashioned cute animals out of towels for us.
But the view left much to be desired. This resort is in a forest so all we saw was bush when we stepped out on the balcony. We got one of the rooms that does not face other rooms, which turned out to be a good thing. It was nice having sex on our balcony as an option. *ahem* Another good thing about facing the trees is we got visitors.
It was fun until one of them pissed on our porch. Coatis are all over the resort. They are friendly creatures, so do not be afraid when accosted by one or an entire family of them.
The resort is a good size. I did a lot of walking, which is great because it is all-inclusive and I drank my weight in mojitos and took full advantage of the buffets. The pool was big enough so that I did not feel crowded when I went for a swim, and deep enough for the free scuba diving lessons being offered. The beach was amazing with the exception of seaweed on some days. I spent most of my time lounging with a book in one hand and a drink in the other.
I had some of my best sleep on that chaise. The staff is friendly. The waiters kept the drinks coming. There were also activities for guests to participate in, including volleyball tournaments, synchronized swimming competitions, and dance aerobic classes. None of which I participated in, because I didn’t go all that way to exercise. But those who took part seemed to be having fun. Now, I have to tell you that if you are coming to Mexico to party, this is not the place for you. Downtown Playa del Carmen is 30 minutes away from the resort. If we wanted to be in the hustle and bustle of La Quinta Avenue we would have booked rooms around that area. But we did not leave the busy streets of NYC to deal with more pedestrians. If you are like us and just want to relax and sip cocktails, then Catalonia Privileged Maroma, or any of the nearby resorts, is for you.
But I didn’t go to Mexico just to look fabulous on the beach.
As seen here. (Ah try ah ting!)
We came to Mexico to explore. We booked two combo tours at playadelcarmentours.com. The first one took us to Chichen Itza (pronounced chee-chen eet-za) and the cenote Ik Kil (say-no-tay eek-keel). We started off with Chichen Itza. It took a little over 2 hours to get there after they picked everyone up from the surrounding resorts. Let me tell you, I thought Trinidad was hot. The sun over Chichen Itza is a force. The umbrellas the tour guides gave us did not make a lick of difference. The heat was so unbearable that I could not even concentrate on what the guide was saying. By noon I did not give a damn about Mayan culture as the sun beat down on us. The guide wasn’t telling me shit I couldn’t read on Wikipedia. Most of us let our eyes roam about the grounds, silently wishing he would shut up. We just wanted to be set free so we could explore and take enough pictures of the ruins before we had to head back to the air conditioned bus.
I look defeated in this pic don’t I?
That heat was brutal. I was drenched in sweat by the time I sat my tired ass back on that bus. If you’re heading to Chichen Itza please do not forget your sunscreen. Also, carry cash. There are hundreds of vendors there, all vying for your attention and their prices are reasonable. My pedometer said that I walked over fives miles that day. Chichen Itza was bigger than expected. It was quite impressive. But I could not WAIT to get to Ik Kil after burning up for hours. I have to admit that I was a bit scared at the thought of swimming in a pool that was over 60 feet deep. But after wandering around under that hot ass sun my body was ready for a dip in some cold spring water. However, we stopped for a bite to eat before heading to the cenote. We had lunch at Pueblo Maya, a Mexican/Latin restaurant. They had local cuisine and international cuisine. I went for the former, naturally, because I needed an authentic taco. We were treated to a show during lunch as well.
I was too busy stuffing my face so I only got the tail end of the performance. Also, right in front of the restaurant is a gift shop where you can purchase items made by modern day Mayans, including jewelry made from real Mexican silver.
Ik Kil is less than 10 minutes away from Chichen Itza. We had about an hour to change, shower quickly and climb down about 90 slippery steps to get to this cenote. All those photos of it in Google images did not compare to beholding it in person. And, like every other tourist attraction, there was a crowd and a wait to climb down the ladder into the water. Some brave souls climbed up the steps and dove head first. The line for the dive was a lot shorter, but I was okay with waiting because NO. Also,
Reminded me of Titanic.
We spent about 10 minutes in the water, which was not as cold as described to us. I was expecting pins and needles, but it was tolerable.
I honestly did not want to get out. It felt so serene floating and looking up through the opening at the heavens and all the people staring down at us from above who were too chicken shit to get in the water. My arms and legs were tired from straddling. I was knocked out on that long ride back to the hotel.
It’s a good thing we booked the tours a day apart because I would not have been able to do them back to back after all that walking. A day of rest in between was needed. The day after, we did our second combo tour. This time to Tulum (too-loom) and Xel-Ha (shel-ha). I enjoyed Tulum more than Chichen Itza mostly because of its location. The ruins are located on a cliff facing the Caribbean Sea, and the breeze made the tour more bearable. I was actually able to learn something. For instance, Tulum was one of the last cities that was built and inhabited by the Mayans. It was also surrounded by a wall to protect its inhabitants from their enemies.
I personally found Tulum more aesthetically pleasing than Chichen Itza because of the palm trees and flowers surrounding the ruins. It is more tropical. It is also crawling with iguanas, which I love.
He didn’t move until after the pic was taken.
Sadly, the tide was too high for us to take a stroll on the beach. We were sprinting to the bus when this happened:
We were late getting to our seats, but I could not resist recording The Dance of the Flyers.
We spent the rest of the day, about 6 hours, in Xel-Ha, an aquatic-themed eco park just 8 miles south of Tulum.
This park is all inclusive with three buffet restaurants and open bars. I had my fill of guacamole and margaritas that day.
Eighty percent of my vacation diet.
We pretty much covered the whole park. We swam among the fish, into a cave, watched OTHER people swim with dolphins, because I don’t trust dolphins. I’ll just leave it at that. They cute though. >__> We zip-lined a few times and floated down a lazy man river in a mangrove.
Mosquitoes tore my ass up in that mangrove, but it was totally worth it. At the end of the day I was sunburned and my bottom lip had swollen from all the salt water, but I was happy. It was a day well spent.
I enjoyed our time in Riviera Maya. It’s a great district with lots to experience. I’m glad I was able to cross it off my bucket list. I hope you enjoyed reading about my vacation as much as I enjoyed writing about it, because the way my bank account is set up, you probably won’t be reading about my next holiday till next year.