I know this post has taken me ages to write and I’m sorry! I haven’t been doing too well, I know, but I’ve just been really unmotivated recently, and I think I’ve finally found out why so now I think I can pick myself back up again and keep going. I’m really excited about these next few posts I have planned and I’m even more excited to immerse myself back into the blogging world and keep connecting with all of the awesome people I’ve met.
Anyway, enough of the sappy stuff– onto Mexico! We had such a great time and I’d never been before so it was really fun to finally go and, because I’m a dork, get a new stamp in my passport. (If I’m not careful though I’m going to need to get a new one since I’ve only got four free pages left… oops.) I was only in Mexico for a few days, but the things I saw were so incredible that if you ever take a trip to Mexico these places absolutely cannot be missed.
Cancún was our first stop and although I’m not a huge beach person, it was beautiful and relaxing. Chance are if you go to Cancún you’ll stay in the hotel zone, which is a long stretch of hotels along the ocean right on the beach. They range from luxury to affordable and, although very touristy, most hotels have private beaches and that’s just cool. We stayed at two different hotels since we went somewhere in between and one had a private beach and one didn’t. However, typically ones that don’t have their own private beaches tend to partner with someone who does so you still get the access you want.
In Cancún, your time is really best spent sitting on the beach sipping cocktails and relaxing, since the city itself doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in terms of exploration.
After our beach time in Cancún, we saw the more exciting bits of Mexico– the ruins.
Chichén Itzá is one of the Mayan cities from thousands of years ago, but is the most well-known. The most recognizable part of this city is the temple El Castillo, which is one of the most impressive structures I have ever seen and is surprisingly intact after weathering thousands of years of elements and people.
The coolest thing about El Castillo is the way your claps echo back to you as a quack. I sound totally crazy, right? But the way this was build architecturally (I don’t know the details, I’m no architect) the sound waves bounce back and sound like a duck quacking. You can view my video as an example here. I mean that’s pretty cool if you ask me.
The grounds of the city are quite vast and Mexico can be incredibly hot, so it’s best to go as soon as it opens to both avoid the heat but also the huge crowds of tourists. It opens at 8 a.m. and we were there 10 minutes after it opened and already there were buses full of people arriving. If you take nothing else away from this post, remember that!
The history of this city is pretty incredible, and in front of every building or structure there’s a plaque describing what archeologists believe it was used for in the time of the Maya. Some of the best sites are the nunnery, the skull platform (freaked me out too), the observatory and the sacred cenote where sacrifices were made. I have to say, after watching Apocolypto (against my will) when it first came out, seeing some of these sights made me shiver. To think the wall I was looking at was where impaled heads sat and the cenote right in front of me was where they killed people as sacrifices to the gods is a feeling I can’t quite explain.
The skull platform
Unfortunately, the government allows vendors to sell items on the grounds, and while I respect these people trying to make a living, I don’t like paying for something to then be harassed into buying things I don’t want when I’m trying to look at what I’ve paid for. To avoid this, go as soon as it opens because they’re still setting up and won’t bother you.
The history and the preservation of these buildings are incredible and having the opportunity to immerse myself in that history was something I won’t forget soon.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes where cave ceilings have collapsed and created craters in the ground with pools of water. Most have been around for thousands of years and the Mayans used them as water sources as well as the occasional sacrificial offering. They’re absolutely stunning and photos can’t do it justice because of the sheer size of the cave walls. We only had time to go to one, so we went to the one closest to Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil. Although it was incredible, it was so overrun by tourists I didn’t stay very long. My advice to you would be to find one more off the beaten path so that you can enjoy the beauty of it in peace.
Nonetheless, these cenotes are amazingly impressive, even with screaming children and dozens of tourists.
Since the cenotes are very natural and face very little contamination, officials require you to shower off before you get in to wash away anything that might be on your skin that could affect the delicate balance of the ecosystem. The water was so cool, which was incredibly refreshing after a ridiculously hot day, and swimming with caved walls and vines isn’t something I’ll forget too quickly.
And no, you can’t dive from where I took that photo (but would you want to??).
The final thing we saw before heading back to Cancún was Tulum, the Mayan city on the coast. It’s the only known Mayan city by the ocean and those ruins among the backdrop of clear blue water was beautiful. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was midday and the sun was so hot and so strong we arrived and stayed about 15 minutes before deciding we just couldn’t tough it out any longer and went back to the car.
I must say, if I were a Mayan I would have must rather lived in Tulum where I could go swimming (or spearfishing? Did they do that?) rather than in the baking hot jungle of Chichén Itzá.
Mexico is an amazing country with so much cool history and with this one trip I barely scratched the surface, but being able to see thousands-year-old ruins and relaxing on the beach for a few days was just what I needed.
History, ruins, gorgeous sunsets, beautiful storms, blue oceans, white sand; I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that Mexico doesn’t have.
Don’t forget to follow my Instagram account where I regularly post photos from all of my adventures!