Mayan Ruins

After purchasing our entrance tickets, I headed down the path. The thick jungle vegetation on each side of the path helped me to understand how archeologist only recently uncovered this ancient civilization. Now uncovered, I enjoyed my adventurous day at El Balam, located on the Yucatan Pennisula of Mexico.

First, I climbed the pyramid successfully. I followed Brian’s tip to diagonially walk up the steep incline. Perfect tip! I happily reached the top, turned to take in the view and immediately signed. Why? Because staight-ahead was another pyrimid. But this one was at least twice as tall. Here I thought I had accomplished the hardest climbing feat of the day only to discover that this climb was just a warm-up.

Determined, I followed Brian up the larger ruin. Step right, step right, step right. Then step left, step left step left. I kept my eyes down, watching my feet and avoided looking straight up, worried that doing so would cause me to panic and instead just stop and sit down. Finally, after many diagonal turns and many, many steps, I was at the top! To prove it, we asked a fellow climber to snap our photo despite our sweatiness.

Later in the day, I read more about Ek Balam. It’s name means “Black Jaguar”, hence all artisans selling jaguar wooden carvings. The climb = 96ft or 8 stories high. The town dates back to 600BC and it’s civilization thrived from 770 AD-900 AD and was last used in 1600AD…just 7 years before Jamestown was founded in my state of Virginia.

Walking around an ancient city is interesting. So much to wonder. So much to imagine. I wonder who lived there. I wonder about their jobs. I wonder what the women did and how they were treated. I wonder about the kids and if they went to school. I wonder what they eat. I wonder what they hunted. (I guess janguars!) I wonder if they took time for a vacation.

I do know that they most likely cooled off in the nearby Xcanche cenote just as I did after my walking tour. A perfect way to cool off after a hot day of exploring.



Last Night in Tulum, Mexico

“Let’s head down to the beach on our way back to our room,” Brian said as he handed the signed dinner bill to our waiter.

My bare feet sunk into the soft sandy floor of Ziggy’s Beach Restaurant. Above us was a towering thatched roof holding up no sides at all – the restaurant was all open to the outside. And the ceiling magically was aglow. Many basket-woven spheres hung throughout, each containing a single light bulb that gave off a soft, magical glow.

Tulum’s Ziggy Beach Restaurant was nothing like dining in Arlington, VA. No a/c – just the delightful ocean breeze. No piped in music – a 4-piece band played live music. My favorite musician was the bongo player. Boy could his hands move to make sound. And no hurry – we had just slowly enjoyed cocktails, an appetizer, a fresh fish dinner, said “sure” to dessert, and ended with a glass of port. I don’t know how many hours have passed because vacation rule #1 – no watches. But I do know it was a good long time.

Once I stepped away from the restaurant and onto the beach, I looked up. Wow – so many stars. “There’s the North Star,” I proudly announced. After weeks of studying the evening sky, I was starting to read the sky. However, it does help when the sky is so clear and not overshadowed by city lights!

We continued to step along the the sandy beach just above the shore line. The sand was soft and easy to walk in. Then suddenly, the sand changed. “Look,” I pointed down. Brian turned on his iPhone flashlight and lit up the sand. It was packed down and was in the shape of a long column going back down to the water in one direction and headed up the beach in the other. Quickly, he turned off his flashlight and whispered, “I think that shady spot up there is a turtle.” He pointed up the patched down path to a mound about a yard away.

Suddenly sand flew across my leg. “I think she just sprayed my feet with sand as she digs.” We were strolling on the beach in Tulum, Mexico and suddenly realized we were next to a giant sea turtle trying to lay her eggs on the beach.

Dinner, barefoot, live music, star-filled sky and a turtle, too. What a magical last evening of vacation!