Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Tale of Two Ruins: Tulum & Chichen Itza

Strip club rules at the ruins - no touching. #FromWhatIUnderstand
My quick thoughts on exploring ruins. I'm enchanted by them. Ruins are like hot tub time machines; gateways to another world. One marvels at how people were able to be so technologically savvy in a time when technology equaled a big rock. Yet while the first impression is always impressive, I've noticed because of my lack of sophistication, the final impression is not as strong. Once you start climbing around a few ruins, you're like "all right, cool. Now what?" That's what happens when you have a communication degree from UC-Santa Barbara and the memory of Guy Pierce in "Memento." Ruin fatigue. You've seen a few, you've seen them all. While that's obviously not the truth, it's a consistent state of mind for me. That said, I still love to explore them, with the onus that I get to climb them. There is no climbing in Chichen Itza and in Tulum, well, we'll get into that.


So I almost didn't make it here. I was going to take the ADO bus from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza. It's around a 4-hour drive, $26US each way. I decided to go on my own, but there are myriad tours you can get from PDC that are just a few dollars more. The bus departs at 8a sharp, so I set my alarm at 7. It didn't go off, but my buddy just happened to be getting home from the evening's festivities that same time and woke me up. I got to the station around 7:40a to purchase tickets, but they don't accept credit cards and if I bought the ticket then I wouldn't have any cash left. That would be a bad idea, so I hopped in a taxi to take me back to the condo. Cab driver said that would be easy, but then when we already started driving, he mentioned there was a marathon so there would be several streets blocked. Cabbie ended up driving me further from my condo! 50 pesos down the drain, someone ain't getting postcards! I sprint to my pad, grab my ATM card and any money I have left, and "run" (apparently all that cardio at the gym has been worthless) back to the station to beat the bus. I get back at 7:58, buy my ticket with a real cushy 4-minutes to spare (the bus was 2 minutes late). That said, the run has left me sweating like I just played a double overtime game in the NBA playoffs. I apologize to the kind French man and his two pre-pubescent daughters for whatever stench may have been emanating. On the bright side, this bus ride was amazeballs! For the first time all trip, I could sleep! Four hour bus ride? Hell, make it 5! I fell asleep immediately, didn't wake up until basically looking at this bad boy, El Castillo, aka the Temple of Kukulcan. It was built around 800 AD by the Mayans. Unfortunately, you can no longer climb this, as there were too many tourist accidents (read: deaths).  
El Caracol, the observatory. I don't know anything about this other than it was probably used for observing stuff.  Honestly, I motored thru the ruins pretty quickly because I wanted to save time to hit up a cenote - sinkholes where you can go diving and swimming. Plus, not being able to climb anything was a letdown.

Plaza de las mil columnas. There was once a roof here. But the weather destroyed it a long time ago.
This is either cenote Sagrado or cenote Xtaloc. These are not the cenotes to go swimming in. Unless you want tapeworms.

What is this? Your guess is as good as mine.

There's a ton of merchants trying to sell you stuff while walking around. Maybe more than tourists.

Snake. You ever play Snake on a calculator? TI-82? I'm dating myself here, but that was a great time waster during physics class. On an unrelated note, I suck at science.

The Mayans used to throw some sort of ball thru this loop. Don't know what the game was, but did Naismith draw inspiration here??!

Cenote Ik-Kil. I asked a cabbie to take me to the closest cenote to Chichen Itza, because I couldn't risk missing my return bus. This place is about 5 minutes away. Fun little jump off point. Not very high, maybe 15-feet at the highest to jump off. The water was a comfortable temperature. There's a bunch of tiny shark looking fish. Or maybe they looked like tiny catfish. Whatever, there's a bunch of those swimming around.
Another look. Unfortunately they won't let you jump from this height. That would be more core.


From above.  

Ceviche back at Chichen Itza before taking off. And once again, that bus ride was heavenly! #NothingButSleep

So we got up around noon the day we went to Tulum, which is around 45-60 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. After a couple pit stops, we set up base at Playa Paraiso around 2p. I ordered some ceviche (good everywhere in this area), then decided to walk to the ruins along the beach, which looked like it was about a 1-hr walk away.
This spot is nice if you like enticingly warm water, soft sand, models getting photographed, and topless sunbathing. If you don't like that stuff, it's still nice. 
As I walked towards the ruins, I discovered the beach ended. I met a woman who said even though there wasn't a real path, I could still walk over the rocks and reach the ruins. She said it was totally worth it, about half-a-mile away, and she did it yesterday. So I listened. Climbed through some rocks, saw a decent view - and then encountered a fence.
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She a lie! This was the end of the road. Gorgeous and all, but that's a cliff right there with a large drop-off. I'd have to turn around. Needless to say, I was not pleased with this woman.
All along the beach, there are several dudes running boat rides over to the ruins to give people a better look at them from the water. Problem is, they won't drop you off at the beach there. In fact, the ruins actually close at 430p. Seeing as how this was as close to the ruins as I'd get, I hopped on a boat for about $13 US. 
The beautiful beach right below the ruins. I can only imagine how nice the view is from there! But I bet they wish they got a boat ride!

Not gonna complain too much. This is still pretty sweet. Back lit photo but whatever.

So many dudes.

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