While on the cruise, I went to two shore tours on our ports of call, Cozumel and Progresso. From Cozumel we went on a tour of the Mayan ruins of Tulum. From Progresso we went to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. We could not spend much time at either site, because just getting there from the coast takes 1.5 — 2 hours each way. So we could spend barely 2 hours touring the ruins. I got to see the highlights, the world-famous pyramids and temples I’ve seen in pictures, but not much more.
(Since we only visited the northern tip of Mexico, perhaps this cruise shouldn’t be called Caribbean, but a Gulf of Mexico cruise instead? I suppose we technically ventured into the Caribbean sea, so I’ll keep using that name.)
On the way to the ruins of Tulum, our tour bus stopped at a Mayan souvenir shop. There were two guys there making replicas of Mayan artifacts, which they sell right there in the shop.
Here are the replicas of Mayan artifacts that they make and sell in this shop.
Hammocks in the Mayan souvenir shop. I wasn’t sure if these hammocks were purely decorative, or if they can be actually used according to their function. They look kinda smallish for that. But maybe descendants of the Mayans are shorter in stature than us pale-faced people.
Around the ruins of Tulum I saw, for the first time in my life, coconuts growing in a tree. I was surprised they were non-hairy, unlike the coconuts sold in stores in the US. I was wondering if these coconuts simply weren’t ripe yet?
From the ruins of Tulum a beautiful view opens up to the sea. It was there, according to our tour guide, that the Mayans of Tulum first saw the masts of Spanish ships over the horizon. Or maybe our tour guide was dramatizing, as the ruins themselves weren’t very dramatic, at least not in rainy weather. (It was raining while we were there.) And we all know what happened next. This adds a twinge of sadness to the beautiful view. Tulum survived only a few years after that. Actually, the tour guide said the Spaniards left Tulum alone, because there was no gold in it. The Spaniards had made their outpost in what is now Cuba, and raided various places along the Mexican coast, mostly looking for gold. But after the Spaniards conquered the Aztec emperor Montezuma, Tulum’s days were numbered.
Then again I’m not sure if (a) I heard the guide correctly, and (b) he wasn’t making things up. I later noticed some things our guide said were of dubious truthiness. Like for example, that a certain restaurant at Tulum, run by his friend, had best margaritas in the world. I tried a margarita there, and it was decent, but I’ve had better in some places in Austin. Ditto for the food. Still, it wouldn’t be right to go to Mexico and not have “authentic” Mexican food and drink, now would it?
This, I think, is what our tour guide said was a building the Spaniards named the Castle: from their ships it looked like a castle.
The “Castle” (far right) and other ruins of Tulum
A structure with columns
The Tulum “Castle” from another angle
Looking back at the ruins of Tulum from a hill
I don’t suppose that thatched roof survived since the Mayan times? It seems curiously out of place in the ruins where the roofs of all buildings had been gone for a long time. As far as I recall, our tour guide didn’t say anything about that. He gave us a brief overview of Tulum and then said “meet you back at the restaurant!”, leaving us to wonder around and take pictures on our own.
This was one and only meal I ate in Mexico, since for the rest of the trip we ate on the cruise ship. It was at the restaurant where our tour guide (who was Mexican) said had the best margaritas in the world. Both the margaritas and the enchiladas were not bad, but did not significantly differ from what you can get in Austin, Texas.
A bunch of coconuts — literally a bunch, seemingly picked from a tree — in a convenience store, next to candy, gum and other standard fare.
Me on the pier in Cozumel, in front of Ecstasy and Glory, two Carnival ships (Ecstasy was the one we were on).