Our Mexican 10th Anniversary travel blog

Our own natural spa

50 feet down & crystal clear

Enjoying the surreal scenery

Cliffside ruins at Tulum

The most beautiful beach in the world?

A moment shared

Wide open grounds

A natural fortress

Beautiful view

Hark, Alli sees a ship in the distance!

This Iguana is the current King of Tulum

Prettiest beach in the world?

If you smile at me I will understand. Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language-Crosby Stills & Nash

Back into the van for a short ride to our first ever cenote swim. Whats a cenote (sin-oh-tay) you say? It's a huge natural sinkhole/limestone cave with crystal clear fresh water. There are over 1500 cenotes dotting the landscape of eastern Yucatan here. Some of them are connected to each other deep underground. They loosely form one huge fresh water irrigation cave system that eventually empties deep into the Caribbean ocean. Some cenotes are even scuba dive-able. Allowing people to enter a cenote miles inland, dive, and surface into the open ocean! Mayan people considered these cenotes sacred entrances into Xibalba (their Valhalla-like underworld). They also use these cenotes as natural hurricane shelters. This one would be great for storm protection as it is almost completely closed to sunlight except for the creaky wooden staircase that lead us down, down, down, Holy crap! waaaay down here.

It was completely bizarre to dive and swim in water that you can see the bottom so clearly yet it's so far away. Stalagmites deep below us seem to reach up like huge fingers from the depths. Back in the states, we love to tour show caves wherever we travel. We've seen over a dozen so far throughout the US eastern coast. Wherever we have been, it's been drilled religiously into our heads DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING in caves. Don't touch or drink the water as well. Don't even LOOK at it! So it seems almost illegal to climb all over and dive off the banks of speleological objects here. But hey, they did make us shower before we jumped in here... For a while, we were the only 3 people here. Swimming, laughing, enjoying.

When we left the cenote parking lot, we were just around the corner from our lunch stop at a beautiful restaurant called La Pyramide. Alli and I both agree this was by far the BEST meal we ate in Mexico. Local Mayan grub is absolutely delicious! We tried a sour orange dish called pork pibil and I was introduced to Soupa de Lima (Lime Soup). We stuffed ourselves with fresh refried beans, corn & rice in warm tortillas, and real deal chicken enchiladas. Oh man, fantastico! Sipping on fresh pineapple juice overlooking a beautiful lagoon with a big fat full belly was almost heaven. Could this day possibly get any better?

After another zippy van ride (Mexican drivers are friggin crazy!) we arrived at the ruins of Tulum. This site recently became the most visited archeological site in Mexico. We parked and walked along a path through dense mangrove swamps. The water in the surrounding swamp is bright red from tree roots tannic acid effect. Kind of like the Everglades yet with bright red water everywhere. We passed through a small gate arch and entered inside this natural fortress. 3 sides generally surrounded by mangrove swamp and 10 foot stone walls with the 4th side being the treacherous coral reef of the Caribbean ocean.

Almost all the trees here have been removed to the original state here and the open grounds resemble a scene from a huge Scottish castle estate, but in the tropics.

We've caught a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon here with Tulum's raw beauty brightly on display. Tulum means "Wall" in Mayan. Spanish sailors in 1517 remarked on seeing intimidating Tulum for the fist time while sailing by. Although the fall of Mayan culture had already occurred, the city was still a thriving trade port painted in vibrant colors of blues, stucco white and deep reds. Conquistadors returned to plunder a year later thinking they had found El Dorado.

Tulum was definitely a center for some kind of fertility celebration and ritual. Beautiful flower carvings penetrated by phallic symbols adorn some of the well preserved buildings here. Historians think Mayan women hoping to have children came here for ceremonies before embarking on a canoe ride to Cozumel. (Ruins there also are linked to fertility). A fertility pilgrimage of sorts. The Mayan mastery of astrology is again on display here as well. Gudelio tells us exactly how the sun rises over the ocean in the east, and just for an instant, illuminates this entire beautiful carving of a sun deity.

Other than the incredible views here, the highlight is one particular building called The Temple of The Frescoes. Here we can see parts of a brilliant mural painted underneath a beautifully ornate fertility temple. Carvings of corn offerings and women giving birth are above. It's quite something to stand here and look at 1000 year old paintings still containing a riot of bright colors. We can even see red hand prints on the walls of this temple. Perhaps it's the artists signature of sorts...Another chilling and humbling moment.

We were dropped back off at the hotel around 6pm. Quick shower and we're off again to funky Fifth Ave for dinner. Our hotel is so very cool because you MUST walk through the sand to come in and out. We love it!

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