|Day 11 - Playa del Carmen doesn't sleep much so neither did I - sleeping beauty on the other hand had no problems with her heavy duty ear plugs and standard comatosed state!
An early rise and off to xcaret - not sure what to expect we hopped aboard the bus (well after waiting half an hour - apparently it was 9.00 Mexican time not English) only to be dropped off at an office down the road where we waited with another man who checked our names off the list and said the bus would be 10 minutes (Mexican minutes!) 40 minutes later another man called out names out and we waited and eventually got on a bus bound for xcaret. Once onboard the safety announcements began in Mexican and English and then we arrived to what seemed like a large nature park - it was beautiful but full of people.
We followed the hoards down towards the changing rooms and found our lockers, flippers and life jackets and then were hearded down a path - one quick question was asked 'can you swim' and then we were pointed into a cave! We followed the path down to find a river opening and off we went to spend two hours floating and swimming down a river though the park - with a quick peak at a flamingo here and a parrot there and then we seemed to converge with the 'non swimmers' river - a high number of people flailing about, some being dragged along, some erratically kicking, some just floating and hoping for the best - again a very bizarre sight! We found the steps and ditched our flippers and collected our bag - only to realise we were now at the far end of the park and miss 'I need factor 50 or I'll burn' had left the sun cream in the locker!! We decided to wander back to the lockers via the dolphin pool and the beach.
Rachel caught her first glimpse of a dolphin - all be it in captivity but they don't want to see her in the wild no matter how hard she tries!! We watched for a while but didn't fancy paying through our teeth to swim with them we moved on to find the Manatee pool - we stood and watched whilst the trainers fed them lettuce and celery and then the trainer shouted out - 'do you like them - do you want to feed them?' Errrr yes!! So we skipped through the 'no entry' gate and down into the Manatee pool. To meet one huge 25 year old male named 'big guy' in Mayan (can't actually remember his name- oops!) but we went in the pool with him and he entertained us by doing a few tricks and eating pellets of food from our hands with his bristly lips - and Rachel got a kiss but I opted out!! We stayed and chatted for a while to the trainers and then we headed out through the 'no entry' gate and back towards the lockers. We both decided a random opportunity to feed and swim with manatee was way better than swimming with dolphins!!
Rachel slathered herself in factor 50 and we went off though the rainforest on an eco walk that ended with a delightful and very scenic trip on a boat down the river!! Next was the flying men - some mad ritual where 5 men climb up a huge pole (approx. 50m) and then proceed to thank the gods by throng themselves off spinning 13 times on a rope and then to say thanks for their safety they hopp on an equally safe thing that I can only describe as a human catherine wheel and spin 13 times!! Check out the video!! Then we ventured into the scenic tower - a large spinning lift that takes you 150m up and slowly spins so you can see the 360degree view- pretty spectacular and then it was down again and off to lunch.
We wandered through the Mayan village past the parrots, panthers, wild boar, flamingoes, deer and monkeys to our chosen lunch destination - the ticket included a buffet lunch so of course Rachel and I had done our research and chosen what looked to be the best restaurant with the most choice! Then we discussed buffet tactics and decided it was best to avoid carbs and we had both had our fill of tortillas so definitely none of those and then just eat as fast as you can so your tummy doesn't realise your full until it's too late!!
Man I was soooo full - but the food was excellent and we found what we had been looking and salivating for for the last two weeks 'pulled pork!' Mmmmmm!
We finished the afternoon off with some brilliant snorkelling in a cenote that opened into the sea so when you looked underwater you could see the divide of fresh and salt water and there were some really cool fish! Oh and some treasure - I may have snorkelled upon 100 pesos!! Deciding that the fish weren't going to need it we put it towards our daiquiri fund and headed off to the finale the Mexican show.
WOW - what a performance - it was like going to cirque to sole il - it was a journey though Mexican time - starting with traditional Mayan sports games - the first was like hockey only with a flaming ball and a lot of flicking the flaming ball - oh and if you loose you have your head chopped off!! Then there were all sorts of dances, songs and other performances, including one of the civil war that had horses charging across the stage and canons being fired and loads of awesome light and sound effects. Following this was a performance to represent all the regions in the country, culminating with a huge finale with all the flags of the world stating that they were so happy to be a multicultural county and then all the Mexicans in the crowd were cheering and crying - very emotive and an awesome performance!!
Back to the hostel and it was time for a night out - we entered our room and got ready to go out only for the heavens to open and a huge storm to start and go on and on and on - so no going out tonight unless we wanted to look like drowned rats!!