We were scheduled to land in Mexico City but due to bad weather we were sent on to Acapulco, where we were put up in a nice hotel courtesy of the the airline (very nice!).Being clever we decided to not catch the flight back to MC the next morning, but to stay in this fabled holiday location. After all, now being seasoned vetererns, we would get a Lonley Planet no problems !!!
Are we learning yet?
Apparently not! Armed with our Spanish phrase book, and Roy's one year school Spanish, we went in search of a book shop (libreria) only to end up in a bible shop (la biblia) - "nice going Roy!" It seems pronounciation is the key!
After a fruitless day searching we moved to a place in the old section called "Hotel California" Which although it was nice did prove to be almost as hard to to leave as in the song.
Reality; Acapulco: Where the sun shines, the chicks are fat, the police carry sub automatics, pump action shotguns and the food is crap. We mostly enjoyed staying in our room because it was too expensive to eat out and making our own picnics. Oh! and the famous cliff divers did not really impress us being only 60ft up. Eventually we did manage to get a bus to Mexico city on the most traffic free motorway we have seen, ever!
The ancient city of Teotihuacán is the most visited of Mexico’s archaeological sites and a must-see if you’re in Mexico City. The site is impressive for its scale, both in the size of the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the majesty of the Calle de los Muertos (Street of the Dead) - originally 4km long and flanked by temples, palaces and platforms.
It is a cool place and you can imagine the splendour of the city in it's heyday, with blood red walls, paintings on the buildings and the costumes of the priests as they performed thier ceremonies from the summit of the pyramids while the population looked on in awe.
A lot of blood was spilt here over many years, and a lot of it was probably sacrificial. Not as much blood however as the conquistadors shed when they arrived in the sixteenth century and preceded to destroy ALL the temples, teachings and books of this fabulous empire that they could find along with all the others in Mexico. All in the name of the Catholic Church.
Thanks a lot guys!
On a day trip from Mérida, we visited the totally wonderful ruined city at Chichén Itzá. It is an ancient city whose name means "Mouth of the Well". It was, in its time the centre of political, religious and military power in Yucatán, if not all of south-eastern Meso America.
In its architecture there is a gradual change in style, starting with the Puuc style, and culminating with the Mayan-Toltec style.
Chichén Itzá was a large city with a great many inhabitants, distributed around the centre which we observe as ruins. There was easy access to the water coming from the wells in the vicinity.
It not only has one of the best preserved pyramids of the Mayan world, El Castillo, but it is home to many other impressive building. The Temple of the Warriors that houses the famous Chaac-Mool (where heads used to roll!) is located amidst the Plaza of a thousand columns.
It is widely agreed that Chichen Itza was populated between 500 and 900 AD by Mayans and for some reason abandoned around 900. The city was then resettled 100 years later and subsequently invaded by the Toltecs from the North. For some reason the city was again abandoned around 1300.
But for the Spanish policy to kill the Mayan priests and burn all their books when they arrived in Mexico, we would have a better idea of what really happened here. Spanish Catholics. Gotta love 'em..... Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.....
We spent about seven days in Mérida. It's a nice enough town but pretty unremarkable. It is, however, a wonderful place to use as a base for exploring the Yucatán area. From here we visited Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and went on a unique scuba diving trip.
We also spent a lot of time in the local internet shop updating the web-page for you guys. Most of you don't realise just what hard work this is, and you can see below the side-effects that poor Tony suffered as a result of his labours on your behalf.
Yes, that's right! .
We went into the middle of the jungle in Yucatán and dived in the underground caverns that can be found here. Technically this is 'cavern diving', but that's not nearly such a good name.
The pictures of the dive sites don't really do them justice. The first site in particular looks for all the world as if we went diving in a pond in the woods. Not so. This 'pond' is 120m deep and we dived to a depth of 40m. The depths call you to explore them and it required a lot of self restraint not to go deeper and deeper.
It was a pretty weird dive as for the first 5 metres the water was a deep, murky green colour with very limited visibility. However at this depth there was a sudden and very obvious transition as the water became blue and crystal clear. Visibility was suddenly at least 25 metres. There's not a whole lot of life down in these cenotes (Mayan for 'cavern'), but the rock formations, overhangs were amazing to see. It was possible to see how the flow of water has carved these caverns from the rock over millions of years and to follow some of tributary streams a little way.
The second dive was even more amazing than the first. In the photos it appears that we jumped down a hole in the jungle, but again it was just impossible to catch on film. In these pitch dark caverns there were amazing stalagmite, stalagtite and other wonderful rock formations.
Night diving principals were used on this dive as all the light came from our torches, except for one blue streak of light that came in through the hole in the roof and went tens of metres into the depths. Not a lot of room for error here; an emergency ascent would have been impossible as you could not get to the surface by going directly upwards. Deaths are pretty common.
Yucatán is well known for having the best cavern diving in the world - over 25 kilometres of underground passages that can be explored. These caverns and passages were caused by the same meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. It landed not very far from Yucatán, in the Gulf of Mexico and the result of it's impact (apart from wiping out three quaters of the life on the planet) upset the water flows in the region, causing the waters to find new ways back to sea, carving these amazing cenotes and tunnels in the process.
Enjoy the photos, particularly the one of Roy 'Jungal Diver' Goodman (#05).
Jungal Divin' Photos
Uxmal.Once a thriving city of the Mayan people. Now just echoes of the past follow you around this wonderful and surprisingly well preserved site. Not just a site of pyramids, but also for excellent examples of architecture and scenes of the surrounding jungle. "Simply breathtaking". Not to mention a fantastic courtyard surrounded by buildings with examples of Mayan carvings such as the "Big Nosed Gods". A lot of Human Sacrifice was practiced here to appease the Gods over the centuries. The site was expanded at least three times by various generations.
The wildlife was pretty cool too, and lots of "Mr Lizards" were seen along with Iguanas and brightly coloured birds that were just too hard to catch on film.
One of the best things about our visit to Uxmal was that we were virtually the only ones at the site, so we were free to "wonder" and be alone with the old world and let our imaginations run free.
Leaving Merida, we flew to Mexico City where we had a four hour wait before flying to Sao Paulo in Brazil. We had a further twelve hours to kill before our flight to Peru. We tried very hard to find things to occupy us (apart from staring at the Brazilian beauties that seemed to occupy every corner of the airport) in the end things got a little silly. In fact, they got quite a lot silly.
So now we sport the silliest moustaches which should go nicely with the silly Peruvian hats. Not.
This is how we looked upon arrival in Peru. Don't laugh, right?
Complete with silly moustaches you can follow our adventures in Peru