Cancun Trip - 2014
Rio Secreto was first. The secret river trip was thoroughly enjoyable and exciting. We planned it on our own, not with a tour operator. It required an early start from the hotel by public bus to the ADO bus station, downtown Cancun. From there we took another bus that dropped us off at the front entrance to the park. It did take a while to get there because the bus often stopped to drop off or pick up new passengers. In all, it took about two hours.
|Since we could not bring cameras, none of these photos are mine.|
After checking in, we and several other tourists were driven inland to cabanas where we were furnished wet suits and booties. There was clean and comfortable dressing room. Once suited, we were given helmets with headlamps and, for those who wanted them, walking sticks. With our female Russian tour guide, we proceeded to walk through a jungle path for a couple of hundred yards and came upon a Mayan man, who performed a short ritual to the gods of the underworld, dousing each of us with a smoky, sweet smelling incense. We were now ready to proceed into the cave.
Shortly after entering the cave we encountered the ankle-deep water of the underground river. As we got deeper into the cave, the river also became deeper. The cave was pitch black with only our headlamps and our tour guide's flashlight.
We were soon surrounded by beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Stalactites, the ones that hang from the cave's ceiling, look like icicles. Our guide explained that stalactites grow from water and calcium seeping through the limestone. Once inside the cave, the drips of water and calcium form a stalactite. It grows very slowly - about an inch every 250 years. Then, with water drops from the stalactites falling on the ground, the deposits create a stalagmite. Over time, some will form a cone-like shape high enough to meet the stalactite to form a what's known as a column. We saw several examples of the columns.
The tour only encompassed a small part of the twenty mile long cave. At times we had to swim through deep areas while at other times we walked on hard ground, always being cautious not to touch our delicate surroundings.
We spent about two hours walking, wading and swimming through the cave. It was a fascinating adventure. Afterwards, they fed us a tasty Mexican lunch comprised of chicken, rice, beans, a cactus vegetable and fruit.
The other tour we took while we were in Cancun was to Isla Contoy, a small island about an hour and a half north of Cancun. Isla Contoy is a marine reserve that has lots of bird life, as well as marine life.
|Bird's eye view of Isla Contoy.|
The boat trip was pretty rough due to strong winds and choppy seas. For those daring the upper deck seats, we got a good soaking. But it was warm - no problema! On our approach to the lee of the island, we were greeted by pristine white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.
|A beautiful white sandy beach in Isla Contoy.|
|A friendly local iguana keeping an eye on me.|
|On the docks of Isla Contoy.|
Our return to Cancun was faster and smoother than on the way over. It had been another fun-filled adventure.
After spending a week in the Cancun area we headed for Merida. To get there we took the ADO bus. It was about a four hour trip. The bus was a luxury class and offered movies with head phones, drinks and bathrooms.
Our hotel, del Perigrino, was a twenty minute walk from the bus station, near the center of Merida. It was a friendly, comfortable and well located place, with a wholesome buffet breakfast.
|Palacio del Gobernador|
Besides being the capital of the Yucatan, Merida is central to the Mayan culture. Since we were there for only four days, we opted to spend our days in town, rather than go on day-long side trips. We visited museums, cathedrals, parks, mercados, the nearby beach town of Progresso and attended an evening Mayan cultural dance.
|Along the beach front in Progresso.|
|A delicious "Pescado Frito" dinner in Progresso.|
|Typical Mayan seat arrangement.|
|The Grand Square in Merida.|
|Colorfully painted buildings line streets of Merida.|
|An outside hallway in Casa de los Montejo museum.|
|The dining room in Casa de los Montejo museum.|
|Diane chilling with her iPad in a hammock at El Rey del Caribe.|