Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Quick Getaway to Riviera Maya

Traveling is my HOT BUTTON.  When it's combined with excellent food choices I'm a happy girl.  When it requires long sunrise walks on the powdery white sand beach, I'm there!  Add a sprinkling of relaxing snorkel excursions and I (almost) never want to go home.

As I alluded to earlier, hubby and I escaped to the Caribbean shores of the Riviera Maya two weeks before Christmas.  I'm always amazed at how quickly my body acclimates to the warm tropical air and ocean breezes after arriving from freezing temperatures back home.  But, the Mayans graciously hailed our arrival, with a smile and a "welcome" margarita as we check into our home for 8 days.  A slice of heaven?  Maybe...

We usually allow for one touristy excursion on these "relaxation trips".  This time we chose to swim in Akumal Bay with the sea turtles, combined with a snorkel into the depths of ancient Mayan cenotes (see-no-tes).  These are a series of underground caves that dot the landscape.  The cenotes are very sacred to the Mayan people as they are believed to be the connection to the underground or other world and ,at times, their only source of freshwater.  

Sacred altar

We visited three, but swam in two because a wedding ceremony was taking place at one.  Our first dip was in a semi underground cenote  warmed by the sun thus producing algae which was a buffet for small pirhana-like fish.  I guess these tiny fish are all the rage for use in pedicures.  They nibble on the dead skin!   No thanks!

The pirhana pedicure cave

Protective thorns on trees...protected from what and do they swim in the water, too?

We ventured over to the huge cave of amazing clarity and color.  The sun beamed into the cave illuminating and casting shadows into the teal colored water.  I could have floated in there for hours while peering into the dark crevices of the cenote waterway.  I found it hard at times to quiet my mind though, thinking of all those creatures from the black lagoon...a bit of an eerie feeling as I waited for unfamiliar jaws to clamp  onto my leg.  Time to climb out of the cave.  On to the remainder of our snorkel excursion...Akumal Bay Swim with the Turtles.

The deep dark cave.  Anyone for a swim?

This bay is known for its sea turtles, abundant fish, and brilliant white sand beach.  It did not disappoint, however, if I were to do it again (and hopefully, I will) I'll hire a car to get us there and venture off on our own.  I felt rushed, racing from turtle to turtle as they were pointed out by our guide.    Swimming with the turtles is supposed to be relaxing, not when it's done with a multitude of snorkelers swimming around, over and into you.  With that said, it is a gorgeous area to swim, sunbathe and snorkel, just not with a large group.  You will see many turtles (very cool), eels, stingrays, and plenty of colorful fish as well as a coral formations swaying with each swell of the waves.

If I could snorkel everyday, I'd be a very happy girl!  More about our trip to Mexico....later.

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