Riviera Maya Vacation - April 1-5, 2012
We decided to take a relaxing vacation to one of our favorite areas again, the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. Overall, it was a very nice trip! The arrangements were made by Bill at Valley Ranch Vacations (now Primo Travel Services), our travel agency of choice for many years.
This time we stayed at the Excellence Riviera Cancun, an adults only, all inclusive resort just a short 10 minute drive from the Cancun airport. The resort grounds are beautiful, just as we expected. We arrived around 2:00 pm and had a late lunch at the Barcelona buffet restaurant before even going to our room. We were hungry! Before walking around and exploring the grounds and the beach, we checked with Oscar, the rep from Lomas Travel (the same people who arranged our airport shuttle) to get information about going on an excursion on one of the next couple days.
On that first night, we discovered we were directly across from the live music stage. If you know us, you know live music is at about the bottom of our list of entertainment options, and yes, the music was loud enough and carried well enough to bother us in the room. Expecting that some form of live music was going to continue on that same stage each night during the week, we made plans to switch rooms the next day.
Monday, day two, was spent doing nothing, really, which is exactly what we wanted. We ate, swam, sunned, ate some more, swam, sunned some more, and such things. By 'swam', we really mean hung out in the pool on foam floaty things, liesurely paddling from end to end. We participated in about 15 minutes of an impromptu water aerobics gathering led by Daniel, one of the resort staff. We did end up changing rooms, getting one about twice as far away from and out of the direct line of the music stage. The hotel staff was gracious enough to provide us with a letter of apology and a bottle of champagne for our troubles.
We decided to take the opportunity this trip to visit Chichen Itza, so we arranged to make that excursion on Tuesday. We've wanted to go before, but the situation didn't present itself properly until this trip. After eating a nice 3-course breakfast, we went to the resort entrance about 8am and met the shuttle bus which took us toward our destination. We actually changed to our main tour bus at a central location in Cancun near the airport, which happened to be at Wet N Wild, of all places.
Our first real stop was at Ik Kil, a "cenote" which we learned is a sort of sink hole. While that may not sound like an attraction, it actually was quite a spectacle! It's essentially a sink hole which formed due to the Yucatan's vast array of underground rivers. You can actually swim in the water, though we refrained this time. Not long after, we made a pit-stop for lunch at a nice buffet restaurant in a market area on the outskirts of a nearby town... part of the experience was to walk around the market where the vendors showcased their Mayan handcrafts.
Then it was off to the actual archaeological site of Chichen Itza. Our tour guide, Agustin, was phenomenally knowledgeable about the area, the people, the practices, and all such things. Having explained a bit about the Mayan culture on the bus, he gave us an in-depth tour of the ballcourt and the most recognizable structure, "El Castillo", or the Temple of Kukulkan. Ginger had gotten car sick, or bus sick, as it were, and wasn't feeling well walking around the grounds, so she didn't enjoy all that the site has to offer, though she did get a good look at the main attractions. While she rested, Neil continued to investigate the site. We're glad we took the opportunity to make the trip as it was beautiful and very interesting.
Speaking of Mayan culture, Agustin pointed out something that we all should know - there is no such thing as the Mayans predicting the end of the world or some sort of cataclysmic event in December of 2012 - believing that the Mayans thought such a thing is just foolishness. Their Long Count calendar rolls over to a new cycle, or "b'ak'tun", on that date. Kind of like we made a big deal about Y2K, the beginning of a new century, because 2000 is a big round number that flips into a 3rd thousand... their calendar just flips into a 14th b'ak'tun.
On the way back our bus stopped in Valladolid at a church that's either called the "Church of San Servacio" or "The Cathedral", depending on what you're reading. We literally had 5 minutes to step off, snap some shots of the church, and get back on the bus - apparently this was "the thing" for all tour busses and visitors to do, because there were police stationed in front of the church just to stop traffic for a few seconds every minute or so to let throngs of people run accross the street. After a couple hours, we were back in Cancun. The tour company arranged to have a van meet us not too far from our resort speed our return to the resort. Unfortunately, immediately after the bus departed, the van broke down! However, within 15 minutes another van arrived to shuttle us off, so we still arrived back to the resort a little after 7:00, about on schedule. We cleaned up and made it to dinner about 8pm.
Wednesday, our last full day at the resort, was much like the day two, that is, doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. More eating, lounging in and by the pool, eating, hanging out by the beach, and, of course, more eating! There were a couple gift shops on the premises, so we stopped in for some shopping in the morning. In the afternoon, the shooting range had an activity going on: we showed up with two other guests and spent 30 minutes or so shooting pellet rifles at hanging targets.
On Thursday, it was time to head back home. Based on past experiences, we made sure we got a flight back that allowed for a nice, leisurely breakfast at the buffet before boarding the shuttle for the airport. We had time to walk around the resort for a bit after breakfast before packing up to go check out around 10:45. All in all, a great trip! We highly recommend going to an all-inclusive resort on the Riviera Maya, and we'll make plans to go back ourselves before too long.