Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life Among the Ruins - Tulum and Coba

Tulum is one of the most photographed of the Mayan ruins, probably because of its location next to the colorful Caribbean waters. It is an easy day trip from Paamul and we planned it so that we arrived ahead of the heat and the numerous tour buses. After working up a sweat viewing the ruins there's a beautiful beach just below the castle where you can snorkel and cool off. The bay was probably used for trading with people from Central America and as far away as Columbia.

As we walked among the ruins it was easy to imagine the civilization that once lived here. Tulum was a major commercial point in the Yucatan as well as a civic, religious and residential site from approximately 1250 to 1550.

We took another day trip to Coba and though it required more hiking than Tulum we timed it right and went on a cooler, overcast day. Coba was the largest and most important Mayan city in its time, roughly between 200 and 800 AD (gee, can you tell I'm consulting my guide book again?) One of the things that impressed us most about Coba was the road system. The roads are called sacbes, or white roads, and extend up to 62 miles. They are remarkably wide and level and have lasted for centuries.

Coba has the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan and it's quite a climb to the top, although coming down is actually more difficult. It's hard to get an idea of the size until you notice how small the people at the top are.

Coba also has a ball court. The base is decorated with depictions of human skulls. The game was similar to soccer and the goal was to put the ball through the stone hole. One story says the captain of the winning team was sacrificed but another story says that the captain of the losing team (and sometimes the whole team) were sacrificed to the Mayan gods. Sounds like lots of fun.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Paamul

In addition to our beach time we've found other things to keep us busy in Paamul. We've been diving and seen lots of marvelous things - turtles, rays, queen angels and triggers, eels and a variety of other marine life. We were even fortunate to be able to place some bets on the crab races last Friday. Hermit crabs with numbers on their shells were poured out of a bucket and then the race was on to see which one crossed the rope first. We didn't win any of the races but were worn out by all the excitement.

Another Paamul activity is watching the daily progress on the construction of palapas for the RVs. Each one seems to be taller and more elaborate than the one before it.

Seeing the different types of RVs that show up here is always interesting. We're quite fascinated with the combination tour bus/sleeping quarters in this bus. The plate on the bus says 'Aleman' which is Spanish for German. We saw one similar to it in Vancouver BC and have found that they travel all over. Imagine the fun of sleeping in a small tube near 30 of your closest new friends.

The sleeping quarters are stacked next to and on top of each other - it appears that some of the larger ones get more than one window.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Puerto Aventuras

Just a few miles south of us is an area called Puerto Aventuras. It is a large gated community with a marina, quite a few condos, hotels and private homes. Much of it is very upscale and there are shops, restaurants, a museum and dive shop. We went there to look around and were lucky enough to catch an impromptu dolphin show.

Thursday, December 4, 2008



Akumal is just south of Paamul and is a neat area. The beach is beautiful and there are some great restaurants and shops. We went there and met some friends of friends -Chris and Riley. They have been coming to Akumal for years and were able to fill us in on the area. Brian had been to Akumal in the early '90s but of course things have changed a bit. Chris and Riley took me on a great snorkel excursion. I saw an eagle ray on the way out and a turtle on the way back in. Amazing! We really enjoyed meeting them and spending time together.

Brian, Tilly, Chris and Riley relaxing on the beach in Akumal.


After one more stop in Chetumal we arrived in Paamul on November 29.

The park has a very nice restaurant, pool, fabulous beach and dive shop. The people staying here are very friendly, mostly Canadians and Americans.

Our spot in Paamul

The RV park is a bit different as there are many people who have built palapas around their RVs and spend the winter or longer here. As we look around it's often difficult to find the RV in many of the structures.

Kind of like Where's Waldo but it's Where's the RV?

We love getting up in the morning and walking Tilly on the beach and of course she loves it even more. It's great to be back in the tropics!

Brian and Tilly, just before he lets her run wild.

Our Journey Begins

After much planning we left Arizona on November 16 and crossed the border into Mexico near McAllen, Texas on November 22. It was slow going as we worked our way to Paamul, planning each day's journey from RV park to RV park. There was quite a bit of road work going on for much of our drive so we didn't make great time but that was fine with us since there were so many unique sights along the way.

We went through little villages that we would have sped right through in the U.S. In Mexico, however, each little village has a few topes, or speed bumps, to slow everyone down. There are vendors selling everything from fruit juice to copper pots at each tope so it does make the journey interesting. On one part of the road we saw so many bags of fruit that we couldn't believe anyone would ever buy them all - in other parts of Mexico we saw the same situation, just different stuff to sell.

We decided to go through Catemaco which is becoming an ecotourist destination.
Lake Catemaco

Lake Catemaco is a huge volcanic lake in the midst of the jungle, complete with toucans and howler monkeys (although we didn't get to see any unfortunately - just heard the monkeys). We explored the area a bit before moving on.

We spent Thanksgiving in Isla Aguada, which is on the Gulf. We found a nice park and were able to get a spot right on the water. The view out our front window was great.

Isla Aguada

In Isla Aguada Tilly had her first encounter with being back on the beach and of course she went crazy. No turkey for Thanksgiving but we did have some tasty huevos rancheros.