Welcome to My August 2014 Mayan Yucatan Journey!

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for joining me on what should prove to be a very exciting physical and spiritual journey from Brooklyn, NY to Cancun, Mexico for 7 days of fun and sun and Mayan Civilization jungle explorations!

Since childhood, I have felt a strong fascination for ancient civilizations, in particular those located in overgrown forest and jungle settings. I had planned a trip to visit Mayan ruins last fall, but had to cancel just 3 days before my intended departure due to my father's emergency bypass surgery. Ironically, I wound up using the exact same window of vacation time to travel to Baltimore to support my mother and, of course, my father during a very different kind of journey -- one which ultimately, I am happy to say, proved successful and which has led to a full recovery on the part of my dad.

Luckily, because of the "medical emergency" nature of my trip cancellation, Delta Airlines was very generous in issuing a full credit travel voucher without any change fees or rebooking penalties, to be used for any trip of my choice, return travel to NYC to be accomplished before the end of August 2014.

Skip forward 10 months and here I am -- poised to depart tomorrow morning for 5 full days in Cancun (plus 1 travel day on either side), with anticipated day trips to 3 or 4 Mayan jungle sites as well as various explorations in and around the city of Cancun, including surrounding beaches and resort areas. Maybe I'll even come back with a tan...I wonder if that is too much to hope for?

I plan to practice my conversational Spanish a lot on this trip, which you will all see and hear in various videos that I will shoot and upload to this blog. I will also be taking lots of pictures and writing about all of the exciting experiences I will have there -- in as close to "real-time" as possible, pending wi-fi and internet access in my room where I will be staying as well as possibly in and around town (if I can find wi-fi hotspots at hotels, etc. to type blog entries on my phone).

Thanks in advance for joining me on this very exciting literal and spiritual journey into the heart of the Mayan world!

PLEASE NOTE: In order to have this blog appear on your screen in chronological order, as opposed to Blogger's standard reverse chronological order with the most recent posting first, I needed to creatively adjust the posting date for each entry. Please do not pay attention to the dates in the table of contents at the right of the screen, as these are wrong and merely serve to readjust the blog so that it now functions as a chronological narrative of my trip. This way, you can read about my journey as it took place, in the same order that I experienced these events.  

Because of this creative adjustment, when you eventually scroll to the bottom of each page in this blog, please click "older posts," which will then take you instead to a newer post -- the next one to follow the one you have just read.

Thanks for reading!

Reiteration of Facebook posting letting everyone know about this blog

Hi Everyone!

Please join me starting this evening at my new Mayan Adventure Blog, "One Week in Mexico" (http://www.oneweekinmexico.com/), where I will be chronicling my exciting 7 day trip from Brooklyn, NY into the heart of the Mayan Yucatan.

Everything will be unscripted, and I literally have no idea what to expect, because I haven't really planned anything for this trip in advance. It just sort of crept up on me and, well, here it is!

I plan to update my trip blog as often as possible while there, pending internet access at my AirBnB host's home as well as wi-fi hotspots in and around Cancun and surrounding areas. I will be uploading lots of photos via my new Instagram account, which some of you are already following (thank you very much!), and I intend to speak A LOT of really bad Spanish in an effort to increase my conversational level in that language.

I have already posted my first two entries as well as a third containing two short videos about what I hope to accomplish on this trip. Subsequent videos posted in the next day or two will explain my philosophy on language learning and travel -- as well as, in particular, the resources that I have used over the past few years to gradually teach myself basic Spanish without really having put that much of an "official" effort into learning the language so far.

Native speakers of Spanish will notice that my grammar will really suck, but that I will be able to get by and have a great time as well as participate in some solid, basic conversations with locals while there.

Thanks in advance to everyone for following "One Week in Mexico." See you all in the jungle!

2 short videos explaining my goals for my trip

Viewers will notice that my voice goes UP at the end of most of the PHRASES and SENTENCES at the BEGINNING of video number ONE. That sure is BIZARRE, and I really had no IDEA that I was DOING that, but thank God I STOPPED half way through the VIDEO. 

Note to self -- Don't do that anymore!

Thanks for watching!

Morning of August 14: And we're off...JFK to Atlanta, waiting to board flight...

At JFK Airport this morning waiting for my flight to board: McDonalds sausage McMuffin, hashbrown, and black coffee in hand; plus 2 small complimentary bottles of water given to me by a nice Delta counter lady; plus a $2 apple -- the healthiest snack I could find at the airport.

SIDENOTE: The first of 13 videos shot last fall detailing my Spanish language study methods and resources

Hi Gang,

I am pasting here the first of 13 separate videos, each approximately 10 minutes long, which I shot last fall prior to the cancellation of my original Cancun/Mayan Ruins trip, previously mentioned in the opening entry to this blog.

Each video will detail a different category of educational and pop culture resources that I have personally used to learn basic Spanish -- reviewing specific books, DVDs, and other sources in detail to give my readers ideas as to which items they might want to use in their own language learning odysseys, should they choose to study written and conversational Spanish, and should they wish to teach themselves in a dynamic, creative way that will be both fun and inspiring. I will be posting 2 of these videos each day of my trip, in order to finish posting all of them by my last day in Mexico.

The first video that I will post today is about "Learn Through Pictures" type books, very popular in the US and Europe from the 1940s through the 1960s and perhaps into the 70s. There are even some holdovers still available at major bookstores today -- and of course, all books and DVDs that I will review in this series of videos are easily and cheaply available on Amazon.com. Where do you think I procured most of them in the first place...?

Evening of August 14: Arrival into Cancun and my adventure getting to Walter's home

Hi Everyone,

This is the first of four postings I am typing tonight. In this one, I will tell you about my arrival into Cancun and the adventure I had getting from the airport to my AirBnB host's home in the city center of Cancun (not to be confused with the resort / beach / hotel / tourist area)...

So my flight from Atlanta to Cancun followed a 4 hour layover at Atlanta airport, during which time I journalled, spoke to my mom on the phone, charged my US cellphone and laptop, read some of a teach yourself Spanish-type book, and ate several snacks in lieu of a full meal.

While eating my second Arby's classic roastbeef sandwich, I was surprised to see and hear this fellow playing alto sax to tracks right in the middle of my terminal's food court area at the Atlanta Airport:

Soon enough, it was time to board, and once on the plane, my flight was relatively uneventful but for the fact that the movie, Spiderman 2, which I really wanted to see (crazy that I did not see it in the theater in NYC when it came out earlier this summer), was not coming through anyone's headphone jacks on the entire flight, so a decision was made to pipe the sound through the overhead speakers, with very little success due to the extremely low volume level. This plus it took the flight crew so long to troubleshoot the issue that only 1/2 of the movie was able to be shown on my 2.5 hour or longer flight to Cancun. Oh well -- can't have everything, I suppose...

Though I read the literature that accompanied the Telcel Mexican sim card that I had purchased last fall for my previously cancelled trip, and which I was assured by the US salesman would still work this August, apparently everyone involved was mistaken, and the damned thing wound up being a complete waste of time and an utter piece of crap. No matter what I did -- no matter which of my 2 GSM phones I tried, I could not get a signal in Cancun airport, and thus I could not activate the card to tell my nervous parents that I had arrived safely, nor could I call my AirBnB host Walter to let him know that I had landed and was making my way towards his home.

So, instead of being excited to see Cancun Airport, taking pictures and shooting video like I normally would have done once I emerged from a relatively smooth passport control and customs procedure, instead I was preoccupied with why the hell my stupid sim card was not working, and I completely forgot to document my arrival or the boarding of my bus from the airport to Cancun city center.

My ADO bus was cushy and air conditioned and plush and super comfortable and everything you would think a luxury coach should be, and it was pretty cheap for the almost 40 minute ride -- don't remember exactly how much, but I have the receipt around here somewhere if anyone is interested. I even got to watch part of The Silver Lining Playbook in Spanish during my smooth ride to the Cancun city center ADO bus terminal.

Here is a short video of the ADO bus terminal in Cancun's city center, as I made my way from my bus through the station and out onto the street. I also stopped to use the pay-toilet, which I did not include in this video...:

Once I got off the bus, I immediately headed across the street to the Telcel cell phone store that I saw upon exiting the bus station. Using only Spanish, I was able to choose, purchase, and activate a sim card that now works beautifully. Well, truth be told, during the activation part, which took place on my actual cellphone with a Telcel rep after having been placed on hold for 15 minutes (hope that call didn't count towards my minutes!!!), I finally asked to speak to an English-speaking rep, because I was talking myself in a circle and I really wanted to be done with the process so I could make my way to my room where I am now staying.

Following purchase of the sim card, I walked next door to an OXXO convenience store -- a chain here much like 7-Eleven (which they also have) and I added 100 pesos value to the card (a little less than $10 US dollars). I also made this purchase entirely in Spanish, asking various questions to the cashier as I chose my recharge amount.

Here are 2 audio clips -- one of me initially purchasing the sim card and the other of me recharging it next door. Unfortunately, my recorder was in my pocket and there was a lot of background noise, so the recordings are mainly being posted here for my own posterity. I actually had an amazing Spanish-only conversation earlier this evening while purchasing my bus tickets for tomorrow, which I will get to in my next posting, but alas, I did not have my recorder on me today to record the dang thing! Oh well...

Finally, I was all set with the cell phone. After various trial and error efforts with and without country and city codes, I finally got through to my host Walter and was ready to hop in a cab to his home. Total wasted time lining up a new sim card for my phone: at least 1.5 hours.

The taxi ride was smooth and the driver was very friendly, asking me where I was from and other pleasantries, which I negotiated entirely in Spanish -- and not even that broken, either! I was encouraged with my growing confidence in this language...Luckily, my cellphone was working, because the driver got lost and we had to call Walter for revised directions.

Once I arrived at Walter's, I paid the driver, got out and shook Walter's hand, and was led to my spacious and comfortable room. Here is a video of the place where I am staying, shot today, maybe 18 hours after arriving in Cancun:

After a pleasant and brief conversation with Walter, I asked him for walking directions to a cheap but tasty local restaurant, because I was really hungry by this point and ready for a yummy dinner. Walter had a photocopy of a map ready for me (presumably he has these for his various AirBnB guests throughout the year), and in no time, I was on my way, at dusk, in an attempt to follow his walking directions while at the same time never having been here before and having absolutely no idea where I was going!

I thought that I had gotten lost, but my instincts were actually quite excellent. If I had only walked 1/2 block more, I would have found the exact place Walter recommended, a taco place I would up eating at on 8/15 (see my next entry for that date). Instead, I had a really great double-decker hamburger with fried onions and mushrooms on a delightfully toasted bun at a place called Bronto Burger. Here are a photo and a video of my experience, as well as a daylight shot taken the next day when I walked by it a second time on my way to breakfast:

Upon returning from Bronto Burger, I unpacked my suitcase, took a shower, and fell promptly asleep for the next 8 hours. Unfortunately, I accidentally turned off the fan in my room when I turned off the light to sleep, and I woke up this morning drenched in a puddle of my own sweat. Cancun in August is the most humid, sweatingest place I have ever visited, AND I HAVE NO AIR CONDITIONER WHILE HERE, FOLKS. Oh, the things we take for granted sometimes. Maybe I'll be lucky and lose 10 pounds from all of the sweating. That is another story, though.

Thanks for reading, and onto the next posting.

Digression 1: More Spanish Language Learning Resources Part 1

Here I will take a brief digression to upload yet another video I shot last fall prior to my original, cancelled trip which has now been replaced by my current Yucatan journey. This video is the first of 2 parts on Spanish Language "Teach Yourself" - type books readily available used and new on Amazon, as well as for me at wonderful used bookstores, such as New York City's The Strand in Union Square:

Thanks for watching. I will post Part 2 of this video after my next blog entry, which will be about what I did today, on my first full day in Cancun...

August 15: First full day in Cancun, Mexico -- A day of exploring my neighborhood, booking Mayan Ruins Tours, and more exploring...

Hi Guys and Gals,

Welcome to my entry on my first full day in Cancun. This entry will be told mostly through pictures and videos, because it is late and I have been sweating all day and I feel really gross and desperately want to take a shower and go to bed soon -- I have a busy day tomorrow visiting the first of 4 major Mayan ruins sites, and I can't wait!

BUT FIRST, let me tell you all about what I did today...

After getting what should have been a very nice 7-8 hours of sleep, 2-3 hours more than I usually allow myself to get in NYC, I woke up in a pool of sweat, not having realized the night before that when I turned off the light to my room, I also turned off the noisy but somewhat effective ceiling fan! Live and learn. As some of you might know, a hot night's sleep is not necessarily a good night's sleep...

I woke up around 8 something am, possibly earlier, and troubleshooted my internet connection here in my room, answered a bunch of emails, checking the structure of this blog, and in general collected my thoughts for what I wanted to accomplish today. I knew that I wanted to do some walking pretty early on, to find the taco place that Walter had suggested the evening before, because apparently this place had an excellent fixed price all-you-can-eat breakfast from whenever till almost noon. I knew that I wanted to walk further to explore my immediate neighborhood and to see what other amenities are around where I am staying. I knew that I wanted to book all of my Mayan ruins tours. I thought I wanted to go to the beach as well, and that is the only thing that did not happen today.

First I spoke to Walter and found out that the taco place, Tacos Rigo, was literally 1/2 block away, around a curve in the road, from Bronto Burger. Wonderful coincidence and affirmation of my map-reading abilities in spite of me feeling very lost last night while I was walking to my dinner spot. Walter and I discussed my various Mayan sightseeing plans and he offered some wonderful advice, more of which he later offered around 2 pm when I returned to my room.

Then I walked to Tacos Rigo. Here are some pics and a video to share the experience with you. I ordered the approximately $6 USD breakfast buffet, and luckily there were plenty of things in spite of my annoying food allergies to milk and eggs! There was a lovely shredded pork and hominy soup; there was chicken in a spicy tomato sauce; there were refried black beans; there were fresh grilled tortillas; there was fresh papaya and watermelon; there were a few other tasty lovelies; and there was an endless supply of really good black coffee, to which I added a tiny bit of sugar and non-dairy creamer, which just happened to be on my table. This time, I remembered to photograph my food like a good Asian tourist, and, well, here is a good feel for the restaurant for my readers:

Those of you who may have followed my 2013 Hong Kong blog through all of its 300-plus screens of text, photos and video, know that I have a particular fascination with bathrooms in foreign countries. Here is a short video tour of the men's room at Tacos Rigo:

Following Tacos Rigo, I continued walking along the same road for another 30 minutes or so, stopping at the occasional OXXO convenience store to recharge with a lovely drink (surprisingly, there is a really great selection of diet sodas and iced teas here -- who'd have thought?!)...

Some other interesting things I saw on my walk:

Payphones in my area seem to be very cutely decorated. That's fun. Then I stumbled upon a surprisingly huge store selling nothing but cheap party balloons. No one in their right mind would EVER think of using real estate in that way in New York! Of course, I saw many other things, but I was consistently impressed with how difficult to read the street signs are FOR DRIVERS DRIVING BY THEM. Almost every sign in my area is as faded and hard to read as this last photo -- and these are the signs for the drivers to see so they can know where to turn!!!

Following all of this harmless fun, I retraced my steps and returned to my room to spend the next 1-2 hours researching online and booking 3 of the 4 Mayan tours that I wanted to take on my trip: Chichen Itza (most famous Mayan ruins of all), plus a visit to a local cenote (more on that once I visit one and can show you pics and videos as part of my explanation);and Coba and Tulum, two important but smaller Mayan sites, combined as a longer double-tour all in one day. I got a special pro-rated package deal for booking all 3 tours (2 back to back days) with the same tour company, which is actually based out of Florida, USA. My intention had been to book these 3 tours before I departed from New York, but because of typical last-minute Brendan packing fiascos (see the first posting in this blog), that didn't happen. Luckily, with a bit of creativity and thanks to the copy and print place within walking distance of where I am staying, I was able to make it all happen in just 2 hours this afternoon.

Unfortunately, though, the same company is no longer offering their group day tour to the 4th Mayan site that I really want to visit, Ek Balam, the newest of the major Mayan Yucatan sites, having only just begun to be excavated in the 1990s. I will be visiting Ek Balam tomorrow, on my own, by creatively combining a-plus hour ADO luxury bus ride (technically "public transportation" here in Cancun, though it is a private company) with some taxi rides from a town called Valladolid to the site and back, plus hopefully a diversion or two in and around Valladolid tomorrow.

Because of this absence of a guided Ek Balam tour, and the fact that the ADO website would not take my credit card despite the travel notification place on it by me at Chase bank for use in Mexico on this trip, the latter part of my day -- early evening into mid evening until around 9 pm, involved me walking a couple of miles from my room to the vicinity of the ADO city center bus terminal; exploring a bit in some stores and on some side streets; returning to the ADO terminal to purchase my tix, and then slowly making my way back to my room, along the way eating waYYYYYY too much meat.

Meat. Meat and more meat. Meat of all kinds. Those who know me in New York know that I mainly eat vegetables, fruits and salads, for like 75-80% or more of my diet, and I have been eating this way for at least 2 years. Eating this much meat...wow...I can't wait to see what gifts it bestows at a later date and time...

Anyway, here are some pics and video from the end of my day on my walk to and from the bus station:

This is a small park of reclaimed jungle land literally 5-10 minutes' walk from my room. I enjoyed a half hour here earlier today. It is called "Ombligo Verge" -- Green Navel (Belly Button). Beautiful place, and I saw quite a few medium-sized iguanas scampering about, which was pretty cool...

Here is a video of a really cool side street in downtown city center Cancun, complete with graffitti and"ghetto fabulous" vibe:

Here is the busy intersection of Avenida Chichen Itza and Avenida Uxmal, which I found interesting as I was walking towards the ADO bus station:

Here is the amazing Fish place called Bajo del Mar where I had an early dinner # 1 tonight:

Here is a video of a charming side street I found my accident in a shopping district near the bus station:

While walking either to or back from that side street market area, I also happened upon this pretty awesome mansion, across the street and not too far from the bus terminal:

As I said in my previous blog entry, I really wish I had taken my Tascam recorder with me today, because my Spanish was SO "on" while I was buying my bus ticket that I couldn't even believe it was coming out of my mouth. Keep in mind that I have never "formally" studied Spanish in school or college or anything to that effect. My experience speaking and reading Spanish is purely limited to me teaching myself via the resources that I am gradually introducing you all to in some of the videos contained in this blog, combined with way too few moments spent speaking bedroom Spanish with my last "almost girlfriend" -- you know who you are.

Anyway, I wish I had recorded my bus ticket buying conversation tonight, because it contained the best Spanish I have ever spoken. Hopefully this was a sign that my Spanish is "arriving." Hopefully I will be ready with recorder in hand (or at least in backpack) the next time such a perfect opportunity arises for me to really speak the parts of this language that I know, the travel vocabulary that I have learned from my various self-study resources...

Oh, but wait -- I forget myself! Earlier in the day, I also had a really great conversation, entirely in Spanish, with a lady at a local pharmacy, where I needed to stop to pick up a cream for myself. Remember how I said that this is the most humid place I have ever experienced? Well, along with humid and hot sometimes comes pants legs rubbing together and creating friction and a rash in the nether areas -- an unfortunate fact of being an active guy who sweats a lot and doesn't have the luxury of taking a shower every 2 hours or lounging in A/C for days at a time.

Did I mention that I have no A/C here? Just checking to see if you are paying attention...

Anywho, yes, I have a little something going on down there and, at the risk of this being TMI, what it facilitated for me was a truly excellent medical conversation, entirely in Spanish with a few slight charades here and there, and I was able to come away with what will hopefully prove to be a very effective remedy. Thank you, basic broken Spanish skills!

Here is a picture of the pharmacy, for posterity's sake:

Anyway, back to the quest at hand, for bus tickets to see Ek Balam tomorrow...

From the ADO bus terminal, it started to get dark, and then it actually got dark, and I made my way back to my room, stopping just 1 block away for dinner #2 at Viking Dog, a very dimly lit hotdog and burger joint apparently run by a group of fraternity brother-like friends, who most likely take turns at the grill and serving customers. I was the only customer there when I arrived, but the burger I ordered was excellent: medium on a toasted bun with house recipe pinto bean chile and then topped with the following fixings: pineapple chunks (surprisingly, this really "made" the experience for me); real, fresh bacon bits; fire roasted and blackened jalapenos (I love these); and perhaps one other thing that I can't remember. The burger rivaled NYC's Jackson Hole for sheer messiness quotient during the eating process, but man, it was good. I was full, but in a good way:

Very thirsty from dinner # 2, I walked to the OXXO closest to my room, purchased some cold drinks, and made my way back here to type these ridiculous blog entries for my readers.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow is going to be really amazing -- make sure to read my next entry about Ek Balam and Valladolid!

Side Note 1 for today: Another video on Spanish educational resources...

Here are my thoughts on some of the best Spanish educational DVDs I have been using during my language learning adventures:

August 16: Second Full Day in Mexico (third day here) -- Day trip to Valladolid and Ek Balam!

Up 7 am today. Good night sleep, but restless due to the heat and humidity and absence of A/C. At least I remembered to leave the fan on last night!

Showered, packed and out by 7:30. Walked from the apartment where I am staying up Avenida Chichen Itza and then turned right onto Avenida Uxmal -- just like yesterday evening -- as I again made my way to the ADO bus terminal for my 8:45 am departure for the small central Yucatan town of Valladolid. From Valldolid, I would take a taxi to and from the Ek Balam Mayan ruins site, thought I had no idea what that might involve in advance. Today I was winging it -- the entire day. And I am happy to say that the say went exceedingly well in the end!!!

On the way to the bus terminal this morning, I found a copy/print shop and printed out my confirmations for tomorrow's Chichen Itza and cenote tour and the next day's Tulum and Coba tours. I also grabbed several snacks and beverages, all of which added up to one really filling breakfast.

My bus to Valladolid left fairly promptly and arrived 15 minutes late to its destination. Valladolid is a charming, relatively quiet and yet still bustling town, and here are some pics and videos to show you the vibe of the place:

On the bus to Valladolid

Relatively small ADO Bus Station in Valladolid
Taco place where I had lunch in Valladolid
2 of 3 tacos in Valladolid
Bilingual Spanish and Mayan on cash register in stationery store in Valladolid
I arrived in Valladolid hungry, again, so I decided to walk around for 30-40 minutes before taking a taxi to the ruins of Ek Balam. First, I needed to find a bank. I asked the nice Mayan lady from whom I purchased 3 corn empanadas stuffed with pinto beans, where the nearest bank was located. Within minutes, I was inside a nicely appointed HSBC exchanging my 500 pesos note for a multitude of 20s and 50s. Even though 500 pesos is just over $50 USD, you would think it was a $500 bill from the way that everyone here seems to have an issue accepting it or making change. Even big convenience stores that you know must be raking in the cash each day based on how busy they obviously are...

Immediately after the HSBC, I discovered the first of 4 amazing juice and water popsickles that I ate today, perfect in the heat and overpowering humidity of the jungle as well as, of course, Valladolid. Man, it was hot today!

Best popsickle ever, Valladolid
This was the popsickle. Actually, the 2 pineapple ones at Ek Balam Welcome Center were the best I've ever had...
Following this, I made my way through the streets, asking directions in Spanish when needed and having no issues whatsoever at this point on day 3 communicating with everyone here entirely in Spanish. I am also happy to say that at this point, though very basic and with a multitude of verb tense mistakes, I am no longer speaking "broken" Spanish for the most part, but rather simply speaking a "basic" (and very functional) version of the language. In other words, I am in no danger of presenting a philosophical argument to a large crowd and then debating with people following my speech, but at a much lesser level, I am now fully functional in the language for all of my daily needs. This both surprises and encourages me. One more language that I can now take seriously, picturing myself on the road to eventually fluency! Yay!

Anywho, found a taxi for 50 pesos to Ek Balam. Had to share with 4 gruff, local Mayan workers of some sort, on their way to the ruins for their jobs. You know, I was ripped off. Apparently I was supposed to pay 44 pesos, but instead was swindled into paying 50. I am really going to miss that 60 cents, let me tell you...

Ek Balam was amazing, and rather than writing anymore about it right now, I am going to let my pictures and videos explain how magical that place is:

Here are my thoughts on first entering the city from the jungle path I had followed from the welcome center:

Here are several other short videos that I shot, all self-explanatory, of the buildings and grounds approaching the main temple, which was the real reason I had come to visit this particular site today:

Here are my thoughts and experience climbing the huge pyramid / temple complex, first to the actual temple, now famous for its stucco work depicting several very important Mayan gods:

Pyramid / Temple stairs at Ek Balam: Visitors can climb all they want!!!
Here are my thoughts, as expressed in a video shot at the very top of the pyramid complex, looking out over the jungle and following a short conversation I had with a Cancun local named Angel about how the tall Mayan pyramids would have been perfect for communicating with UFOs (OVNIs in Spanish):

I also couldn't resist, simply because I could, despite its sacreligious implications: I saw that my Mexico cellphone had a perfect signal in the middle of the jungle on top of a huge Mayan pyramid, so I called my parents to say hi and to let them know where I was at that exact moment in time. I think they got a kick out of the fact that I was calling them from the top of an ancient Mayan temple. I know that I did.

I want to write more here about my impressions of the way sound travelled up and down the stairs of the pyramid, as if the acoustics had been designed that way to allow priests and perhaps the city's kind to speak to the entire city from the top of the temple in a normal, only slightly raised voice and yet have the entire city hear him or them. This deserves much contemplation and study, and I wonder if any legitimate archaeological research has been done on this topic...?

From here, I descended the temple complex, stopping again at the stucco frieze of the various gods previously mentioned, in order to journal and catch some shade for a few minutes (under the palm leaf roofed canopy protecting it from the elements and sun). Then back down the the bottom to do some exploring of the as yet unexcavated "raw" ruins surrounding the main pyramid at Ek Balam.

Here are some videos I shot explaining the vibe and appearance of the unrestored buildings and pyramids at Ek Balam:

From here, I walked around the main temple pyramid once -- one complete circle, most of it on a shaded jungle path all by my lonesome (in fact, for whatever reason, Saturday and all, hardly anyone was at either the ruins site or the cenote at Ek Balam, which I will get to in a moment...

One of the few stone tablets at Ek Balam where you can still make out the glyphs
Back to the welcome center for my third popsicle of the day. Whereas the second had been pineapple, pulp and all, this third one was a sour tamarind treat. So refreshing in the 90+ degree 10000% humidity weather that we had here today. Which they pretty much have everyday this time of year...

After enjoying my frozen tamarind treat, I decided to pay the additional $3 USD and walk 20 minutes to check out Ek Balam's own cenote.

What is a "cenote?"

Please watch the following several short videos and find out for yourself. Pretty amazing places, cenotes!

After a half hour of swimming (or really, treading water) at the cenote, I made my way back to the welcome center for my 4th and final (pineapple) popsickle of the day. Man, it was good -- and necessary after that last walk in that heat!

Because of carpooling logistics, I needed to wait about a half hour for there to be 4 people to share a cab (me and 3 others). In my case, a very nice Mayan local and 2 very slutty Chilean chicks, I believe. At least, I think their accent was Chilean. Not sure, though.

Got back to Valladolid with maybe 40 minutes to spare before boarding my bus back to Cancun. Walked around the city center and saw several sites, including a really nice park from 1900 and a very important and famous Colonial Era Spanish church from the mid 1500s: the Iglesia y Convento de San Bernardino de Siena (San Bernardino Church and Convent). As a gesture to subdue and "civilize" the local Mayan "savages," the Spanish conquistadors who settled this area built the church with stones from the demolished Mayan temple that used stand across the street, where the park now stands. Ain't progress grand, folks?

Made my way back to the bus station, stopping to purchase 3 small chicken tacos and 2 large chicken tamales from a lady on the corner across the street from the station. Also picked up a bag of fresh mango at the same time from another street vendor. Prepared for my journey back to Cancun, I waited in the bus station and eventually my coach arrived, 15 minutes late.

A smooth trip punctuated by a dubbed version of one of the Thor movies and a long nap, I arrived back in Cancun around 9 pm this evening. Tired, I nevertheless walked "home" from the bus station, stubbornly refusing to allow myself to splurge on a $2.50 USD taxi ride. What was I thinking?!

Back here, I showered, uploaded all of my pics and videos from my phone to my laptop and Youtube, and then showered and typed this entry. I need to go to bed now, as I need to wake up in 5 hours to get ready and then catch a taxi to my rendezvous point for my all expenses paid day tour of Chichen Itza, the most famous Mayan ruined city of them all, tomorrow. I hope to add all picture and video links to today's entry tomorrow, after which today's entry will suddenly make much more sense. I am just tired right now and need to go to bed.

Thanks for reading, and look for more excitement tomorrow from Chichen Itza and another cenote.