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!