In our last episode of the 2016 Cruise to Mexico Trip Report, we had just finished riding bicycles through salt flats. Join us now as we continue on to some cool Mayan ruins!
Once we had arrived at Xcambo, we then proceeded on into the actual ruins site, after Eduardo told us how much time we had. It wasn’t all that much, so Laura and I knew that we would have to keep moving to see it all, even though it wasn’t a very large site.
The first thing we saw was a chapel-like building, which is indeed a Christian chapel built on top of the ruins of one of the Mayan buildings. The chapel itself is also quite old, but it seemed a little out of place among ruins originally built by those who hadn’t heard anything about Christianity. I walked through it briefly, but Laura was off to go climb on something. So I followed her.
I’m not sure why climbing on ruins is even better than just looking at them, but it is. Laura said, “I’m walking where actual Mayans walked a long time ago!” And I think that really is part of it. Being right there where they were. Touching what they touched. Not just looking at it from a distance while staying behind a rope, but actually being right there and having physical contact with the ruins. I know these ruins have been “restored,” and I would guess that many of the stones have been replaced in places where it otherwise wouldn’t be safe to climb. But still, there we were, climbing on all these old structures.
You know, just climbing on some ancient Mayan ruins. No big deal.
We started with the smaller ones, making our way counterclockwise through the area. Xcambo was laid out with a large rectangle as its main area, with different buildings and structures on each side of the rectangle. Some of the structures now are just some pieces of walls, and others are more complete. The largest structures were at opposite ends of the rectangle, and following the way that we were going, the largest one would be last for us. We took time to soak in the view from each structure, but we also had to keep on moving because of our time limitations.
The second largest structure had some sort of masks carved into it, and these masks were shaded by tarps to keep the sun off of them. In some ways, it is hard to see a face there, but you can imagine one if you look at it just the right way. We climbed on up to the top past the masks, enjoying the view of the whole area.
The next thing we climbed on was lower and flat, and Laura said it resembled a stage of some sort. And later on as we were on the bus to our next destination, we learned that this was in fact true. Eduardo explained that Xcambo was probably a popular trading site, and many people would come from all over to trade for salt and other things there. But mainly salt, since the salt flats were nearby. While the trading was going on, there were performers dancing on the stage, for the entertainment of those there to trade. Evidently, trading was a really big deal back then. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were performers dancing each time we went to Walmart?
From the earlier post Visiting the Mayan Ruins at Xcambo - read all about it there.
One structure had some bars on it to keep us from going inside, which of course made us want to go inside even more. But the doorways were rather short, because the Mayan people were rather short, so we probably would have hit our heads on the stone ceilings. Oh well, we still admired it from the outside.
And then we made our way up the steps of the tallest structure. There was actually a wooden cross at the top of this one, probably put there by whoever built the nearby chapel, I would guess. Eduardo later explained that this was where the Mayans would offer their sacrifices, but not human sacrifices, of course. For some reason, whenever anyone says sacrifices, everyone immediately thinks of human sacrifices. But that didn’t happen, so stop thinking it.
Anyway, the view from the top of this one was even better than from the other, not-as-tall one. We were up above the trees, and we could see for miles. The salt flats were visible off in the distance, some modern buildings were out there, and we could see more of the ruins area down below. From up here, we could see even better that there was more off to the side of the rectangle, but they were mainly just the outlines of walls, and none of the actual walls were still standing any more. There was also a well out in the center, and it was probably similar to the one that was under the temple building at Tulum that we had seen the day before. I kept snapping photos, partly because the views were so great, and partly because this felt like one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Yes, we could always come back sometime, but who knows when that would be, if we ever were to make it back?
Great view from up here, don’t you think?
Another thing we could see from up there is that every few minutes, more of our group would head toward the exit, so that it was just us and one other family left. So we made our way back down the steep stairs of the pyramid structure, and took one last quick look around. Laura wanted her picture made while standing in someone’s house, or whatever else that building might have been, and I got some video footage of the area with my GoPro camera.
Laura stands next to the cross at the top of the largest structure.
Here we are on top of the world. So to speak.
All too quickly, our time at Xcambo ended, and we were the last ones of our group left in there. So we went back out to meet everyone else. Eduardo, Martin, and Jorge had loaded the bicycles back onto the bus, and Jorge had also turned the bus around. So we loaded up and hit the road, going on to our next stop.
Just one more quick look around before we leave.
On our way to the beach for paddleboarding and lunch, Eduardo said that they would stop the bus at a store if anyone wanted a drink. To make it quicker, Martin would take orders and money and go get what we wanted while everyone stayed on the bus. As soon as he mentioned Coke as one of the choices, Laura and I knew that we wanted one. Mexican Coke with real sugar instead of corn syrup? Count us in! There were a few other Coke drinkers, but most everyone else wanted beer. That seemed to be the theme of our cruise.
We pulled up close to the convenience store, which interestingly was named Six. I wondered if there was a significance to that, or if it just sounded cool? I took a photo of the store out the bus window, and I noticed that there were several words painted over the door. Here is what they said when translated to English:
If you drink do not drive (I was just going to drink Coke, but I still wasn’t going to drive)
Avoid the excess (That can apply to so many things, can’t it?)
The consumption of alcoholic beverages on public roads is prohibited (Makes sense)
The sale of alcoholic beverages to minors is prohibited (Again, that makes sense)
Make sport (Um, okay, like maybe get some exercise?)
Say no to drugs (Not a problem)
Before long, Martin came back with our drinks, and they were nice and cold. I was tempted to drink all of my Coke right then, but I just had a few sips of it to save some for later when we got to the beach.
Stopping at the Six station for some drinks.
Just a few minutes later, we turned down a drive into a field full of palm trees and sand. Jorge parked the bus, and we all got out to walk to the beach. Martin and Eduardo were unloading the paddleboards, and they would take them to the beach. They also had folding camp-style chairs on the bus, and they said we could take those with us to the beach, but they asked that we bring them back for lunch.
Eduardo mentioned once again that this was a private beach, and he was correct, because there weren’t any other people around. I’m not sure how it stayed that way, because the sign where we turned in read, “Open every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.” Again, translated from a photo of the sign, I couldn’t read Spanish that quickly as we passed by. But whatever the reason, I didn’t mind that the place wasn’t overrun with people.
Laura and I walked out to the beach, hoping to get one of the umbrellas that Eduardo mentioned, and when we got there we were amazed. Not only were there no people around by where the bus had parked, but there also were no people for as far up and down the beach as you could see. Nice, blue water, lots of sand, gentle waves rolling in, some seaweed and stuff that had washed up but not too bad, palm trees, shade, thatched umbrellas. What’s not to love there? And to top it off, the weather was nice, too, with lots of blue sky and just a few clouds way out over the water.
The perfect beach location, complete with Cokes with real sugar. Paradise.
We got our umbrella and set up our chairs underneath it. The pole even had a ledge built onto it at table height, so that was the perfect place to put our sugary Cokes. Laura was ready to head to the water, and I was ready to take some photos of this cool place, so we walked out to the waterline. There were only five paddleboards, and all of them were in use, so Laura got in the water a bit to wait her turn. Some of the people were actually standing up pretty well on the paddleboards, but it still didn’t look all that easy.
A lovely view down the beach. With no people anywhere in sight.
As with the beach the day before, I took lots and lots of photos to try to capture all of the beauty that we could see. I swapped lenses, changed angles, moved around, probably took several versions of the same photo, and kept on shooting. I picked up some shells, because there were some nice ones down in the water. But after showing them to Laura, I decided to throw them back to leave them for someone else to find. I didn’t know if taking them home would be okay, and besides, they would just sit around gathering dust at our house. So we would be fine without them.
Guess which beach just moved way up on my list of favorite beaches?
I eventually decided to put my camera down and wait for a paddleboard. So as soon as I had walked back to the water from putting my camera away, Laura got on a board. Back to the umbrella I went to get my camera again. Laura mostly sat down, although she did try standing a few times. She usually ended up in the water, but she was able to stand up for at least a few seconds.
Once I had put my camera away again, I was able to get a paddleboard of my own. I didn’t bother trying to stand up, because I knew how that would end. So instead, I just sat and paddled my way around, which wasn’t all that easy. The wind was blowing pretty strongly, and the waves had a good bit of current, so that you had to paddle really hard to go the way you wanted to go, unless you wanted to go way down the shore or out to sea. I gave it my best effort for a while before finally calling it quits.
Laura had already given up her board to someone else. But by that time, everyone was apparently starting to wind down in their water activities, so Laura went out for another spin on another board, while I went back for my camera again.
Laura goes out for another round of paddling.
Eventually, everyone else had left the beach except for Laura out in the water on a paddleboard and me at the edge of the water with my camera. Before long, Martin came and told me that lunch was ready, so I waved Laura in. We picked up our stuff from the umbrella and carried our chairs back to the bus for a meal.
Some of the shells we found before we returned them to the sea.
Eduardo had set up a small propane-fired grill and cooked chicken with onions and bell peppers, so that we could have chicken tacos. He had also cooked cheese quesadillas, and there was a container with pico de gallo to top off your quesadilla along with some tortilla chips. It was all delicious! Add in the rest of our Mexican Cokes, and consider the fact that we were sitting under some palm trees with a beach close by, and it was just about the perfect meal! Yes, it wasn’t as elaborate as what we had been eating in the ship’s restaurant, but often elaborate doesn’t matter. What mattered was that the food was good and we were hungry. And it was definitely better than the bag of chips we had on our previous excursion.
The safari bus was also the lunch wagon. Who knew? Almost like the Magic School Bus, but better.
We enjoyed our delicious meal and talked with some of the people at our table a bit. But before long, it was time to start heading back. Eduardo, Martin, and Jorge started breaking things down, and several of us excursioners helped load things up as well. Nice to see everyone doing their part. Then we loaded the bus with us people and started back for the ship.
One more quick look around this beautiful place before we leave.
Just as the day before, Eduardo said, “You may be familiar with the famous Mexican custom of siesta.” And I was thinking that it would be another quiet bus ride back. But then Eduardo continued, “But we aren’t going to do that today. We are going to have fun!” He started a game where he would say a word, such as “love,” and then everyone would have to come up with a song with that word in the title or in the song. Not all of us participated, but it was still enjoyable. You could tell who the real outgoing people were, or maybe who had been drinking stronger drinks than Mexican Coke. It made the time pass quickly, and before we knew it we were back at the port in Progreso.
As we left the safari bus, we said our goodbyes to our guides, letting them know how much we had enjoyed our day. It was a lot of fun, and all kinds of different activities that we enjoyed doing. I don’t know that any excursion could have been more perfect for us. It may not be what everyone likes, but it was definitely our kind of thing.
Laura made a new friend, but he didn’t say much.
We had to walk through the shops at the port to get back to the ship. It almost felt like we were back at Walt Disney World, with how so many attractions exit through a gift shop. There was one large shop, and then several other smaller market-type shops outside. We found just a couple of things there, but not too much. We got Jaylin a backpack, and I got a small stone pyramid to remember our times at the two ruins sites. We then headed back to the ship, where they graciously allowed us to enter after scanning our cards and running our bags through the x-ray machine. Oh, and we had to walk through a metal detector, too. Pretty common for boarding cruise ships these days, actually. Can’t be too careful, after all.
Walking back to the ship, and enjoying its shade.
Once we were back on the ship, we showered and changed, and the shower was quite relaxing after our active day. We walked down to the shops for a while, just to look around again, and we checked out the official ship photos once again. We went outside on Deck 3 to watch the sunset, which looked like it was going to be good. But then just before the sun went down, it dipped behind some clouds that had popped up quickly, so we still didn’t actually get to see the sun go down. Not that big of a deal, because the sun, the clouds, and the water were all still really neat.
Watching the sun go down. Hey, where did the sun go?
After the sunset, it was time for our dinner once again, so we made our way back through the smoky casino once more to the Silver Olympian restaurant. As always, Danesh was waiting for us, and Ed Mar appeared soon after as well, bringing our bread and asking as always what we would like to drink. And as always we just wanted the ice water that was already in the large container at our table. We are pretty easy to please, after all.
For dinner, I once again chose off of the Port of Call section of the menu, choosing shrimp quesadillas as my appetizer and a chile rellano as my entree. And once again, they were both delicious! Especially the shrimp quesadilla. What a good day of eating this had turned out to be.
After the main courses had been brought out, an announcement was made for everyone to take their places for the show, so I wondered what that would be. Then the music started, and we were treated to dancing by the serving staff (and whoever else decided that they wanted to stand up and dance) to the song “Happy”. Yes, the song is getting to be somewhat overused, but it is still catchy. And it was great to see all of the servers getting into it. The theater folks in the other part of the ship might need to watch their backs from some competition! Okay, so it may not have been the best dancing you have ever seen, but it certainly was fun.
When we were full of food and entertainment, we made our way back to our room for the evening, ready for some rest after the exciting day we had. That made two exciting days in a row. Actually, that made several exciting days in a row, because they had all been good.
On our bed was an elephant made of towels. I always hated to take these things apart, but it was sometimes good to have an extra towel, since they just left two for the two of us and Laura often likes to have a separate towel for her hair. So the elephant eventually bit the dust. But he was cute while he lasted.
A towel elephant. Because cruise, I guess.
During the night, there was a lot of motion from the ship’s movement. Apparently, the water was rather rough, causing the boat to go up and down, up and down, side to side, up and down. It didn’t bother us at all, and actually we always think it is pretty fun. But I guess not everyone thinks so, especially whoever it was in a room around us that hit something with a loud “THUMP”. It sounded like the rocking motion was a little too much for someone to be able to keep their balance. Hopefully, everyone was okay.
I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it, as we drifted off to sleep rather quickly, as we always do after a fun, busy day.
Join us again soon for more from the 2016 Cruise to Mexico Trip Report!