January 10, 2016
Early in the morning, Todd snuck out before sunrise to go take photos of an abandoned resort that was damaged in Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and never reopened, while I stayed sleeping. It seemed like a cool UrbEx opportunity, but I am not super interested in being awake before the sun or going to Mexican jail, so I don’t feel as if I missed too much there.
Photo of El Pueblito, the abandoned resort
The weather had claimed it would be raining on Sunday, so we were pleasantly surprised that the morning was clear and hot. We took advantage of this bonus sunshine to procure a parasailing excursion from our activities desk, which is something neither Todd nor I had ever done. I had done some research online in advance between the bench kind versus the harness kind; it seems the harness kind is more thrill-seeking because you are dangling in the air, but the bench kind is more conducive for taking photos and selfies. Though I would have preferred to terrify myself by free-dangling over the ocean, we are narcissistic millennials (mostly me), so we went for the bench kind to secure a quality photo opp. The activities desk was nice enough to arrange everything for us, and we walked down the beach 2 or 3 hotels to start our adventure at the shoreline.
A beautiful start to the day! View from our room.
This particular parasailing adventure was done with Aquaworld, and they had a tent near the ocean with jet skis for rent and parasailing trips on a first come, first served basis. We waited our turn, which wasn’t long, and they loaded us onto jet skis to take us out to the boat. I was super glad I had enough forethought to pack our wallets, etc. into a dry bag (thanks, Cody!), since the ride to the boat was certainly a wet, albeit fun, one.
The parasailing itself was not scary at all, which was kind of a disappointment. We weren’t strapped into the bench, but we are reclined enough that there is zero fear of falling out, and your feet don’t even dangle over the water or anything. This was a bit of a bummer. But it certainly did give stability for some sweet photos, so I can’t complain about that. The view of the Zona Hotelera was great, but my waterproof camera has a terrible zoom feature, so they didn’t turn out very well. If someone is afraid of heights or general “extreme” activities, but still wants to try something new and fun, I would highly recommend this, as it feels extremely safe and tame. If you are looking for something to get your adrenaline going, this is not the activity for you. Overall, I enjoyed the experience; it was fun, and I’m glad I did it, but for what it was, it was quite expensive and I don’t think I would do it again. Also, beware of wearing hats. I wore mine backwards while actually parasailing, and on the jet ski out to the boat it was fine, but it blew off on the jet ski ride back. Fortunately Todd caught it with his face and the hat was saved! Haha! So beware. 4 stars overall. Maybe 3.5.
Our hotel (2nd from the left) as seen from the air
The day stretched out before us, so we went straight from our parasailing adventure to the beach, easily reserving some prime lounge chairs since it was early. The waves were mighty that morning. After a while of getting abused by them in the ocean and a particularly aggressive one that tried to take me and Gina down, I bailed on that idea and instead had a feisty piña colada while reading in the shade of our umbrella. Our beach is nice because unlike at the Playa Norte beach clubs, our lounge chairs are far apart from the other groups, so you get a bit more of a sense of privacy while still feeling protected by the attentive security and bar staff nearby.
Enjoying the morning on the beach
Soon, doomsday-esque rain clouds began creeping in overhead, completely obscuring the sky behind us. Rain was coming down in other areas up and down the beach, but we stayed mostly dry. Unfortunately, with no sun and a wind picking up, the beach was less than exciting, so we moved up to the pool to lounge in a more protected environment. The sun peeked out for a while and we enjoyed another piña colada at the swim-up bar while listening to top 40s music blasting through the speakers strategically hidden in the plants. After taking Gina for a spin in the pool, the sun disappeared again and it became too cold to hang out comfortably, so we headed back to the room to get showered and changed.
With Gina at the pool
At the swim-up bar
Piña colada at the swim-up bar
As I’ve mentioned previously, the only two MUST SEE things on my list for Cancun were Playa Norte at Isla Mujeres (check) and the Mayan Museum, which was conveniently located directly behind our hotel (literally the properties touch). We had plans to see that on Monday, as the weather had it being the coldest and rainiest day of our whole trip. Todd brilliantly suggested I look up online to see if the museum was open on Mondays, since that was our last day in Cancun, and lo and behold, it wasn’t! I’m so glad he suggested we look. We would have missed it! So with only a couple hours until closing time, we hustled to get ready and walked on over.
I didn’t have any expectations of the museum since I hadn’t read up on it except that it was well-reviewed and recommended. I was definitely pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The building is modern and attractive, and the exhibits were well curated and interesting, divided up into two sections: one of Mayan history in the local area of Quintana Roo, and one for the Mayan culture elsewhere. We saw all kinds of artifacts including your traditional pottery and jewelry, working tools, and everyday objects, as well as the skeleton of a saber tooth tiger, human skull, and stone carvings and calendars brought in from Chichen Itza. Many of the posted exhibit information signs included English translations, but the object descriptions themselves were mostly just in Spanish. I know enough Spanish from my 4 years in high school to understand the main gist of most of them, but I probably missed quite a bit.
Your traditional museum pottery
Skeleton of a saber tooth tiger
This guy has a great facial expression
How do I look??
The museum is a comfortably small size, which is perfect for a short outing after a day at the beach. Once we had viewed the exhibits (maybe an hour at most?), we were about to leave but saw a stone-lined path leading the opposite way from the exit and decided to follow it to see where it led. I’m so glad we did! It ended up leading to an extensive archaeological site that we hadn’t anticipated (I’m thinking maybe we should have read up on the museum before we went to get more out of the experience). And it kept going and going! Foundations were left from houses and palaces, with remnants of columns and carvings and interior paintings. Information placards were posted in Spanish and English along the way in just the right amounts—not too many, so you actually read them and know enough about what you are looking at without being overwhelmed with information. The paths winding through the shaded site were almost spooky, and we encountered very few other tourists which enhanced the experience. The mangrove trees themselves were fascinating, with roots like insect legs above the ground to let them grow effectively in the sandy earth. We encountered a majestic and large iguana, and some tiny skittish little lizards. And at the far end of the site, a large pyramid! Like a smaller version of the one at Chichen Itza! What a find! I couldn’t believe this whole site was right behind our hotel, and we were accidentally stumbling upon it in our uneducated ignorance. Very impressive.
Some of the ruins
Pretty sure this is where the fairies live in Ferngully
I give the museum and site 4.5 out of 5 stars, with .5 only deducted because of the lack of English on the item descriptions. Not that I think they need to put everything in English in a Spanish-speaking country, but it is a museum located in the Hotel Zone, which is obviously tourism focused, so it seems like it may be an enhancement. But the museum and archaeological site are a real enjoyment, and would be a crime to miss if you are visiting the area.
You see the red sign on the building in the background? That's our hotel! So close to the museum!