Apparently, there are 4 months that the Yucatán Peninsula gets no rain (learned from an underground cave tour guide).
November is decidedly not one of those months (learned from the torrential downpour outside my window).
Our second day in Playa del Carmen started with a run. When we woke up at 8AM it felt to me like it was maybe 10 or 11 in the morning because we had slept so much, having been exhausted from the flight in. We made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and took off to Avenida 5, which is the touristy strip where vendors hustle. Every storefront has a guy in front of it beckoning and trying to pull tourists in. This ranges from the MAC makeup store to the restaurants, but is the most aggressive at the kiosks where they sell tours. These are strategically placed about 10 feet from each other for the approximate 1.5 mile strip. When we had walked it the night before one of the vendors had called Andrew the Professor – I assumed that made me Mary Ann.
Luckily, at the time we were running things were only beginning to open up, and we started running in the opposite direction from the tourist trap. We got about a mile into our run and stopped for a minute so that Andrew could stretch and wake up his calves because he rarely runs distance anymore. That’s about when it started drizzling. We made it back to the condo after about 2.5 miles – just as the vendors were warming up their voices. I only heard one or two of them even attempt to snare us into conversation.
As we were cooling down from our run, Andrew checked his email and found one from the tour company where we reserved our snorkeling trip. Apparently, the forecast did not bode well for swimming with the fishes, so we rescheduled for Monday. Then I put Andrew in charge of entertainment while I went and showered.
I am not sure if he used the internet or went back to Avenida 5, but he found Río Secreto. We grabbed some lunch, our swimsuits, a bag of snacks and bottled water and headed out.
It was still drizzling, but it is warm here in the Yucután so it’s a pleasant drizzle.
The first part of the tour is a 7km drive on unpaved roads from the offices to the jungle. This is what our driver called a Mayan Massage. It was rather bumpy and took a lot longer than 7km usually takes. Partially this was because of the driver having to take his time around deep gouges in the road and partially because the driver kept stopping to jump out of the car and show us humongous grasshoppers getting it on. Also, I saw a baby fox – I squeed.
We got to the preserve and Nunes, our tour guide, started corralling and herding us through the changing rooms, the cold shower, the wet suit and helmets. Right before we started on the trail, we met up with the official photographer of our tour. He snapped a picture of the group, and away we went. At the cave entrance there was a Mayan who did a blessing to cleanse our spirit prior to our journey. He threw some powder into a cup and it became very smokey. Then he waved the smoke in the faces of our group and started a prayer which sounded vaguely like Hebrew to me (though in truth, I have forgotten so much Hebrew, that Hebrew sounds vaguely like Hebrew to me). I looked over at Andrew whose face distinctly read that he would prefer the non-smoking purification section.
10 more steps and we were in underground caves with stalagmites, stalactites, and coldish water. The tour was about an hour and a half in total and was awesome. We saw albino catfish. At one point we all turned off our headlamps and just sat in the water in the dark and listened to the calcified water dripping from the stalactites. It was really lovely. Just as I was getting chilled from the water and tired from the walking, we left the cave. One of the Canadians on our tour (there were four Canadians, two Cypriots, and Andrew and me) asked if there were longer tours. Nunes said there was but they rarely get a request for them and they cost a lot more. Aside from the fact that the 1.5 hour tour was just the right length for me, I would never go on the longer one. If I learned anything from being a couch-potato-latch-key-kid it was that you don’t go on a 3-hour tour – especially if you are with The Professor.
We got back to the changing area and they gave us a toast with cheap tasting ouzo-honey blended alcohol. Then they tried to sell us our pictures. The pictures were awful, they were all from horrible angles and while I like a good candid shot here and there, these were all taken during awkward body moments in the tour. There were also a few posed shots, one of which has Andrew’s hand on my life-vest adorned belly, clearly indicating we are expecting – this is a bad memento when the only thing we are actually expecting is to eat our weight in tacos during this trip. Then came the pitch – it could all be ours with some hats and t-shirts for the low price of $140 USD. I would have needed a lot more alcohol for them to close that deal.
We politely declined, got up, and headed to the lunch buffet. After lunch we swung on a hammock and waited for the vans to take us back. The trip back to the offices contained markedly less mating-grasshopper stops.
Back in town we relaxed for a bit and Andrew retrieved a voicemail from the snorkeling place saying that Monday is also not looking very welcoming. We tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday and planned a trip to Cobá to go see some Mayan ruins.
Then the rain got serious. It has been down-pouring non-stop for about 10 hours now. As an Oregonian, I am not going to let it stop me; however, I am antsy to get to Cobá because I am afraid if we wait much longer we’ll have to schedule a snorkeling tour to see it.