My most recent adventure seems to be the appropriate kick off to this blog: Cancun, Mexico. Though it's right below the U.S. of A., this was my first trip down south to the wonderful country. Throughout my week long visit, I found myself comparing Cancun to my travels in the Philippines, where my parents are originally from. The culture is so rich everywhere you go even though Cancun and many other states in the surrounding area rely on tourism as their number one industry. The people were friendly and it was great seeing just how diverse the tourist population was - I sat next to a traveler from Australia during lunch at Chichen Itza who does some serious traveling on his off time (definitely a future goal for me, too!)! Here are some highlights:
La Isla Mall and The Interactive Aquarium:
Because we stayed at the Westin Lagunamar, we had the luxury of having La Isla Mall right across the street from us. Because the main objective of this trip was to get away from the cold weather of Chicago and to relax in the sun and water, we weren't very motivated at first to travel far from our hotel. Needless to say, this mall had much of what we needed: good eats, a mixture of international fashion stores AND... (the clincher for me) a fantastic dolphin show! It's amazing how many places in Cancun let you swim with the dolphins, and La Isla Mall was no exception. Though we saw people getting lifted by the dolphins, I fought my urge to dish out the money and opted for the show instead. Definitely wasn't disappointed. The two dolphins in the show were so energetic and enthusiastic that you couldn't help but be awed for every moment of the 20 minute show. The best part (as seen in the picture) is when one of the trainers rides on the back of the two dolphins and then they launch him in the air, flipping, to reach the big red ball 20 feet high! For $9, including time to look at their aquarium area (fully equipped with sharks, sting rays, crocs, turtles and more), this excursion was definitely worth it.
The hotel strip (Kukulcan Blvd) was set up like this: on the east you had the ocean and the hotels, then it's the main road, and then on the west there are malls/restaurants/docks and the lagoon. If you want to experience a breathtaking view of the sunset, you can see it almost every evening from the lagoon side. Most of the restaurants sit right on the lagoon so you can enjoy dinner outside in the calm of the evening.
After lots of recommendations and research on things to do in Cancun, it seemed almost impossible to go through my first Mexico experience without taking a visit to the Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza. The history in this area is amazing, and I'm glad that many of the assumptions about the Mayan culture were debunked and clarified during the tour there. Though some of the human sacrifices sounded extreme, it seems as if (according to our tour guide) the Aztecs took the sacrifices to a higher level than the Mayans! One of our tour guides was also a pure Mayan descendant, so if you were thinking that the inhabitants totally disappeared hundreds of years ago, you would be wrong, like me. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to walk up the ruins, as they stopped doing this three years ago due to accidents and vandalism on the inside of the temples.
The resort we stayed at was wonderful: everything from the one bedroom suite to the tiered set of infinity pools made our stay relaxing and enjoyable. Though the pool was large and fun to play in, I spent most of the time at the beach since it was only a few steps away. The water was refreshing after laying out in the sun and it had the added plus of ginormous waves! Usually I'm scared to play in large waves, but the water stayed shallow for a far distance, so you could safely get to an area where you could float in the ebb and flow of the ocean. Perfect!
Although my adventure to Cancun was miles away, I'm hoping I can find new places and adventures within my fabulous city of Chicago. Spring has continued to toy with our minds, but a true Chicagoan knows that we really only have two seasons: winter and summer. And summer is right around the corner! Stay tuned for some sunny adventures by me, Rowie ;)