It has snowed about 4 inches over the last 24 hours. This storm has been quite unexpected for its magnitude. It’s a chilly 34 degrees on our way to the airport and everyone is dressed in winter apparel, except for us. T-shirts and shorts all around. We step out of the car into the bitter cold and check our luggage in and get our boarding passes. The security process went smoothly and we made our way to our terminal, boarded the plane, and began the 4.5 hour flight to the hot, humid, and of course, lovely Yucatan.
We arrive in Cancun around 2:30 to quite a boring airport. Nothing like SLC Intl. We made our way through Immigration and we talked to what appeared to be a concierge. He gave us some tips, showed us the ratio of pesos to US dollars, and what not to get ripped off on. On our way out, we get our rental car and made our way to Playa Del Carmen. When we got to Playa, we stopped at Sam’s Club. Yes, they have Costco and Sam’s Club here in Mexico. All the little ninos run up and down the aisles chasing each other. All you hear are the blur of the conversations shared by the locals. As were shopping around, we cannot find milk for the life of us. So I mustered up what little I could remember from my 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years of Spanish and asked a lady, “Donde esta la leche?” And then came the response, “Siete por el pasillo.” I heard “siete” so obviously to me that meant aisle seven! Alright, Spanish isn’t that bad, I can make my way around! So we get to aisle seven, and the milk comes in individual 12 oz. packages that are all in a big box. It is not refrigerated, which is odd to me. But, I had my Honey Bunches of Oats this morning, and the milk was perfectly normal. We later found cases of fifteen bottles of Sangria, for the equivalent of 5 U.S. dollars. So we bought two. We have fresh pineapple, mangos, and apples! All of which are absolutely delicious. So we finally pay, put the groceries in the carro, and make our way to our condo.
Finding our condo was and adventure in itself. The directions of our concierge at the airport failed us. So we now had to turn to asking the locals for directions. So we stop and ask a policeman if he knows where our condo complex is. Another local stops by who speaks little English, and talks it over with the policeman for about 5 minutes before finally coming to an agreement. This complex where we are staying is only a year old, so it’s no wonder nobody really knows where it is, including them. So we stop yet again and ask another local who then gives us correct directions, finally! We get to our resort and unload the car along with all the groceries. Finally we make it to the room. We open the door, and walk into a totally legit condo. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry room, balcony with a table overlooking the pool/ocean, flat screen TV, leather couches, king bed in one room, and two twins in the other. I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with this place. The beds are very comfortable, and the AC works great. All in all, so far so good! The fam gets in bed around 11, because today we had to wake up at 6:30 to be ready for our tour of Chichen Itza by 7:30. Now I on the other hand, being the night owl I am, stay up talking to some buddies on Facebook for another couple hours. Go figure.
I’ll give you some necessary background info on how we got our tour guide. My dad knows a guy, Mark Nelson, who was here on vacation last fall and had a tour guide whose name was Lemuel. Yes, like the Lemuel in the Book of Mormon. He is LDS and from what Mark said, he gave them a great tour of the many temples and ruins in Chichen Itza. His family names all of their children after the people of the Book of Mormon. Such as: Nephi, Helaman, Mosiah, Alma, Sarah, and Lemuel, to name a few. Now, Lemuel has a son who is Lemuel Jr. Mark and Lemuel were talking, and Mark all of a sudden had a thought come to his mind: “You need to make sure they are prepared to come to General Conference in April.” He blew it off thinking nothing of it. But as he was conversing with Lemuel Jr. this thought came to his mind twice more. So without thinking, Mark blurted out, “Lemuel, your family needs to be ready to come to General Conference in April.” Lemuel said, “Oh Mister Mark, yes we watch Conference every year.” Mark, seeing that he didn’t understand said again, “No Lemuel, you and your family need to be ready to come to General Conference in April.” Lemuel said, “Oh…” while a surprised look overcame his face. He left for a little while, but came back with tears streaming from his eyes. “Mark, it has been my dream to go to Conference all my life. All my moneys go to my family to help them. And I have prayed that if we were to ever go, it would be because we had been helped. Mister Mark, I want you to know that I received an answer to my prayers in less than 24 hours.” So after Marks family returned home, they had many fundraisers set up. Many people in different wards had helped with donations to bring their humble family to Utah. My family attended Marks ward last Sunday, in which we heard this amazing story from the family members themselves. The Spirit was so strong during that meeting. Lemuel translated for his wife, and even though it was hard to understand her, I knew that she believed what she was saying was true.
Lemuel does tours of Chichen Itza for a living, and so does his nephew, Nephi. We talked to Lemuel and he contacted Nephi and got us set up for a tour. We called him yesterday, and told us to be ready by 7:30 am the next day. So we did just that. We woke up early with me only having about 4 hours of sleep. We got in Nephi’s van, and began the 2 hour drive to Chichen Itza. Needless to say, I caught up on some much needed sleep on the ride up. We purchase our tickets and begin our tour. Nephi, in Spanish it is spelled Nefi, gave us an amazing tour with superb insight as to what the many symbols mean and how it pertains to the Book of Mormon. There are so many instances where no one else can explain it without the knowledge the Book of Mormon gives us. One thing that really stood out to me was the carving of a bearded man, whom the Mayans called “The Great White God”. We know this to be Christ.
Probably one of my favorite ruins was where a game was played. Strangely enough, this game can be found in the movie El Dorado. You know, the game with the high walls that go down each side of a field with a hoop at the top? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly recommend watching El Dorado. This game is played with 6 or 7 players on each team. You cannot touch the ball with your hands or feet. Only your arms and hips, just like in the movie! At the end of the game a sacrifice is made. We are not sure who the sacrifice is however. There are carvings that show a player being decapitated, so that is a pretty good hint to the sacrifice. But can you imagine my excitement when I saw this? I thought El Dorado was just pure myth! Well, I guess the whole golden city is pretty farfetched, but they got the game and the temples right!
After seeing all of the ruins and bargaining with some vendors, it was time for lunch and swimming in the cenote! (Pronounced: sen-OH-tay) Lunch. Was. Amazing. I love Mexican food, hands down. I had black beans, rice, beef, fish, chicken, and corn tortillas to wrap it all up in. Salad with green peppers and onions, chips and the spiciest salsa I’ve probably ever had: habanero salsa. We had fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, and watermelon. And to top it all off, a cold glass of limonada. Mm, mm, mm!! So good.
A cenote is like a huge gaping hole in the earth. It is about 250 feet from the top of the hole to the water, and about 150 feet from side to side. No one knows how deep the water goes. No one has ever made it to the bottom. There is a staircase that takes you to the bottom of the cenote, and there is a platform along the side that goes about 25-30 feet up for jumping. The water is crisp, cool, and refreshing. It’s very blue, with lots of fun fish swimming around. After doing some jumping and relaxing in the water, it was time to head home.
We decided tonight that we wanted some authentic Mexican tacos. So we walked down the street and found a taqueria. We sat down and basically made a fool of ourselves. Everyone was getting dinner, and a show. No one understood any English, so I had to try and be the translator. However, we ended up getting exactly what we wanted. I ordered two beef tacos, and one taco de cabeza. For those of you not familiar with this term, cabeza means head. In this taco, the meat was cow tongue. It was soo good! I was very surprised. Each taco was only 6 pesos. That’s equivalent to 50 cents. Everything really is quite cheap here. We also ordered Coca Colas all around. Mexican Coke tastes much better than American Coke. And that sounds like I’m talking about drugs. Moving on. We came to a Pizzeria on our way home, stopped and bought some pizza, which was quite delicious as well. We came back to the condo, watched Remember the Titans, and that brings me to right now; sitting on the bed writing all of this down, listening to Bridger as he talks in his sleep. That kid has some crazzzy dreams.
Mexico has been so much fun. It’s time for me to get some rest though. Gotta wake up to take my jog on the beach in the morn, and hopefully get a good shot of the sunrise. Till next time, salu pues!