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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tulum and Turtles

The last few times we have been to Mexico, Tim has actually convinced me to leave the hotel to do a little exploring.  For this trip he had some vouchers to use and planned a day trip to Tulum and Akumal to swim with the turtles.   I had previously been to both places, but this time we got the VIP treatment from our tour company and the adventures were especially great.  We talked Amy into going with us and all had the best day.

After being picked up at our resort, we made a quick stop at Xel-Ha to transfer buses and meet up with the rest of the group that would be joining us at Tulum.

Since the first time I went to Tulum, it has been one of my favorite places to visit.  The beauty is truly breathtaking and, it is easy to understand why the Mayans would have chosen this location.  Usually we just explore on our own, but since this was Amy's first time, we decided to stick with a guide to learn more of the history and details.  I was so glad that we did.  The guide we had was really interesting and shared information that I hadn't ever known - he was also pretty brief and stuck to the highlights.  The guide was Mayan and spoke from that background, but gave a pretty balanced account of the ruins and is ancestors.   This history is fascinating, but the views are really my favorite.

There are four watchtowers throughout the complex which gave the Mayans strategic advantages. This particular tower also served as natural hurricane warning system.  It was built in such a way that if the wind gets to a certain speed (high enough to be dangerous), it would whistle as it blew through the tower.  Pretty amazing that they had so much knowledge about construction and the weather.  

We learned a lot more about the social structure of the society.  Apparently the commoners all lived outside of the walls - the only people allowed inside the walls were nobles and priests, those born to the right families.  

The beach area was a perfect place for the Mayans to meet and trade with fellow tribe members and other groups from all along the coast 

Iguanas are everywhere at Tulum

Our tour guide was great, but Tim took enough pictures to provide his own tour.  I like to call this a "selfie" guided tour of Tulum, courtesy of Tim.  He hits all of the highlights.

Inspired to take my own 

After Tulum we drove deep into the jungle where we stopped and had lunch.  From there, we went to the town of Akumal to get ready for the chance to snorkel in the bay.  The turtles love the area  and spend their days there because of a type of grass that grows on the ocean floor. Even with a waterproof protector for my phone, it was tough to get any fantastic photos, but snorkeling with the turtles at Akumal was completely unforgettable.  We spent an hour or two in the water and were amazed at the majesty of these giant sea turtles.   When it was time to breathe, they would surface right next to us and didn't seem to even notice we were there.  In addition to the turtles, we saw a giant eagle ray and several big sting rays. Tim found and followed a large silver fish until our guide quickly warned him that it was a barracuda. Definitely not friendly.  Swimming with the turtles was the perfect end to the day, and to our vacation. 

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