Mexico – February 2010

I remember visiting Mexico when I was still a teenager. The vacation was filled with adventures – getting a first glimpse of reefs in a small, white submarine; climbing Chichen Itza in stiffling heat and finding it entirely surrounded by jungle; a day at XCaret – a youthful discoverer’s paradise.ยท

Now, returning as an adult the adventure has changed but it is still there.
Our declared mission for this trip was obtaining a certification for deep diver and cavern diver. As a result we spent considerably more time under water than above.
Actually, we only stopped at the hotel in order to sleep and have breakfast or dinner. This was fortunate, too. The “Dreams Puerto Aventuras” was a 5-star all-inclusive hotel but we weren’t particularly happy with it. Admittedly, most of our complaints were caused by the all-inclusive part. In the end, I got so fed up with the situation that I wrote a 4 (small) pages long list of complaints and discussed it with the manager point by point. The poor man started squirming after the second page and sent us Champagne and expensive red wine as compensation afterwards.

This is a (radically) shortened list:

  • the noise level (caused by disco music and guests alike)
  • the low quality of the food
  • the lack of cleanliness in general
  • the bad state of repair of the pool and other parts of the hotel
  • poorly trained staff
  • the average level of blood alcohol of other guests and resulting conduct

My conclusion is that the hotel either bribed the person awarding them their stars, that the classification happened ages ago or that said person was utterly incompetent. As a consequence we are never going to stay in an all-inclusive hotel again.

I’m digressing. Let me return to diving. The reefs around Cozumel are very beautiful. They have lots of colors and intricate formations. One thing is missing, though – the fish. There are only a few lonely critters about. Apparently, this is mostly due to the large amount of boat traffic and the number of divers in this area.
We were richly compensated by the cenotes, however. If you’d like to read more about these amazing caves and our introduction to cave diving please check out my article on cave diving in the “other stuff” section.

With difficulty, I managed to convince Matthias to put in one day of sightseeing. We rented a jeep, got up at 4 in the morning and hit the road to Chichen Itza, Yucatan. Arriving before all the tourists (and before official opening hours),we stepped over a low iron chain and took a look around.
The pyramid can no longer be climbed and is now surrounded by well-tended paths and a park-like area. The jungle I saw a decade earlier has been forced to retreat. When the staff noticed our presence, their foreworker was quick to approach us. Matthias talked to the guy while I hurriedly took a few pictures. Then we were ushered out. Unwilling to wait for the complex to open and pay for what we’d already seen, we went on to Coba.

At Coba the rain was pouring. The ruins there consist of various buildings (including a pyramid) randomly strewn over a jungle area of several square kilometers. To escape the rain we paid one of the waiting “rikshas” to drive us around. The jungle was grey and misty and we were cold, soaked and utterly alone – except for the guy who was powering his strange vehicle. The experience was weird and amusing at the same time.

Our last stop was at the seaside temple of Tulum. The gates were already closed and the presence of a guard prevented us from trespassing. So Matthias once more distracted the guard while I climbed the gate and took a few pictures.
We paid our dues in blood. On the half mile back to our car we were attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. I’ve never been quite as motivated to run ๐Ÿ˜‰

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