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 Author Thread: Cancun Mexico
dollmommy is not online. Last active: 10/30/2007 8:18:24 AM dollmommy
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Joined: 04 Apr 2005
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Cancun Mexico
Posted: 23 Oct 2006 06:51 AM
I wanted to share with you a positive experience in visiting Cancun, Mexico. I have never been to Mexico before but my husband and I thought we would celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with a short 3 night, 4 day stay there. We booked a package through Expedia and found our experience with Expedia to be very positive. The price was extremely reasonable but much of that was due to the fact that October in Mexico is considered Hurricane Season. It rained for about 30 minutes one morning and about 15 minutes another morning. The temperature was in the 90's every day and the trade wind breezes were heavenly, making it pleasant to be outdoors. Because it was "hurricane season" there were few crowds and the resort staff was very attentive.

Cancun is on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It is the Central Time Zone and hugs the Gulf of Mexico. This strip of land is lined with hotels and resorts on the ocean side, and the other side is lagoon doted with golf courses, restaurants and shopping. There is also an archeological site called "El Rey" (The King)". The beach is considered a federal zone therefore, no one or organization can own it. You can walk from end to end without being stopped, unlike other tropical places. The area was badly hit by Hurricane Wilma last year and some of the hotels are still under rennovation or complete reconstruction. Crews work in 12 hour shifts and the work continues 24 hours a day. Cancun experienced a poor high tourist season last year because of this. Coupled with the fact that we were there in low season, the local tradespeople were very anxious to cut good deals on artisan work, art and jewelry. You can get around very easily by public bus at a cost of 60 cents a person per ride regardless of how far you go. We went into downtown Cancun to shop and were amused to find Walmart and Home Depot at the end of the peninsula's shopping mall. The flea markets are great and Flea Market #28 in downtown Cancun is a must see. The silver jewelry is .925 pure, gold is like Italian gold (18K).

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to the Mayan Culture. This ancient culture is evident in the archeological sites of El Rey, Chichen Itza (one of the sites being considered for the new Ancient Wonders of the World), Tulum and Excaret. With the exception of El Rey all these sites are located inland, in the jungle. It is advisable to go with a tour to any of the inland sites. Most of the resorts and hotels, not to mention the fellows that approach you upon exiting the airplane will be happy to arrange for these tours. These are day long events and you will stop in a Mayan Village, have lunch and visit the site with a guide. This costs about $75.00 per person. You can also rent a car and driver for the day for about $50. Mostly every place takes American dollars but you can exchange for pesos at your hotel. When I was there, the exchange was between 10 and 11 pesos for a dollar. We visited Chichen Itza and our Mayan guide was extremely knowledgable. We would not have know what we were looking at if he wasn't there. The site's welcome area is very up-to-date and offers tour guides in a variety of languages. While I was there I heard Japanese, French, Italian, Portugese, English and Spanish being spoken. Our guide spoke several languages including Mayan. We learned a few useful words! Although Chichen Itza is fantastic and the restorations really are wonderful, a lot was lost during the Spanish acquisition of Mexico. The guide explained that although he is Catholic, he is also Mayan and knows that many of the stones that built the structures were removed to make Dominican monasteries and that the Dominicans destroyed the old Mayan records. He was able to trace the Mayan history right back to the Bering land bridge people and discussed the similarities between Asiatic peoples and his own including the Mongolian spots many Mayan babies are born with. Although we didn't visit Excaret or Tulum, we had a lot of literature on both these sites and are interested in returning. Excaret looks especially nice to visit when with our children since there are water parks, aquariums and rides for the kids. We walked over to the El Rey site the morning that we left. This site was well labelled and we did not require a guide. We were frere to explore and climb as we liked. For a mere 30 pesos (about $3) we were at liberty to really enjoy this site for as long as we liked. The sad thing about the sites in Mexico is that the jungle takes over so much. It seems to grow between the rocks and only with careful maintenance can these sites exist. It makes you think of what lies under the dense parts of the jungle. Another thing to know when visiting--we were not told this befoe visiting and discovered this only when we got there--you cannot climb any of the monuments in Chichen Itza including the pyramid. It was closed in January 2006 due to a tourist accident, according to our guide. We also learned that the pyramid is a solar calendar and that inside is a smaller pyramid, a lunar calendar. Another thing that oculd freak out some people is that archeological sites in Mexico, as well as "non-tourist" areas such as downtown are home to dozens and dozens of iguanas. These are of various sizes, the largest I saw were at El Rey. I am not real fond of reptiles but these seemed to be more scaredf of us than I was of them. They sort of stare at you or scamper away when you approach, so by the end of my stay, I was pretty much at home with them--although I am not looking to make any new pets either.

The Resort- We stayed at The Gran Solaris, an all-inclusive resort and spa. All our food, drinks, room service, refirgerator items and alcohol (local stuff, no imports) were included. Breakfast was buffet style hosting American and Mexican dishes. Lunch and dinner are ala carte and dessert is always all you can eat. The Deli and Sanck bars are open all day and we watched as the kids just hopped over to them to get a sandwich or hamburger at any time. The resort featured a beautiful pool with swim up bar, an adult pool and hot tub. The room were tastefully decorated and spacious and cleaned twice a day. We had a lovely balcony that faced the lagoon side. For a little extra we could have faced the beach. The hotel featured a lovely spa and beauty salon. I had a massage there and that was about the only thing I paid extra for. The hotel also offered at an extra price suba diving, swim with the dolphins, snorkeling adventures and jet ski. They did not endorse parasailing because it is a dangerous sport. There were people doing it probably from another vendor.

Things to know about Cancun--
1-Tourism is everything so be prepared to tip, tip and tip. This is just the way it is.
2-When visiting sites especailly in Mayan vollages, people will use their young children to "sell" you items. I am not against making a buck but it is obvious that kids are not going to school because their families are working them. It was hard to not give these beautiful kids a few bucks but if they continue to make $$ for their families, they will never go to school. This was especailly true for girls.
3-Mostly everyone speaks English. I have more Spanish-speaking stations than was offered in Cancun. This sort of makes people who are unfamiliar with Spanish more at home. It was amazing to hear Mayan people hawking their wares shouting "Cheaper than Wal-Mart!"
4-We felt very safe walking around downtown. I received a lot of warning about bandits, but frankly, were not approached by anyone up to no good-just folks wanting to sell their products.
5-I don't recommend driving around especially inland by yourslef. These road and desnely bordered by the jungle and very isolated.
6-On any bus trip, be prepared to stop at any and all of the bus guides' partners' places. It is 82 miles to Chichen Itza and it took us 6 hours to get there! We stopped at a bunch of places the guide wanted us to visit. All of them had wares to sell including the restaurant we had lunch at.
7- The hotel and resorts all have safe water. You can drink even the water in the bathroom without fear. You cane at fruit and salad at the resort. Once you are out of the hotel zone, all bets are off. The Yucatan Peninsula has no rivers or other sources of fresh water. They rely upon rainwater collected naturally in underground caves or in regular water storage collectors. Most Mayan villages drink the cave water and they offer tourists to swim in these cave pools. Many people in my bus did so! The restaurant we ate at had fruit and salad but we abstained and only ate cooked items. We even drank Corona beer with lunch because the water was not bottled.
8-Be prepared to bargain with everyone you buy from. The exceptions are at the hotel shops and stores in the shopping mall.
9-Be prepared to tip, tip and tip again!
10-Bring proper travel documents. You need a passport to enter. Mexican travel restrictions do not allow any fluids in carry on regardless of where you bought it.

We had a great time and intend to return with our family next October. The beaches are sandy and the water is clear azure. It was too short of a stay.
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