Yesterday we were invited to go on an excursion to some Mayan ruins with other students from the girls’ language school. I accepted the invitation because 1) someone else was organizing it; 2) someone else was driving; 3) it was on a Sunday so 4/5 of us would be banned from the internet during “Football Time”; 4) did I mention someone else was organizing it? and 5) we wanted to see ruins. I’m definitely a planner and I can organize the heck out of an event or an excursion, but it gets old sometimes. I wanted to be at the mercy of someone else’s plan, completely exempt from being at fault if it went to hell. But I really wanted to see the ruins too!
So off we went, minus the Broncos/Cardinals fan who wasn’t about to leave the house unless it was on fire. We were picked up at 7:45 in the morning, which was probably the only time we’ve been out of the house that early. Haley said it reminded her of walking to school. I told her we could get up and walk every morning at 7:45 but I guess she wasn’t THAT nostalgic.
We arrived in Playa del Carmen and picked up the rest of our group, which consisted of 3 20-something girls from Norway, 2 60-something sisters from Romania via New York, two instructors and one daughter of an instructor who are locals. We were a mixed group and off we went to Cobá. The primary language was English, with a lot of Spanish mixed in, but also Norwegian and Romanian, probably when they wanted to talk smack about the rest of the group. Just kidding, they weren’t like that. But listening to them speak you realize they could be spies discussing a top secret mission, those languages are so incomprehensible.
The most well known ruins around here are Chichen Itza. I’m sure it’s wonderful, but we were happy to be headed to a different ruins where you can still climb on the what is left of them. It’s not without it’s guilt, though. We knew that by allowing us to climb on it, it probably meant that in the future they’ll have to close it off due to damage, but we decided to just tread lightly.
We got a guide, learned about some of the structures, went through a “good luck” tunnel, heard about the fascinating Mayan calendar (hello future home school project… nice to meet you) and then headed over to the pyramid. It was about a 2 kilometer walk away but there were some nice “Mayan Taxi” drivers ready and waiting to take us on their bikes. We were a bit puzzled because the Mayans did not use wheels so surely this is not how they were transported, but due to the fun ride, we’ll overlook that little factoid. On the way over there the drivers pointed out some interesting things, including hills. They would say “See that hill? It’s not a hill. It’s an ancient Mayan structure that just hasn’t been excavated yet.” How cool is that? In fact, a lot of the structures we saw were only excavated on one or two sides. You could see trees growing out of the sides and jungle almost overtaking the top. Supercool.
We got to the pyramid and Zoe and I decided to climb it first while Aunt Kim and Haley minded the backpack. Going up was not too big of a deal other than legs that protested this long-forgotten kind of workout. But coming down was another matter entirely. They had exactly ONE safety measure, in the form of a very large rope going down the pyramid. Just one. And it’s VERY steep and very high. So on the way down I made Zoe stay behind me. I figured if she pitched forward I could break her fall. At that moment I suddenly realized THAT’S WHY I’ve given in to the middle-aged plump: to block my children from falling off pyramids… I’m selfless like that. #GlutenFreeBrownies
So we made it down and now it’s time for Aunt Kim and Haley. Off they went! Around 1/3 of the way to the top they seemed to stop for a little picnic. After awhile they gestured for us so Zoe went running and Aunt Kim came down. Nope, she’s not having it, I guess. So Zoe and Haley took off and were at the top in no time. I decided I needed to ignore my wobbly legs and go up after them, in order to once again break their fall on the way down. A mother’s work is never done.
I met them at the top and noticed Haley starting to panic. Not only was it high, but in order to safely go down you really needed to be holding the rope that a million other people have touched. These are two of Haley’s fears coming together into a nice big fear sandwich – heights and germs. There was nowhere to go but down so down we went, Zoe and I trying to ignore Haley to give her space and encourage her at the same time. We made it unscathed and will have only the sore legs as battle wounds.
We enjoyed watching the other people climb it and return down, and we really liked watching the guy who climbed it carrying a baby like a football in his arms. The mothers of the group could not watch him come down, we were too nervous. But later we saw him at the restaurant for lunch so no injured babies. Whew!
After lunch we went to a nearby lagoon that is also a spider monkey reserve. We were told that we really needed a guide in order to see the monkeys and not get lost, so we hired a guide and off we went on a little hike. It took awhile but we spotted some, including a few with babies on their backs. Our guide was very persistent, probably long past the point we needed him to be. The Sherman girls were somewhat unimpressed. We had seen multiple monkeys in Panama, including feeding some at one of our favorite beaches. And we fondly recalled the time in Bocas where we heard howler monkeys crashing around in nearby bushes. If you haven’t heard howler monkeys before, they sound like a T-Rex is about to burst onto the path and eat you for breakfast.
So we soon tired of this monkey business (#tipyourwaitress) and then the group discussed if kayaks on the lagoon would be part of our afternoon plans. The guide said the lake was great for kayaking and the crocodiles go to the other side of the lake during the day so they would not bother us. The WHAT? Well nevermind on that kayak rental then. Nope. I can’t break a fall into the crocodiles no matter how many brownies I eat.
So after rejecting the kayak idea we headed back to the van to begin the trek home. While we were waiting for the rest of our group to catch up, a guy in the parking lot got my attention and showed me two spider monkeys swinging in the trees. Here they were! No walking, no guide, two spider monkeys right there in the parking lot! #facepalm
That was our cue that we were done for the day. The rest of the group returned and a van full of sleepy language school students headed back. Four weary Sherman girls returned home about 12.5 hours after they left. And a good time was had by all. Except for the Cardinals fan. #GoBroncos