Thursday, November 29, 2012

Herdin' Coatimundis

In yesterday's post, I joked about standing by the road with a Dos Equis to attract some coatimundis.  While I was browsing a shop along the road yesterday, Craig called out -- Becky, get over here fast! 

Bored with the whole idea of shopping, he'd sat down on the curb.  Look what came up to him!

Then there were five.

And then a herd came galloping towards us. The attack of the coatis!

Finally we saw the shopkeeper with his bag of torn tortillas.  He said 45 coatimundis to be exact!

It was feeding time at the zoo!

You got something for me?

Take a picture!  It lasts longer!

And as quickly as they showed up, they began slinking back into the jungle.

Here's the quote explanation from Wikipedia of what coatis are:

Coatis, genera Nasua and Nasuella, also known as Brazilian aardvarks,[1] Mexican tejón, hog-nosed coons,[2] pizotes, Panamanian gatosolos, crackoons and snookum bears, are members of the raccoon family (Procyonidae). They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America, and south-western North America. The word "coatimundi" (play /kˌɑːtɨˈmʌndi/) is a commonly used misnomer applied to solitary adult males of N. nasua.[citation needed] The term is reported to be derived from the Tupi language (Brazil).[3]

Personally, I like the term snookum bears.  Ha!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Akumal Art

I like window shopping (actually, I go inside the stores) the art galleries in Akumal.  The art and handicrafts are a cut above the stuff I'm used to seeing in this part of Mexico.  That being said, the price tags in the galleries are  hefty, but I'm determined to find just a little something to take home with me.

For now, some photos of art in the village will have to do!

The local critters love their drinks!  Maybe if we walk along the road with a Dos Equis, a coatimundi will come out for a photo op.

Mural on the wall of the little convenience store across the street.

Mural on a casa wall down the road.

Exterior tortuga mural on a local gallery.

This old mail box is a work of art.  Buzon!

Casa mosaic on Half Moon Bay.

Wood carving next to Turtle Bay Bakery.

The piece of art is on the left!

 Craig with wooden skeletons at the restaurant down the road.

I'm heading back to Mexic Arte to look around today.  I can't go home empty handed!

By the way, I had to enable the window verification on comments again because I was starting to get a lot of spam.  When I comment on other blogs, it usually takes me two or three tries, so hang in there!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coba for Dummies

 I try not to be too cynical in my travels around Mexico, but my 'tude came out on Monday with our trip to Coba. 

It all started with the taxi drivers in Akumal.  In our experience, it's hard to get a taxi from where we're staying.  And I know, if I could figure out the right combo of numbers on my T-Mobile phone and was willing to pay $4.00 or more for the call (and could speak Spanish), I could phone a taxi.  But we can't just walk out our door and pick one up on the road because we don't see empty taxis circulating the road through Half Moon Bay.  That's the one thing missing here -- a taxi to take us to dinner!  The prices also seem fairly steep -- 80 pesos from highway to the condo, which can't even be 2 miles.  It would be nice to have the taxi option, especially since I fell off a bike on Sunday and am hobbling around with a bruised hip and swollen knee.

But I digress.  Not having a taxi available, we decided to gut it out and walk from the condo to Akumal pueblo along the highway where we could catch a collectivo to Tulum.  After limping a few kilometers with my bruised body, there those rascals were sitting on a bench waiting to hassle us just outside the main Akumal gate!

Where you going?  Collectivos don't stop this time of day.  There aren't any buses from Tulum to Coba.  On and on and on.  Don't you want a taxi to Coba?  It's cheaper.  Only $70 U.S.!  Since we didn't bite on all that, the taxi driver then got in his cab and followed us down the street still trying to convince us out the window.  Literally, timeshare hawkers ain't got nuttin' on these Akumal taxi drivers!  LOL

There MUST be a bizarre reason why taxis here in Akumal don't make an effort to get fares within Akumal village with simple tasks like giving us a ride to dinner.  Maybe they're not allowed to park anywhere beyond the main gate?

To fast forward, we waited about five minutes for the collectivo to Tulum after crossing the pedestrian bridge over the highway to the pueblo.  The trip was quick and pleasant and cost us less than 50 pesos.  The collectivo driver dropped us at the ADO bus terminal in Tulum, and after a short wait, we were on the ADO bus to Coba.  92 pesos total for the one way.

The ADO bus dropped us all on the road by the lake and the tourists started to wander.  None of us had a clue where the ticket booth was located.  It was like watching the contestants on the Amazing Race wander around in search of the next clue box.  No entrance or boletos signs -- just a large parking lot.  LOL

Finally someone who spoke Spanish asked for directions.  92 pesos later, we were in the gate.  Craig and I laughed all the way through Coba because literally, there were no directional signs whatsoever and about two signs total telling us what we were looking at.  A metaphor for life.  So many paths, so few signs.

They're not stupid!  We're supposed to pay 250 pesos for a guide and 170 pesos for a rental bike!  


No brochure for the entrance admission, but I got a photo of the everything you ever wanted to know about Coba sign on the way out.  (I missed it on the way in because there were 50 people clustered around it.)

The pyramid structure La Iglesia.  (I got this info off Wikipedia.)

Who needs a brochure!  We immediately recognized this structure as a ball court.  The clue?  The stone hoop.

 Mayan warrior with his pet monkey?   Suggestions welcome!

Please educate me! What's this underneath the stone hoop?

Malateros wait at various places within the site, hoping to catch a tourist in a state of collapse after their long walk or hard climb.

Another ball court.  There are two within Coba.

Ladies and gentlemen!  The main event!  Nohoch Mul!  Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán peninsula -- 120 steps to the top.  And you can still climb it!  (or not)

Craig preparing for the summit!  My original intention, of course, was to climb it.  But -- after Sunday's fall from grace onto the pavement from the bike with the loose handlebars -- Craig and I both decided I was another train wreck waiting to happen.  That, and as Craig so succinctly put it -- he didn't want to be anywhere near me if a tripped once again and rolled down Nohoch Mul!

Excuses are like hineys -- everyone's got one!  LOL  I took this photo of Craig on his way up from terra firma!

I'm betting this woman was a Girl Scout!  There she is sitting up there with her umbrella!  It was high noon (it always is when you decide to climb a pyramid) and the sun was broiling, so hats off (or on) to her.

I'm glad Craig's coordinated and can climb and wave at the same time.  That simple movement probably would have propelled me off the side of the pyramid!

Craig using the Flip video up on top.

Look mom!  No rope!  I'm impressed because I would have been scooting down on my bruised fanny.

The other information sign within Coba.  (There were numerous No Fumar and No Bikes signs on the paths, but those don't count.)

 And here I am at the bottom of the pyramid.

After a bathroom break, we found ourselves stumbling around the parking lot trying to figure out a way back to Tulum.  The ticket seller had told us there was only one ADO bus departing at 3 p.m., so we decided to wing the return trip with a taxi or collectivo.  

We soon figured out that the taxis and vans parked within the lot were already hired.  We spotted an ADO bus sitting across the road and headed that way.  The driver was standing by the door, so we asked him where to buy tickets.  He didn't speak English, we don't speak Spanish.  Hmmmmmm.  A guy at a torta/taco stand spotted us and yelled boletos?  We ran over, bought tickets, and managed to board the bus right as it was departing for Tulum.

Timing is everything!

Some scenes along the highway between Tulum and Coba.  (Taken through the bus window.)

The road between Tulum and Coba is lined with small villages selling handicrafts.  The ADO bus makes one stop at the Grand Cenote.  We were so hot (and the weather's been unseasonably cool our entire trip) after Coba -- a cenote swim would have been a great option.

To add insult to injury after the Sunday bike accident and the long day of walking and touring, you can guess what happened.  We decided to walk all the way back to the condo from the Akumal Pueblo collectivo stop.  Engrossed in conversation in the Akumal Bay area, I broke the number one rule of walking in Mexico.  ALWAYS look down when you walk!  I stepped in a pothole and once again, ended up on the asphalt.  OMG!  This time I landed on the knee, hip, and palms and broke skin.  I think we'll definitely be taking it easy these last few days in Akumal.  Perhaps all walks should be on the beach since sand is much softer than asphalt!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rise and Shine!

We were up with first light this morning.  We're headed to Tulum and Coba today to see some ruins.  Before we leave, I thought I'd post the progression of this morning's sunrise.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Journey and the Destination

For now, I'm just loving doing nothing!  The condo we're renting in Akumal is right on the water, so it's an infinity view in sun or shade from the balcony.

But let me backtrack to tell you about the journey.  After trying to book a transport for a few days only to find the shuttles sold out on Saturday (must have been the post-Thanksgiving rush back to the airport), we decided to just wing it!  I'm so glad we did because it saved us a lot of pesos.

We crossed the street from the ferry terminal and grabbed a taxi to the downtown Cancun bus station for 50 pesos.  As we pulled up, I noticed the Playa Express collectivos lined up across the street from the bus station.  The line at the first one was long, so we waved at the driver in the second van and he loaded our bags into the backend of his Mercedes van.  66 pesos later, we were both in the front two seats headed for Playa del Carmen.  I hadn't been in Playa for years, but I figured the southbound collectivos to Tulum couldn't be too far away from the lot where the Playa Express driver dropped us.  A taxi pulled up as we were searching and offered us a 330 pesos fare to Akumal.  About the same time, we spotted the collectivos in the next block and decided to just wing it again.  A handler moved people around in the second van so he could deposit our luggage up front and we climbed into seats in the second row. 

The one blunder we made was having the collectivo drop us at the Akumal Playa exit as opposed to the Akumal Pueblo exit.  After we paid our 70 pesos and left the van, I looked at the pedestrian overpass and knew I'd made a mistake.  After dragging our bags uphill to the bridge over the four-lane highway and back down to the beach path, a taxi came along a block later shortly before I collapsed.  ja ja ja   He quoted 80 pesos to Playa Caribe Condos and I just dove into the taxi before Craig could question the fare.  While it sounded a little high, a friend had told me awhile back that she paid 90 pesos from the Pueblo exit, so I figured what the heck.

So the total for two people from the Puerto Juarez ferry dock to Akumal's Half Moon Bay was 266 pesos.  We figured our dinner last night and lunch today were gratis since we didn't pay $100 U.S. for the ride.

I'll leave you with a few photos from the journey.


Leaving Isla Mujeres.

Passing Manchionnes reef.

The beautiful blue Caribe.

I'm glad Jesus was watching over us with Speedy Gonzalez driving.

And here's the destination -- Half Moon Bay, Akumal.

Craig enjoying the view from the terrace.

Sunset over the jungle.

Dinner last night at La Buena Vida.  And yes, this is the good life!

Chicken enchiladas in red mole sauce.

Craig's grande steak burrito.

Teaching Miele to shake for steak.

Craig with his new best friends.

Walking the dark road on the way home, we noticed we were being stalked.  Coatimundi?  Mapache?  Hmmmm.  Too funny!  When a car approached, he scurried off into the jungle.