Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Installment #14: Lake Cornelia, Cancun, and Mexico City 2003

Our next vacation was a mixture of family reunion, anniversary party, birthday party, and Mexican Vacation.

The trip started with a flight to Omaha, NE. We picked up a rental car and drove to Lake Cornelia, IA where the wife's parents have a lake house. They hold a family reunion here every fourth of July. In 2003 they were also celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, the wife's aunt's 40th wedding anniversary, the wife's brother's 25th wedding anniversary, and my 40th Birthday. We had a great time. The wife's family are great partiers and always enjoy having a good time with friends and family. Along with all the food, drink, and cake ( I ate 12 pieces of cake in 24 hours- YUMM - and I didn't get sick!), we participated in the fourth of July boat parade. The party kept going for several days. There was only a brief interruption due to a tornado warning.

During some downtime, I borrowed my father-in-law's car and went geocaching. The cache, "Down of the Farm", was located near a farm fence. I took a Spongebob Squarepants zipper pull that hangs from my car's rear view mirror today. I waved "Hi" at the farmer feeding his cattle before a returned to the lake house.

Eventually we had to leave the party and drive back to Omaha to catch our flight to Cancun.

We arrived it Cancun and the first thing we hit was a gauntlet of people wanting to "help" us. We naively listened to one and ended up agreeing to visit the hotel he was representing with the agreement that we would get two free tours - one to Chichen Itza and one to Tulum. The next day we were picked up and given a tour of the hotel and were fed a free breakfast. We were not impressed. The time-share cost was too high. They turn up the heat but we resisted and we ended up getting out of there with two tour tickets by lunch time. If I can help it, I will never do that again.

We spent the rest of the first day soaking in the bathtub-warm water of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and browsing the nearby shops

The next day we went to a nearby store where we caught the bus for our Chichen Itza tour. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The bus was comfortable and clean. We arrived at Chichen Itza where we toured the ruins with a guide. The tour, unfortunately, was interrupted by rain. We cowered under a thatch roof waiting for the rain to stop and listened while our guide told us about Mayan history. Eventually we said to heck with it and went out in the rain to climb the Temple of Kukulcan which dominates the site. The rain did let up a little while we finished our tour. Climbing up and down the pyramid resulted in a wife with sore leg muscles. Unfortunately I missed going inside the pyramid. I now have a reason to go back.

After Chichen Itza our bus stopped at a local restaurant where we ate at a buffet and watched dancers. Here is where I made the "Big Mistake." I ate a salad. This would come back to haunt me later this trip.

After eating we headed back to Cancun. On the way there we stopped at a cenote, a large sinkhole full of water. Cenotes were sources of fresh water for the Maya. The place was gorgeous with sunlight filtering in amongst the tree roots. People were swimming in the pool. I tried to take pictures but the lack of sufficient light resulted in blurry pictures.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was pouring. Since the rain didn't look like it was going to let up, we called room service and ordered a couple of pretty good burgers. The next morning we found a piece of paper stuck under our door saying that we should worry about the hurricane. Hurricane!?! What hurricane?!? Hurricane Claudette!! Well actually tropical storm Claudette. You would have thought that they would have warned us before it hit instead of after the fact. We ended up missing our free Tulum trip because of the rain. Another reason to return. Some Cancun pictures here.

The rain eventually let up and we decided to do a geocache in a Mayan ruin not too far from the hotel. One cool thing about the ruins was that it was infested with iguanas. Hundreds. They were hissing at us as we walked through the area. I got to the coordinates and looked, looked, and looked but could not find it. Unfortunately I had left the clue sheet back in the hotel room. When we got back I found out that the GPS coordinates were not the location of the cache but a starting point. If I had had the clue I would have found it. Darn it!! I was so disappointed in myself that I stopped geocaching for eight months afterward.

The next day we flew to Mexico City. We wandered near the hotel looking through the nearby market place. The wife was interested in something in a booth but we decided to think about it and I told the shop owner that we would be back on Wednesday. Unfortunately, my Spanish was very rusty and I think I said something like: "I would return on the Shits." That is ironic since that is when the salad decided to attack - The Mayan Trots ... Montezuma's Revenge ... you get the picture. I spent most of the rest of the day in the hotel room resting. Eventually we went to a nearby pharmacy and all I have to say is "Imodium is my friend!"

The next day (I was still feeling a little down in the dumps so we had a late start) we eventually took a taxi to Diego Rivera's house. Diego Rivera was married to Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist. We ate at a nearby restaurant - good food, we were a little too casual for the place, though - before walking to the house and toured the modern style home/museum. We then took a taxi to the Frida Kahlo house and toured her house. Some of you may recognize Frida from the movie of the same name. Even though I wasn't feeling that great I still enjoyed the day.

The next day we signed up for a tour to Teotihuacan. On the way the tour stopped at Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine. This was an unexpected bonus. The wife bought a rosary. We then left the city and headed to Teotihuacan. The temples were impressive. The Pyramid del Sol - one of the largest pyramids in the world. We climb up to the top ans surveyed the entire complex. All in all - Cool! I liked it.

On the way back we stopped at an Onyx factory. I should have bought something there. There was a lot of cool things though they were a little overpriced.

The next day was spent in Chapultepec Park. We walked to the park from our hotel. We toured the castle and the anthropological museum. It was a nice day. We probably shouldn't have walked though since the wife was still sore from climbing the Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan pyramids.

Our last day we took a taxi to the Cathedral and toured the area including the extensive street market. The cathedral is slowly sinking. A large plumb bob hangs from the ceiling showing how much the cathedral is leaning. We met up with a friend from the wife's old job there and had lunch in a nearby restaurant that had been recommended highly. The food was pretty good even though I'm not too keen on Mexican cuisine.

More pictures of Mexico City here.

Another great vacation. Someday we will have to return to finish Cancun.

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