Our first port was Costa Maya, Mexico. Joel and I decided that we would leave Chloe and Sophia at the kids' club and take Bria to see the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben. My parents had also chosen to do the same excursion, so we all went together.
The first thing we saw when the ship docked in Costa Maya was the incredibly blue water.
Then we saw a very tiny little resort/shopping area with the typical brightly colored Mexican buildings.
And then we saw a beach that had been decimated by Hurricane Dean in 2007. It was not a windy day when we got off the ship--the palm trees look like they are perpetually in a windstorm because of the strength of the hurricane. A lot of the area is still being rebuilt, and they've only been able to have cruise ships dock there again for a year or so (if I understood correctly) because the pier was also destroyed in the storm.
We excitedly got off of the ship, ready for our adventure. Bria has been studying the Maya and the Aztec in Social Studies at school, so it was especially neat for her to finally figure out why we bother with Social Studies in the first place.
First, we met our tour guide and loaded on a bus for the hour drive to the ruins. On the way we learned many interesting tidbits about the area, but I had a couple favorites. Like, the reason why the area is called the Yucatan peninsula is because when the Spanish came, the Maya kept saying "Yu u catan" which means "I don't understand you." It was also interesting to learn that the Maya were very small people with round heads, especially since all the time I was in both Costa Maya and Cozumel I could see that most of the local people were quite small (the men were rarely over 5'4" or thereabouts)(let's just say I felt rather gigantic) and they really did have round heads. It just fascinates me that we think of the Mayan race as being gone, but really they were only conquered by the Spanish and a new culture was formed--the people as a race continue.
Our first look at a Mayan pyramid--picture taken out the bus window.
Once we got to the site, we had a bit of time to use the facilities and wander around to look at the touristy things that were for sale everywhere.
Then we got to see three pyramids, and a very large set of stairs. The ruins have been dated between 50 BC and 700 AD, so they were left to the forces of nature for well over 1,000 years. Before the archaeologists excavated, they looked like hills--covered with grass and shrubbery--in an area that should be totally flat, which is how they knew there were ruins there. Most of them still have some grass and plants growing on them because the root systems are so deep it's better to leave them than ruin the ruins by pulling them out. And now I am going to post a whole freaking lot of pictures for you, because I took about 200 while at the ruins and I think they're incredibly cool. Also, please ignore all of the pictures that have a bunch of strangers in them. That's the one problem with going to a popular site with a tour group--it's practically impossible to take a picture without people you don't know getting into the frame.
This is the view from the top of one of the pyramids.
On to even more pictures.
After the pyramids, we went into the jungle a bit to see the living quarters. They Mayan people would build stone platforms and then put thatched huts on top of them. This is one of the platform areas.
Back in the jungle we saw the tallest, skinniest palm tree I've ever seen.
And we saw lots that were our size. And I really just love this picture of Bria. It was very fun to have just her with us.
And then we saw the coolest thing ever! Spider monkeys! It was a mom and her baby. They were way up there, but after getting my pictures up on the camera I was able to sort of zoom in.
Get a load of that incredibly long tail!!!
And finally, here's an extremely cropped picture of the baby. He's pretty cute, isn't he?
After the tour was over, we rode back to the pier on the bus (and took much needed naps while we were at it), got back on the ship for lunch and got back off with our other two daughters.
Pictures to come...