Yucatan Wednesday's...The Lagoon
We had returned from our time on the island refreshed and relaxed. It had been an easy day, one of quiet adventure and peace on a remote and quaint island. I'll remember that afternoon for the rest of my life. Those images are imprinted on my mind; turquoise waters, crashing white waves, powdery beaches and beautiful shells, turtles. So far removed were they, from the everyday images of our western culture with our rush hour and grocery shopping and Macy's Department Store and so different from my typical mid week schedule of hustle and bustle and kids homework, that that afternoon stood out like a bright and lovely stamp against the backdrop of my American life.
And so, happy, tan and finally no longer starving after a filling and entertaining dinner in the hotels ballroom where they do weekly performances of various kinds...(this week was a moving rendition of The Lion King, which we tolerated in order to be able to eat. It wasn't that bad actually and there were some amazing acrobatics involved which made my thighs ache just to watch. The gentleman next to me at our table of 10 felt the show was deserving of repeated standing ovations...and repeated glasses of wine, which ordinarily would be fine with me, except that he was vacationing alone and kept asking me for a date, which also might have been flattering if he'd seen seventy any time in the last ten years. But he hadn't.) ...we retreated back to our suite and collapsed. But then, and you'll learn this if you ever vacation with us, the question is always, now what???
My husband and I CANNOT just sit around. It's taken us three trips together to figure this out. We've got to be MOVING, exploring, talking with people, driving, laughing, whatever...but we can't just sit around. So, in our lovely suite at ten at night, we pull out all our brochures and pick one randomly.
By seven o'clock the next morning we had been bustled into a waiting van and were speeding down the highway to meet a tour bus that would take us an hour and a half south of Cancun city to Xel-Ha, a natural system of connecting lagoons and waterways complete with resort, restaurants, spa, wildlife preserve, botanical gardens, innertubes for the cenote's (underground rivers that take you through a system of caves), etc. The plan was to snorkel and explore and then meet up with the tour bus again at 2 in the afternoon for a secondary excursion to Tulum, a Mayan ruins site overlooking the ocean. Notice I say, "The plan WAS..." heh heh heh...whoops. But we'll get to that.
We ate a quick lunch at one of the restaurants and headed to the snorkel shack to pick up our gear.
Oh, yeah. That's flattering, eh? Here. This is a better one.
Well, sort of... Anyway, this was my first time snorkeling, and the idea of putting my face underwater was extremely stressful. You'd have to really know me to understand this, but I HATE water in my face. I hate it so much, I can't even tell you. Seriously, it's a thing. And I'm a bit claustrophobic as the technician who gives me MRI's can tell you. I get weird. So there I am, in mask, snorkel, life jacket, about to immerse my face in the water. Hmmm. We might have thought this one through more thoroughly. But we didn't. And there we were, having paid a huge sum of money to torture me with this experience. Deep breathes. Remember, I'm cheap. I want my money's worth.
After a few attempts and failures and a brief episode of hyperventilation, my patient hubby, who's snorkeled and SCUBA'ed before, comes to my aid and gives me a few tips. He also makes the mistake of holding my hand, which then becomes my magic feather and somehow allows me to breathe underwater without spitting out my mouthpiece and drowning tragically and pointlessly in four feet of water. This calm ability to breathe just because he was holding my hand would have been nice during childbirth when instead, I wanted to KILL him and all who came near me...but alas, apparently it's just a snorkeling trick.
I did get the hang of it eventually and within a few minutes was hooked. For those of you who've snorkeled in the Carribbean, you understand. It's like being in the aquarium at the dentist's office. I'm not kidding. Glistening white sand, Nemo and Dori, manta rays that float around you, beautiful parrot fish. It was incredible. Before we knew it, ten minutes passed into an hour and one hour into two. We slowly worked our way out to the mouth of the lagoon where the water became increasingly dark and murky and the sand dropped away beneath us as depth increased. We were on a quest, searching for the thrill of seeing the big fish. Baracuda, small shark, Giant Tuna. I scanned the water around me and could see nothing.
Hubby and I still held hands, maybe especially now that the waters were choppy and cold and the visibility low. Feeling disappointed that we weren't able to get a glimpse of anything really big, like the tour guide said we might at this end of the lagoon, we turned to go back, and suddenly my arm got a hard jerk. I peered over at Ryan through my goggles, but he wasn't looking at me. I had spent the last twenty minutes or so looking directly down below me hoping for a sight of something 'big'- apparently I should have been looking ahead of me as Ryan had done in that moment when he realized we were right in the middle of what we were looking for. I followed his gaze. There had to have been twenty of them and they were GIANTS. Yellow-fin tuna. And, in spite of my awe at their size, these were probably babies. Sport fisherman have been known to catch yellow fin that weigh up to two tons and are longer than their fishing boats.
We floated there on the surface with the giant fish swimming around us. They were probably waiting for a handout and kept skimming by our legs and bumping against us and we let them, holding perfectly still so as not to frighten them away. Much later, smiling through our mouthpieces and freezing cold from being still in that ocean water, we paddled back into the lagoon. We spent the next hour or so exploring the waterways and inlets, doing some cliff jumping into the lagoon and watching the dolphins. Here they are:
Needless to say, we lost track of time and didn't make it back for the Tulum tour. They'd be back in two hours to pick us up, so we weren't too worried. But there's that question again: What now?
We'd snorkeled, watched the dolphins and manatee's and fed the fish. We could spring for massages at the spa- but really, why pay for relaxation when you can get it for nothing?
Since they had beautiful 'hammock gardens' throughout the park, we decided to make good use of them.
By five o'clock, relaxed, happy and still holding hands in spite of the fact that I no longer needed it to breathe, we climbed back on board the bus and made the long drive north to Cancun City and Puerto Juarez. If Dave and Eileen were with us, they'd have made fast friends with the tour guide and 25 of our traveling companions by now and would also probably be regaling the entire company with cowboy songs from the 1940's. But tonight, the bus is quiet and dark and it's occupants exhausted.
We're dropped off at our hotel and make our way to our suite. I have the song 'cool water' stuck in my head since I was thinking about Dave on the way back. An interesting side note is that Bob Nolan, the guy who wrote that song and many others, including 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds', which everyone knows- is my great uncle. I didn't actually know this until a few years ago, so can't take any credit for having a 'famous' relative. Dave is quite sure that this fact is further proof that I was meant to be in the K. family and was meant to marry his son.
His theory is tested later in the week, but we'll get to that. I'm sure you all remember the Great Muffin Conflict experienced in Cabo.
We fall into bed. We'd already made plans for the following day, thinking ahead to when we would inevitably ask, what next? The rains have stopped for good and the forecast has predicted highs in the 90's for the following day. We could go back to the island, but we dismiss the idea. We're thinking of something a bit faster than a golf cart, something with some horsepower. Ryan is smiling just thinking about it. Reminiscent of Cabo, you say? Oh no- this is totally different. We will be in my territory this time and I guarantee I won't be sitting quietly in the passenger seat... I smirk to myself as we drift off. What surprises I have in store...
Please stay tuned for the next episode of Yucatan Wednesdays... America vs. The Brittish, A Surprising Victory at Sea