Villa del Palmar, Cancun

Villa Del Palmar- Cancun

View from my studio room

View from my studio room

I had the pleasure to travel to the Villa del Palmar resort in Cancun, Mexico this past July, 2014. The resort is beautiful! Each room has a balcony with a very comfortable hammock. I recommend getting an ocean view, as waking up to azure waters is a great way to start your morning. I traveled Tuesday-Tuesday and I must say I was quite surprised at how quiet the resort was. I’m not complaining, it was great having that space and it was easy picking for beach spots in the morning.


The resort is located about twenty minutes from the hotel district. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that you have some extra peace and quiet and you get to truly get away from it all (not as much commercialism and fewer vendors walking up and down the beach.)

One con is that if you want to go out and about, it may seem like a task. I read a lot of other reviews saying people had to spend 30-40 dollars to get downtown and that they were bored from lack of activity. I will give some helpful hints on this.

First, there is an island across the way (you can see it from the beach) called Isla Mujeres. This island has bars, restaurants, a BEAUTIFUL beach (Playa Norte) and is a fun place to explore. Isla Mujeres is a small island that you can explore in a day trip. Once on the island , you can rent a moped or a golf cart (roughly 50 dollars for the day). I went with my boyfriend and we rented a golf cart and drove around the island. We stopped at a few fun places including: A turtle farm (3 dollars), Playa Norte (beautiful sand and water), Mogagua (fun restaurant with open walls and a very laid back atmosphere. The tacos here are pretty tasty), Villa la Bella (Great place to stop, relax, and grab a couple cervezas). Villa la Bella has chairs that overlook a cliffside where you can lay out and listen to the waves crash against the jagged rocks. There are also tables and a thatched roof sitting area. After all our stops, we dropped off the golf cart and walked up and down the main streets which were full of merchants. It is the usual items such as bathing suit covers, sunglasses, knick -knacks, souvenirs, etc. The island takes Pesos and American, however, they used an exchange rate of 10 to 1 rather than the current (at the time) standing of 12 to 1. So depending, you can save money by only bringing one type of currency.

How do you get to the island? Water taxis which can be found right next to Villa del Palmar near the ferry port cost roughly 40 dollars. We found a cheaper way. We paid a bus five dollars to take us to Puerto Juarez (about 10-15 min away) and hopped on a ferry. Round Trip the ferry was 139 pesos. One couple used the ferry port, Punta Sam, which is right next to Villa del Palmar, to get to the island. This ferry carries cars and trucks to and from the island. I am not sure the cost of this ferry. The car ferry from Punta Sam takes about an hour to get to the island. The ferry from Puerto Juarez took twenty minutes. It is up to you!

Second, Villa del Palmar offers free shuttle service to downtown Cancun. Ask the concierge about this and make a reservation. The only drawback is that the last shuttle returning to Villa del Palmar from downtown departs at 9:30p.m., so if you are trying to stay out late, you may have to take a cab back to the resort (but you still saved money by only paying for one way).

Third, there are excursions you can do. I did a pirate cruise which left from Puerto Juarez. This was so fun. We ate dinner, had cervezas, and got to watch the pirates fight with each other. Another plus is being out on the ocean during sunset. Other excursions include: snorkeling, Mayan ruin tours, and city tours. These will all cost extra of course, but why travel if you aren’t going to explore the area in which you are visiting?

Lastly, the resort puts on nightly shows from 8-10(ish). The shows range from Karaoke to a Michael Jackson show. The shows are pretty entertaining and they are interactive. So get ready to dance and/or sing!

The resort has other activities in the daytime. They have morning yoga, free paddle-boards and kayaks, a gym, and the pool/beach area (all free). If you have extra money, you can visit the spa and get a massage, enjoy the steam room, and relax in a Jacuzzi. You can also rent jet skis for half an hour (not free). The resort conducts free daily activities like volleyball, bingo, dance lessons, and mixology.

The resort was definitely quiet, and you do have to spend a little extra money to go downtown and around, but it wasn't too bad and if you do your homework, you can find cheap ways to get around.


The beach has beautiful white sand and turquoise water. There is plenty of space to swim, though parts are roped off. The one drawback is that there is a lot of seaweed. I didn’t mind it much because I enjoyed sitting under the sun with my feet in the sand. The seaweed gets cleaned up in the morning, but by mid-day, it is noticeable, but in the end, its just seaweed.

The beach does not stretch for miles and miles. If you walk towards downtown, you will end up at another pier about ten minutes into your walk. From here, you pretty much have to turn around and go back towards the resort. If you like to walk beaches for miles and miles, you might be disappointed with this aspect. However, it is still a beautiful place and due to its location, it was not very crowded.


Plenty of pool space! There is even a separate pool area for kids.I never had a problem finding a chair by the pool and I never felt crowded while swimming. The water was not too cold either, which was nice.

The infinity pool was reserved for elite timeshare members, however, there were two or three days when no one was checking ;)


My mom owns a timeshare with Villa del Palmar, so I went as a guest on her account. The staff kept asking me if I had a VIP card (I did not get the all inclusive deal because I can eat/drink on less than 95 dollars a day) which apparently members get. The card gets you discounts at all the restaurants and the market. The concierge said that if we went to the timeshare presentation we would receive a VIP card. The presentation is 90 minutes and gives you a tour of the resort. They try and pitch you deals to become a member. I did not go to the presentation. I guess it would have been nice to get the discount card, but I didn’t want to go.


The resort has several restaurants to choose from: Hiroshi (japanese and sushi), Zama (Mexican), Davino (Greek and Mediterranean), La Cocona (steakhouse), and Bites Bar and Grill (eclectic and cheaper). I did not eat at Hiroshi or La Cocona.

Zamas restaurant 

Zamas restaurant 

I ate the breakfast buffet at Zama and Davino. I think I liked Davino a little better because they had more selection and spicy sauce!  Both places offer you a free drink with your breakfast whether it be an orange juice or a bloody mary. Only certain drinks are included with the meal, so be sure to ask. Also, the friendlier you are with the waiters, and the better you tip, the more likely you are to receive a second free drink with your meal :)

Dinner at Zama was pretty good. Keep in mind, dinner at these places can be pricey, so check the menu beforehand!

I ate dinner at Davino one night, I was not impressed. The food tasted good, but the portions were TINY, especially for the price. However, the calzones are hearty. I saw one on my way out and wished I would have ordered that instead! Do some research first to avoid disappointment. Also, ask to see the wine bottles first. My boyfriend ordered the cheapest bottle of wine they had ($20) and when it came out it was a mini bottle.

There is also a market on site. If your room has a kitchen, you can save money by making your own food. The market also serves food, ice cream, and coffees!

You can also take advantage of room service. The menus are in your room.

*If you wish to eat dinner at one of the restaurants, visit the concierge first thing in the morning (or the day before) and make a reservation. **  Dress codes may apply.


The resort was clean and beautiful. The staff was nice and attentive. It was nice to be away from the crowd. I had a good time. Villa del Palmar, Cancun is the second Villa del Palmar resort I have visited. I went to the Cabo resort a few years ago. The layout of the resort was similar, but the location was more in the middle of everything. I enjoyed the location of Cabo a little more because I could walk up and down the beach passing other resorts and tiny restaurants right on the beach (I love food). I could stop at a random place (which didn’t have resort prices ;)  ) and order food while sitting in the sand. That was one thing I missed in Cancun. However, Cancun was beautiful and had things I wanted to see like Chichen Itza (really cool Mayan tour). I will return to Villa Del Palmar, Cancun one day. Everywhere has its pros and cons. Do a little research and I am sure you will find the place that is right for you!

EF Tour to China

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to China with a group called EF Tours(Education First). I am a teacher and I first heard about this tour through a county email.  You see, this tour wasn't only about site -seeing, but also about growing as an educator. The tour included a class that required pre-tour course readings and discussion boards, on tour analysis on topics of interest, and a post-tour survey, reflection, and final project composed of creating lesson plans based on what I had learned (The point is to bring knowledge back to the classroom and increase student global competency).

The tour was better than I could have imagined. First, the price for this ten day tour was fantastic. $3,000 bucks included the flight from the U.S to Beijing, Beijing to Xi’an, Xi’an to Shanghai, and Shanghai back to the U.S as well as all hotel accommodations, bus transportation, breakfast and dinner, and entrance into main attractions. I paid an extra $150.00 to upgrade the class to a three credit graduate course to go towards my staff development, and because this tour was part of a class/furthering my education, I can write part of it off on my taxes.

Our tour guide was amazing. He was charismatic, knowledgeable, and organized. He never missed a beat. His English was great and so was his sense of humor. Would I travel with EF again? Most definitely!

It is hard to fully describe everything that I ate, saw , and learned in China, but I will try....


Beijing is a large city with a population of 21 million. About 5 million own and drive cars on the road. Compared with traffic in the U.S, lights, signs, and crosswalks seem to be mere suggestions in China. Though I feared we were going to hit cars and pedestrians on several occasions,there were no accidents and apparently their accident record is low given the number of drivers in the city. One thing I learned: pedestrians NEVER have the right of way.  I did note that if the middle class continues to grow and purchase cars, Beijing will need to have a makeover in order to sustain all the additional traffic- one of the many problems that China will face in the future.

Tiananmen Square:

This was one of the most crowded places we visited. There were people everywhere, many were lined up to pray to the portrait/shrine of General Mao, the old Chairman of China who died in the 70s. The older generation gives thanks to Mao for liberating China and uniting the nation under the Communist Party. People will wait in line for hours just to pray to him. The younger generation doesn't seem as interested in Mao, but the country honors him in many ways via portraits, monuments, and printing his face on all their currency. I saw a lot of military presence at the Square, which I didn't see much elsewhere. It is also rumored that spies are prevalent on the Square; they will walk around and listen to citizen and tour group conversations. I visited the Square about  a week after the 20 year anniversary of the student deaths, an incident that was not talked about in Chinese news. In fact, I used this example of censorship as one of my topics to analyze and bring back home to my journalism class. The Square is a wonderful piece of history, but I wouldn’t plan on spending more than 30 or so minutes there, as there is not much to see.

Forbidden Kingdom:

The architecture was beautiful and symbolic. For example, a lot of the roofs were yellow, a color reserved for the emperor. Yellow/gold represents power.If a citizen wore or decorated with yellow, they would be punished for crimes against the emperor. Of course, times have changed and now yellow is just....yellow. A red roof indicates good luck. Green is the color of nature and the Earth. Blue roofs are typically reserved for temples, as it represents heaven in the sky. Most temples that I saw used these four colors, and only these four colors- as they have much symbolic meaning in Chinese culture. I loved how open the Forbidden City design was. I imagined people bringing gifts and dances to the old emperors. I saw the emperor’s chambers, gardens, and his concubine’s rooms (many, many concubines).  The city was also pretty crowded, but it wasn’t an overbearing crowd, for which I am thankful.

The Summer Palace:

The Summer Palace is beautiful and ornate. The same four colors capture a simple, but elegant beauty. The summer palace is in a nice location. The land is surrounded by a body of water,and there are hills and pagodas in the distance. It was serene. The Summer Palace is also the location of the world’s largest corridor, all of which is painted with beautiful pictures that each tell a story. The entire corridor is painted in great detail. Watch your step, it is hard to walk and take it all in simultaneously.

The Temple of Heaven:

The temple is located inside a park. The park was quite large and full of people. It was a great place to people watch.  I loved it. People were practicing Tai Chi and other morning exercises. Folks were also participating in “matchmaking”. Much of the older generation will go to the park and sit on the ground with a sheet of paper. The paper will include their name, their family’s name, their occupation, their age, and a few interests. Others will walk around and scout out each person based on  looks and the information on the paper. I saw a large group of about 100 participating in this matchmaking. Most looked to be in their 50’s or 60’s. I tried to take a few pictures, but that didn’t seem appreciated, so I observed from a distance. It was a sight to behold. It was like a pre-internet version of

Below are pictures of the Temple of Heaven




The Great Wall:

For me, the highlight of Beijing was The Great Wall. Luckily, our guide took us to a less populated portion of the Wall. When we arrived we walked up a steep path. The path was full of vendors. There were tents and tables on each side where vendors set up shop. The vendors here were fairly aggressive. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT. If you want a cheap souvenir, this is a good place to get it. Do not be fooled by any tricks- there is no real jade here. There is no real silk here. However, this is a great place to bargain. There are T-shirts, dragon relics, Buddha statues, “silk” scarves, and other knick-knacks. If you do strike a deal, be sure to count your change and double check that it is Chinese money , not Russian or Taiwanese.

Once we made it through the vendor street, we had to take a cable car up the rest of the way to the wall. The ride was about 2 minutes and offered a pretty cool view.

When I reached the top , I was thrilled...I was on the Great Wall!! The view was amazing. There were mountains and trees in all directions. I could hear birds, insects, and silence, something I hadn’t heard in a few days due to the incessant honking and beeping that so well describes a large Chinese city. It felt so peaceful.It felt so big. I am thankful that there were so few people on the wall- this allowed me to walk around and explore in peace.


-Peking duck dish= wonderful

-all the food = so great

- a bit smoggy in the city

- met Chinese students at a school. The high schoolers spoke decent English. They were preparing for their exams. If they do not pass their college entrance exam (a grueling experience), then they cannot go to college. This is why Chinese students are so competitive. It seems they have two possible paths. The first is college. The second is blue collar work. It all hinges on their scores. About 60% of students get into college, so only a little over half their population.

-Chinese students must also take high school entrance exams. Scores determine two things: A) If they get into a good high school and B) If they get into high school at all. If they fail, they must go to vocational school for two years. They will not be able to attend college.

- The tap water in China is not drinkable, not even to the citizens.

Below are pictures of the Great Wall: 




Terracotta Warriors:  

The excavation pits were awesome! I learned that the warriors were constructed because the first emperor,  Qin Shi Huang, thought that he would have many enemies in the afterlife, so he ordered an army to be buried with him. The clay warriors are very detailed  and each soldier has unique facial features. There are thousands of them, many still yet to be unearthed. As of now, the government is holding off on excavations until they can find a way to preserve the natural color of the warriors. Now, the warriors are a rust color (due to oxidation once they are unearthed). Apparently German scientists are working on a spray/chemical that will be able to preserve the blues and purples that are said to be on the armor of each warrior. I even saw the farmer who discovered the warriors. (He shows up every now and then to sign autographs in the gift shop- purchase of book required :) )



The Wild Goose Pagoda:

 I like the shape and style of Chinese pagodas. While I was fascinated with the information about monks, Buddhism, and the ideas of fortune, I couldn't help but feel dirty (for lack of better word). This happened at several temples while in China. See, there we were, a group of tourists, surrounded by other Chinese tourists,inside the home of Buddhist monks and sacred relics and I’d be taking a picture and then notice someone walk by, light an incense, bow down and pray. Then I’d look to the left and see a gift shop. It felt wrong.

This was also the second time I saw beggars. The first time I saw beggars was as we were leaving the Forbidden Kingdom in Beijing. In Beijing, the beggars were across the street. Here, they were up close and personal. As we approached the gates to the pagoda, there were several beggars asking for money. Now, my experience with beggars in the U.S typically consists of a guy with a beard asking for money on a street corner. In China the only beggars I saw had afflictions (missing limbs, dwarfism, large growths on neck and face, contorted bones..etc).In fact, the only time I saw folks with afflictions, were when I saw beggars. As it turns out, China usually rejects those with afflictions. There isn’t any type of disability program either, and with the one child policy, well, those children are given up in hopes to have a healthy child. Outside the gates = the rejected and the suffering. Inside the gates= a sanctuary for those to pray and give thanks for good fortune.

It also felt strange to walk out of a pagoda , turn the corner, and see a Starbucks.. As it turns out, the temples and Pagodas in the city are government owned. So basically they need to make money in order to stay in existence, and I could feel that while I was there. Don’t get me wrong,it was educational, beautiful, and a good experience, but I wish we could have visited a remote temple high in the mountains.


-Hot pot dishes here = amazing. I have craved this ever since I got back home.

-One of the oldest cities in China. The old city wall is still in tact. We only got to see it from the outside, but I would love to go inside.

-Lots of factories in this city- this is starting to affect smog/air quality

Below is a picture of the Wild Goose Pagoda: 




Shanghai is a very modern city with a beautiful city skyline. The shopping districts include upscale stores such as Rolex, Gucci, Prada, and Apple. The prices here are more expensive than in other cities. You can find knock offs of all the nice brands, just be careful as some of the knock off vendors want you to follow them into an alley to look at their merchandise.

Sites of interest: The Bund ( a sort of New York Harbor boardwalk with a view of the cityscape), Yu Yuan Garden ( A serene garden with ponds, rocks, and flowers), Nanjing road (A bustling shopping and eating district), The World Financial Center (currently the tallest building in Shanghai and it includes a 100th floor skywalk), and the Jade Buddha Temple (Includes a beautiful statue of Buddha carved from jade).


-Try Karaoke. Your group gets their own private room equipped with couches, disco lights, a large T.V screen,  2 microphones, a computer for song selection, and instruments such as maracas and tambourines!

- You can order beverage and snacks

- Not expensive

China is a very large and beautiful country full of history and culture. The people are nice and the food is incredible and affordable. I would love to go back to China and continue my journey in learning about this fascinating country.


City skyline from river cruise at the Bund

City skyline from river cruise at the Bund

fish in pond at Yu Yuan Garden

fish in pond at Yu Yuan Garden

Buddhist Monks on their smartphone

Buddhist Monks on their smartphone

Word Financial Center. Cannot see the top.

Word Financial Center. Cannot see the top.

Tips for first time cruisers


First, I'd like to say congratulations for deciding to go on your first cruise. I have been on eleven cruises and I have loved them all! Cruises combine the freedom of the open air, the adventure of the mighty sea, and the taste of delicacy.

Money on board-

*Each stateroom will have a safe for you to secure your valuables and excess cash. 

*Your room key will be your on ship currency. Upon arrival, you will either link a credit card or cash account to your ship card. Each purchase you make on the ship will add to your ship account. At the end of your stay, you will be given a final bill which can either be paid with cash or credit, depending on your preference. 

*I would suggest bringing cash for the stops. You will want this cash for cabs, excursions, food, beverage, shopping, etc. Remember to bring small bills so that change can be made easy (especially true when traveling to islands in the  Caribbean and Mexico). 

*Tipping: Tips are typically built into the bar service. I suggest asking the bartender to make sure. However, tips are not included for your waiters or cabin maids. Cruise lines typically suggest that each passenger set aside $10 per day  to go towards tip. The $10 will be divided among your waiters and cabin maids. You will receive instructions for tipping when you receive your final bill. Of course, you may adjust the $10 dollar recommendation at your discretion. 

What is Included?

*FOOD, FOOD, AND MORE FOOD!! Cruises are well known for their abundance of food. Luckily for you, now that your trip is booked, you can plan on eating like a king! All food (with the exception of specialty on board restaurants) is included in your vacation price. The dining room delivers themed dinners each night (Italian, Spanish, etc). This will include a five course meal, so undo that top button!  

*On board entertainment- all shows and live entertainment, with the exception of BINGO, are included in your fare.

*Use of the gym is included in your fee. However, any classes such as Yoga or Pilates will cost extra.

*Spa treatments are not included in your cruise fare.

*Alcoholic drinks are not included in your cruise fare. However, most ships allow a wine bottle per passenger free of charge (Either a twist off or bring your own cork-screw as they will charge a "corking fee" ).

*The casino is not included in your cruise fare. If you plan on hitting the slots, bring some extra change.

*Excursions are not included in your fare. You may book excursions online or at the costumer service desk on board. 

*Most ships have an internet cafe; internet use is not included in your fare. Check your ship's rate.

*Water, orange juice, and tea are included. Sodas are not typically included. If you are a soda drinker, or have a child who drinks soda, you may want to ask about the "soda card". This is when you pay a down payment on soda for the week. The clerk will put a soda emblem on your ship card to indicate that your sodas are "free". This card typically runs $10-15 dollars for the week, which is a good deal if you drink a lot of soda. Each ship may vary on soda policy.

*You keep mentioning food, what are my options?

*Late night or 24 hour room service (Usually included with fare)- grilled cheese, fruits, cereal, toast, jelly, chicken nuggets, etc... 

*Dining room - The breakfast option typically consists of french toast, egg entrees, fresh fruits, coffee, pastries, bagel and cream cheese/lox etc...

*Dining room- The dinner option includes a five course meal. The wonderful thing is you can order as many of each course as you'd like. I ordered two lobster tails one year- no additional charge.  Courses generally include a soup, salad, small appetizer such as a shrimp cocktail or escargot, a main course (Italian dishes, Indian dishes, fresh seafood, steak, etc...) , and a delicious dessert.*** Vegetarian entrees are often offered.

*The windjammer or (insert top deck buffet restaurant name here)- This area of the ship will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This area is buffet style and will usually also include a wok or grill. For breakfast you can expect: eggs, an omelette station, bacon, sausage, yogurt, fruit, cereal, corn-beef hash, oatmeal, etc. For lunch you can expect:  burgers, sandwiches, fruit, mac n' cheese, burritos/tacos, various pastas and pasta salads, salad bar, dessert trays, etc. Note, each ship will have some sort of specialty lunch line like a WOK . For dinner you can expect: pasta dishes, cooked beef, salad bar, burgers, pizza, various sides, soups, and hot entrees. Portions of the menu will change daily.

*24 hours pizza and ice-cream machines- Most ships include a 24 hour pizza place.

*Most ships will have a midnight buffet. The midnight buffet will be themed such as chocolate buffet or taco buffet. 

*Some ships will include a specialty restaurant such as  Johnny Rockets or a fancy steakhouse (these restaurants are not included in your cruise fare)

What is there to do on the ship? Will I get bored?

*I assure you, there are plenty of things to do for all ages.

*There are children programs that are supervised by staff members.

* scavenger hunts, hairy chest contest, live music, live shows, casinos, pools, hot tubs, live comedians, bingo, eating, working out, dance parties, captain's dinner, island excursions, lounge areas, gift shops, movie nights, (some ships also include mini-golf, basketball, ping pong, video arcades, and shuffleboard).

*Check your daily planner for each day's activities and times. You will receive a daily planner on your pillow each night when you return from dinner. The cruise director also does a great job of announcing on board activities. 

*Excursions can be booked through the cruise website , at the customer service desk on board, or through a third party if you choose. (Typically $35-110 p/p depending on the type of excursion).

What should I pack?-

*Pack what you would normally pack on a vacation, but be sure to include:

*Comfortable walking shoes if you are planning on an excursion

*A light jacket or long sleeve shirt (even if you are traveling somewhere warm) because the decks can get windy, especially at night.

*Formal wear for Captain's Dinner. One night for cruises under 7 days and two nights for for cruises 7-9 days. Lookin' good. 

*Sunscreen and aloe (for those traveling to beachy locations).

*cash and your credit/debit cards.


*Some ports may require a ferry to and from land- be sure to get to the departure deck early to avoid lines and congestion. 

**Be sure to listen to the captain about ship time vs. island time. For example, the time zone may change at your destination. This means the clocks on the ship (or your watch) will not match the clocks at your destination. If you do not keep up with the correct time, you may miss your last ferry back to the ship or miss ship departure. 

**Always keep your ship card with you. This card is your passenger identification for getting on and off the ship, your room key, and your on board currency.

** There will be a drill performed on day one of your vacation. Each passenger will have an assigned deck or location to go to once they hear the siren. This is a protocall in case of a real emergency. All passengers must participate. From my experience, the crew will come find you if you decide you'd rather be doing something else. The drill doesn't take long and it is better safe than sorry :)


Carnival Dream Vacation 2012

July 2012 marks my second group cruise and this post is an ode to a  truly great experience with truly wonderful people. The Carnival Dream was our home for seven days. This was not our first trip together. In fact, our newly found traveling tradition began in May of 2011 with our first cruise on the Carnival Glory, but that is a different journey altogether...

Cruises are all about the freedom, the fun, and the food. The freedom comes from the beautiful scenery and open air. The sounds of the ocean blanket me in bliss. The sunny days and cool trade winds conjure feelings of peace and security.  Of course, being away from work, traffic, and daily chores are a bonus. On this particular adventure, I had the privilege of being surrounded by close friends. I really enjoyed the time I got to spend sharing new experiences with those close to me. We all had the freedom to choose how we wished to entertain ourselves, yet we had the convenience of proximity. That is what I love about cruises. There is so much to do on the ship, yet it is like you never have to leave the conveniences of "your own home".

  We sailed to several places and got to explore ports at our leisure. One particular excursion worth mentioning is the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya. This was my first encounter with Mayan Ruins. I did not know exactly what to expect.  I was afraid the tour would be overcrowded, short, or perhaps in some way limit the freedom to truly explore. Overall, I was satisfied with our choice. Don't get me wrong, this tour, as with any tour, would have been better had it been a private expedition for just my friends and me. However, the location of the ruins was open which gave an advantage in crowd control. We all received a brief history lesson about the area from a seemingly knowledgeable guide and were given time to walk around and get a closer look at each structure. We were only allowed to walk on the steps of certain monuments. Age has weathered the ruins, so I suppose this was in the best interest of the ruins as well as the tourists.

On bus ride back to port, we all received a beverage (your choice of alcoholic or non, age permitting) and a snack. The tour guide told us about the areas nearby and shared Mayan and Mexican culture. Overall, I had a good time, but the tour could stand to be a little bit cheaper :)


I remember thinking what would it be like to stand in this very spot 2000 years ago? What would I see? What would I hear? What insight would I gain?  I thought about how these structures were made. If I could be a fly in the jungle what could I learn? Did hundreds of citizens line up to work countless hours in order to accomplish a common goal? Or perhaps slaves were forced to complete this manual labor. How long did it take? Did they really build their cities according to star locations, or was it coincidence? If it wasn't an accident, how did they have such a vast knowledge of astrology? What could they teach me?

I remember picturing sacrifices at the top of the temple. Did people gather around and cheer sadistically as they have for public executions in the modern era? Perhaps they were scared, desperately holding hands and genuinely hoping that this sad, but honorable sacrifice would appease the gods and save them. Maybe this particular civilization did not practice such a ritual...

I wanted to feel a majestic presence. I searched for it while I was there. The experience did not feel as magnific as I had hoped it would. Perhaps it was the people , perhaps it was the voice of the tour guide, perhaps it was the heat..... in any case, I was still fascinated.

Ruins are a living history. There are many lost civilizations that I would like to see and explore.

One day....