Posts Tagged With: Mexico

Another year, another January

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January: the start of a new year and the month where I once again grow older. It’s also the time I start planning where in the world I want to be when the 12th of the month comes around.20170116_1128560

This year, I set off for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a few days of sunshine, sand and all-you-can-eat tacos!

 

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While we spent most of our time lounging at the beach and walking around the marina area, admiring the huge boats and searching for iguanas, we did set out one day to go zip lining through the El Eden jungle.

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Hand feeding iguanas

It was a bit of a drive from the Marina area where we were staying, but it gave us a chance to see some of the Old Town and drive along the beautiful coastline in Puerto Vallarta, picking out all the houses I would love to own!

El Eden is located upriver from the Mismaloya beach, above sea level in the lush green jungle of the Sierra Cuale. It’s a popular natural attraction in Puerto Vallarta that became famous after being used as the set for much of the Predator film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Here, at the El Eden Canopy Tour, we posed with the Predator before getting into our harnesses, drawing on our warrior paint, and heading to the zip lines. It started out slow, moving to larger, faster zip lines as you made your way up into the jungle to fly over the river on the canopy’s 10 zip lines. You also had to be sure to avoid the Predator, who could sometimes be found lurking about.

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If you make it through with your skin still intact (if you haven’t seen Predator, now would be a good time), you can celebrate with a beer and some chips and guacamole at the El Eden Jungle restaurant, next to the Mismaloya River.  You can even go for a dip by the waterfall or swing Tarzan-style into the refreshing, turquoise pool.

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Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

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Tips

  • Bring bug spray – the bugs are bad in the jungle!
  • The restaurant is expensive if you are looking for a full meal.
  • The canopy tour is great, but the price of the souvenir photo disk was not. While you aren’t allowed any cameras on the zip lines, be sure to take a few of your own photos before and after if you want to save some money.

 

 

 

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Scootering around Cozumel

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Beautiful Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico and a major cruise port. While it’s easy to explore the only town on the island, San Miguel de Cozumel on foot, to get around the rest of the island, measuring 53km by 14km, you’re going to require some wheels.

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Taxis here can be expensive, but jeeps, cars, golf carts and scooters are available to rent all over the island for reasonable daily rates.

For larger groups, you’re going to need a car, but for one or two people a scooter is the easiest (and most fun!) way to get around. Here, scooters cost around 250 Mexican pesos to rent for the day.

The western shoreline, where most of the rental places are located, has the ferry dock and the cruise ship ports as well as most of the island’s hotels and dive sites. This side of the island is a bustling port town, filled with souvenir and duty-free shops, traffic and tourists everywhere you look. To escape the crowds and constant  requests to visit each shop, drive your scooter across the island to the eastern shoreline.

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Here, you’ll find beautiful seascapes and nature reserves, broken up periodically by a beach bar.

With a day to use your scooter, a drive around the entire island is possible. It also gives you the freedom to check out some tourist spots along the way, like the Mayan Ruins of San Gervasio. You can park your scooter and hop in for a refreshing swim along the rocky western shore with the locals, or stop for lunch on the Eastern side at one of the funky beach bars – like “Coconuts.”

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Just keep in mind that while scooters are a great way to get around the island, they can also be dangerous. With lots of traffic, tourists and huge speed bumps to dodge, be sure to don a helmet for your adventure. Make sure the scooter is in good condition before setting out, and obey all traffic signs and keep your eyes open while on the road.

Next time you’re in Cozumel, grab a scooter, put your helmet on, and head out to explore all the island has to offer.

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Snorkeling the Reefs in Cozumel, Mexico

If you’re only going to do one thing while in Cozumel, Mexico, let it be snorkeling.  This island, a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, has some incredible reefs to get out and explore.  On a recent visit, I set out hoping to find some sea turtles on the famous Palancar and Colombia reefs.

Check out the video to see all the incredible creatures I found in the warm waters off the coast of Cozumel.

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Checking out Chichen Itza

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Chichen Itza is arguably the most famous and most visited Mayan site in the world.  This Mayan era wonder has been on my travel list for a while and I couldn’t wait to check it out.

The Mayan’s lived in the area surrounding Chichen Itza for 800 years beginning as early as A.D 432.

Recently, this World Heritage site was awarded another honour when it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Chichen Itza has some of the largest buildings of the ancient Mayan cities and became the most powerful city in the Yucatan during the classic Mayan era ( AD 750-950)

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The most famous of the structures here is the Castillo de Kukulcan. While you can no longer climb the pyramid, Castillo de Kukulcan remains quite the sight.  Carvings, panels and the steps of the pyramid are all part of the intricate Mayan calendar.

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If you are lucky enough to be here during the spring or autumn equinox (March 21 or September 21) you will be able to see the snake make its way down the pyramid.  The genius of this architecture makes it appear like a serpent is moving down the pyramid to join its head at the bottom. Over the course of 34 minutes it slithers its way down 364 steps to the giant head as the sun sets.

While Chichen Itza is definitely not one of Mexico’s ‘off the beaten path’ sights, you can try and beat the busloads of tourists by getting here early in the day. This also helps with the heat, as there are limited shady areas close to the structures and the Mexican sun is a hot one!

Once here, definitely consider hiring a guide to take you around the various structures. They add life to these ancient buildings and give you insight into what life was like for the Mayans with their many stories about the structures. By doing so, you’re also helping the local economy, where tourism is a major source of income for many locals.

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Moving on from Kukulcan, another main building is the Observatory, named for its round shape. Three slots in the top level point due south and toward the setting sun and moon during the equinoxes.

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The Nunnery

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When the Spaniards arrived, they thought this group of buildings were a church and nunnery, but it’s now believed to have been a residential and a school area. The carvings on these buildings are absolutely incredible considering how long ago they were carved.

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The great Ball Court is another of the more well known buildings found here. Built in AD 864, it’s the largest ball court in all of Mexico. During ritual games here, players tried to hit a 12-pound rubber ball through stone hoops set high on the court walls. Competition must have been fierce as sometimes losers were put to death. I was also told that sometimes it was the winning captain who was offered up as a sacrifice to the gods!

(For how the game was played- think of a combination of basketball, soccer and Quidditch!!)

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The court of the thousand columns.

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The Temple of Warriors

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Whether you are into history, architecture or just want to see this impressive wonder of the world, Chichen Itza is definitely a must-see spot on your trip to the Mayan Riviera region in Mexico.

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Swimming in a Cenote

Swimming in the cool, clear waters of the Hubiku Cenote in the Yucatan region of Mexico.

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Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Looking for a change of pace from Cancun’s busy strip? Then, Playa del Carmen is the place to be!  While it’s no longer the small fishing village is was until the 1980s, Playa (as the locals call it) is still definitely more laid back than nearby Cancun.  Less than an hour from Cancun’s International airport, and only a ferry ride from Cozumel, Playa has become a busy vacation hot spot.

The clear turquoise waters and white sand beach, is filled with beach volleyball, sunbathers and beach bars, along with numerous hotels and resorts.

Just up from the beach is  Quinta Avenida or 5th Aveunue,  Playa’s main drag.  This street is a see-and-be-seen spot.  Spread along the avenue are mutli-coloured shops, restuarants, bars, cafes, hotels and nightclubs.  While strolling along here you almost feel like you could be somewhere in Europe- but with tastier Mexican dishes!

Looking for the less touristy side of Playa del Carmen?  All you need to do is head a few blocks away from 5th Avenue.  Suddenly, the delicious homemade tacos drop from 80 pesos or more down to 10 pesos, the beer to 15 pesos and the crowds of people almost disappear.

 

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A Day on the Island of Women

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Looking for a change of pace from Cancun’s busy strip? Why not take a 20-minute ferry ride ($17 US return) across the Bahia de Mujeres to Isla Mujeres?

In Mayan times, the island was called Ekab and served as a sanctuary for the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel. In 1517, when the Spanish expedition landed on the island, they found many female idols representing Ixchel. These ‘women’ led to the island’s current name – Isla Mujeres or ‘Island of Women.’ Continue reading

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