Mexico - Oct 24 - 31, 2009


Oct 24th - 31st, 2009

Bob, Debe, Diana and Marty

Bob and I have been to Mexico many times but this was one of our favorite times to go. We had prebooked, via the internet, a two day pass to two parks - a new zip lining park called XPLOR that has only opened in July this year and Xelha one of our favorite places we have gone to for years. We started going to it back before you paid to get in and it wasn't known by many. Now it has exploded into a huge tourist attraction offering only all inclusive packages with its park. But I will talk about that more later. Also on the agenda was going to Chichen Itza - the huge ruins from the Mayans that Bob has wanted to visit for years (much to my dismay but who would have thought that I would love it and Bob hate it - go figure) On top of every thing we had planned - we were invited to stay at my sister, Diana and her hubby Marty's time sharing that was fairly new (the side we were in had just opened) and was absolutely beautiful. So come join us for a week of relaxing and exploring new boundaries. Fun Fun Fun.

We were picked up at the airport by the Budget Shuttle which took us to the Marriott Hotel. (the airport location was being renovated) The car was fairly reasonable but for the first time we had to sign for $12,000 deposit on our credit card (we don't take the insurance since our insurance would cover us) So Bob's trip doesn't start off on the right foot. But heck - man up and lets go. lol The drive was about an hour or so. I have to admit I did make it exciting when I caused an emergency stop when I saw a huge tarantula walking on the road. I even made Bob back up to see it so everyone would believe me. lol Finally we arrived at the hotel "Royal Hacienda" and were checked in. In the below pictures you will see exactly how beautiful it was.

The next day it was up early and off to Walmart to pick up groceries for cooking. (yes they have them everywhere we go) We have learned that if you want to travel alot - there are some sacrificies that have to be made. And eating out is one of them. We had much rather cook our meals and do fun things versus eat out and do nothing. So buying groceries is always the first thing to do.
We decided to sit down and figure out exactly what we would do each day so today was a day of relaxing, figuring out exactly what days to do what and start on the tan. lol It was also a great time to walk around the resort and check out the beach, pools, everything. What a gorgeous place.

After a great day and night playing cards, it was off to bed as we would be going to XPLOR tomorrow which was a full day event that also included lunch. Since we had never been there - we wanted to be there when it opened. And for Diana - we needed to get it done the first of the week before she had a stroke thinking about doing the ziplines, swimming in the river, rafting in the cenote and riding the Amphibious vehicles. As I had said in the introduction - we booked this prior to leaving home. If you do that - there are internet discounts of 10%. Of course if you book one, two or three parks - a huge discount compared to the walk up prices. So for the cost of $147 pp, we picked the two parks - XPLOR and XELHA (Xplor cost $99 & Xelha COST $79 for walk ups) If you pick all three parks (this would include XCaret whos walk up cost is $69) it would cost $199 - well worth it to. Anyway, off to XPLOR we go. (we spent 6 1/2 hours here) Last I should say there is a height and weight restriction here so check ahead of time.

Once in the park , you can't get lost. There are signs that mark every thing. The good thing is eveything is included except your towel. Lunch, locker with key, hot chocolate to warm up with after a cold river swim, helmet, gear, etc..

And of course, you better look good to figure out which bathrooms is the right one for you. Can you figure out which one best fits you? lol

And your locker key fits perfectly in the armband they give you - well hidden.

Next you must decide what to do first. So from the list - we decided to do the zip lines first. I mean the climbing, heights, etc really had Diana stressed out.
The zip lines include 15 towers, 2 bridges, a water slide, and 2 of the times you end up zipping through a waterfall landing in the water. Bob and I had zip lined before but this looked awesome.
In the below pictures you can see Diana on the left and Marty on the right coming in for a landing.

And here is Marty and Diana on the left and Bob on the right as they cross one of the bridges.

From one of the towers I took a picture showing the many other towers we would travel to. On the right you can also see one of the bridges.

Since the towers were fairly high - you could take your time in climbing up for your next zip line. So no big deal. Just rest when you need to.
And below - you can see the water slide. The funny thing - you don't know you are headed up to a water slide until you get there. And no need to take off your gear, just hook it together and off you go. To get a better look - check out the video below of me going down part of the slide. Awesome but I have to admit - it started out very slow. You end up in a pool of water inside the cave area.

And below is a video of Bob heading off on one of the ziplines that took him through the water fall and into the water for his landing. Be sure to raise your legs. lol

The zip lines were exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. But before the next decision what to do - it was off for a spectacular lunch. It was set up buffet style with hamburgers, hotdogs, mexican food, salad bar, among many other things. Very good!!!
Next it was time to ride the amphibious vehicles. What little did we know was that we would drive across a bridge with boards barely big enough to fit the wheels of the vehicle. (and water below) Then go through caves with awesome stalactites and stalagmites. Just check out the photos and even the video going through one of the caves.

With two more activites to do, and the river swim (in freezing cold water) is the least of my choices - it was off to the rafts for the cenote cave rafting. You could chose between a two man or one man raft and of course - I didn't want to do alot of work so Bob and I jumped in our two man raft. The caves were beautifully lit with lights down in the water to guide your way. You had a choice of the short route 20 minutes, medium route 40 minutes, or long route one hour, so of course - we did the long route but it only took 45 minutes. You can also change your mind as you go. We saw lots of stalactites and stalagmites as we dodged bats and obstacles to guide our raft through the place. Awesome trip even though Bob still doesn't know how I did it since I hate caves. lol

Ok, for the final activity - river swim. May I suggest to ANYONE that has a wet suit - bring it. Very very cold and I rode on Bob's back most of the trip. The surroundings where much the same as the river raft but the end of the trip (which we had not a clue about) was awesome. I thought we were coming up to the end because I could see light and an opening but I could hear water so I thought it had begun pouring rain outside. What little did I know was we were about to swim into a circular man made waterfall that was so loud you couldn't talk to each other. But it was beautiful. My photo didn't turn out very well but at least you get the idea. One of the pictures below is when we first saw light and thought it was raining outside. The following photo is the circular waterfall we had to swim into. Of course once you went through the waterfall into the area, you had to go through another area to get out. But the trip was worth it just for the ending. I also want to say that during the swim, there were many times that you could get out of the river swim if you didn't care to go any further. We went pretty steady though the entire thing and it took right at 30 minutes.

This is one place you want to buy a souvenier from. So off to the shop we went to purchase t-shirts. The shop was as awesome as the entire place. Set up in a cave with lighting placed just right. This place definitely was much more than our expectations. We would have gladly paid the walk up price for the wonderful day.

The bad thing is after a day like going to XPLOR, how could anything compare. lol But we have set our schedule of activites for the week and going to Chichen Itza was set for the following day. So after a good night sleep it was off for the long drive. (2 1/2 hours from Playa Del Carmen rather you go on the pay road or free road. If you do the pay road - it will cost you 24 pesos at the first toll booth and 53 pesos at the second toll booth. Not worth that since the other road is not that bad. ) Once we arrived at the town we decided to eat before going into the ruins so off to a buffet for lunch. Cost was 100 pesos per person and was very good.

The ruins site was just up the road. The cost to park was $2.00 and the cost to get into the ruins was $10 per person. Be sure to plan on being there a minimum of 3 hours but there is alot to see and we really just tipped the iceberg with about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. If you want details - many guides are inside that you can bargain with for their services. But it is worth it to have a guide. Also lots of stands set up inside the ruins selling souvenirs cheap so wait until you get inside to get what you want. Alot of $1 - $5 things. You can no longer climb the pyramid and many of the ruins have signs saying what they are. (I should say that Bob hated this place and was ready to go within the first hour so if you aren't a person that likes ruins and or history - don't go or if you go to make your spouse happy, then just shut up and do it) lol
This below photo was taken at the entrance to the ruins. Many stands are set up selling goods in front of the place also. I found it was cheaper inside. And they negotiated much more. Yes that is me walking through the stands in front of the entrance, looking for that last minute souvenir.

After a day of walking around - today we decided to just relax. Bob did alot of work on his computer while Diana, Marty and myself went to the pool and worked on the tan. We had breakfast at the resort (compliments of the resort) and tonight we headed out to eat and walked around at Playa Del Carmen. Playa has its own version of Fifth Avenue with many restaurants and shops there. WE found the below restaurant there so we had dinner with them.

Followed by dessert at a great Gelato Ice Cream place.
Bob and Marty had already booked some scuba diving but after talking to the people at Scuba Playa - they decided to go with them and cancel with the resort. So Bob and Marty booked dives for Friday of the week. Saturday was booked with Xelha and we fly out on Sunday. So they were all set with a drift dive and some type of Turtle Dive.
And just in case anyone is interested (as much as Bob is) here was the exchange rate while we were in Mexico. Bob buys more pesos for the week.
While Marty and Bob headed off on their dives, Diana and I used the internet and went to the pool . Once the guys got back they joined us at the pool. Bob and I enjoyed a nice afternoon nap.

For our last day - it was off to XELHA for our second park booked on our two park/two day deal for $147. Since we knew it was all you could eat - we headed there early and had breakfast. It was buffet style and absolutely delicious. Since we have been here several times before and I have posted alot of photos, I will try to post things that would help you decide if you like it. First, the all inclusive includes snorkel gear, towels, lockers, drinks (including alcohol), food, inner tubes and shuttle for the river, and bikes. In the park you find 3 restaurants and a few bars. They also have swimming with the dolpins, helmet dives, & snuba for additional cost. For us - it was the "freebie things". So off to catch the shuttle up to the river first. We snorkeled down the river (using an inner tube as the water was so cold) and headed back to warm up. Lunch was back at the La Terraza which has great nachos and cheese, hamburgers, among many other things - served buffet style. And again - very good.

After lunch - it was time to walk off those calories. Below you will see things that we saw on our walk around the entire ecologic park. First is the floating bridge that can be a little hard at times to walk across. Then a photo of Bob and I in the grotto. We continue down the marked trails to the cenotes and across small bridges to the rope swim area where Bob took a dip. As we continued we headed past the entrance of the river and by the cliff jumps and rope course that you can take part in. And then by the Manatee (you can pay to swim with them also). We passed the kids play area as we got closer to the main area where our chairs were. Once there it was time for our last meal of the day. So back to the buffet for another wonderful meal before heading back to the hotel.

I want to say that this was probably one of our favorite times to ever spend in Mexico. The activities and resort were just great and we had so much fun playing cards at night with Diana and Marty at the room. But the tarantula kept me watching out for more the entire week. lol Don't forget if you saw any small photos that you want to see better - just click on them and they will become large. Then hit the back arrow to go back.

Thanks again for joining us for this fabulous trip. (even though it took me a little while to get it posted) For those adventurous people that read it - you must do the XPLOR. It is unlike any zip line along with other activites that you have ever done. It was the highlight of our trip for sure. But plan on spending the entire day there. I hope you have enjoyed this trip with us and again - thanks so much for following our lives on vacation.


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