Nea arrived and we giggled and chatted into the night whilst splashing about in the Caribbean Sea and enjoyed a sneaky couple of beers. I was surprised how difficult it is to get a Corona here. Probably the same as trying to get a Fosters in Australia, I guess. With my 33rd birthday looming we looked into the countless activities available to mark the occasion. Caving , diving , Mayan ruins, adventure sports, the options were endless. Yet it was decided the best way to welcome 33 was with a pina colada in hand on the sandy beaches of Cancun and just relax ! And that is exactly what we did. My bag still MIA, so we needed a shopping trip and we found the most amazing store across from our hotel. It was called Bazaal and I think maybe there is Mayan hiding in my gene pool somewhere because this shop was all traditional Mayan artifidacts made by a co-op of local villagers and I loved it. Trinkets, clothes, jewellery, bags ,shoes. All handcrafted and beautifully presented in this little shop front. Irma the proprietor explained to us that the brand is sponsored by a larger organisation that aims to empower the women in communities and promote sustainable industry across Mexico. All the items and materials were in fact sourced and made locally in Cancun by local women. Wow! I must have tried on half the shop and managed to leave with only 2 dresses, one handbag, comfy and gorgeous leather shoes, an adorable wooden crucifix trinket box and a couple of other souvenirs. That was me being restrained !! My justification ofcourse “it’s helping the community”. Honestly, I did well given the entire store was screaming buy me, buy me, buy me!
What a wild ride the last 5 days have been!!! Landing in Mexico City late at night, I was feeling a little apprehensive and very far from home, a feeling which ironically was eleviated when the carousel stopped, the bags were all gone and my trusty purple back pack was nowhere to be seen. Day 1 in Mexico and off to the lost luggage counter we go, I secretly wondered how many times this will happen to me over the next 14 months, just this once I hope. Anyhoo, it happens. Quick snooze at an airport hotel and then my morning flight to Cancun to meet my darling friend Nea. We were set to enjoy some 5 star luxury for my birthday before hitting the backpacking gringo trail, much to Nea’s delight, given she’s already had the backpack on for a few weeks. Cancun! Ooh I like it straight away. Jose (ofcourse) my driver welcomed me to his town and told me where to relax, shop and party.
With my fabulous new birthday outfit on we headed out and Nea treated me to a delicious Mexican feast complete with an embarrassing rendition of happy birthday by the staff (including the 5 piece Mexican band) and a prompting to make a sexy wish. (Um ok)? A beautiful day with a beautiful friend in a beautiful part of the world. 33 is certainly off to a good start. Rested and restored I booked in a tour of Chichen Itza one of the 7 modern wonders of the world a breathtaking display of Mayan architecture in surprisingly great condition. This place dates back to 600AD and what remains was primarily used for ceremonies, including human sacrifice and the ball game which our guide Tomas tells us was not for sport but for ceremony. He explained that in defeat one of the players were decapitated and their head put on display on a big platform in the middle of the site. The main temple (Temple Kulkulcan) was built, he says for the sun and inside is another temple for the moon. In Mayan culture the women are represented by the symbol of the moon and men in the sun. Tomas reminds us the lunar cycle is 28 days similar to that (in his words) of a woman’s fertility cycle. The ruins here were painstakingly restored yet some of the stones were taken by the Spanish conquistadors to build churches in nearby towns and so not all have been restored.