Monday, July 07, 2008

Xcaret and Lobsters

Yesterday's adventure was a trip to Xcaret, which is sort of a theme park built around some Mayan ruins, a cenote (fresh-water spring/cave) and some other items. They've made it into quite a nice place, not at all as tacky as I'd been imagining.

First stop in the morning (after driving two hours to get to Xcaret) was the desk where we could arrange various specific activities for the day. As it turned out, the only one people wanted to do was the dolphin encounter. My wife, our daughter, and my mother-in-law all decided to go swim with the dolphins. Having had some fine, natural close encounters with dolphins on our recent Galapagos trip, I decided to forgo this.

They seemed to enjoy their swim. They certainly got up close and personal with the dolphins, but I had to feel that the animals weren't having much fun. I watched them playing with each other between groups of tourists, and they seemed quite pleased with that. During their human encounters, one definitely had the impression they were much more interested in their fish bribes than in whatever was going on with the visitors.

Xcaret has a number of quite impressive animal exhibits, including a natural bat cave, a manatee lagoon, a tapir, some spider monkeys, and a very nice aquarium that features terrific sea turtles, from very small to very large. And as usual in non-U.S. parks, you get a lot closer to most of the critters, which is nice.

At dinner time, we went to the big production show, covering some of the local Mayan history and culture, the Spanish arrival, and the breadth of the blended Mexican culture. The Mayan portion was quite good, including demonstrations of traditional Mayan ballgames, including one much like field hockey or lacrosse, other than the fact that the ball is aflame. Very cool. They kind of gloss over the details of the Spanish-Mayan "cultural exchanges" that eventually produced modern Mexico, making it all sound very easy and peaceful. But they do paint quite a picture of the rich variety of modern Mexican culture.

Today, downtime. I had to beg and plead to schedule a couple of days where we would not plan side trips and excursions, just rest and enjoy this lovely place where we're staying. This goes against the nature of my wife and her mother, who arranged the trip. But they have grudgingly allowed me a small amount of time to enjoy the hammocks on the beach.

So it's a lovely day of sitting and/or lying in various hammocks, reading books, walking on the beach. And then the much anticipated dinner: fresh, local lobsters! Absolutely delicious, grilled to perfection, and served with a tasty cheese pasta. Days don't get much better than this.

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