Monday, November 19, 2007

In the Jungle

Here's an account of yesterday's adventure. You can see more pictures in a web album here.

Sunday What a day this has been! We left "early", at about 8:30 and headed south toward Tulum. The skies were overcast again and not too far down the road it began to rain. We passed by four or five accidents, two of them were cars completely flipped over. We prayed even more for safety as we traveled in our tiny little "econo-box" rental car down the highway. We arrived safely at Tulum and had to walk a way in to the entrance to the remains of this ancient Mayan city. By this time the rain was over and the sun was trying to come out. The path led us along the outside of a thick stone wall, hundreds of years old. We finally came to an opening in the wall, which was about ten feet high at at least as thick. The wall ran around the perimeter of the city on three sides, and on the fourth side the turquoise Carribean Sea. The main building was situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean; the contrast of the grey stones and the green vegetation against the sky and the ocean was really beautiful. The Mayan people certainly picked an amazing spot to build! We wandered around for quite a while, looking at the buildings and learning a bit about what life was like for them. I'll not try to describe it too much; Erik took lots of pictures that can do a much better job!
It was very sunny and humid and we were all quite hot. Thankfully, this little city has its own private beach and we enjoyed a swim before walking back out. I could have spent a lot more time exploring the ruins, but the kids could only take so much and lunchtime was upon us. We walked back out just in time to see several men in traditional Mayan clothing. One was playing a small flute and drum while several others climbed up a tall pole with a small platform on the top. Four of them attached themselves to ropes while the fifth sat atop the platform and played his instrument. The four proceeded to "dive" off the pole and, held upside down by their ropes, the weight of their bodies turned the pole as they "flew" around the pole and slowly descended to the ground. I'd like to learn what significance this had in their culture; I've never seen anything like it. And even though it was a show put on solely for the benefit of us touristas (and our pesos) I'm glad we got to witness it. The kids were quite excited, as you can imagine. Peregrine has been talking about how when he grows up how he's going to paint himself brown and be a Mexican. Well, now he also wants to take part in the Mayan pole flying event. Poppy does too, of course. Kids with high ambitions, wouldn't you say. Who would want to be a fireman or a doctor or a teacher (or whatever normal kids want to be when they grow up) when you could be a Mayan pole flyer?
After getting as much sand off of ourselves as possible we headed out to try to find a place to eat lunch. Not wanting to go to some overpriced place that catered to American palates we headed north to where we'd passed some little roadside taco stands. By the time we came to one we were all quite ready for lunch. It was a humble little place and we seated ourselves at a red Coca-cola table under a weathered coral colored tarp since it was sprinkling again. The place was run by a lovely Mexican couple; a couple of times I saw the woman reach over and give her husband a smile and a kiss. There was no menu, just carnitas tacos with a variety of salsas and other toppings like lime, cilantro, and onions with which to garnish them. The kids aren't big on meat so the woman offered to make them some huevos y jamon (eggs and ham), which they gladly ate along with ketchup and tortillas. The couple had a beautiful little girl, Guadalupe, who helped serve our lunch, clear the dishes, and also played with the kids! The tacos were delicious, and the presentation was unique- before putting food on the pink plates they slipped a thin plastic bag over it. When the meal was over, just remove the bag and no dish to wash!
The woman we rented the car from had told Erik about an unexcavated Mayan city west of where we're staying. We decided, since we still had some daylight, to drive that direction and investigate it with the thought of maybe trying to go see it another day. We saw a sign for a cenote, a freshwater hole in the ground where people swim, and we thought we'd check that out, so we headed off into the thick jungle on a small road. (The Yucatan peninsula is made of limestone and has no above ground rivers; they're all underground, and rain water seeps through the limestone. In places there are these sinkholes, called cenotes, which are a source of fresh water and were sacred to the Mayas. I imagine they're fairly sacred still since many of them have been turned into tourist attractions that offer cave diving, snorkeling and a refreshing swim.) The cenote was already closed but we found ourselves in a small community (small as in probably fewer than ten houses). We struck up a conversation with a Mexican man who spoke about four words of English; we speak only slightly more Spanish than that, but we were managing to communicate a bit. A truck came by and out hopped an American man who has a place there in this little jungle community! We talked with him and his wife for probably half an hour; they were a wealth of information and advice and invited us to come for a visit anytime! It was fun to be off the beaten track, out there in the jungle somewhere. By the time we headed back it was dark but we were very thankful for this "chance" encounter we'd had. He told us about a better cenote to visit, as well as all sorts of other information.
We got some dinner on our way home, came home, and got our very tired kids settled down for the night. Peregrine was very lethargic at dinner and didn't eat much and I thought he was just tired. When we got back he wrapped up in a blanket and said his tummy hurt. He's running a fever of 102 and fell asleep right away. Please pray that he'll be better soon and that we'll have wisdom to do what's best for him. Also, that I won't worry! And while you're praying, will you pray that Poppy will drink? I can hardly get her to drink anything and in this hot weather she really needs to. Thanks!
I think tomorrow we will have a down day, try to rest up and not do much. Of course we will have to see how Peregrine is doing, but taking it easy sounds good!
Update: Peregrine's fever broke in the night and he had a good sleep. He seems to be totally fine today!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Wow. What a trip! I hope Peregrine keeps feeling well so that you can all relax and enjoy your trip. I love all the photos!


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