Heading further north east in Yucatan we came to one of the most famous Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza. We've found getting to ruins as soon as they open the best plan for us, before too many tourists arrive and before it gets too hot. This was particularly true at Chichen Itza, as it's fame as one of the new wonders of the world and it's proximity to Cancun made it really busy. Luckily we were already heading out after an interesting 3 hours taking in the impressive ruins, when the streams of big coaches started coming in.
We were particularly impressed with the ball court and the main pyramid.
The previous night we had camped in the grounds of a hotel. It was close to the road and what we had not realised was there was a festival going on in town. This meant that a lorry drove up and down the road blaring out disco music until 4am. What made it worse was that they only played 2 songs all night. So we changed our plan to sleep there another night.
Feeling very hot and sticky after visiting the ruins and not wanting to have another night of disco music we headed off and thought our lunch spot should be at a cenote (underground lake) near Coba. The entrance to the cave looked like a well with a spiral staircase heading down into the gloom. Amazingly when we got underground it opened up into a large cavern with some light and roots coming through from the jungle above. The water was cool, crystal clear and well lit, so you could see all cave formation below. There was a large submerged wooden platform just over a metre deep, you could then swim off to deeper parts if you wished.
We've been seeing pilgrims for the Virgin of Guadeloupe over the last few days. She is the patron saint of Mexico and is celebrated on the 12th December. Initially we thought the groups of mostly teenage boys were cycling to Mexico City to where her main church is located but many are actually doing local pilgrimages. I always thought pilgrimages were a time for quiet reflection of the saint's virtues but these groups usually have a car alarm siren, you know the one that have a series of different alarms in series, and flashing orange lights on the back of their bikes. They had added to the cacophony created by the disco lorry the night before.
We camped that night next to a beautiful white powder beach at Tulum.
The following morning we set off early again to see the ruins at Tulum. It was just 10 minutes walk from where we were camped. Although the ruins are smaller and less impressive than all the ones we have seen already it is the location that is stunning. Perched on top of a small cliff above an azure sea, it really is a breathtaking sight.
We headed a short distance north to catch up with one of Steve's old colleagues George and his wife Anne. They have a lovely house and were very welcoming. Even when we realised a few hours after arriving that we'd bought a whole host of extra guests with us! I was mortified to find that the girls had nits when I washed their hair that night. Even writing about it makes me want to scratch. George and Anne were wonderfully relaxed about it, they took Steve to the pharmacy for the lotion, let us use loads of hot water to treat the whole family just in case and washed all our bedding. I felt like that we were the worst house guests ever. Hopefully the little buggers have gone now, we've no idea where they got them from but Alisha has a theory that Lucy picked them up from Santa when she hugged him in Merida last week.
As you see we had rather a lot of hair to treat! I'm just hoping that this is the only time she gets them.
We had a lovely time relaxing at George and Anne's, spending time catching up and taking nice walks on the beach. We were also treated to some wonderful food.
Looking forward to our last few days on the beach in Mexico before Belize we started to head south. However as we were leaving the guarded complex that they have a house in we had an "incident". As we were going through the boom gate at the exit we asked the guards to open both gates as it was such a squeeze, there were 2 gates across the road as it was so wide. The lazy guard couldn't be bothered to walk over and manually open the second one, so he waved that we should proceed through and that we had enough space on both sides, which we did. However, the pause in asking meant that the boom gate timed out and came down on the back of truck, obviously it didn't have an automatic sensor working. We stopped to find out what the damage was to us and were relieved to find none. However then the guards started going on about the damage to their boom gate. "What!?!? Your gate crashed into us, when you were waving us forward and we have damaged your gate ?!?!?" Steve remarkably kept his cool but it started to get very complicated from there. The gate had a slight dent in the bottom end, like it had been pushed slightly forward. They were claiming initially that Steve had crashed into the gate while it was stationary but there was no physical way that he could have, as he would have taken out their guard hut at the same time. More guards came, then the boss. We phoned Anne and George who came with her brother Richard who is a long term resident and a fluent Spanish speaker. He was wonderful and tried to help smooth things out. Then the police turned up, and then two more police cars. In the end, neither the security guards or the police were interested in what they saw on the CCTV footage or what had actually happened. So we ended up paying for the gate regardless of whose fault it was. Then the police tried to fine Steve for reckless driving.... it was all sorted out in the end.