Thursday, April 15, 2004

Costa Maya

Costa Maya

We took a lot of cruises during graduate/law school as they offered a perfect all-inclusive cost-friendly time-sensitive combination of relaxtion and "soft travel."

Recognizing they may have many fine points, we quickly learned cruise ship excursions were not for us. We just had a more enjoyable time researching ports beforehand, deciding what we wanted to experience, then making that happen on our own. Sometimes this meant contacting local operators/guides and othertimes it meant renting a form of transportation and setting off on our own. For each port I will provide a published synopsis and then post our own experience.

Courtsey of Royal Caribbean:

"Costa Maya, once a trading post for the Mayan Empire, is located in the Mexican Caribbean and is best known for its jungles, beaches, lagoons and Mayan ruins. Recent development and modern port facilities are making Costa Maya the perfect port of call. With so many activities, it will be hard to decide what to do first."

Our experience in Costa Maya was interesting.  The "port" passengers are shuttled into is a walled city of shopping (our version of hell) and they really discouraged us from leaving this space on our own.  So we did.  We walked quite a ways to rent a jeep to drive ourselves around the island.  We saw lots of ruins-many deserted as I guess these werent stops on an excursion so it was neat to have these ancient places virtually to ourselves-save for some friendly dogs and random locals that would try to situate themselves as your "guide."  We actually went for it one time, "what the hey," we figured.  I remember it being not so bad though I forget all we learned in those few moments.

Aside from the ruins I remember one of us commenting, as we drove down the narrow roads flanked by spaghetti messes of weeds and bushes, how we could be in the US for all we could tell.

At one point we were flagged down to stop by two "officers" holding large guns.  As we began to slow to a stop we began to form our plan: how much money we should offer as a starting point.  Wed heard countless stories of tourists being restrained, released only after "payment" (coughs: bribe) is made. As we slowed to a stop the two ominous moustached men simply looked at us and waved us on.  Whew!

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