Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

To celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday my sister invited the family on a cruise.  This was one of our stops.  While we dont normally book cruise ship excursions we did so here because it was a lot of fun to stay together for our experiences.

2 adults in their forties, 2 adults in their thirties, and two teens (and our parents but they werent part of todays events).  I think I had been pulling for the "Amazing Race" option but in the end "Swiming in Caves" won out.  Im pretty sure thats not what it was actually called but thats what we did.

We were met by 2 guides who facilitated the shuttle to the caves.

At the caves we were given safety instructions and a hardhat outfitted with a headlamp.  And an opportunity to pay extra for a snorkel. We looked at the snorkel, the headlamp, back and the snorkel, and declined.

A short walk into the caves, past some standing water layered with (no nicer way to put this) green slime, we arrived at several benches where people could break into groups and suit up!

It is certainly fascinating to think about how and when these amazing formations came about.  And the fact we had a chance to swim around in them was def pretty cool.  I cant say I was sold on the mud within holding any special qualities though.  Id say about 3/4 of the group began rubbing it on their face and neck and arms after the guides made this declaration.  What I did learn, however, (or so I thought) was the difference between a cave and a cavern; the former having definitive end, the latter not.  A quick google search doesnt exactly support this though there are some other interesting attempts to distinguish the two.

Honestly though, it was really neat to experience this with my family-and that is what stands out to me.  Almost as much as me dropping my hardhat in the guano pool on the way out (crowd: "oooooooohhhhhh"). Or breaking my toe on a stalagmite.  I google "Playa Del Carmen swim caves" and I see pictures posted of these amazing turquoise waters and all I can think is "where they heck were they?"  The waters were most certainly not turquoise. Or blue. Or clear. They were brown.  You couldnt see a thing.  So when I was kicking around like a fool with my neice and nephew and banged the living shit out of my toe, I cant say I didnt have it coming.  When getting pedicures I laugh to myself because I appreciate how exotic it sounds to say "Oh yeah, that-I broke that while swimming through caves in Playa del Carmen."

Afterwards, we had what I felt was "overly ample" time to spend at the gift shops.

Finally, after returning to the port, the guides, who did a fine job, emphasized several times how they rely solely on our tips for income.  Regardless of whether this is fact, it was a bit heavy-handed and for us a turn off.  We give gratuity based on service rendered thus the "pitch" at the end was just unnecessary.

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