Thursday, January 31, 2013
It came to me in a flash today while walking - a fool-proof method to determine easily if a place has a "perfect" climate - simply go to visit a few of the fancy hotels. If the main lobby/entrance areas are built without walls, windows, or screens but rather, are open to the elements 24/7/365, that is an important point to note. It means the temperature spread always is comfortable and the bugs are never too bad. Any big hotel corporation likely didn't spend millions building a hotel that is wrong for the climate. If you find that, you can start looking for a place to live.
Palm trees and ocean proximity are also nice features in a perfect climate.
Having enough shade is important, too, since a perfect climate will be warm. A shade "tree" like this is a unique approach These homeowners are from New Hampshire. It was startling to see their vehicle with New Hampshire license plates down here. It's the first one we've seen since arriving in Mexico seven weeks ago. (And no, they didn't drive all the way - they drove to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, put it on a ship to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and then drove the last hour home.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Puerto Aventuras offers a complete range of homes, condos, restaurants, shops, hotels, resorts, entertainment, golf, boating, and beach. To me it is reminiscent of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida or Marina del Rey in California and other similar concept locations around the world - but with the Mexican touch and people. The advantage here is that it is NEVER cold. It may be hot and humid in the summer but, even in the winter, it's NEVER cold. I like that - A LOT!
This is Villas del Mar condominiums - from my perspective, this is arguably the best property, most centrally located, best sugar white sand beach, best cared-for, most beautiful living facility in the entire town. (Disclosure - it's where we're staying on this trip so I am probably biased).
This private residence club, Porto Bello, offers marina access and views.
Always, the daily walkers and joggers are out along the sidewalks, roads, or beach, enjoying the sun, the breeze, the warmth. I could get used to this.
This is Hacienda Las Palmas. Many beautiful homes here are available for rent on a weekly basis - anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands depending on location and size.
Hacienda Corazón. Their website says this beachfront estate was available over the recent seasonal holidays for $48,000 per week, and next year they advertise $53,000 for the same period for the entire ten-bedroom house. Yes, that price is per week.
I couldn't find a name on this property, maybe it is a private home, but it's along the beachfront and next to many haciendas that are for short-term vacation rental. Quite nice in any case.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The only disadvantage to sunrises is that you have to be awake and out of bed to enjoy them properly. That's a price I'm usually willing to pay. On this morning, the sky view from Villas del Mar was muted and soft-edged.
On the next day, the sky had sharper edges, brightly backlit.
And the next day, a golden glow more like a sunset than a sunrise.
And for something completely different, we had some rain. And not just a little bit of rain - it was a torrent falling from the sky, bucketfuls, and it washed clean the main pedestrian walkway from the front gate to the beach.
The rain brought the natural colors of the native plants to life.
I'm not sure if this was morning dew or a rain shower.
And when the sun came back out, this pretty little kiskadee landed and relaxed on a satellite dish feed horn.
Monday, January 28, 2013
The Tulum archaeological site is the remnant of a walled city inhabited and built by the Mayans and in peak use about the 13th to 15th centuries. The site is atop 40-foot cliffs on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico about 120 kilometers south of Cancun. The hallmark structure at left in the photo above is "El Castillo" (the castle). As one of the best-preserved coastal Mayan sites, it is very popular for visiting tourists. Many folks like to bring their swim suits and take a refreshing dip in the sea below the site. The day of our visit coincided with a full moon. Unfortunately, the site closes at 5:00pm and the moon didn't rise until 5:30pm. Try as we might, we were not able to convince the guards to let us stay until moonrise. We did, however, dawdle enough to be the very last visitors to leave the park for the day. So late that we missed the last tram and had to walk the half mile back to the parking lot.
The view of "El Castillo" from on land looking toward the sea is as dramatic as the seaside view. The day's final straggling visitors, Amy, Christy, and me, dawdle our way toward the exit as the light turns golden and the shadows grow long with the approaching sunset.
Earlier in the afternoon, this was perhaps the most common sight - people holding up up their cellphones or point-and-shoot cameras to capture a moment. Didn't see many folks lugging around big, heavy DSLR cameras.
This smaller structure, the "Templo del Dios del Viento," (Temple of the Wind God), is also located close to the cliff edge.
"Estructura 25" contains multiple columns still standing.
The "Templo del Dios Descendente" (Temple of the Descending God), has some interesting off-kilter lines. Since the mortar and structure is all intact and looks solid, I'm wondering if it was built that way? Maybe a junior architect-in- training, or the king's son or nephew needed something to do?
"Templo de las Pinturas." (Temple of the Frescoes).
Panorama of the cliff top, "El Castillo" is visible at left. (Click on the image to view in full width).
Panorama of much of the site, "El Castillo" is visible at center right. (Click on the image to view in full width).
It was an exceptional late afternoon to visit - perfect temperature, breeze, and golden light - if only we could have stayed to capture the full moon rising against the sea and "El Castillo." Maybe next time, Amy could arrange a Plymouth Digital Photographers Club Meetup and get special permission, hmmmmmm?...............
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I don't quite know how to describe Playa del Carmen. It is a total assault on the senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Young, old, beautiful, wizzened - bums, hippies, cosmopolitans, hipsters, retirees - it's a microcosm of many of the great, but much larger cities of the world - teeming with life - and that's just during the day - I haven't made it there after dark yet.
The Papantla Flyers is a group of five men who perform a traditional ritual meant as a prayer for good harvest and fertility. I think now it is for tourism but that's certainly okay, too. This man will stand atop a 90-foot high pole on a small platform playing his flute and drum while his partners throw themselves backwards off the pole while tethered by a rope to their ankles.
This tourist was overcome with the urge to dance along with a roving street band.
Many folks just wander the avenue, shopping, eating, looking, seeing or being seen.
Partially clad but unabashed granpas stroll with their grandkids.
Four beers for 100 pesos is about $1.90 USD each. Not sure why the place is called "Le Petit Paris" except that Playa del Carmen has a significant number of European visitors. Maybe it's a touch of home for them.
You can stay in a top notch hotel like this one for hundreds of dollars a night.
You can buy a sombrero - and people must do that fairly often or they wouldn't keep making them for tourists.
You can enjoy the towering artful statue near the beach just off the avenue.
You can bring your stuff and just hang out at the beach.
And always, it is nearby, the unending blue-green Caribbean Sea.
You can visit the very small chapel if the spirit so moves you.
It seems that "Playa" has something for everyone.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
I've never been particularly fond of flat, jagged, rocky coastlines - although they do offer striking visual drama.
Upon closer inspection here, it turns out that the rocky parts of coastline are coral rather than regular "rocks" like you might find on the northeast United States coastline.
There are many different fascinating types and shapes. This one looks likes misshapen sliced kiwi fruit.
They even use coral embedded in concrete as artistic spacers between the concrete sidewalk panels.
I have a new-found appreciation for the beauty of coral coastlines. I'd still rather have a long flat sandy beach on which to walk but, coral now has its own special appeal, too.
Friday, January 25, 2013
At home in the United States, I can go weeks or months without encountering the alphabet letter "X" in everyday life. Here, I can barely go a few minutes. And to make it even more challenging, the "X" can be pronounced different ways depending upon where it falls in a word, or whether it is Mayan rooted or influenced: "sh" or "eesh" or "ks" or "s" or "h." Good luck.
A "bahia" is a bay in English.
A "caleta" is a creek, cove, small bay or inlet in English.
And, for further example, don't forget the words: México, Xcaret, or XpuHa, which are seen daily. We, on the other hand, have xylophone, xrays, xmas, xerox, and mostly a bunch of proper nouns, drug names, or scrabble words - seldom seen and, in any case, not nearly as cool as here.
I know that some of my New England friends are xylophilous and even create art using a xylotypographic process but, when you're away from home and if you're ever out to sea and see a xanthic xeme flying near a xebec you should get away quickly but, once safely away, still notify an ornithological society - it might be a rare sighting.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Rich colors and shadows in the hour before sunrise.
At midday, it's a difficult choice sometimes for vacationing folks to choose between the pool, the jacuzzi, the swim-up bar, or the sea - looks like they chose beers instead.
Mid-afternoon, this ring of palms seems planted for a purpose.
Late afternoon, this critter, an agouti, a rabbit-sized guinea-pig related rodent who, along with his friends, roams around the grass and bushes looking for tasty treats of fallen fruit, leaves, or roots. They apparently can live up to 20 years.
And shortly after sunset, the moonlight silhouettes a great blue heron standing on part of a breakwater. It sure is nice down here in Puerto Aventuras (and for comparison, it is 4 degrees F at home this morning).