Argh, at long last I've finished the vacation pictures! There are still tons of good prints that haven't made it on the computer, but our scanner isn't working at the moment (thanks, Vista), so it will be a while before I get any of those up. However, all the digital pics are edited and loaded up, and you can see a selection here. I recommend viewing them as a slide show--you can speed it up quite fast, and the captions appear. I've gotten to the point where I don't often show actual prints around--have you ever encountered that person who has to tell you every detail behind every picture? I just don't have the time for that, and I don't want to be that person. I can see it happening sometimes when I show pictures, if it's something I'm really passionate about or something I really loved...but sometimes it just gets lost in translation, and it really doesn't mean anything to the person looking at the pictures. So peruse at your leisure, at your own speed, or don't look at them at all. I respect and support your decision!
I've written about Haiti and Jamaica, and a little bit about Grand Cayman (where we encountered the stingrays). One thing I didn't write about Cayman is how much more prosperous it seemed than Haiti and Jamaica. I believe the Cayman Islands are still British, and they definitely have the look and feel of being under a world power umbrella. We saw many large, beautiful homes, and I suspect that many a rich person has a home down there. It was lovely, but it was also quite a contrast to what we had seen at our previous two ports-of-call.
Mexico was sort of in-between. I didn't notice any huge homes (although I'm sure there are some in other areas), but the cities seemed fairly bustling. We docked at Cozumel, an island off the coast of Mexico, and took a boat to the mainland, landing at Playa del Carmen. From there we took a bus to the Mayan ruins at Muyil (pronounced Mu-zheel). The bus ride through the countryside was interesting...there is much poverty there. I saw a small, rundown shack by the road, and figured it was abandoned. Then I saw a couple of children walk out of it. I turned to Ken and said, "Someone lives there!" It was shocking, and anyone who complains about how rough they have it here? I have ZERO SYMPATHY for you. You have millions of opportunities, so take them. Why do you think so many people want to come here, even if they have to do it illegally? Because it's a place where you can make something of yourself! NO WHINING, I mean it!
Back to the topic at hand. Muyil is both an archaeological site and a nature preserve--two of my favorite things!--and I was in high heaven. It was beautiful and fascinating. If you look at the pictures, you'll see that I took a lot there. Muyil is fairly small when it comes to ruin sites, and unlike some of the larger sites, such as Chichen Itza, you can actually go inside the buildings, and climb the steps of the temples. It was a neat experience. We had to wonder about the size of the ancient Mayans--the buildings seemed to be very small with low ceilings, and the steps were only a few inches wide. You had to be very careful! I'll put a picture up here:
Isn't that awesome? I've got a book on order to learn a little more about the Mayans. I remember reading about the culture when I was in grade school, but I don't recall a lot about them. Contrary to what I had thought, they weren't one of the ancient civilizations that were wiped out. The Aztecs were, for sure, and I believe the Incas disappeared...but the Mayans are still alive and kicking. Our guide, Saul, said that he is of Mexican and European heritage (Mestizo), but he is of Mayan descent (his grandfather was a Mayan shaman). It was all really interesting, and I'd love to eventually go to one of the larger sites.
It was so incredibly hot inland that when we got back to Playa del Carmen, we were ready for a cool beverage. We each got a few souvenirs (great prices and very friendly vendors!) then stopped at a cantina on the beach for drinks. We were looking out at the water, the breeze was blowing in and cooling us off, and I looked at Ken and said, "Yeah, I could get used to this!" See what you think:
Oh, I just love that picture! It makes me want to go back. I really liked Mexico. We still have a timeshare week at Cancun that I hope we can use before too long.
I just have to throw this in. I read some reactions to Elizabeth Edwards' comment that "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" (although the latter is do-able, technically). I don't dislike her, and I don't think her comments were meant in a nasty way, but some are saying that she thinks Hillary and Barack have an unfair advantage over her husband, because they can play the female and black cards. Whatever. This is just the media making a mountain out of a molehill. But one person's comment made me laugh out loud:
"John Edwards is the Eddie Haskel of American politics.
John Gleason at 12:14 PM on Aug 8th 2007"
I'm sorry...but that's just plain funny! Wait. I'm not sorry. That's just funny! All I can think of is Edwards saying, "Gee, Mrs. Clinton, that's a lovely jacket you're wearing." HA! I'm dyin'!