Western Caribbean Cruise – Day 5

Busy day today! We had pastries and a parfait in the Piazza and spent some time wandering around the ship. We also competed in a Wii Bowling competition. The gal running it thought Thad said his name was “Ted” so she kept calling him “Ted, like the bear.”

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At lunch we watched the coast appear out of the sea and headed out for our tour of the Mayan ruins.

The port of Costa Maya is small and not super nice and the lines were a bit chaotic. They kept grouping and regrouping us, because there were so many tours leaving for different locations. We finally made it to the bus and began our one-hour drive to Chacchoben. We were pretty quickly in a remote area- driving past small churches, crumbling buildings, fields of cows, and people selling pineapples and oranges by the side of the road. Our guide discussed Mayan culture and cleared up misconceptions people often have about the Mayans. When we arrived, there was more confusion and back and forth about tickets and how many there were and who had them. Chacchoben is a more recently-discovered ruin, and thus is not fully excavated. It’s name comes from the Mayan for “red corn.”

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We saw several stone temples which were formerly painted red and blue, the red dye of which was made from a cockroach-like insect. We climbed up some non-temple ruins covered in slippery moss, saw leaf-cutter ants swarming along the ground and monkeys swinging overhead. We saw the stone bases of the homes of rich Mayans, who were able to afford the labor of stone bases for their huts and stone and beds. Hard to imagine stone beds as a luxury!

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Leaf cutter ants (looks better enlarged)

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Our guide also showed us trees where the resin was cut to make the original chewing gum. The scarred bark attests to what the process takes out of the trees – which can only be harvested every 20 years. (This is why commercially-available chewing gum is synthetic and no longer derived from these trees.)

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It had called for rain in the forecast, but fortunately didn’t begin to drizzle until we were leaving Chacchoben. We were very tired when we got back, so we opted for burgers and fries for dinner and were going to watch Age of Ultron on deck, but a squall rolled through, so we went inside. There was a martini-making competition in the Piazza, which I participated in, by shaking the martini shaker and doing an embarrassing dance. Finally, we ended the evening at the staff talent show, where some of the ship’s waiters, carpenters, and cleaners showed off their amazing singing and dancing skills.

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