On Day 3 of the cruise, Mal and I woke up bright and early for an excursion to explore the the Mayan Ruins of Tulum in Cozumel, Mexico. We booked the excursion through Carnival, but a separate company in Cozumel ran the tour.
Once we got off the ship in Cozumel, we boarded a ferry to Playa del Carmen, which was a rocky 40-minute ride away. (A lot of people got sea sick!) The cruise ship couldn’t dock closer to the mainland because the world’s second largest coral reef runs along the shore.
Once we were on the mainland, we boarded a bus to Tulum. During the ride, our tour guide provided us with a ton of information about Mexican and Mayan culture. (FYI: The Mayans are not a “lost civilization.” They are alive and well and thriving today!)
When we arrived at Tulum, we walked about a half mile from the parking lot to the site of ruins, which was absolutely breathtaking.
Tulum, which literally means “walled,” was built on 50-foot-high cliffs overlooking the ocean.
(The stain on the front of my tank top is sweat. It was HOT!)
Our tour guide, Juan, was the man. He was Mexican and Mayan, so he was super passionate about the history of the ruins and the information that he shared with us. His role as a tour guide was more than just a job for him, and his excitement about Mexican and Mayan history and culture definitely rubbed off on us.
This guy was just chilling near the ruins:
The temple (below) is the largest of the buildings at Tulum and archeologists believe that human sacrifices were done there.
Juan told us that this temple was designed so that the sun shines perfectly through it on the summer and winter solstices. See the small window on the left– the speck of light to left of the main stairs? On the summer and winter solstice, the sun rises over the ocean and perfectly lines up with it. Juan had photos to show us of it. So cool, right?
Juan also cleared up a huge misconception about the Maya calendar. Have you ever seen the image below?
Probably in those doomsday television shows about 2012, right? Well, that’s actually the Aztec calendar, not the Maya calendar. Check out the Maya calendar below:
It’s a 365-day calendar, which is divided into 18 months of 20 days each and one month which is only 5 days long. The outer ring is Mayan pictures, which represent each of the 19 months. Interesting, right? (FYI: Juan doesn’t think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. The Mayans believe the calendar simply resets and the world will experience a new time of “enlightenment.”)
After exploring the ruins, Mal and I stopped to grab lunch in the shopping area at Tulum. There were a number of food options, including a Subway, but we took a recommendation from Juan. I don’t remember the exact name of the restaurant, but it had a snowman (random?) on the sign.
Mal and I both ordered chicken tacos and Coronas for lunch. The salsa that we put on the tacos was SO hot! Our mouths were on fire, but they sure were delicious!
From start to finish, this excursion lasted a solid 8 hours. It was a long day of travel, but it was well worth it and easily one of the highlights of my vacation.