Tulum & Xel-Ha

Friday, July 1, 2011

Prior to the trip, Kelly and Murray booked two vans for our group to have private transportation for a tour of the Tulum ruins, combined with a trip to Xel-Ha, a large natural "water park." The vans were picking all of us up at 8:00 a.m., so we got up early to meet everyone. My grandma arrived on Thursday night just before the rehearsal dinner, and is staying with us in our condo, so she's now tagging along with us as well!

Here we are, on the quiet streets of Playa early in the morning:

After much frustration, we found a place to pick up breakfast to go, and brought it with us for the van ride. Nora fell asleep on the way, which was nice, since she definitely needed a nap--a short one was better than nothing!

The ride to the ruins took about 45 minutes to an hour, and upon arrival, it was already HOT. We had to walk a little ways from the parking/shopping area to the entrance to the ruins. Along the way, we saw a number of iguanas.

Because of the terrain, we had to leave the stroller, so I opted to carry Nora in the Ergo instead. Poor thing was still really tired, so I was hoping she'd fall asleep. No such luck, though--it was just too hot for her to get comfortable.

Look at the poor kid! She was exhausted. She was mostly a great sport about it, though.

We opted to pay a guide 75 pesos on behalf of our group to give us a guided tour. Just as we were about to begin, Michael and I realized that we hadn't changed Nora's diaper since we woke up (had been a couple of hours), and that we hadn't brought any diapers with us (we had left them in the van). We knew we wouldn't have a chance to change her again for another couple of hours, so Michael had to run allll the way back to the van with one of our drivers to get a diaper, and missed the start of the tour. Not an ideal way to begin.

He caught up with us before too long, just as we were getting our first glimpses of the coast from the ruins. Beautiful.
I'm not going to lie; I was downright miserable for most of our time at the ruins. It was just way too hot to have a baby strapped to the front of you. I'm glad Michael took lots of photos, because I honestly don't even remember seeing half of this stuff. We will have to go back some day (maybe in, like, January--when it's somewhat COOLER!).

The ruins were crowded, too. It appeared to be a really popular day for field trips, because there were hundreds of children there, who were all over the place and inconsiderate of people trying to walk around and get through the massive crowds. You know, typical kids!

Kelly (my cousin and the bride-to-be) had already been to the ruins during a prior trip, so she opted to wait back at the hotel for a few additional friends and family members who were scheduled to arrive in the early afternoon. Murray (the groom-to-be) joined the group at the ruins, and the photo above is with him. Love him--such a great guy and so glad that he and Kelly found each other!

Gorgeous, right?
After the guided tour was over, we were given the option to continue walking around for a while. As you can imagine, by this time, we were completely roasting, so my mom, grandma, my uncle's wife, Michael, Nora, and I all started heading toward the exit to get back to the van for some air conditioning.
Michael carried Nora on the walk back to the van, which was great, because unstrapping the Ergo carrier and handing her off seemed to automatically lower my body temperature by 10 degrees. :)

Poor Nora--she was a sweaty mess.

When we got back to the vans, we didn't get to enjoy any air conditioning just yet, but we went into one of the little open-air shops and found that being in the shade helped quite a bit. We all cooled off with some additional water, and delicious ice cream bars! Nora perked up after we fed her some of her fruit puree and dumped some water over her head. Here she is trying on her daddy's shades:
Once our entire group was back at the vans, we loaded up and made the 10-minute drive to Xel-Ha. We couldn't wait to get into the water, but we were all hungry, so the first stop we made within the park was for lunch! Xel-Ha is all-inclusive; for your admission fee, you get all of your food, drinks, etc. included. The restaurant we went to was a Mexican buffet. For lunch, we gave Nora some fresh fruit, but the rest of us enjoyed chips and guac with margaritas. :)

Murray tried to get her to give him high fives, but she stiffed him! Little stinker.

After lunch, we COULDN'T WAIT to get into the water. I have never been so desperate to swim in my entire life. We changed into our bathing suits as quickly as possible, which turned out to be not-so-quickly at all. It was difficult to find lockers, difficult to find towels, difficult to get Nora all set. She was so sweaty and sticky, I didn't even have the heart to wrestle a bathing suit on her. We decided to let her go naked except for a swim diaper!

When we finally got to an area where we could swim, we discovered that life jackets were REQUIRED for every person entering the water. So I got the infant size for Nora and we went about fitting her into it:

Even the smallest one was too big for her. Too damn cute to see her in a life jacket, though.
We got into the water as fast as possible, and Nora cried. It was probably because of how shockingly COOL and REFRESHING it was. :) After a minute, she stopped fussing and started having a blast.

Here comes my mom, ready to snorkel...

Soon, Nora was cool, but she was also tired. We got out of the water, and I sat in a beach chair and nursed her. She passed out in about 0.5 seconds, so I put her in the stroller to snooze in the shade for a bit.
Michael sat with her and enjoyed a beer or two while I went out into the lagoon again to snorkel with my mom. We saw a few pretty fish and had fun swimming around for a while. Here are a few underwater pics:
When Nora woke up, we walked around for a bit and enjoyed ourselves. The afternoon went by WAYYY too quickly, though! Aside from the snorkeling, we didn't even get to do any of the other activities--like the lazy river, zip line, cliff jump, etc.--we just didn't have time. At one point, we tried to walk to do the cliff jump, but once we got further into the jungle area, we started getting eaten alive by bugs. We didn't want Nora to get bitten, so we turned around and went back. By that time, it was getting close to time to leave, so we just got dressed and packed up! Next time, we'll definitely have to plan to spend an entire day at Xel-Ha. And hopefully we'll have older kids who will be able to run around the park and fully enjoy it!

They have dolphins at the park--you can do a dolphin encounter, but it's extra money. It was fun to watch, though. In the pic above, Nora is watching the dolphins jump. If you look closely, you can actually see one in mid-air in the background of the pic!

Some of our group members were taking a long time to come back, so we ended up having some extra time before the van left. We ended up getting some dinner, since it was included and all!
Soon, the park was closing and everyone was gathering together to catch the vans back to Playa. We ended up getting back a little after 7:00, and everyone was crazy exhausted so we all went our separate ways back to our respective hotels/condos.

In the end, a fun, but tiring day!

Tomorrow is WEDDING day! :)


Erin July 7, 2011 at 9:46 PM  

Ooh, Xel-Ha looks really fun - we'll have to go there if we ever go back to Playa!

Pamela July 8, 2011 at 1:29 PM  

This looks beautiful. Great vacation.

Laura C. July 8, 2011 at 6:46 PM  

My husband and I were in Mexico last year and your posts are bringing back memories! I have a picture of that exact same palm tree by the beach at Tulum!

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