Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Home Again


Yes, Dear Readers, Agnes and I have returned from our all-too-short vacation trip. Sigh. We arrived back at home about 9:30 on Sunday evening, and the best that can be said is that we didn't suffer from jet lag, having only a one-hour time change during the trip.

We flew to Houston, Texas, on Saturday the 7th, and sailed on the Caribbean Princess the following day. We had two days at sea before arriving at the first port, Grand Cayman. We visited two more ports - Costa Maya (Mahahual) and Cozumel - before spending another full day at sea and arriving back in Houston on Sunday the 15th. The weather was, for the most part, perfect - it was very windy and chilly, with pouring rain when we arrived in Houston, and pretty chilly when we returned, but we lucked out across the Caribbean ... lots of clouds, but relatively comfortable temperatures and we didn't encounter any heavy rain.

We had a wonderful time ... I know this because I saw the pictures. And now so can you ...

Here I am at the harbor in Grand Cayman, doing my very best imitation of a Yankee tourist. The Caribbean Princess is in the background.


One of the things we forgot when we left was to bring either cash or ATM cards. We had our credit cards, but no travelers checks or loose cash for tips, bribes, and other small things. While at Grand Cayman, we dropped into a branch of the Butterfield Bank to get a cash advance against one of our credit cards, allowing us to say - with a straight face - that we bank in the Cayman Islands.

The next port of call was Costa Maya, on the Yucatan peninsula in extreme southern Mexico, not far from the border with Belize. We had signed up for a tour to one of the many sets of Mayan ruins that dot the area, and it was an amazing experience. After a bus trip of about an hour, we arrived at the Chocchoban historical site.

The ruins of Chocchoban (pronounced "chock-CHO-bun") were dotted through a large area of jungle, and have only been partly excavated and restored ... there are a large number of huge mounds of tree-covered dirt that conceal other pyramids and other buildings, but the Mexican government doesn't have the money to study all of them (according to our guide, there are about 44 thousand documented archaeological sites across the country awaiting study).

The jungle was very beautiful, and many of the trees and other foliage had twisted themselves into weird and intricate designs ...


After a short walk through the jungle along roads restored in the Mayan style, we visited several partially-restored pyramids ... the pictures don't really give a good impression of how large they were. Not "Great Pyramid of Giza" large, but very impressive nevertheless.


Because the steps on the pyramids were uneven, smooth, moss-covered and - consequently - quite slippery, we were not allowed to climb higher than the first three or four levels of most of the sites. Here, Agnes is sitting on the lower steps to give an idea of the size of one of the pyramids. This one was an astrological temple, arranged to line up with the sun on specific days of the year.


This was actually the first pyramid we saw when we came out of the jungle. We learned that these pyramids are not hollow - they're actually solid, and built in layers by successive rulers. In their prime, they were covered with smooth, red stucco ... today, of course, one sees only the underlying stone.


On arriving back at the port, we decided that the rum-spiked coconuts looked pretty good ...


There were some places around the port we decided not to visit ...


At Cozumel, we had signed up for a Mexican cooking class at the Playa Mia resort. We made an appetizer of Devil-Style Shrimp Sopes, Fish Filets with Sauteed Vegetables and Tamarind Sauce, and a dessert of Caramelized Plantains with Chocolate Tequila Sauce. Here are your happy chefs ...


And here are the results ... this was the appetizer ...


The main course (the fish really is in there under the vegetables and sauce ...


And here was Agnes's dessert. We decorated the plates with chocolate sauce and heavy cream, and learned how to create intricate designs ... Agnes got pretty creative, as you can see.


The bright pink building on the right was the cooking school ... the kitchens were on the ground floor; once we'd finished cooking, we carried our food up to the second level to dine in a room with a nice breeze and view of the ocean.


That's all for now. I'll have some more commentary and put up a few more pictures later. 

Have a good day. More Caribbean thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

10 comments:

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Hey that looked like fun! Welcome home!

John Hill said...

Looks like a great trip!

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm so glad you and Agnes had a great trip! The Mayan ruins look formidable; and you were able to visit the fabled Cozumel! I'm looking forward to more pictures.

Linda Kay said...

So glad you had a good trip, and now you are back in Washington for all the hubbub of activity. Praying for your safety there.

KathyA said...

Banking in the Caymans you say... hmmmm!

Look like a wonderful hiatus!

Duckbutt said...

Glad it was a great trip. Our visit to Chocchoban was a hit on one of our trips as well.

Nice tasty dinners and desserts.

Mike said...

So I assume you got your two duffel bags full of money deposited.

allenwoodhaven said...

Welcome back! Glad you had a good time.

Mariette said...

Welcome back!

Tom said...

Amazing post! Check out our coverage of the Mexican Cooking Workshop at Playa Mia during our cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line!

Happy Travels Everyone!

Tom,
2bearbear.com