El Mordido

2004-08-10 22:16:09

This morning we docked at Progreso (one 's', who knew?) and took a tour out to Chichen Itza. The bus ride was unmemorable and exceedingly long except for these

signs of civilization in the wilderness.

Once we got there , the tour guide was eager to impart his vast knowledge of all things Chichen Itza-related. Like how Erik Von Daniken got it right about the Mayans being descended from space aliens, except that they were also descended from Vikings, too. About ten minute of this and I not-so-subtly made a bee-line for the Pyramid of Kukulan (sp?) and hit the stairs.

Which is, let's face it, what everyone wants to do. I guess it's simple human nature: you've got this pyramid, and it's got stairs. The pull is irresistable.

I know an awful lot of people got killed up on top, but goddamn it's photogenic.

Actually, I ended up climbing the pyramid twice -- first by myself (I thought I'd get some candid shots of my family climbing up), and then again when Aidan

wanted to check it out. Here he is

in the chamber at the top. A nasty place, and we saw a few bats fly in and out.

I thought this wall was just another wall until I got a closer look at it. Creepy, no?

This is the arena

where they played that curious game that was a cross between soccer and basketball. I guess it's still a matter of debate whether the winners or the losers of the game were sacrificed. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" would, I think, point towards sacrificing the losers: that way, over time you build up a stable of good strong healthy winners. Then again, stone carvings of that time that portray the players make them out to be kinda fat and pudgy and looking for all the world like couch potatoes -- so maybe they did kill the winners. Note that those hoops are waaay up there. I have to wonder just how long one of these games lasted if they were played by Mayan couch potatoes and the winners lost their heads or had their hearts cut out or whatever other nastiness the high priests could concoct.

Here's the kiddos posing with a serpent's head.

I was glad to climb the pyramid and see the ruins and all, but after a (short) while I got tired of "El Mordido", ie, the tendency for everyone in sight to have their hand out expecting a tip. The tour guide wanted a tip, the bus driver wanted a tip, the guy with the microphone on the bus who kept us "entertained" wanted a tip. Hell, we'd already paid $75 / person. I really don't mind tipping, it's just that I get tired pretty quickly of being looked at as a dollar bill dispenser.

The Food Part

Breakfast and Lunch weren't "blog-worthy", but here's Dinner:

The Escargot were great. Miranda was like "ewwwww!" but Aidan surprised me and ate one. And even liked it. It was a big day for him: he climbed a pyramid and ate a snail. Way to go, son!

The non-snail-eaters dined on a most attractive layout of melon and prosciutto.

A fancy-pants salad. After that whole Titanic fiasco, I was a little bit surprised to see "Iceberg lettuce" on the menu.

A bad photo of "Pan-Seared Fish", which Panda tells me was quite yummy.

Jerk Pork Loin. Not the most harmonious color presentation I've ever seen, but it was a good, savory, spicey dish. The green stuff around the edges looks like a bacterial infection but in reality it's some kind of avocado sauce.

Sauerbraten. This, and the Jerk Pork Loin, are the items I wish I'd ordered.

Key Lime Pie. It looks better than it tasted, alas.

Meet Tim

Though I may bitch and moan about $.50 / minute 'net access, Tim, the shipboard sysadmin, is a good guy, and most helpful, too. I'd love to have his job: sail the seven seas in luxury while helping scantily-clad women access their email. Talk about "job satisfaction"!

Later this morning we dock at Cozumel. I'm going deep sea fishing with my Dad and my Brother-in-Law, the women and the kids are going on a "Jeep Safari" out to some ruins and then to a beach somewhere. Actually, that sounds a lot more fun than deep sea fishing but oh well. I confess there's a certain tacky appeal to having my picture taken next to a 12 foot marlin or some similar unfortunate denizen of the deep; sorta like hanging one of those 'dogs playing poker' pictures in the game room, but -- fishier. Maybe they'll let me wear a captain's hat so I can look like L. Ron Hubbard?