Pictures of Mexico are here!
Check out the rest below!
Filed under: Mexico
Well, today I did it! I achieved one of my travel goals and saw my fifth wonder of the world, Chichen Itza. I still find it so hard to believe that I am merely 23 years old and have seen five out of seven wonders of the world. Today was such a beautiful and amazing day.
We started off by getting on a bus at 7:30 in the morning along with a bunch of other sleepy Americans and Mexicans, prepared for a two and a half hour ride. There we met our companion for the day, Simphiwe, a woman from South Africa traveling to Chichen Itza by herself. Seeing her alone reminded me of the time that I traveled to Jordan by myself to see Petra, and that two wonderful Australians became my friends and I went to see my fourth wonder with them. Such experiences should be shared, and so we invited Simphiwe to spend the day with us. It worked out great, considering she was really cool. Meanwhile, we relaxed on the bus and laughed at the tour guide’s jokes (including his American rendition of Chichen Itza: ‘Chicken Pizza’)
A side note about prices- Tyler, Naiara and I were surprised to find out that most other people on the bus paid two or three times more for their tickets than we did- we only paid 33 dollars each, which was more than worth the price for all of the things that we did. Thanks for subsidizing us, other Americans. If you want to get a cheap price for a day tour of Cichen Itza from Cancun like we did, I suggest finding a tour guide in one of the malls. They will price the ticket at 55+, but we talked them down to 33.
Our first stop on the way to Chichen Itza was at a quaint little typical Mexican town, complete with brightly painted pastel buildings and a little city square. The main attraction was a beautiful church, Iglesia de San Servacio. We were then walked around a variety of tourist traps (warehouses full of Mexican artifacts that are twenty times the normal price), and stopped for a drawn out lunch. By this time it felt like we were never going to get there and I was literally tingling with anticipation. When we finally pulled up to the site, I convinced Tyler, Naiara, and Simphiwe to leave behind the boring tour guide (in my experience no tour guide from a seventh wonder of the world is worth listening to), and we went off exploring on our own.
It didn’t take us long to reach the main attraction, the temple of Kukulcan. It is this enormous temple (as big as an Egyptian Pyramid) jutting magnificently out of the ground. This site is absolutely breath-taking. Pictures cannot encompass the feeling you have standing there, staring at this magnificent edifice. It was as if the time stood still- the only reminder being the lazily passing clouds in the sky set against a backdrop of deep blue. I could have stared at the temple for hours, unmoving.
It turns out that we got pretty lucky on the tourist front- since school still isn’t out yet around the world and Mexico now has a reputation of being a dangerous place, there weren’t a ton of people at Chichen Itza. This gave us sublime pictures and a lot of close up views.
Of course, the temple isn’t the only Mayan ruin at Cichen Itza, but rather than a large sinkhole on the side of the site, the temple of Kukukcan is really the star of the show. I spent the last hour there just staring at it, while laughing to myself about how ridiculous it was that I was actually in MEXICO, staring at my fifth wonder of the world. Once I get back to the US, I’ll have some great pictures.
But the day’s festivities were still not over yet. After our completely satisfying trip to Cichen Itza, we stopped at a spring on the way back for a refreshing dip- and goodness, that spring is definitely in the top 10 most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my entire life. Pictures to come.
Today was perfect. A perfect day to fulfill another dream, another goal, another wonder.
Back to relaxing on the beach and getting a sun tan in Cancun. Pictures soon!
Filed under: Mexico
SURPRISE TRIP TO MEXICO! As many of you know, it has been one of my life goals to visit all seven wonders of the world. So far I have had the fortune of seeing four (not including the Honorary Candidate, the Pyramids in Egypt), and it is my intention to visit all 7 by the age of 25.
So since January (when I discovered I was going to be living a few months longer at home than previously thought), I have been FIXATED on going to Mexico and seeing Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world. There are a few reasons for this: first, I’ll be able to visit the last two I have not seen (Machu Picchu, Peru, and Christ the Redeemer, Brazil) while I’m in the Peace Corps in South America, as they’re pretty close to Paraguay. Second, a round-trip ticket from Florida to Mexico is very cheap. And third, I needed to get my traveling kicks. So Mexico it was, I decided. Let’s knock out number 5.
The problem was convincing other people to go with me. I unsuccessfully pitched to my brother, my sister, and a whole slew of friends who all got me initially excited with a ‘YEAH, let’s party in Cancun!’ but then never followed through. It wasn’t until I went up to Gainesville a couple of weeks ago to visit my high school friend Tyler that I was finally able to recruit two able-bodied friends (the other Tyler’s girlfriend, Naiara, who is from Mexico and helped me to convince him) to go on a grand four day trip to Cancun, with a stop in Chichen Itza.
So here we are! We just arrived today. The weather is gorgeous, we spent the entire day laying out on the most beautiful beach and taking shots of delicious tequila, washed down with the most amazing fish tacos. Thanks to Naiara’s vast knowledge of all of the best food, drinks, and culture of Mexico, Tyler and I have been learning a lot more than the average tourist in Cancun. We successfully bartered down a round-trip full day ticket to Chichen Itza (33 dollars each, which we all felt happy with- most places charge 50 each), and promptly celebrated with shrimp fajitas and strawberry daquiris.
Tomorrow we head on to the grand adventure of CHICHEN ITZA! this will be Naiara’s first wonder and Tyler’s second, and I am so excited and happy to be with them on yet another wonderful day in my life, a day where I am happiest; out in the world traveling.
Filed under: Mexico
Today has been a day of reflection, and so it is here that I look back on all of the countries I’ve traveled and been to. And one of the claims I have made from the get go is that India is the first country I have ever traveled to. However, this is a lie. Or is it?
A topic I have rarely talked about, or counted as one of my travels, is a completely random two-hour stint in Mexico. (Update: my friend aptly pointed out that I have ALSO been to Mexico on a band cruise in high school, in Cozumel. This was for two hours as well. Story is now invalidated. But we will continue anyway). This is right before I had joined Carpe Diem and started my grand journeys all around the world, which included so many life-altering events and experiences that spawned the creation of this blog.
So here’s the deal. While I was living in California and attending CalArts, I was living in an apartment and sharing a room with my friend Liz. One of my good friends Danny came to visit from Northern California (where he had been stationed for the summer), and we found ourselves hanging out with a random other CalArtian (this is the term we use for CalArts students) who I had never previously met (and never spoke to again after that night), who we all called Bonna.
So as usual, we were all bored and deciding on what we would do for the night, and Bonna randomly proposed that we should go to MEXICO! As it was a three hour drive from Los Angeles. We all laughed about it and entertained the notion. But this girl was serious. “Let’s go to FREAKING MEXICO!” she kept saying, over and over again. She kept pushing the subject until Danny started entertaining this possibility, more out of amusement then seriousness. Then Liz chimed in. “Yeah, we’re all going to Mexico!” They decided. This was 11 PM at night, by the way.
“Are you coming with us, Brittany?”
“No,” I replied. “You’re all out of your minds. You’re not really going to Mexico.”
At this point Bonna was literally dragging Danny and Liz out of the door with such a force that they decided a spontaneous visit to Mexico was going to become a reality. “You BETTER come with us Brittany,” Liz cried, trying to drag me along with them.
“We are not going to Mexico. It is 11 PM at night. What the hell are we going to do in Mexico?”
“Adventures!” Danny and Bonna chimed in. “Adventures in Mexico!”
“We are going to get there at 2 AM. This is crazy.”
“Crazy AWESOME.” I think at this point Danny and Liz were both trying to drag me out the door.
“I don’t have a passport!” I objected. “How am I going to get in?”
“You don’t NEED to have a passport to get in,” Bonna countered (in retrospect, I have no idea how she knew this). “You can walk right in. And you can just show your license when you come back.”
After a lot of protesting (I admit I was not as spontaneous back in those days), I finally succumbed to their cajoling and decided that a sudden trip to Mexico was on the agenda, whether I liked it or not.
And so after a three-hour drive, which included a lot of indie music (the only kind that CalArtians like), we arrived at the border at 2 AM, at a completely sketchy area. It was deserted. We passed through one of those full-body turn-table gates similar to ones you go through in the New York subway, and well la. We were in Mexico. No security, no passport checking, NO ONE there.
So we decided to go to a bar. We all walked over a bridge, which led to a taxi stand, and took taxis to a bar street a few minutes away, where we all had drinks (and celebrated being able to drink at 18 in such an establishment– honestly, I think this was the REAL reason Bonna wanted to come to Mexico), watched a bunch of strange country-like folk dance on the dance floor for about an hour, and then walked back in the completely deserted and sketchy streets back to the good old USA, where I was promptly harassed by a US police officer for not having a passport.
Then we drove 3 hours back to Los Angeles.
Proof we were in Mexico. Danny, me, Liz, and Bonna.
So my question to YOU, dear readers, is this: should I count Mexico as a ‘country’ I’ve traveled to? It’s not stamped in my passport (but neither is France…), I was literally only there for two hours, I can’t even remember the name of the town we were in, and I don’t have any proof that I’ve been there (other than the story and this picture, which looks like it could be at any old bar). Where is the line of what country you’ve ‘traveled’ to, and what country you haven’t?
Moreover, have I been to Russia or Germany because I had layovers in their airports? I even had a layover in Puerto Rico when I was 13- does that count? Have I been to a country based on whether the actual stamp is in your passport? Whether I have pictures to prove it? Whether I’ve touched down and literally been on the LAND (whether in the waiting terminal at the airport or not)? Whether I’ve had ‘cultural interactions’ with the people?
I’m not sure whether I should count Mexico as a country that I have ‘traveled’ to. But there you have it. My two-hour, spontaneous trip to Mexico. And if something good came out of it, at least I was able to get my two friends Danny and Liz together, who have been going strong for 2 years now
Hasta la vista,