Thursday, August 8, 2013

Expedition Yucatan (part 4)

6/24 DAY 9
The time with the kids went so quickly. I knew from the beginning that these kiddos would find their way into my heart. I worked with kids last school year, and when the end of the year came, I couldn’t imagine having to leave them. After only a short five days with the kids in the village of Yunku, I couldn’t imagine leaving them either. Someone once said that everyone should be seen as a teacher, and there’s really a lot of truth to that. I have to say, I hope I got to teach these children even half as much as they taught me. They are truly little miracles that have touched my heart and blessed my life.
During the day, we all got together to write thank you letters to the families in Yunku which we would deliver when we dropped the kids off at the end of the day. Our time with the kids involved a piƱata and cake, both of which they obviously loved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many children so excited in my life. It was absolutely adorable.

6/25 DAY 10
Although we did spend the night in the hacienda the night before, we had to be up and ready the next morning for Uxmal. Uxmal is another archeological site with Mayan ruins, and I have to say, it's my favorite site we went to. Miguel, our fantastic guide, told us the story of the first pyramid you see when you enter the site. It's called the House of the Magician or the Temple of the Dwarf. Legend is that there was once an evil and tyrannical king in Uxmal, and there was a prophesy that he would be overthrown. Nearby, on the south end of the site, there was a witch who hatched an egg in an ash pit, and out came a dwarf. The king felt threatened by the dwarf, but gave him a series of tests to try to prove that he was human and not a magical being after all. The first test the king gave to the dwarf was to tell him how many leaves were on a great tree in Uxmal. The dwarf by night sought the counsel of the gods, and the bat god told him how many leaves were on the tree. When the dwarf reported this to the king the next day (and I'm not really sure how the king knew if he was right), the king gave him another test. The dwarf was to build a great temple in one day. So the dwarf went into the corn fields and sought the help of alux'ob. Once the temple was built, the king gave the dwarf yet another test. He was to crack the seed of a cocoyul (not sure if that's spelled right) on his head. Knowing that the cocoyul was very hard, the dwarf sought the help of his mother, the witch. She somehow magically infused the shell of a tortoise under his scalp but over his skull, and the dwarf was able to crack the cocoyul. When the king tried it, he killed himself, and the dwarf then took over Uxmal.
Although we didn't get to climb the Temple of the Dwarf, we did climb the Great Pyramid, and that was amazing. We left Uxmal in the afternoon, got a late lunch, and then returned for the sound and light show that evening. Seeing as how the entire thing was in Spanish, there was lots of music, lights, and echoing, it was very hard to understand. It was still great though, and coconut ice cream made the experience even better. We returned to the hacienda rather late.

6/26 DAY 11

We had to get up really early to head to Coba. I have to say, Coba was not too exciting for me. The site was in a very ruinous state, more so than anywhere else we had been. Also, there was a ton of walking because the site is so spread out. We didn't even see half of it, but everyone was exhausted by the end. My favorite part was right before we left. We climbed a huge pyramid, bigger than the one at Uxmal. I admit, I scooted down while sitting instead of chancing falling down those steep stairs. Mayans must have had great legs!
 After Coba, we had to change from our lighter clothing into pants and long sleeve shirts. It was absolutely miserable in that humidity, but we were going to Punta Laguna where Dr. Vick works. She set up a spider monkey reserve and has been working there since 1996. As we would be going through the jungle in the lagoon areas, we were promised several mosquito bites. Here, we also saw the cenote of the skulls where over 200 human skulls were found.
6/27 DAY 12
We made it to Puerto Morelos the previous night after Punta Laguna. We would be spending two night in a little hotel on the beach. When we got there, we went and got late dinner and then worked on homework until 2am. The trip was coming to a close, and we were all making every effort to complete our anthropology journals.
On day 12 we went snorkeling. I am definitely not the best swimmer, but I did it anyway, and I was very glad I did. After that, we had the day free to walk around Puerto Morelos. We had a nice dinner together at the end of the day, and we finished it off sitting on the balconies overlooking the beach and doing... more homework.

6/28 DAY 13
I woke up early to go see the sunrise on the beach. It was a spectacular sight, but I'll have to add pictures later. A little before noon, they took us all to the airport. The trip really did fly by. It was a non-stop, crazy, exciting adventure, and although pieces were tough, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

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