Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

Today was a chill day, which was nice.  Especially after yesterday's long day.  Got up at 11 PM ish?  (SO nice).  I got up and dressed (after watching my new Sailor Moon Crystal Episode.  Can I just say, I love Crunchyroll).  Then I headed to the bank and took out some money (I actually went by myself today, it was exhilarating.  Though a ten minute walk isn't that scary, I guess).  Here's a picture :) 

When I got back, I watched me some Dr. Who, then did a little bit of homework.  Then we had some lunch with the family.  (It was yummy):

But I just realized I never got a picture of the food, so I hope you enjoy the picture of the table instead :P  *Ahem*

After lunch, I took a nap.  Then we headed out to Raquel's house for swimming.  And GUESS WHAT.  I learned how to float on my back (Thanks to Christina).

After swimming, I went to Miches with our whole group.  On my way there, we saw this cute little kitten!  I wanted to adopt it then and there.  But I don't think they allow pets over the border...but it was SO cute.  See?:

Anyway, at the restaurant,  I ate my first taco del Pastor (lamb).  It was pretty good :)  Not my favorite actually.  On one of the tacos, I put the "somewhat" spicy avocado sauce.  Let's just say, the edges of my mouth were burning.  Here's a pic:

After that, we all headed to the Noche Mexicana.  Where we watched the dancers and I bought more souvenirs.  The dancers were SUPER good.

After that we went and got some sorbets from the Centro:

Notice my red, white, and blue dress in celebration of the fourth of July :)
 After that, we went ahead and headed home for the night.  And now I am crunching on wintergreen mints and itching my more, peeling legs (it's fun.  Before today, I could say I've never peeled on my legs or ear tips before.  Now I officially can't say that anymore.  But at least they don't hurt anymore!)

'Til Tomorrow.

R J Carr


Friday, July 3, 2015

Chichen Itzá - Excursion 2

Once again, I have LOTS of pictures.  This morning I woke up about 6:30 AM, but didn't roll out of bed til about 6:40 AM.  Consequently, I was running a little late this morning.  Nevertheless, Christina and I managed to get out the door on time (well, technically the van came by, but MM sent them to pick up the other two houses first before coming back for us).  I didn't get a good picture of the bus, but I got a picture of the seat!  (A very bad picture of a seat, lol)

During the 2ish hour bus ride, I read and listened to my PTX tunes as well as "Fight Song" and I had a moment that I felt I should share with y'all today.  These are the words I wrote down, the thoughts that I had on the bus today:

"On the bus ride here [Chichen Itza] I couldn't help but think of how far I've come these past seven months.  God is so good.  So very good.  And it is my testimony that He knows you.  He understands your struggles and your pain.  And even now, He is preparing a way for your healing.  Healing is not always comfortable, but it is beautiful to behold the hand of the Maker in its process.  There is hope and there is help.  There is a God who cares.  I know this with all my heart.  With all my soul, I wish I could cry out to the world and declare that Christ lives!  He is there.  He loves you.  And He will walk every single step of this life with you.  Three years ago, man, I don't know if I would have been able to speak with the confidence I do now.  But I can declare to you now that He lives.  And I know in who I have trusted and will trust in still.  Hope on.  And believe in good things to come."

Shortly after writing this down, we finally arrived at Chichen Itzá.  And I took a lot of pictures :)  I'll admit, I didn't have much focus on the tour guide (listening to long amounts of Spanish is really tiring, especially when there are so many distractions around you and its hot and humid).  But I did learn a few things!  I'll try to mention 'em in the picture captions.

The bathroom!  I thought it was super cool that they didn't have sinks.  They just had the counter made at an angle, so all the water went into that little crack as you washed your hands. 
One of the walkways :)  See all the little vendors (there were SO many of them.  All of them being like, "our wares are so cheap, buy them!")

These are the workers working to preserve the ruins (removing plants, etc)
This is a close up of the building (the building shown above and below).  The god shown here is the Mayan rain god named Chaa 'ak (or however you spell that).

Here's a picture of the church building.  (The doors were so tiny!  The tallest Mayan was about 5' 4" or something like that.  TINY).

This is the back of the church.
This is a close up of the engravings on the church.

This is the small pelota playing field.

This is an offering table.  This was in transition to the newer part of Chichen Itza.  The previous had been the center of the older part of Chichen Itza.

This is me in front of the really tall building.  I kind of blend in with all the other tourists, lol.

This is our Profe photo bombing out jumping picture.

And here's the end of him leaving the photobombing of our picture.

Here's us getting ready to jump.  (I'm gonna see if one of the other girls has a picture of us actually in the air).

Everybody Point!!!!  (Your welcome.  #sevenwonderoftheworld #familytradition)

The original base of the really big building seen in the pictures above.  (aka the stone 'sidewalk' beside it, before the park decided to make it grassy).

It was so cool how you could still see the paint.  This is part of the wall that went around Chichen Itza.

Steps next to the street (the original.  The streets we were walking on were also the original Mayan streets).

And this is the cenote (the big hole behind this little building) where they offered sacrifices.  (These Mayans were uh, kind of really into this whole sacrificial thing).

The BIG pelota court.  (Pelota, or however you spell that, is the Mayan game they used to play.  Very popular.  Currently academic people are arguing whether or not it was the winners or the losers that got sacrificed after a game...yeah...)
This is what was behind us (the picture above was what was in front of us at the court.  This is what was behind us.  There was also one of these at the very from of the court.  Apparently, because of the acoustics, whoever was sitting at the front end and the back end could hear each other just fine during a game.  #crazy).
 These next photos are the Mayan pelota players.  (So much cooler than having your uniform hung in a gymn.  I wonder if it was the players girlfriends who carved these things...?).  You have to look really hard to see the faces and different depictions.

This is a sacrifice scene.  Awesome right?  The picture before this picture is the scene after the sacrifice.  You can see the person is holding the hair of someone's head).

The hoops.

Side view of the court.
 After viewing all of these wonderful edifices, we got 20 minutes to go shopping (that's all we wanted.  We'd already been out in the sun for 3 hours by this point).  So Conner and I headed off to go buy souvenirs.  See?
These are all the souvenirs I bought today!  #somany All the vendors saw me and must have been thinking, "Heh, she'll buy anything!" because I got so many more "Buy this!  It's cheap!" while I was carrying around these bags.  Also, note the photo-bomber in the back, lol.
 After that we met at the exit (that's where I'm standing in the picture above).  While we were waiting for others, I bought a strawberry smoothie.  SO good.  I'd had a Gatorade and a bottle of water during the afternoon, but this was really, super refreshing.

After this, we drove to the cenote!  It was SO PRETTY!!!!!!!!!!   Here's a picture.  (As soon as the other kids post theirs, I shall post more.  There's a group photo I super want to share with you all).

Me trying to look cool ;)
This cenote was 150 feet deep.  I was hoping there'd be a shallow end, but, obviously not.  So, after going down to the cenote and realizing there was no shallow end (I should note, before going down to the cenote, we'd all gotten in our bathing suits and "showered" -- the showering was mandatory prior to entering the cenote). I climbed all the way back up, went to my locker (which I'd rented), grabbed some money, and rented a life jacket.

(To be honest, I was still unsure if I'd be comfortable enough to get in the water, even with a life jacket For those of you who do not know, I am TERRIFIED of deep water.  I almost drowned once and, ever since then, I have hated deep water.  I have been learning how to tread water, but I didn't really want to try my skills in a 150 foot deep cenote).

Then, I headed back down the three flights of wet stone stairs, back to the side of the cenote, and, with shaking hands, finished tightening up my life jacket.  It was then that the workers beckoned to me, letting me know I could get in the water (the workers were patrolling the ladders, letting people know when it was clear to get in), but I shook my head.  Because first, I wanted to find a fellow student who would go in with me.

About a minute later, I did.  (Well, actually, I ran into Profe and a fellow student).  Profe offered to jump in with me, and the other girl said we could go in the ladder and try the little "bench" that was close to the ladder (it was a little space in the wall that was big enough to sit in).  Well, I chose to do the ladder, because I was NOT jumping into a cenote.  Not when I didn't trust my life jacket to not slip over my head or something.

Anyway.  So I headed to the ladder and climbed down it (my whole body was trembling.  I was terrified).  With a reassuring glance at my fellow student, I got into the water (it was freezing!)  And...stayed near the ladder.  For probably about 5 or 6 minutes?  Well, probably more than that.  During that time, I focused on not hyperventilating (lol) and ran into some other fellow students and the Profe.  They offered to take me to the center of the cenote, but I shook my head.  Whitney, one of the fellow students, offered to stay by me though.

Long story short, I didn't do much (just hung out by the wall, and the ladder, the little fishes eating my dead skin).  Until...the group photo.  Knowing I'd regret it if I wasn't in the picture, I went with Whitney (such a kind soul!!) around the ladders to the front part of the cenote.  And away from the wall (my heart is pounding right now just thinking about it).  The person wasn't ready yet to take the photo, and some of the students had to still get into the cenote.  All of which was hurried by my, "Takeittakeittakeit!!!"  (At first it was more out of fear, then it was because I liked the sound of saying "takeit!" and it made me laugh.  Which, laughing is always a good way to release tension.  Especially when that tension is created by your body screaming at you to flee from the "danger").  Needless to say, the group photo finally got taken (big thanks to Raquel for also hurrying the process along), and we all departed hence.

At least, that's what I thought.  Until, as I headed up the ladder, I looked back and saw the beautiful waterfalls flowing into the cenote (more like tiny streams. You can probably see them in the picture above).  Waterfalls which I had wanted to go under, but had not because of fear.

The little voice in my head said, "When are you ever going to have this opportunity again?  You're going to regret it if you don't get back in that cenote and expereince the waterfalls!"  Whitney must have been on the same brain wave because she asked, "No regrets?" as we climbed off the ladder.

Without hesitation, I said, "Can we go into the waterfall thing really quick?"  She smiled and said, "Yeah!" So, without further ado, we climbed back down into the cenote.

Whitney said, "Okay, so we're gonna kick off the ladder, and then I will grab your hand and pull you to the waterfall.  That sound good?"  It sounded terrifying, but I nodded anyway, my heart racing.  So Whitney pushed off, then, after a first failed attempt (I think my hands were magnetically attracted to the ladder or something), I pushed off the ladder, reaching for Whitney's hand.  I grabbed it easily enough, and she pulled me right to the waterfall.

I couldn't help but smile as the water dribbled on my head.  I'd made it!  I tried looking up, but it's hard to do when water is dribbling in your face.  Blinking water out of my eyes, I then looked towards the center of the cenote.  Realizing how close it was, I said, "Can we go to the center?"  And we did!  With Whitney pulling me along.

It.  Was.  Beautiful.

Lying there on my back (okay, somewhat lying on my back), looking up at the  If you ever have a chance to go to this cenote, swim to the center and look up. It was the most breathtaking thing I've ever seen.  Whitney remarked something along the lines of, "Isn't God's creations just amazing??"  *Sigh*  Such a blissful moment of pure peace and awesomeness.  SO cool.  SO beautiful.  SO worth it.  If I could have stayed in that moment, I think I would have.

But, alas, it was time to go (I'll admit, my heart gave a lurch as I saw how far we were fro the ladders, but I managed to get there in one piece.  Half swimming, half being pulled).  As we gathered our things, getting ready to return to the bathrooms above to change, Whitney asked, "No regrets?"  I shook my head and smiled, and we took a picture :)  I'll admit, part of me wishes I could have swam to the other side of the cenote and explore the tree roots there.  But I think my sense of accomplishment overwhelms that feeling.  PLUS, it gives me a reason to go back again someday and explore some more.

I'm just super grateful to Whintey and to my Heavenly Father (I'd said a prayer for peace earlier, when I'd been hanging by the ladder) for helping me have the strength to face my fears and enjoy such a beautiful moment in the cenote.  Whitney pulling me along kind of reminded me of how Christ helps us in our lives.  Though fear and terror may besiege us, Christ is there to hold our hand and guide us, giving us the peace and assurance that we can do hard things, and showing us that the end result of accomplishing those hard things is always worth it.

After changing back into our clothes, we finally ate!  (This was about 4 PM).  It was at a buffet.  But unfortunately, none of us were really hungry.   Probably because we were all so exhausted.  All the same, I think I actually ate quite well.  Here's some pictures from the restaurant:

Potato salad, pork, fish, noodles, veggis, rice, roll, flan
After lunch, we finally headed for home (here's a picture of the entrance as we were leaving).

 When Christina and I got home (I should mention that I read a whole book on the bus ride home.  It was...okay), we didn't do much as we were exhausted.  I looked over my souvenirs again and took a shower.  Then I asked MM if she could make us those burritos again (what, to me, is a quesadilla).  So I ate about four of those and some grapes, talking with MM about various things.  Then I returned to my room and watched Dr. Who and wrote this blog.  And now, I am exhausted and shall head to bed.

'Til Tomorrow

R J Carr

Side note:  I felt super bad for Profe.  He got stung/bit by a waspy thing at the park.  Then, on the ride home, a souvenir (not mine) fell from the luggage holder onto his poor head).  Luckily, he recovered quickly from both :)

Further side note:   Can I just say, when you come to is worth the trouble of changing your money to pesos.  Everything is MUCH cheaper in the parks and tourists sites if you do

Even further side note:  I had "Starships" stuck in my head all day, but instead of having the correct lyrics stuck in my head, "Starships were meant to fly!" I kept singing, "StarFISH were meant to fly." Lol.