Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Road Less Traveled: Agua Azul

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Memo and I headed to Villahermosa after work on Friday in preparation for his away rugby game that Saturday. We thought it'd be fun to make a weekend out of it and stay at the Hilton in Villahermosa. Living in Carmen, we take advantage of any chance for comfort and luxury. Upon arrival, we changed into our swimsuits, headed to the pool with a view, and ordered two margaritas. Everything was going according to plan; life was good. 

Chillaxin' with my margarita and handsome husband, I decided to check Facebook, as any compulsive social networker would do. I had one new notification "Caimanes (rugby team), the game tomorrow is cancelled." :| Whatttttt?!!!! What do the Landreneau's do when life hands us lemons? We turn it into a vacation, duh! We added vodka to the lemons and made a freakin' lemon drop martini. 

Saturday morning, we smuggled some hotel towels into our bag and headed to Agua Azul, cascades in the nearby state of Chiapas. I loaded the directions from Google Maps, and we were on our way. About 30 minutes into our trip, Google insisted that we take a right turn. I warned Billy that based on the squiggly lines on the map, sh*t was about to get real. I have learned throughout our time in Mexico, that if Google Maps has squiggly lines, we will likely be in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road… proven true, yet again.  I later learned that their was a much easier way to get there, but what fun would that have been?

Why take this road? 
When you can take this road?

We ventured through pot holes, mountainous terrain with straight drop offs at your side, and little towns where we received looks like that said "What the heck are you doing way out here rubita?" Two hours into our road trip in the mountains, poor Billy says, "We are close right?" ….. mmmm define close. Ha. Right when we were getting restless and wondering if we were even headed in the right direction, we saw a beautiful view of a muddy river down below. It was gorgeous. We took the road less travelled, but it was an adventure. We saw a place that we will NEVER see again. It was a beautiful journey.

 One confession I have to make is how nervous I was the entire drive. You see, Billy and I had been putting this trip to Agua Azul off for a year. A few different friends who had made the trip shared that there are men who throw metal spikes in front of your car and ask for money. This TERRIFIED me. I was assured that you just pay them, and you're on your way. I still didn't like the idea.  So, we are driving through the mountains for about 3 hours through the smallest towns on dirt roads with pot holes, and I'm imagining every man is going to jump in front of the car with spikes and harass us for money. :p I can laugh at my nervous thoughts looking back. 

Once we made it back to the main road and something that looked a little more like civilization, we were getting really close to Agua Azul. We did not encounter any men with spikes, luckily. However, there were sets of women that would hold a string of flags in front of your car and not let you pass until you paid. Thankfully, women and children with flags are a lot less intimidating than men with spikes. I paid the first little old lady, and she smiled graciously. We passed. Not 15 yards later, the SAME thing with another group of ladies. We were trying to figure out what to do as two local cars sped through the flags. Cars trump string of flags, noted. We followed suit. Fool me once. ;) 

As we approached Agua Azul, it began to rain. We were warned by several friends that this is "rainy season" and the water wouldn't be blue. Although I do wish I could have seen the blue waterfalls, the muddy rushing water was pretty cool. We hopped out of the car, in the rain, and mucked through the mud in our slippery flip flops (poor planning.) We ventured out into the rain for a few photo-ops. Agua Azul is truly a hidden gem in Chiapas. After touring the waterfalls and eating some freshly made empanadas and milanesa, we decided it was time to head back to luxury. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Hilton and reminisced about spontaneous adventures that turn out to be great memories, just like Agua Azul. 

Billy is not amused by the rain, but he still looks handsome! :p

No swimming today!

I took my weekly photo challenge picture at the waterfalls. The theme was "jewelry".

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sotuta de Peon: Hacienda Viva

Since I've last written, a new couple, Alex and Jenny, moved to Ciudad del Carmen from Billy's company. After a little chatting, we realized that Billy and Alex have the same birthday! Jenny and I just knew that we had to plan a birthday trip for the guys. We settled on Sotuta de Peon, a working hacienda near Merida, Mexico. After the wonderful time that we had exploring the hacienda, I must say that I'm happy with our choice! 

Our Deluxe Cabin

Waiting on a woman :P

Alex being Alex, haha

Billy and I at Alex and Jenny's cabin.

The really special part about Sotuta de Peon is that guests can easily see how rope is made from the heneken plant and do a cenote tour without ever leaving the grounds! They also have two great restaurants and a swim up bar at the main pool. After lunch we began the tour of the hacienda, learning the history of the Yucatan and its "green gold." Next, we assisted in extracting the fibers from the heneken leaves and made a rope. Alex and I both volunteered. We hopped on a train led by a mule (SO cool) and headed to the on-site cenote for a refreshing dip. This was a first for all of us. It was awesome! We ended our day in the main pool drinking margaritas. I think Jenny and I get gold stars for planning a great trip.

The gang right before our tour.

The guide kept calling this 'jail' but it is where all of the Mayan slaves lived.

Separating the fibers to make rope.

Waiting for the demonstration

The rope another volunteer made

Billy holding our henequen fibers in front of the old machinery

We are ready for our train ride!

Headed to the cenote

The group in the cenote

On Sunday, we headed to Merida where we went souvenir shopping, walked around the main square, and had a delicious lunch at La Trotto before getting on the road. We are so lucky to live just a drive away from so many local treasures. We had a wonderful weekend with great friends. I look forward to finding out what else the Yucatan has in store for us!