Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mexico: Akumal and the Cricket Artisan in Playa

Midweek, we went to the beach at Akumal, a quiet, laid-back community of villas, condos and beautiful, gracefully arching bays, clear, turquoise waters and clean, sharp horizons. In Yucatec Mayan, Akumal means "place of the turtles."

Not (yet) a major tourist destination, Akumal is a beautiful, mostly unspoiled area where visitors can swim with the sea turtles. It's also home to a non-profit group dedicated to protecting the sea turtles and the ecological health of the area.

As we drove through the little white-arched entrance, there was a collection of small shops, apartments, homes and businesses all loosely gathered together along the narrow packed-dirt road. We parked in front of La Cueva del Pescador, The Cave of the Fisherman. La Cueva was part of a small cluster of buildings in a shady palm grove. Behind it was a little clothing shop and at an angle behind the shop was Turtle Bay Bakery.

There were a few small tables outside; inside, the floor was simply sand (I don't think there was an actual floor below the sand) and there was a pool table where two young men were playing and an order window for the kitchen. Inside, the walls were covered with photographs of fishermen with their catches. Very picturesque, almost Hemingwayish. One of the servers told us that if we chartered a fishing trip on his boat, that they'd cook whatever we caught right there: "Hook it and cook it!" (We didn't do it, but thought it was a cool idea.) Terrific lunch!

After lunch, we walked across the road to the beach to rent snorkeling equipment for the family. There were charter tours available that would take the family out to swim with the turtles, but they decided to just rent the equipment ... and simply watch where the tours went and swim out to the same area. They put their equipment on and out they went. My daughter saw at least 8 turtles, some bigger than my 9-yr-old granddaughter, all swimming around and below them. Awesome, amazing and beautiful!

I sat on the beach (I can't swim) and had a wonderfully peaceful time sitting there just enjoying the ocean, the waves, the breeze. Just a perfect day! Very refreshing. (I have fibromyalgia so peaceful, calming experiences are very helpful in managing the pain. And after Xcaret, I could use the peace and quiet.)

There weren't many people in the area where I was so it was pretty quiet and calming. After about an hour or so of lazy, drowsy watching, I heard - and felt!- a solid *thud!* next to my hand. A coconut had fallen and barely missed me. Whew! Close call. I turned back to that gorgeous expanse of Caribbean before me and just as I started to drift again ... *bam!* Another coconut fell right next to me! I looked up into the tree. One ... two ... There were two more up there so I moved out of the line of fire! My son-in-law opened up one of them when they came back onshore. Tasty, fresh coconut!

After Akumal, we drove into Playa Del Carmen for dinner at Yaxche, known for its authentic Mayan cuisine. We chose an outdoor table right on the street. Shortly after being seated, a gentleman approached our table from the street and placed something on our table. It was a large green cricket! He started singing a song and dancing the cricket around on the table. As he sang, he made cricket sounds (I have no idea how to write a cricket sound in letters!) and jumped quickly up and down like a cricket. So delightful! A natural artisan, he'd fashioned these wonderful crickets from palm leaves, very intricately plaited, wth wooden skewers for legs. I'd love to go back and learn how to make these from him!

Such a wonderful day! I fell in love with Akumal. If the circumstances ever present themselves, I would love to buy a little place there and live in the peace and beauty of the place of the turtles.


Britt-Arnhild said...

What a lovley blue green colour :-)

Anonymous said...

Another stunning day in Mexico! Just beautiful. It must be good to have these pictures and memories to refresh your spirit! Thanks for sharing them Rose. Hope you do get back there someday. Cute cricket story.


Cindy said...

Say Rose? Do we like Aqua on account of the color of the water in your post? Gosh, wish I could be by the water more...spent the day in a pool and am burnt! If I had it to do over, would go but, load up with the sunscreen! Peace!