Wash Away The Winter Blues

Hola. Bienvenidos a Mexico. A long winter and the blues? Why not call Expedia and take a short four-day getaway weekend trip to sunny, warm Mexico? Fly to Cancun in a few hours and head south to Playa del Carmen.

I left on St. Patrick’s Day in a raging snowstorm. Arrival with sun and palm trees at the charming low rise Princess Hotel with a gentle wind wafting through the open air lobby and a welcome drink served by friendly staff was just what I needed. On a short walk to my room, I came across a gentle iguana in the middle of a walk who posed for a photo without the least bit of fear. This had to be the beginning of good luck!

The highlight of the trip was a half-day tour with the dolphins. Dolphinaris Park Riviera Maya is the only interactive dolphin park in the world. These fun-loving mammals will play with you for an hour in a spectacular lagoon surrounded by a glistening white sand beach – a one-of-a-kind dolphin adventure. All of the water in the lagoons is re-circulated several times throughout the day to create an astounding, safe and controlled environment for your day in paradise.

Learn all about the dolphins and how they are trained to follow hand gestures and voice calls. Feel their soft skin, a surprise to me as I thought it would be rougher like a snake skin. After gliding underwater and demonstrating some playful behavior such as acrobatic jumps and back flip tricks, the dolphins want to be appreciated and rewarded. They wait expectantly until everyone claps.

The first exercise was a “Foot-Push” where the participant (you) lies face down in the water with legs slightly apart but very straight and firm. Two dolphins come up from the back and propel you across the lagoon ending with a feeling of exhilaration and a big splash.

This is followed by a pet, a hug, a kiss and they shake their fin. A free-time session allows you to witness the dolphins’ communication skills and listen to their signature clicking and whistling.

My favorite ride was standing between two dolphins and holding on to the fins for a brisk trip across the water. The session concluded with each person receiving a kiss on the lips, on the cheek and a shake of hands with their fins – a gentle and memorable end to a perfect experience.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Sunshine and surf aren’t all the Riviera Maya has to offer. The cultural heritage of the Mayans should be explored with visits to the archaeological ruins. Tulum is a walled city that around 800 years ago served as a sacred site as well as a sea port. It is the most sacred site of the region.

The Mayan people are part of an amazing culture that flourished in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These highly developed societies built pyramids and temples, developed a form of writing through hieroglyphics, and were highly skilled in mathematics and astronomy.

As the Mayans began to flourish so did their many skills. They were regarded as the inventors of the first calendar and the most highly developed hieroglyphically written language in the northern hemisphere. Their mathematical achievements and amazing accuracy with advanced astronomy has left a well-deserved legacy. Highly advanced in art and trade, Tulum was a major crossroads of trade from both land and sea.

The central feature of Tulum is El Castillo, a temple with steep steps leading up to a columned shrine. This structure served as a navigational signal to large canoes that Mayans used in trading. The discovery showed that small windows in the shrine line up perfectly with a gap in the barrier reef offshore. During daylight hours the sky is visible through windows so incoming canoes could line up by keeping equal amounts of light in each window. At night another set of windows was lit to guide the canoes safely to the beach. A primitive lighthouse.

A day trip to Chichen Itza provides the best picture of past civilizations and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Be sure to see the pok-la-pok ball court where the Maya played for the honor victory and then faced a sacrificial death.

Xcaret, a Mexican version of a Disney park, offers a water park and historical recreations as well as an evening folklore show, starring hundreds in elaborate costumes. A true celebration.

Sun, sand, beaches, historical sites and an eco adventure with dolphins. What more can one want for a getaway weekend that washes winter blues?

The Expedia Getaway Weekend package includes air, hotel, meals and drinks so it saves a lot of time and effort for planning purposes, very helpful, especially for a short trip.