Bird on dock.

Cancun, Mexico

by Eve Andersson

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Cancun might be considered the "Las Vegas" of Mexico, with its commercialism, hedonism, and vulgarly extravagant hotels. Yet it is still a wonderful place to visit. Beautiful, well-preserved Mayan ruins are located within a couple hours of the city. And the climate and beaches are hard to beat. There are plenty of places to find solitude if you don't spend all of your time on "the strip."

Chichen Itza

"Temple of the warriors," or "group of the thousand columns," as viewed from the top of the pyramid of Kukulcán.  Chichen Itza. The ancient city of Chichen Itza is one of Mexico's most famous archealogical sites, is just 110 miles (178 km) from Cancun. Founded in the year 514 and abandoned between 1196 and 1441, the intricate carvings are remarkably intact, thanks to the dry weather and hard stone used to build the structures.

Looking down the rows of columns towards the temple of the warriors.  Chichen Itza. Temple of the Warriors.  Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza.

The Temple of Kukulkan, a 90-foot pyramid, is the largest structure at Chichen Itza. Named after the feathered god Kukulkan, also knows as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs, is oriented to mark the equinoxes, resulting in serpent-like shadows running down the sides twice a year.

Looking up at the pyramid.  Chichen Itza. People sliding down on their butts from the pyramid.  Chichen Itza. The monster is munching on the pyramid of Kukulcán.  Chichen Itza.

Eagle eating a human heart.  Chichen Itza. The blood spurting from the winner's neck is turning into snakes.  Chichen Itza. Some of the carvings are a tad gruesome. In the carving on the left, an eagle is eating a human heart. On the right, a person's head has been cut off. The blood spurting from his neck transforms instantly into snakes. According to the guide, the victim was the winner of a Mayan ballgame, who would have considered it an honor to be sacrificed.

Closeup of skull beneath the winning team captain's prize ceremony.  Chichen Itza. Carvings.  Chichen Itza. Skulls.  Chichen Itza.

A panoramic shot of the "sacred well," or "well of the sacrifices." This is a natural well, or "cenote."   Chichen Itza. This cenote, a large, natural well, was used for sacrifices. Archaologists have found gold, jade, and skeletons of all ages in the cenote. Fortunately, another cenote served as the source for drinking water.


Beach at Tulum. Tulum, Mayan ruins on the Carribean coast, 81 miles (131 km) south of Cancun, has a tropical feel, with stone structures and lush palm trees interspersed. Constructed between the 12th and 16th centuries, the architecture is simpler than that of the older Chichen Itza, and the wet, salty air has done little to help preserve the stones. However, the dramatic scenery with ocean-side cliffs, makes the visit absolutely worthwhile. And if you get tired of exploring, you can always go for a swim!

Tulum structure. Beach at Tulum. Tulum structure. Arch. Tulum structure. Tulum structure.

Ancient hand prints. Ancient painting. Grave.

Black and blue bird with orange legs. Lizard.


Xelha is a natural water park, a 22-acre fresh water lagoon adjacent to the Carribean sea. At Xelha, you can snorkel, explore caves, walk for miles, and even find secluded corners in which you can relax and call your own.

Xelha. Xelha. Lighthouse. Beach.

Climbers. Snorklers pointing at fish. Snorklers swimming with large fish.

Cenotes. Duck. Path.

Lizard. Lizard. Lizard. Lizard.


Xcaret is an eco-park for all ages. You can spend the entire day (and evening) there, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with the dolphins, watching performances and Mayan ballgames, visiting the zoo, aquarium, butterfly pavilion, and more.

Dolphins.  Xcaret. Eve swims with the dolphins.  Xcaret. Eve swims with the dolphins.  Xcaret. Feeding time for the dolphins.  Xcaret. Eve swims with the dolphins.  Xcaret.

Ballgame.  Xcaret. Ballgame.  Xcaret. Ballgame.  Xcaret. Ballgame.  Xcaret.

Performance.  Xcaret. Performance.  Xcaret. Performance.  Xcaret.



Eve holding rooster. Bird.  Black with brown chest. Bird on dock. Bird on sand. Coco, a sweet chimpanzee. Eve and Coco, a sweet chimpanzee.

Underwater Life

Space aliens underwater. Jin underwater. Eve underwater.

The "Civilized" Life

Pool at Fiesta Americana. Fiesta Americana hotel. Hotel Gran Melia. A neighboring hotel as viewed from our hotel room balcony.
Jin says that Cancun is just like Las Vegas, with all the big hotels and the catering to tourists.

The Good Life

Jin's head. Beach. Beach by Club Med. The view of the coastline from our hotel room balcony.
Beach at Fiesta Americana.

The Spring Break Life

Beach full of college kids. Wet t-shirt contest. Sol parasail on the beach.

Eve Andersson (



Just got back from a trip to Cancun and though I'd see if there were any pictures of Coco on the web.

Not sure when you went but Coco is now twenty-one years old and still as lovely as ever.

When I saw her lumbering across the sand I cried. I cried because I'd always believed that Chimpanzees belong in the wild. They do not belong in zoos or circuses and certainly not as a photographer's prop.

However, as I got to know Coco, and discovered that she was born in captivity twenty-one years ago, I realised that with all the good intentions in the world, she would never know what it was like to be truly free.

I'm not saying that I approve of her situation; but I honestly believe that cuddling up to strangers is the best she's going to get.

It's all she's ever known.

-- Tracey Thomas

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