Playa Del Carmen 
For dinner that night we decided to walk down the road to see if there was another place that might have food farther down. The place we were staying had a pretty small, sketchy looking kitchen and the food was expensive. We did find a place about a mile down. We were told to find a table upstairs. The view was amazing. A 360 view of the sunset, the ocean and the biosphere. Dinner was also great.

The next morning, Mom and Papa watched the sunrise, then we headed out back in to Tulum for breakfast. Mom, Papa and I all had reservations to go to the Tulum Monkey Sanctuary (Joe had already been there with his mom the previous week). The tour was great. Lots of storytelling and views of spider monkeys. Their ultimate goal is to be able to release the monkeys back into the wild, but some won't be able to be released for one reason or another. Those that are at the point of possible release stay in Monkey Island. This is a fenced off area where they can run around. It's fenced to prevent predators from getting in. The monkeys are able to get in and out themselves. It was very interesting. They also had some rescued horses, parakeets and a dog. At the end of the tour, there was a cenote with a hole to jump in. Of the 9 people in the tour, 7 of us jumped. Mom didn't, but Papa and I did.

While we were doing the tour, Joe got the rental car washed. He picked us up once we were done, and we headed off to Playa Del Carmen to return the car. We got there with plenty of time to spare and had no problems with the return. We stayed in a hotel that was nearby the bus station.

That night we split up. Joe and I had a goal of finding an only vegetarian restaurant. After quite a walk, we did find a falafel and lemonade restaurant. The food was good.

The next day we mostly relaxed before hopping on the bus to the airport then catching the plane back home. Fortunately, we missed the insanely cold weather. At least we came back to 20's and even 40's instead of below zero temps.

-Miranda


This is Mimi. She was raised by a human, so she mostly walks upright and doesn't really know how to act like a monkey. She's been learning though.

This poor lady was owned by someone that fed her chocolate when she "acted up" and Coca Cola when she was "being good".... She and another female are so obese that when the people got her they thought they were having twins, but apparently they're still bigger than what they would be if they were pregnant.

One of two baby monkeys that were born on Monkey Island.

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Back to Tulum 
After getting up in the morning, we headed back out on the road. We didn't stop in Bacalar, just passed on through. We arrived back in Tulum and decided to stay at the same hotel we had previously stayed at. We basically relaxed for the rest of the day. We did go check out the Casa Cenote, which was basically a mangrove river. The current was pretty strong, but once you got past the first bend, it got better. There were a lot of herons along the river. Towards the end we even noticed a Green Heron bringing sticks to its mate, where a nest was being built. Very fun.

On Tuesday, we decided to go check out the biosphere and see how bad the road was heading down towards Punta Allen. Right after paying, the road we awful! Potholes everywhere. Jeeps and some other vehicles could zip on by us, but we were worried about doing damage to the dinky rental car, so we took our time. Our hope was to find a path heading to the estuary.

Eventually we decided that doing a boat tour would be the best way to actually see some birds. Nearby where we found we could stop, there was a place to stay that called itself a "campground". Basically you stayed in tents, but in the tents was a full sized bed and a lantern (that was it). We dropped our stuff off there and went on the boat tour.

Our captain was great. He really knew his birds. We got to see a lot of variety and he also took us to the area where manatees hang out. At one point he was zipping along down rivers through mangroves and stopped the boat all of a sudden. He had spotted a crocodile while going by an opening. It was a pretty amazing spot. The tour was expensive, but lasted 3 hours and felt worth it.

-Miranda

I could post so many photos... I'll keep it to a minimum though.

An eating area at the campground that overlooked the beach.

The tent.

An osprey nest with a young one hanging out on it and an adult.

A roseate spoonbill and young.

The crocodile. You can see the body underwater.

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Calakmul 
We got up bright and early so we could walk the trails that the place we were staying had to offer in the hopes of seeing some wildlife. We heard lots of birds and saw a few. At one point, Joe and Papa went one way while Mom and I went a different way. Papa ended up seeing what we assume is the butt of an Agouti. The Howler monkeys out in the jungle started calling at one point also. They were too far from the trail to see though.

After a small breakfast, we started down the 60km road to the ruins. We were hoping to see a Jaguar, but knew that the chances were very small. We didn't get to see one, but that's all right. We did get to the ruins and headed down the trail to check them out. I climbed to the top of one of the first ones because we didn't know which the "big" one was yet. After reaching the top, I soon discovered I was definitely not on the big one. Papa, Joe and I climbed the two big ones. One was slightly taller, but the first one we went up was a bit more impressive. It had a number of different tiers and a larger foot print. The climb up and down were tiring, but the view was awesome.

Once we were done with the ruins (about 3 hours) we worked our way back up the road. We spotted more birds and at one point got to see warthogs crossing the road ahead of us.

Once we were off that road and back to the highway, we made our way to the closest town, which was Xpujil. Joe and Papa found a place for us to stay there. Our thought was we would either stay there or keep driving and make it back to Bacalar. We were all pretty tired though, so more driving didn't sound like a good idea.

-Miranda


Many of the paths had trees going through them. Pretty fun.

The more impressive big ruin that we climbed.

Papa working his way up to the top.

An Oscillated Turkey. Not a great photo. It was already getting dark.

A Roadside Hawk.

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Kohunlich 
After waking up in Bacalar, we headed out for the ruins of Kohunlich. We got there right around 8am when they were supposed to open. The gate was still shut, so Joe and I walked down a nearby trail for just a bit. By the time we got back, the person working there had arrived and opened the gate.

Exploring the ruins was neat anyway. Being the only people in there made it pretty fun, if not slightly eery. Mom even climbed one of the ruins!

Once we were done exploring there, we headed out towards Calakmul. There we were planning on staying in a jungle, eco hotel. We arrived a few hours before the gate for Calakmul was going to close, so we decided to drive the 20km to the museum. Unfortunately, the museum closed the minute we got there. The woman running it was very kind and let us do a quick walk through. So, we got to see what was there, but weren't able to mull over anything or really read it, but that was fine. On our drive back up the road, we took our time looking for birds and other wildlife. We ended up seeing parrots (my photos weren't great because of the bright sky behind it) and a lot of hummingbirds.

We got to the hotel around 5 to get settled in. The cabins are just screened in (no glass windows). They have mosquito nets above each bed for the rainy season. We didn't need to use them. They also have a resident howler monkey that hangs out within the grounds. It started calling at one point, so I got video of that. We ended up pretty thankful that we heard that before going to bed since that one ended up calling back and forth with the howlers in the nearby jungle at about 4am.

Before bed though, Mom had heard about a cave nearby where millions of bats exit the cave each evening. So, at about 5:30, we found the spot, headed down the trail and waited for the bats to exit the cave. Once they started it was pretty amazing. They just kept coming and kept coming, always at the same density. They would spiral up until they cleared the trees, the continue on in a river away from the cave. As it got a little later, more started cutting through the forest. Right through people watching. At this point, a lot of the onlookers had left, but we stayed for a bit longer and had bats pass right between us. We could feel the air of their movement as they zipped by. Very neat.

-Miranda


Mom and Papa at the top of one of the ruins.

The Pyramid of the Masks. This is the main draw of Kohunlich.

The Howler Monkey.

One of the beds in the room.

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Mexico! 
Joe was already down in the Yucatan with his mother, but my parents and I headed down on Thursday to join him. Mary headed home that same day. We arrived in the evening to rain. Joe had rented a car and met us there without a problem.

The drive to Tulum from there was pretty stressful. Joe hadn't driven too much in Mexico yet and having a rental was a bit stressful, but it worked out fine. Mexico has topes (speedbumps) all over the place. Most are marked, but some aren't and can ruin your car if you go over them too quickly.

That evening we ate dinner at El Vegetariano, which was a very good, completely vegetarian restaurant. From there we headed to the hotel and basically crashed.

On Friday, Joe and I basically ditched Mom and Papa most of the day. We dropped them off that the Tulum ruins (we did them last time we were down there together). We picked them up a few hours later and found lunch. After lunch we decided to have them check out the Gran Cenote. Again, some place we had already been (and it was a bit pricey to go a second time), so we dropped them off. We went a little farther down the road to the Car Wash Cenote. It was basically a jungle pond with a few underwater caves. The water was clear, but the trees went right up to the edge with the roots growing in. It was a bit creepy looking. The dark caves underwater didn't help. It was still a refreshing swim though. There was a group of divers there heading in to the caves. That was neat to watch them head in.

We picked up Mom and Papa (they seemed to really enjoy the Gran Cenote) and we headed out of town. That night we found a place in Bacalar to stay the night. It took a bit of searching, but we eventually found something that worked out.

-Miranda

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