Archive for ‘Caribbean’

Rio Secreto underground river tour goes right through dark heart of Yucatan

Where I went yesterday there was no sun. There was no light. I walked, floated and swam through a half mile of pitch-black darkness while bending over to make sure my 6-foot-3 frame didn’t get gored by a million sharp stalactites. I did a tour of the Rio Secreto, one of the wildest river cruises in the world. The difference is you do it without a boat. It’s just you, a life vest, a wetsuit and a lighted helmet. That and a guide who stood between seven of us being hopelessly lost forever 60 feet underground.
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Tulum tour is 10-stop shopping for Mexican souvenirs

Tulum isn’t what I expected. A couple years ago I went to Ek-Balam, a former seat of the Mayan kingdom north of here. That featured everything from living quarters to warehouses to an acropolis. Even though Ek-Balam’s influence faded later during the empire, I got a feel for what the complexity of a major Mayan city. At Tulum, the first thing we saw as we pulled into a parking lot was a souvenir emporium the size of Wal-Mart. Is there a country that has more souvenirs than Mexico? This place makes Rome look like a fishing village in Greenland. Mexico seems to have as many different brands of tequila as dirty T-shirt messages.
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Playa del Carmen timeshare spiel is definitely no day at the beach

I’m a veteran of these things. I’ve spent a weekend in Steamboat Springs for $75. I had a condo in Cabo for $50 a night. I know how to say no, a word too many people can’t say to strangers. Timeshare salesmen aren’t strangers to me. After an hour or so, they become annoying, cloying vultures who would lie to their first-born child if it ravaged their savings account for one of their properties.

Some are worse than others. I remember one clown with Marriott who asked everyone in the room where’s the one place they’ve always wanted to spend a week. It don’t matter, he said. They had a property there. When they got to me, I said, “How are your resorts in North Korea?”
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Playa del Carmen’s six-star resort scene puts the “high” in high maintenance

The Grand Luxxe redefines opulence. The grand villa where I’m quartered has every luxury you can imagine without violating some federal obscenity laws. It’s 2,500 square feet with three huge bedrooms. Mine has a king-size bed covered with enough pillows to house flood evacuees. An above-ground eggshell-white Jacuzzi tub separates the room from a bathroom that has a shower with two different shower heads. Next to the bathtub is a little stand with a carefully rolled towel tied by a decorative bow. Small bottles of bath salt, bathing gel and bubble bath are placed equal distance around the towel. Who knew feng shui extended to toiletries?
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