Friday, November 29, 2013

¡Hola!

We are in Cancún with my cousin and her family, staying at a timeshare resort. When we first started coming here, most of the guests around us came from the US and Canada, but this time the people around us come mostly from Latin America. I’m happy about that, because I enjoy greater immersion in Latino culture. However much time I spend in Mexico and south, I’m still amazed by how friendly the people are. When most of the guests at the resort came from the north, the locals we saw most often worked here and I probably assumed that their bosses went out of their way to hire friendly people. I re-thought that theory yesterday, when we took an excursion to a nature-adventure park called Xel-Ha.

Many of the people getting onto the bus after us stopped at the top of the stairs to say hello. The first time, I thought they must know somebody in the front row, but soon I realized that at least many of them were greeting the bus passengers in general. How cool is that? This demonstrates friendliness on a whole new level. I really like it here.

We had a good time at Xel-Ha too. When Alla and I have been at this park previously, we came for an afternoon only, after visiting an archaeological site called Tulum. Having seen Tulum twice, I jumped at the opportunity to spend the whole day at Xel-Ha. We saw parts of the park I’d never had time to visit before, riding too-small bicycles up to the spring where the park’s main river begins. Since we had cloudy weather yesterday we rented wetsuits to wear with our snorkel gear and then we swam down the river, looking at an increasing variety of fish as we got closer to the sea. The warm salty water from the sea stayed below the colder fresh water from the cenote and the thermocline between the two layers shimmered in the sun.

We stopped at some towers in the river where we could play on ziplines and a couple of ropes courses. I struggled to cross a wide span by walking on a slack rope, holding onto another rope above me. Seeing that others fell when people on the rope near them lost their balance, I started with a good gap after the guy in front of me. He crossed the span successfully, but his overweight friend behind me caught up with me and then fell off. Her weight had made the rope sag under my feet so I could barely reach the overhead balance rope, and when she fell the rope under my feet snapped up like an archer’s bow and shot me into the air. I held onto the overhead rope, but came down beside the foot rope, which was now at my side. I decided I didn’t really need to get back up, and dropped, laughing, into the water. As I write this, I wonder if I could have finished the course by going hand-over-hand. I think so, and I’ll have to go back and try again.

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the friendly culture and the delicious food. I probably can’t bring home much of the food, but I wonder if I can get away with saying hello to the folks on the bus next time I take any kind of an excursion. I’ll give it a try.

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