Our second Monday at Sandos Caracol started much the same as most mornings, with a coati encounter on the way to breakfast. The burros always seemed eager for attention, but if we tried to pet them, they were all, “How dare you touch me!” Because we had no treats to offer, the fickle things wanted no part of us. Monday’s eco tour was the Earth Tribute. I planted a red mangrove seedling. The Chechen tree is the skinny tree with the light-coloured trunk and the visible black sap pictured below. The Chacah tree is the red-barked tree right beside it. Whenever you see one of these trees, the other won’t be far away. The sap of the Chechen, which runs freely down the trunk, is nasty and can cause serious, painful rashes. The antidote for this rash is found in the sap of the Chacah tree, which must be cut to release its sap. Noemi, our darling guide, shared this Mayan legend explaining the appearance of these trees and why they are found together. There once were two brothers, warrior princes, and like many brothers they occasionally squabbled and got jealous of each other. The younger brother was kind and well-loved, while the older brother was cruel and cold. Unfortunately, the two brothers fell in love with the same beautiful princess, and they fought each other to see who would win her love. A great battle ensued, with both brothers being killed. In the afterlife, they begged the gods for forgiveness, asking to return to earth. The gods granted their wish, and the older brother was reborn as the Chechen tree, which seeps black poison, burning whoever touches it. The younger brother was reborn as the Chacah tree, with a nectar that neutralizes the Chechen’s toxin. Wherever the evil Chechen tree grows, so does the pure Chacah, to protect and heal Chechen’s victims. Like the roots of the two trees, the brothers’ souls remain forever entwined together. These stunning blue and black birds are Yucatán jays. Immature jays have yellow bills and eye rings. Mature jays (over four years) keep their yellow legs, but no longer have a yellow beak or orbital ring. After lunch, we strolled the beach. The day was much calmer and sunnier than the previous time. The skies were so clear, some buildings on Cozumel and the approaching ferry were visible. White sand and lots of seaweed. I saw pelicans for the first (and only) time. The elegant Snowy Egret We cooled off afterwards at the Tortuga pool. Hubby took a refreshing swim, while I was content with a wade and a drink. No new towel art that day, but we still had a nice family of them to enjoy. Because we’d gone on Tuesday’s eco tour the previous week, we explored the grounds by ourselves that morning. Something on the ear of this little elephant statue caught my eye. I think it was a gecko. About the size of my pinky finger, it was teeny-tiny and very adorable. Banana trees look so cool. Inside the deer enclosure. The deer with the small horns is the only male in amongst his harem of females. Turtle in the Cenote de la Cascade Snowy Egret at the Cenote de la Cascade On one of our tours, Noemi had pointed out a ‘crack’ in the ground by the Cenote de la Cascade, a possible start to a new cenote. Wanting to see it for myself, I ventured inside. Hubby chose not to join me. Besides an abundance of spider webs (I’m sure I walked through every single one), there wasn’t much to see down there. A mermaid to join our growing family! The old-fashioned TV came in handy to hold our various glasses. We really do use them all! After lunch we went for our long-anticipated swim in the Cenote Cristalino. Hubby ventured right out, eager to peer into its crystal clear depths. I sat on the steps for some time, psyching myself up to jump in. As much as I love water, I prefer being near it or on it, rather than in it. Eventually I just got over myself and took the plunge. I expected the water to be uncomfortably cool, but it was quite pleasant. Not much of a swimmer, I doggy-paddled over to hang on to Hubby. Lots of fish, all on the bottom. When Hubby got out, I asked him to take pictures of me, not knowing when or if I’d ever be in a cenote again. I envisioned something like this one of him, showing where we were. I got this. Oh well, he tried. There are currents in the cenote. A natural one from the underground river and a pumped flow to help keep the cenote healthy. Naturally, I got stuck in one. Did I mention I can’t really swim? So I paddled and I paddled and eventually made it to the steps on my own steam. Despite being tuckered out, I didn’t want to get out of that beautiful oasis. It was that glorious. Maybe the iguana lifeguard could’ve saved me. As we enjoyed drinks afterward, Hubby said, “A large snake just went under your chair.” I didn’t blink an eye because I’m used to his jokes, plus I rather like snakes. I peeked under my chair in time to see a skinny black three-foot long snake slither into the nearby shrubs. Pretty funny. Bike riding in a dress, after downing a Piña Colada in the hot sun, was great fun. I’m sure I only flashed a little bit. Some of the jungle trail is rugged(ish). Some places are wide enough to ride side-by-side. And some paths skirt the resort. Hubby’s plate of ‘salad’ at La Toscana Italian Restaurant. Unlike the few shy raccoons we’d seen so far, these cheeky buggers knew exactly what the garbage cans were for. The Xcalacoco ceremony that evening was The Arrival, the first in the series of three. We got to the beach early and found good seats on a front row lounger. Turns out, the seats weren’t so great. The rope placed around the ‘stage’ to keep spectators back just happened to be at eye level. Then, as the show started, a group of people sat on the sand in front of us. Right in front of us! And the performers, themselves, often stood on the perimeter of the ‘stage’ blocking our view. Still a great show, but not as enjoyable as the previous two because of the difficulty we had watching it. Next week I’ll wrap up with our final day at the resort.