Cruising on the Rotterdam

This is our first cruise on Holland America. We were drawn to it because several friends on the Viking world cruise were HAL veterans, and they preferred HAL at the end of the Viking cruise. Other friends had little good to say about HAL, so we decided we really ought to check it out for ourselves. The ship is brand new and this is the first cruise with paying passengers. As might be expected, this means there was a learning curve for the crew.

The ship’s name is Rotterdam. It is the seventh ship with that name. They were all named after the hometown of the parent company. It is a pinnacle class ship holding just under 2700 passengers. Due to a number of COVID related issues, there are only 900 passengers (which matches the 905 member crew), so there are never any waits and the venues are normally pretty empty. The entertainers and crew all talk about not working for 20 months and how happy they are to be sailing again. I think all the passengers feel the same.

COVID procedures are followed and enforced on the ship. Everyone is fully vaccinated and tested negative prior to the cruise. Everyone was tested again after five days, but no results are known. We must wear masks when moving around inside the ship. Masks can be taken off while eating and drinking. There are many signs that say “Sip and Mask”, but I have seen no one do that. People tend to social distance where practical; but if it is not practical, no one seems to worry about it. In the main show where social distancing is easy, about half leave there mask on and half take it off. HAL provided each cabin with four branded masks, and they are the most comfortable mask I have worn. All in all, we feel very safe!

On a transatlantic crossing you expect a lot of sea days. We were scheduled to have eight; and since we had to skip two ports due to high winds, we actually had ten sea days. This means the day and evening entertainment are critical. The evening stage entertainment was a highlight. We had a contemporary dance troup, a Jersey Tenors group, a classical pianist/humorist who was outstanding (check out, a saxophonist who was also outstanding, two comedians, and a soprano. The second deck has a music walk with several venues featuring diverse music. Our favorites are the chamber music quartet, a jazz group, and the B. B. King group performing classic rock. In addition there is a piano duo and a hard rock group. We had dinner with the saxophonist one night and he said the performing groups were franchise groups where the franchiser has a number of similar groups to offer to the cruise ships.

The ship is clean and attractive; but, interestingly, they are busy painting parts of the exterior decks. I guess the salt air requires continuing maintenance from day one. The food is good, but we feel it lacks variety. It should also be noted that they charge $8.50 for a shrimp cocktail in the main dining room and that there is no free lobster on the ship. The biggest disappointment for me is that there are no lecturers on the ship. That has always been a big part of my sea days. They do have a duplicate bridge and mahjong game, but each has at most three tables.

Susan liked to walk around the third deck. Three laps was one mile.
The wake behind the ship.
For Halloween they had a pumpkin carving contest.
The Explorers Lounge was the best place to relax and take in the ocean views.
The BB King room was our favorite evening venue.
The main stage was very high tech. Projections can be made on the entirety of the front and side walls. Only the front walls are shown in the picture.
A farewell from the crew on the main stage.

While COVID created a lot of obstacles to overcome, we really enjoyed being out in the world again.

Quaint Quimper

Our next, and what would turn out to be our final, port of call was Brest, France. Our tour here was to the quaint, half-timbered town of Quimper (which our guide pronounced as Kim.pair’) located in the Brittany prefecture. The weather had been cloudy and somewhat threatening in the previous ports, but here it was off and on rain all morning. As we were riding the bus to Quimper, the rain intensified to a steady heavy rain. Just as the bus stopped to let us off, the rain stopped and the clouds soon parted for a beautiful afternoon in a beautiful little French town.

Quimper is located at the confluence of two rivers which give the town the appearance of canals running through it. The town name means confluence.
There were many half-timbered buildings in town.
Many of the half-timbered buildings showed a definite slant.
There were pretty street scenes all over the city.
A number of the buildings had caricatures on the front.
The French do love their merry go rounds. There was even one at the entrance to the cathedral.
The cathedral entrance.
The Quimper Cathedral is unique in that the nave has an angle at the middle. This was done to avoid building part of the church in a swampy area.
A garden square adjoining the cathedral.
Quimper is well known for its China and pottery. This store had a sample of the various patterns on the facade of the building. We visited on a Sunday and most of the shops were closed. However, what our guide called the “sin shop” was open; and we did enjoy some delicious French treats there.
We thought Quimper was a delightful city we would like to explore in more detail.

More Forms, A Manor House, and a Giant

Our second port was Portland, England. On our unexpected sea day we received a notice that we had to complete a form on line, receive a QR Code and print it to enter England. The form was designed for air or car travel, but they gave instructions on how to fill it in for our case. This would be pretty doable if I was in my office, but was impossible with neither wifi or a printer. The only option was customer service and they were quickly overwhelmed. I was lucky that I only spent about an hour there as others were in line for several hours and were then sitting around trying to complete the form on their phones. My customer service agent said it would be faster if she did the form for me, printed it, and delivered it to our room. I readily accepted that offer.

The night before we arrived we were advised that everyone on the ship, whether going ashore or not, was required to have a face to face meeting with British immigration early the next morning. When we went down for our turn, the line extended more than half the length of the ship (it’s a big 2500 passenger ship). Fortunately, we had a late morning tour; so we went to the cafeteria and were processed quickly after a leisurely breakfast. It was quick because all they did was see that the passport picture matched our face. At no time did anyone look at the form we all worked so hard to create! Nevertheless, this was our favorite port.

Our primary destination was Athelhampton, a Tudor manor house dating back to 1485 located in Dorset, England. The original manor had a Great hall, Solar and Buttery. A Solar was located on the upper level of the manor and was the living quarters for the owner and his family, while a Buttery was a service room located near the Great Hall that held the liquor (wine or ale). The person in charge of the Buttery was called the Butler. In a royal household the same officer was titled, Marshall of the Buttery. This officer was responsible to serve the wine to the head of the household and his guests.

Athelhampton, a Tudor manor house.
While the manor house was impressive, we particularly liked the extensive gardens which featured many fountains, ponds, and trees. The topiary in this garden was particularly impressive.

Athelhampton is now considered one of the most haunted places in England. The Buttery that adjoins the Great Hall is said to experience a tapping noise (on barrels) from a ghost that is referred to as “Cooper.” Various other occupants and visitors of the manor have all seen a “grey lady.” She has been seen by some to wander through the bedrooms (and walls) of the east wing of the house during the early hours of the day.

The most well-known of all the apparitions at the manor house is the pet ape. The ape was owned by Nicholas Martyn and when he passed away in 1595 the ape was somehow accidentally entombed in a secret passage behind the Great Chamber during construction on the house. While he has never been seen it is said you can hear scratching from the behind the panels of the Great Chamber as if he is trying to escape his tomb. For the record, we experienced no signs of ghosts on our visit.

A dovecote adjoining the main house.
The billiard room and library.
The dining room.

The remainder of this blog is rated PG13. Another stop on the tour was the Cerne Abbas Giant, a hill figure near the village of Cerne Abbas.

The figure is about 180 feet high. The people on the path to the left give some scale. The image was created by digging a shallow trench and backfilling it with chalk rubble. The chalk is renewed every ten years. The age of the figure is unknown with estimates ranging from 700 CE to the 17th century.
The significance of the figure is also unknown. A popular belief is that it is some kind of fertility symbol. According to our guide, couples used to attempt to have children in the shadow of the figure to increase their chances of success. The top part of the figure is obscure in this photo. If you want to see some better aerial photos, Google “Cerne Abbas Giant”.

The Land of Impressionism

After our first port of Zeebrugge was cancelled because our departure from Amsterdam had to be delayed until the high winds had diminished so we could safely traverse the locks. That made our first port LaHavre, France. The main destinations for this port were Paris, a three hour drive, and the beaches of Normandy. Since we had lived for a month in Paris and visited the beaches of Normandy during that month, we opted to visit Monet’s home in the small village of Giverny.

Monet had a large home set among extensive gardens. While the gardens were certainly past their prime, there were still a lot of blooms.
Monet’s studio is the entrance to the first floor. Like many of the rooms, the walls are covered with paintings. I presume they are reproductions.
His desk with a beautiful veneer image on the lid.
The dining room. Apparently, Monet liked Japanese art as this room was filled with it.
The kitchen had a nice assortment of copper pots.
The flower beds were not planted in an artistic manner, but were long beds of what seemed to be randomly planted flowers with a gravel path between the beds. They employ ten full time gardeners and have volunteers from around the world to assist in the summer. They try to maintain the gardens the same as Monet had them. The gardens are quite large as they extend across the front of the house which you see in the background of the picture.
The famous water lily pond was on the other side of the road in front of the house and was not visible from the house. Unfortunately, no blooms in the fall.
The edges of the pond were heavily landscaped. In this part of France, people were wearing masks outside as well as inside.
There were several row boats scattered around the pond, and that must be the way to get the classic view of this famous bridge.
We had lunch in the restaurant in the hotel where Monet liked to dine with his fellow painters. It was a very enjoyable day. We both like Monet’s art so it was nice to see the spot where he did many of his paintings.

How Many Forms Does It Take To Go To Amsterdam?

Many months ago, when COVID was something occurring in other countries, we thought fall of 2021 would be a good time to see some new parts of France and then make our way up to Amsterdam to take a transatlantic voyage home. The first step in the process was to book the Holland America cruise from Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale. As COVID started to ravage Europe and the US, we lost interest in the pre-cruise explorations, but kept our HAL reservation thinking they would cancel and we would get a big credit. We went ahead and booked our flights through HAL to arrive several days early to spend a little time in Amsterdam.

Our cruise was on the Rotterdam VII, a brand new ship that was to have several months of cruises before ours. First, HAL moved our cruise back about two weeks so it would enter the US after the ban on foreign cruise ships entering the US would expire. Then they started canceling the cruises prior to ours, making ours the first sailing of the ship with passengers. Next the Netherlands decided to require visitors arriving from high risk countries (such as the USA) to quarantine for ten days on arrival. It made no sense to arrive early to spend the time in quarantine, so we changed our flights to arrive the day of the cruise departure. Shortly after we changed our flights, the Netherlands cancelled the quarantine requirement, but we decided not to change our flights again.

The other source of worry was that HAL advised that all passengers would be given a COVID test at the pier. If the test was positive, you would not be allowed to board. Also, only fully vaccinated passengers would be permitted on the ship. This made us think we would feel safe on board, but what if we tested positive at the pier??? We decided for sure we would get a test before leaving the States to minimize that risk.

At the time the Netherlands announced the quarantine, they announced the following requirements to enter: proof of vaccination, negative COVID test taken no more than 48 hours before first flight, quarantine declaration exemption for less than 12 hour stay in country, health declaration that we had no COVID symptoms in last 14 days, and a COVID test result document that contained all their required information. Needless to say this was all very stressful.

We took a rapid PCR test on Sunday and had the negative result an hour later. We filled out forms and uploaded them to the United Airlines website where they were quickly approved. At the airport in Wilmington they only looked at our passport and our CDC vaccination card. At our stop in Chicago, they checked all of our documentation and put a red sticker on our passport when we passed.

The Netherlands immigration looked only at our passport. They relied on the airlines to check all the other required documentation. HAL transferred us to the pier where eight booths were set up to take the samples for the rapid antigen test. We were then seated in groups of about 80 people to await our results. When everyone in a group passed, they were released to board the ship. Everyone passed in the three groups we saw released.

We have to wear masks at all times when we are indoors on the ship except when we are eating or drinking. As if you don’t eat enough on a cruise, we are really motivated to be eating and drinking now!

Our first port of call was to be Bruges, Belgium, which is a city we loved seeing on our first transatlantic cruise about 7 years ago. Unfortunately, bad weather forced us to skip that port. Thus our first port, was LaHavre, France. We are presently on the Atlantic crossing. We now have wifi, so I will be posting about our earlier ports.

The deserted Amsterdam baggage claim at 9 AM. Not many people are traveling.
The White Cliffs of Dover

Old Baldy

After spending all day Tuesday driving home from New Jersey, we went with a group from our Del Webb community to Bald Head Island on Wednesday. Bald Head is a small barrier island about a 45 minute drive from Wilmington, NC and is accessible only by passenger ferry. Other than a few commercial vehicles, transportation is only by golf cart, bicycle, or foot. We took the 30 minute ferry ride to the island and then had a two hour guided history tour by golf cart.

The early history of Bald Head Island relates to its proximity to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, the only river in the state that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently it was an important transportation link with the rest of the world. It made Wilmington the largest city in the state until other means of transportation became prevalent. Bald Head Island became home to three different lighthouses in an attempt to help ships avoid Frying Pan Shoals (also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic) near the river mouth. At low tide, it is possible to walk several thousand feet into the ocean with water only reaching your ankles.

The first light house was built on the river side of Bald Head and soon had to be torn down due to erosion from the river. The second light house was built further inland in 1817 to avoid erosion problems. It is still standing today as the oldest lighthouse in the state and is known affectionately as Old Baldy. Unfortunately, it was too low and it’s light was not bright enough to provide full protection from Frying Pan Shoals. Therefore, it had to be supplemented by a lighthouse boat to provide full protection.

The taller and brighter Cape Fear lighthouse was commissioned in 1903. Unfortunately, it was built of cast iron which quickly rusted in the salt air. It had to be torn down in 1958 for safety reasons. Old Baldy was decommissioned in 1959 and both were replaced with the Oak Island lighthouse, the newest lighthouse in the state.

Looking across the marsh at Old Baldy. If you look closely, the light on top is not centered. This is because a used replacement lens was installed that had to be placed off center to keep from blocking access to the light.
Old Baldy is no longer painted, so all the previous repairs can be seen. We climbed the 108 steps for the view from the top.
Unfortunately, you could not go outside at the top, so it was very hot and the pictures have some reflections from the glass. Still, if you love marshes as much as I do, it is hard to beat this view.
Looking toward the harbor area and ferry terminal.

The development of Bald Head Island began about 40 years ago under the direction of the man who invented fracking. While you may think fracking is not environmentally friendly, he did give a lot of consideration to the environment in the development. The development was planned at about 2000 home sites with the rest of the land given to the Bald Head Island Conservancy. Many property owners have deeded their land to the Conservancy, so at this time development is limited to about 1800 homes of which about 1200 have been built. The permanent population of the island is about 230. The houses are generally built in the woods rather than tearing down all the trees to make construction easier.

The harbor area.
The dunes are wide and natural.
These cabins are among the most popular on the island for their commanding view of the dunes and ocean. They were formerly used by the keepers of the third lighthouse.
The harbor and restaurant with Old Baldy in the background, You can clearly see the light is off center,

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Bald Head Island and are already talking about visiting it again as there is much more to explore.

The Other Wilmington

After staying home most of the year, we headed to New Jersey this week to visit with friends and family. On the way, we made a one day stop in Wilmington, Delaware to see what the other Wilmington was like. Our main destination was the Nemours Estate, site of the mansion built by Alfred DuPont for his second wife, Alicia. The mansion was built in the late 18th century French style that Alicia adored and was named Nemours after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General. The estate contains the largest formal French gardens in North America.

The fountain near the entrance gate to the mansion with a combination water tower and clock tower in the background.
These 18th century English gates were once used at Wimbledon Manor outside of London. The weather was even more beautiful than it looks with low humidity, temperature in the mid 70’s, and a breeze.
The front of the mansion.
Unfortunately, the second floor was closed due to COVID, but the chandelier was very nice.
I particularly liked the woodwork over this fireplace.
The dining room. The chandelier came from Shonnbrun Palace in Vienna, Austria
The music room. Alfred loved to compose and play music. He played five different instruments including the violin (his favorite), piano, and the lyre guitar seen in the corner. Unfortunately, he lost his hearing by the time he reached 40, so he could no longer play and enjoy music
We both agreed we would spend most of our day in the garden room – bright and great views of the gardens. There were no birds in the two large birdcages.
The formal garden.
Elk statues were at the top of the Long Walk from the front of the mansion to the Temple of Love at the end.
The reflecting pool with the Colonnade in the background
Looking back up The Long Walk to the mansion.
One of the statues at the reflecting pool.
The maze garden is below the reflecting pool.
The colonnade is a tribute to Alfred’s great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather.
The Sunken Garden is below the Colonnade. The Long Way reminded us of both St Petersburg and Versailles.

We had a very pleasant lunch on the sidewalk in an older section of town where the streets were lined with row houses. We had smoked salmon on a bagel. Yum!

Our second stop was the Delaware Art Museum. We particularly liked the Chihuly glass in this window.
The museum had a contemporary sculpture garden where our favorite was this modern take on The Thinker.

We had dinner at a seafood restaurant on the water front. While this Wilmington had the better mansion and art museum, our Wilmington has the better waterfront. I can’t say enough about how nice the weather was!

It’s Not So Wide Right Now

When we created this blog, we intended to write posts to describe our travels around the world to let our friends know where we are and to document the travels to help our senior minds remember. I make a book of all the blogs each year to facilitate the remembering. Unfortunately, the book is going to be awfully thin this year.

While we presently don’t believe international travel is realistic until we have a vaccine, we grew tired of seeing only Wilmington after over four months. Not only were we limited to Wilmington, we were limited to small parts of Wilmington such as Aldis, Lowes, and Home Depot. The highlight of those four months was a 45 minute drive to a nursery for some plants. We finally decided to try visiting some places in the Carolinas. This blog is about our brief trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

After visiting our son and his family in Matthews for one night, we headed to the mountains. Our first stop was Bridges Barbecue in Shelby. When we lived in Charlotte, I always stopped at Bridges whenever we went to the mountains. This was my first visit since we moved out of Charlotte. We ate at an outside picnic table. You have to love those hush puppies!

We drove about forty miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain laurel and the white rhododendrons were blooming. While there were a lot of cars on the Parkway, social distancing was no problem at the overlooks.
We stayed at the Pisgah Inn on the Parkway. The restaurant served only guests in three seatings, so social distancing was very easy. In our two nights there, we enjoyed brook trout, meat loaf, and ribs. All very good. This picture was taken behind the restaurant.
The view from our room.
We found an overlook to enjoy the sunset.
We did a short hike to a waterfall at the Graveyard Fields overlook.
This waterfall was our destination. There is a swimming hole at the base which some of the younger hikers were enjoying. The temperatures were delightful – mid 70’s. We wore a light jacket in the evenings.
A lake in Sapphire, NC.
We enjoyed a nice visit with our friends from the Viking World Cruise, Bonnie and Dick.

While it was only a three night trip, it was wonderful seeing family, friends, and new scenery. Thanks for traveling along with us. While it is not as exciting as going to a place like Bhutan, it was still great getting out and seeing something different. Every place we went seemed to be very conscious of sanitation and social distancing, so we never felt unsafe. Hopefully, we will still feel that way in 14 days. We would enjoy hearing about any safe travel plans you have for this year. Stay safe!

Home Sweet Home

After a little over six weeks in Mexico, we flew home on Saturday. The last two days in Merida, we spent a lot of time relaxing at the hotel pool and the nearby Progreso Beach.

Progreso was less than an hour bus ride from Merida. It is a little hard to tell from the picture, but that is the longest pier in the world from the left side of the ocean. It is nearly four miles long. The white building in the top center is the cruise ship terminal. It was a nice beach with very calm water. The only problem was the constant stream of vendors,

On Valentine’s Day we attended a performance by Orquestra Sinfonica de Yucatan. They performed Beethoven’s 7th and Ravel. They were as good as the Charlotte and North Carolina Symphony Orchestras.

This is the grand staircase entrance to the theater. The flowers are real – you can see a man watering the top bunch.

The theater was a classic European style theater. We waited until too late in the week to get our tickets, so we were in the top level of boxes on the side. Our tickets were $7.50 each. The most expensive tickets were $25.

While we enjoyed our week in Merida, we are very glad that we didn’t follow our first instinct of spending an entire month there. We definitely prefer San Miguel for the long stays. The restaurants are much better and there is far more variety of entertainment in San Miguel. We also think San Miguel is a cleaner and more attractive city. On the plus side, walking in Mérida is much easier and less hazardous.
You may have noticed that this post has a different look. WordPress has a new interface oriented around adding information in blocks. It appears that I can now add video directly to the blog. There was a link to this video in a previous blog, but I wanted to verify that I can now add video directly to the blog, so this is an experiment for my benefit.

Saturday we flew home to Wilmington. Our flight out of Miami to Charlotte was delayed about an hour leaving us about ten minutes in Charlotte to get from the end of one concourse where our flight arrived to the end of another concourse where our next flight departed. We made it with one minute to spare only to learn that the flight was delayed while they waited for a pilot who turned out to be right behind us. We took off about fifteen minutes later. Thanks to the pilot delay, our luggage also made it to Wilmington.

Once again, we had a very enjoyable six weeks in Mexico despite having less than the ideal weather we have come to expect. Thanks for following along on our journey through the blog and a special thanks to all who have written to us. We always enjoy hearing from you. Our next trip will be to Chautauqua, NY for the week long session on climate change at the end of June. We hope you will join us.

A Hacienda, Uxmal, and a Cenote

Wednesday we went on a guided tour of some sites outside of Mérida. While San Miguel has a lot of Canadians and Americans as well as the occasional Siberian, we have been the only Americans on our two Mérida tours and we have been joined by citizens of Australia, Norway, Spain, Croatia, London, and India.

Our first stop on Wednesday was Yaxcopoil Hacienda which dates back to the seventeenth century. The name is derived from a Mayan word for “the place of the green Alamo trees”. It has seen the prehispanic period, the time of Spanish colonization, and the boom years of Sisal production during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The interior has been restored with all original furnishings and it is presently used as a parador and a museum.It has a Moorish double arch entry gate.The main residence building was a series of long rooms with high ceilings for ventilation.Like many wealthy Spanish people they had their own chapel at the back of the residence building.They even had their own theater in a building behind the house. The roof of the theater collapsed so it is only a facade today.The gardens had a lot of beautiful old trees.The sisal factory was located behind the residence. At one time the hacienda had 22,000 acres of land to grow the sisal agave and raise cows. Today the property is less than 3% of that.This is the machine that extracted the sisal fibers from the leaves.

We had a hard time deciding which Mayan archaeological site to visit: Chichen Itza or Uxmal. The former is far more famous, but in reading reviews everyone said it is overcrowded (think cruise ships in Cancun) and that you are constantly pestered by vendors. Uxmal on the other hand is virtually empty, has zero vendors on the grounds, and is more attractive. In a conversation at the pool, we talked to a man who had seen both and strongly recommended Uxmal. That sealed the decision.Uxmal is a purely Mayan design and construction. Chichen Itza on the other hand has the influence of other cultures. The edges of the pyramid have rounded corners. The Mayans believed the world progressed in 52 year cycles, so every 52 years they built a new pyramid on top of the old pyramid. The site was active for over 250 years, so you can see five layers to the pyramid.The other side of the Pyramid of the Magician faces a courtyard. The stairs lead up to a chapel with a large doorway.This is a close up of that chapel. Notice all the intricate shapes and designs on the blocks that make up the chapel wall.This gives you a good idea how steep those steps are. I was very happy that we weren’t allowed to climb them! Notice the twelve heads that line the edges of the stairs.This is a close up of one of the heads. They have noses shaped like the number 2.There were numerous rooms in the buildings forming the courtyard in front of the temple. All rooms had a ceiling like this one.I found it interesting how the ceiling bricks were shaped with an internal arc so that stones could be placed on the arc to hold the brick in place. Considering how long it has lasted, it seems to work pretty well.

The Nunnery Quadrangle was named by the Spanish because it reminded them of a convent. It consists of four buildings forming a square surrounding an open courtyard. Each building has numerous small rooms opening to the front. Each building has different decorations.This building had human faces over the doors with a representation of two headed snakes on either side.This building is known as The Palace of the Governors. It is believed to be one of the last buildings constructed on the site (about 987 CE). I did climb the stairs to the platform with the doorways.From the right end of the platform, you have a nice view of the site. From left to right is the House of the Turtles (there are turtle decorations around the top; and, yes, the women heading toward it is Susan), the ball court with the Nunnery Quadrangle behind it. and the Pyramid of the Magician on the right.Behind the Palace of the Governors is The Great Pyramid which has only been partially restored on this one side. You can see vegetation on the top and the other side.We saw numerous iguanas on the site. We were very happy with our decision to visit Uxmal. I would rate it as the top Mayan site I have seen with many unique features compared to the others.

Our final stop was a cenote, a natural pit or sinkhole formed when limestone bedrock collapses exposing the ground water underneath. There are over a thousand of them on the Yucatan Peninsula (including one in the Costco parking lot). Some are in caves and others are open pools.Ours was in a shallow cave with crystal clear water about four to five feet deep. There were a few fish in the water. The water comes from rain draining through the shallow soil and the limestone on the top of the cave. The cool water felt really refreshing after exploring Uxmal in 95 F heat!

The Travel Blog of Susan and Bruce