Friday, November 30, 2007

Cancun: Day 3 (Friday)

We got up EARLY for vacationers (6am). The reason: Chichen Itza. Prior to arriving, we purchased a tour of Chichen Itza. We got up early so we could get to breakfast by 7am, then have enough time to get picked up by the tour bus. We decided to arrive to the breakfast area at 6:50am and noticed they were already opened (the time said 7am). One thing we learned was that in Mexico, sometimes they open early. Sometimes they open on time, and sometimes they open late. Whatever works for them.

Same goes for the Bus. Our Bus was supposed to be there by 7:20, but did not pick us up until closer to 8:45. We started to get nervous because TONS of other people were getting picked up by their particular tour busses, but we weren't. When the last bus came, they did not call our name. I went and asked the Bus driver and he had our name spelled "Rot" on the passenger list. Good thing we checked.

They then took us to another parking lot where we got off and switched to another tour bus. Our Tour Guide was HILARIOUS. The dude had a great sense of humor. He started off asking people where they were from. When he got to Alene and I, we said Utah and immediately "are you mormons?" The whole bus errupted with laughter (as did we). I bet he was so used to seeing those book of mormon land tours cross his path. He also talked about the region (keep in mind, this was all over a microphone) and started saying how the main food source for them was Corn, just like Rice was for Asia, and the hamburger was for America. That got a lot of great laughs too.

We first made a bathroom stop at the border of the state we were leaving (Quintana Roo) and the state we were going into (Yucatan, I think??) and their checkpoint where there were mexican military men with machine guns and such, looking really intimidating. They didn't stop any of us or anything, but it was rather odd. It would be like seeing some army dude with a machine gun at the border of Utah and Nevada or something. I bought a nice cold coke and gulped that bad boy down. One funny note as we approached this area. Our tour guide said, "when we get there, make sure you all have your passports out and ready to show to the guards". Everyone gasped, then he started laughing. He was joking. Luckily, Alene and I had brought ours just in case.

After that, we made a stop at a Mayan Village where they had a Cenote, which is a deep and wide water well of sorts. They had steps you could walk down into to get to it (through a cave), and they allowed you to swim in it and even jump off a 15'-20' high area. They were VERY protective of the vines growing down into it and if you came close to touching them, the mayan dudes would blow their whistles. Alene and I were bummed because nobody told us to bring swimwear, so we did not get to jump in. I had shorts on, but I could not imagine walking around all day with wet shorts/undies and all the chaffing that creates.

Here is a picture of the Cenote and me walking down

After the Cenote, we walked up to the store, where the Mayans were selling all sorts of locally made items. Little did we know, we could have purchased everything we wanted right there as EVERY Mayan person selling things, sold the exact same things (more on that for Saturdays trip). The bus then took us through an authentic mexican town, where there was a cool "town square" if you will. I did not get pictures of it, but it looked really nice. Everyone was just kind of hanging out. We then went to another smaller town and they took us to a restaurant place where they served us lunch. There, they had the HOTTEST pico salsa I've EVERY had in my life. I took a large bite of it, thinking it looked harmless (it looked like tomatoes and onions with a few peppers) and before I had been served my drink. I thought I was going to die. My eyes watered, my nose became runny, but I didn't really try to show how badly it hurt and toughed it out. During the eating, some of the local mayan's did this little dance for all of us (some sort of tap dancing), then they did it to another song with trays on their heads and glasses with water in them. Impressive.

After that, we got to where we'd been wanting to go the whole time: Chichen Itza. We arrived and the tour guide said we could opt to not go on his tour of the place and just look around ourselves. Alene and I BOOKED it off the bus because they only gave us a total of 3 hours to see it all (not enough time). The experience seeing the place was awesome. It was so amazing to think you were seeing these ancient buildings and grounds. Places fought over and places were odd rituals happened. I thought about how I could be standing on one spot where blood was shed by some poor Mayan indian who was captured from his villiage and taken there for a sacrifice of sorts (OK, the movie Apocalypto was still fresh on my mind).

As we made our way out to the park, we noticed the walkway out was LINED with local Mayans, there to sell all the products they either handmade (mostly the masks) or were selling little rock carvings of the pyramids made somewhere else (everyone was selling them, so it was obvious they were not made by the seller). They also had all sorts of jewelry and stuff like that. It was INSANE how much they tried to get you to just come look at their stuff. I was thinking, "Man, if only these people would come to SLC, I could hook them up with an AWESOME paying job as a collector at my work". The masks were really enticing to me. But I'll talk more about that later.

Alene and I decided to not buy anything at the beginning (so we didn't have to haul it around), so we headed straight for the main attraction of the site: the Temple of Kukulcan. We were both disappointed to find that it was roped off, so you could not walk to the top of it and you could not go inside of it (where there were some cool statues and stuff). Almost all the pyramid structures and many of the other structures were roped off. It sucked, but we understood.

Here we are at the backside of it

Here is Alene in front

The place was crawling with all sorts of things to see. As stated before, every path was covered with people trying to sell you things. It was nuts and almost took away from the excitement of seeing it because you spent a lot of time telling people no thanks or just ignoring them while you tried to enjoy the site.

Here are some other pictures from visiting:

Alene kissing her Mayan boyfriend carved on the face of that stone

Alene in front of El Caracol, which is a space observatory they had built with a domed roof

The great Ball Court they used to play those weird basketball/soccer/spear the dudes on the court game

Me striking my best Heisman pose on the great ball court. I can't imagine having to play football while people threw spears at me.

Another Cenote (although this one did not look like a good one to swim in)

Finally, we set off the purchase some stuff. I spent a long time trying to talk this one dude down from $70 (his first offer) to $25 for one of those cool hand-carved Mayan masks. He would not go below $30, so I walked away and on my way out, found another dude on my way out with a Mask I liked. I tried to talk him down to $25 and he too would not budge. He went to $35. I told him I just walked away from someone that offered $30 and he took it. He tried to get me to give him my sunglasses with it, but I think he was just joking.

Here is my prized possession:

The bus ride back was in the dark, so most of the people slept and it gave me a good chance to devour my book I was reading. It was such an easy read, in fact the easiest thing I've ever read. I did not want to put it down because it was so tense, I wanted to see what would happen next.

When we got back to our hotel, we were exhausted. We got some dinner and I think we just went back to the hotel and watched TV. O Brother Where are't though was on, so that made for some good laughs. Speaking of, our TV was TINY and only got a few stations if you were lucky. Every once in a while they would broadcast a football game in spanish (American Football, that is). The other thing is funny, the only sports they talk about on the Mexican ESPN station is soccer. Nothing else. It's like soccer 24/7 down there. Every once in a while they would mention some NBA game, or a tennis match, but it was guaranteed if I turned to it, it was soccer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cancun: Day 2 (Thursday)

On the 2nd day, we had planned to just hang out at the resort and get familiar with our surroundings. We spent a good portion of it lounging by the pool or going into the ocean.

Our options for dining were (in my personal order of quality): a couple of shacks that served hamburgers/hot dogs/fries/drinks, International Buffet, Italian Buffet, Medditeranian restaurant, Mexican restaurant (the best chips/quacamole, Thai restaurant, and a Rodizo steakhouse. For breakfast, on every day, we chose the international buffet because it was quick and painless. However, one thing I discovered on that first day was how all their dairy products were either watered down, or lacked "cream", and their fruit juices were TOO concentrated and needed to be watered down. I took one sip of my milk there for breakfast and didn't have another one after that. I quickly started to find an appreciation for all things American (but knowingly it's because it's how I was raised). Almost every day for breakfast I ate the same thing: scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, toast, pineapple, and the occasional muffin. The mexican pastries were basically bread with some sort of frosting on it. They also serve beans and quesedillas for breakfast.

Here is a view of part of the pool behind us. The pool was SOOOO nice to swim in, but my only complaint is that there was no diving board or waterslide of some sort. That would have made it a blast.

The Hotel Zone is like a sand bar of hotels along the peninsula. Every major brand of hotel you can think of is there (Marriott, Hilton, Motel 6...just kidding). It reminded me of the strip in vegas, except without the large flashy lights (although it was still pretty bright outside at night) and the hotels were only along one side of the sand bar. We decided just to walk around a bit along the main road that runs along the hotels. It was here we experienced the hit and miss stench of the Lagoon on the other side of the sand bar.

Along the sand bar, opposite all the hotels are various shops (pharmacies, liquor stores, convenience stores and the occasional restaurant/fast food joint). We discovered down there that a regular hamburger at McDonalds was $3 (compared to $0.59 here).

This day was just a day to relax and that we did. At the end of the day, we took great care of our bodies to prevent the sunburn by using up as much alovera as we could. I drew a smiley face on my hairy chest. We were so anxious for the next day though....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cancun: Day 1 (Wednesday)

We got up EARLY for this day (3am), so we could hitch a ride with Russ to the airport. He starts work at 4am and our flight left at 6am, so we figured we'd be getting there about 45 minutes before we actually should be there. Russ was very gracious to go out of his way to pick us up and we really appreciate it.

The flight was pretty uneventful. Alene and I tried to get a little shut-eye, but that's impossible for me. I was awoken by the loud snoring of a polynesian dude that decided since nobody was in the 3 seats behind us, he would lay down there and sleep.

I started to read this book I bought, Lone Survivor, about Marcus Lutrell, who is a Navy Seal and was the only survivor of one of the worst losses of life to our special forces in Afghanistan back in 2005. I'll have a synopsis of the book in another blog post. Needless to say, it's a GREAT book in my opinion.

Anyway, as we finally flew in over the Yucatan Peninsula, it was amazing to see the blue ocean and the jungle below us. There were many clear-cut areas where trees were just mowed down and huge open/rough fields looked like they were cleared to build houses, but no houses and no activity. As we landed and we started to get off the plane, the reality of being in another country started to scare me a bit. I have no idea why. I immediately noticed the smell of this new country and tried me best, throughout the whole trip, to have an open mind about this other culture. I mean, how different can they be from us? We're just above them.

My first fear was being approached by the Federalies. I hear they're notorious for trying to basically rob you of any money you have. When we waited at the baggage claim, one of them came by with a dog. He was making the dog sniff everyone as they stood by and sniffing the luggage as it went around the baggage claim belt. Every once in a while he would start tugging at someones stuff and saying things to them in broken english about what was inside their bags and he wanted to see.

We finally got our stuff and headed to get our passports stamped so we could officially enter the country. We were immediately approached by what seamed like 1 billion timeshare salesmen, acting like they were there to give us some information about the city and trying to get us to sign up for a free activity if we listened to their presentation. We declined and went out to find our shuttle.

The outside air was refreshing and warm. The shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel was about 20 minutes. I noticed that these guys have basically no regard for rules of driving. No turn signals, speeding, tailgating, flooring their car any chance they could get. I felt like I was home in Utah, but a little more frightened because I was the passenger.

When we arrived at our Hotel, we were greeted by "Roger", who was very nice, but little did we know he was another scummy sales guy, trying to talk us into a timeshare presentation or something like that. At first we were confused because he offered us breakfast as this place in the hotel the next morning. We were a bit confused because we thought he was helping us, but later we realized it was a timeshare presentation, so we decided to skip out on it (and it eventually pissed him off because when I told him over the phone, he just hung up on us).

We got to our room and found it nice enough for this trip. Alene loved the shower (black marble). My first observation about everything in the hotel was that the Mexican people are obviously known as hard workers, but when it came to building things, attention to detail was not too important. Just check out this paintbrush someone decided to leave when they last painted the place. It was stuck to the wall, in a little corner by the stairwell. I also noticed they like to use a lot of reebar instead of steel. Let's just say I was happy an earthquake didn't happen while we were there.

Enough nit-picking, because I really enjoyed the trip.

We immediately put on our swimwear and headed down toward the beach. All the food places were closed from about 4pm to 6pm, so we were hungry, but we decided to kill time at the beach. I didn't hesitate to jump in. I've always seen pictures of this clear blue water and I wanted to experience it. The funny thing is, you know it's the ocean in the pictures, but you never imagine it's as salty as the ocean of the pacific, even though it's still the ocean. I didn't go to gulp down ocean water, but I was immediately reminded it's JUST AS SALTY as the pacific, if not more. That water stung my eyes so badly and was terrible. If I stayed in it too long, I started to get nausious, either way, being out there made it worth it.

Here is a picture of me first getting in. It was after 5pm and the sun was setting, but I didn't care, I wanted in.

Here is Alene on the beach when we first got there.

Here is part of our Hotel (there were 5 separate buildings)

And finally, here I am attempting to body surf these toilet bowl waves. Notice the first day white belly and back.

I will post Day two when I have a chance.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

BYU 17 Utah 10.....HOLY SHIZ!!!

Wow!! What another GREAT game between BYU and Utah. It was mainly a defensive game until the last 1:35, when Utah scored a TD to go ahead 10-9. BYU got the ball back and I had zero confidence we could pull off the win. We had to go 80 yards for a TD. At one point, with about 1 minute left, it was 4th down and 18. I told Alene, "After this play, either everyone will be exiting the stadium, or everyone will be glued to their seats". Luckily for us, we stayed glued to our seats. Max Hall scrambled outside the pocket and found Austin Collie for a 47 yard pass that was thrown amazingly!

BYU then moved the ball into FG range (which would have won it), but then were aided by a couple of penalties against the U, which eventually had us 7 yards from the goal line. BYU's freshman RB, Harvey Unga (who ended up rushing for 144 yards in the game), took a simple hand-off 7 yards for the TD. We went for a 2 point conversion and took the lead 17-10. For the final 30 seconds, BYU's defense held off the Utah offense (who came close to scoring to tie it up several times).

What a great game. Here are some of our pictures from the game:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Besides the cold weather, this could be one of my favorite times of the year. I just love the period leading up to Thanksgiving, then through the whole month of December to New years. It's a great, festive time. I wanted to blog about things I'm thankful for.

Alene - I'm so thankful for my wife. I'm thankful for the love and support she gives me and her daily strive to have a good marriage and to be as close to each other as possible. She gives me so much to live for and to look forward to in life. I've learned so much from her about not being satisfied with average and to strive to be a better person and to do better things with your life. I'm thankful that I know she loves me so much and only wants the best for our relationship. It's been a struggle and may continue to be a struggle to find harmony in our marriage, but I hope she knows that I sincerely love her and will continue to strive to be a better person both for her and for myself. I love her so much.

Caiden - I'm so thankful for a son who is smart (almost for his own good, and sometimes a "smart-aleck"), who is full of adventure and learning. It's so amazing to see him grow and learn. It's difficult at times, raising a child because you always wonder if you're doing the right thing. You want SO MUCH for your children in so many ways. You don't want to see them make the mistakes you did. You want to see them happy, and you want them to learn to work hard and to be a good person and be grateful for all they have. I've learned so much patience with him and I've learned a lot about myself and my role as a father, and a leader of our family and my responsibility.

My Parents - The love and support they give is amazing. I cannot fathom being able to love so many children and make each of them feel special. They have always made me want to be a good person, to please them, and I've let them down many times, but they've always shown me love when those times were the lowest. I hope I can do half the job they did.

My Brothers/Sisters - I'm so thankful for the love and support they give me. Time has been flying and we're all growing up. I feel so guilty most of the time, when we visit and I really don't get a chance to talk to each and every one of them. I want them to know that I truly care about each of them and I worry about them and hope they're happy and getting the most out of life. I really am fortunate to be able to consider my brothers and sisters also my friends.

Friends - I'm not a person with a lot of close friends. I have "associates", who are people I may work with, or coach FB with, but true friends for me are rare and when I have a friend, they're a friend for life. I've made many good friends prior to my move to Utah. My closest friends for life are Roman and Tim. They've always been there for me for support in many ways. I enjoy their company when we get to talk or get together. I wish we didn't live so far away. I have many other friends who are great support and I know care deeply about me as I do to them. In order not to offend, I won't list everyone, but I hope if you're reading this, you know you are my friend and I appreciate it.

A good job - I'm thankful for the job I have and the company I work for. I am so blessed to have the flexibility I've had. While I've paid my dues here and put in a lot of hard work to earn the flexibility, I am still so fortunate. I honestly don't know of a better job for me at this point in my life and would be crazy to leave what I have here.

A home - Despite it being small and wanting to sell it, I'm thankful to have a home that has a heater, air conditioning (OK, it's a swamp cooler, but it gets the job done), walls, a roof (a brand new roof!), a bed, blankets, clothing, etc.

USA - Despite how it's almost un-popular to be patriotic about your country, I still am very happy to live in America and I do feel like it's the best country/system available to mankind. This doesn't mean I belittle other countries, nor does it mean I think my country is perfect (very far from it), but I am proud to live in this great country, and most notably, I think Utah is a great state to live in with so many wonderful outdoor opportunities.

I hope everyone is able to take a few minutes on the day of Thanksgiving. I don't think you need to think of the pilgrims sitting down eating that multi-colored corn with the Natives, but just think of what you're grateful for and try to continue remembering what that is and strive to hold onto that which is dear to you.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Go Cougars!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our new pet

We got Caiden a hamster for his BD. We have a lot of fun with him. The other day he crawled into our camera case as we were playing with him.