The Underwater World of Mexico: Part 2: Whale Sharks and Sea Lions

 

The Underwater World of Mexico: Part 2: Whale Sharks and Sea Lions

 

A post by Lady Felicity

 

I’ve always admired sharks. I once read that they originally evolved from a tiny, leaf like fish and from there they split into bony fish or cartilage fish – the latter being the category which sharks fit into. This cartilage is lightweight and flexible making sharks incredible agile.

Sharks are prehistoric. They have existed for about four-hundred million years, which is about two-hundred million years older than dinosaurs. While some (like the famous, sixty foot, inspiration for Jaws, the Megalodon) have become extinct, over five-hundred species of shark – not including the six-hundred species of ray and skate or fifty or so species of chimaera which are also part of the shark family – are still in existence today.

Shark species are diverse and each one is perfectly adapted for its environment, even when that means living in fresh water rather than salt!

From tiny lantern sharks that glow in the dark, to the beautiful tasselled wobbegong, so well camouflaged you probably wouldn’t find it hidden on the sea floor while swimming right above it, to the epaulette shark using its specially adapted fins to run across coral reefs, to the hammerhead, the most recent shark to evolve (35-50 million years ago) with its head being the equivalent of a satellite dish for the electro-sensory receptors located in the head and particularly snout area, and finally to the impressive whale shark, the largest non-mammalian vertebrate alive today (The average length of the whale shark is 32 feet but the largest on record grew to an incredible 61 feet in length!).

I could tell you about the amazing adaptations they have (the camouflage for example doesn’t only include the beautiful carpet sharks like the wobbegong or the whale shark, all with decorative patterns on the skin, but even the great white when you consider the white belly and darker back so that when looked at from above or below you easily lose them), or the fact that their skin is actually made of tiny teeth- dermal denticles (so that as they swim, each little tooth creates its own vortex, therefore reducing drag as they cut through the water), or the fact that the majority of shark species have a brain as complex as that of mammals. Plus not only do they use the same five senses that we use, in addition they also sense electrical currents which helps them locate prey as well as orientate themselves using the earths geomagnetic field and they sense pressure changes. They have something called a  lateral line- a small row of pores running the length of their body. As water flows through the pores sensory cells calculate pressure change. It gives the sharks spatial awareness, the ability to navigate and to create a pressure map of the area around them.

The only downside I can see to their incredible senses is that when they use ‘touch’ they don’t have hands, so instead use their teeth, which contain pressure sensitive nerves. A little tester nip to a shark can sometimes be fatal to a human or unpleasant at the very least! It’s why a second bite is very uncommon however, as we aren’t their intended meal and don’t taste particularly good to them!

That brings us to their teeth- sharks have rows of teeth which they replace every two weeks. For some species this means they will shed about 30,000 in their lifetime. They aren’t all the same, scary teeth everyone pictures either, their teeth are adapted to their diet. This means flat crushing teeth for those eating shellfish. Pointed teeth for gripping fish. And sharp serrated teeth for larger prey, such as seals.

You can learn so much from looking at sharks. The shape of their fins for example (particularly dorsal fin) which indicates speed and lifestyle, and even their mood.

Some people think that sharks have to always be on the move or risk drowning- true for some but not all. Swimming forward, water is driven in through the mouth and pushed out over the gills where they absorb the oxygen. Some species of shark however are able to suck the water into the mouth and squeeze it over the gills while laying stationary.

Sharks are also sometimes believed to be cold-blooded, hence the ‘cold blooded killer’ title. While some are cold blooded, however, others are not. The great white is actually as much as 10’C warmer than the surrounding water due to a network of tiny capillaries which act as a heat exchange system, keeping the muscles warm making them far more efficient predators.

Ok, I know I’m going too far now. Unless you’re a shark ‘fin’atic (sorry!) then you probably didn’t need to know all this, but, truthfully, I hope that the more people who learn just how incredible, how misunderstood and how beautifully evolved and adapted these creatures are, the less people will fear and dislike them – avoiding news like the headline ‘Killer Sharks Swimming To Our Shores’ which drove Greg into a rant in this video:

Despite surviving 5 mass extinctions, many shark species are threatened with extinction once again today. It’s all down to human activity which has led to sharks becoming one of the most threatened groups of animals on the planet. You look at the huge rate of over-fishing and the demand for things like shark fin soup. Even as that slowly declines the demand for shark meat increases. Plus Chinese medicine want shark teeth, shark liver oil is used in cosmetics, their cartilage is a health supplement and their jaws are sought after ornaments. Every year tens of millions of sharks are caught and it greatly harms not just the shark population but the marine ecosystems they are such an important part of.

Add to that the fact that sharks are slow growing. Taking things to the extreme is the Greenland shark, it can live for 400 years and doesn’t reach sexual maturity till the age of 150. Many are caught before they’ve ever reproduced, and reproduction is not quick for sharks either! Shark pregnancy averages between about 9-12 months, but it can be as long as 31 months. They don’t produce many young and often rest a few years between reproducing.

I don’t want to preach to those that don’t wish to hear it, but I hope to spread the word to those capable of caring in the hopes of making a difference to these incredible creatures that should be admired rather than killed.

Anyway, this is a travel blog, so on to our adventure…

The intention was to dive with bull sharks while in Mexico. You must be careful with this for a few reasons. The first is that it has become relatively popular in Mexico and some companies use food to encourage the sharks into the area they wish to swim in, even though this area is not safe from shark fishing, thus putting the sharks at great risk. The second is that the bull shark is not only the shark famous for being able to swim in fresh as well as salt water (specially adapted gills), but also for having the highest amount of testosterone, meaning that it is naturally the most aggressive of shark species. Bull sharks, tiger sharks and, largely due to mistaken identity when hunting, the great white, are the only sharks that make me especially nervous. So, of course, I was crazy enough to want to swim with them.

Greg’s perforated eardrum (which you’ll have hopefully read about in part 1 of this post HERE) put a stop to this plan. I was disappointed till we discovered what else we could swim with instead.

When doing my initial research I had found out that Mexico is a good place for swimming with whale sharks… in July and August. This didn’t work for us as we were going in February-March for the grey whales in Magdalena Bay (see HERE). When we started looking at what we could do instead of diving around La Paz, however, we found a snorkel tour where you can swim with not just whale sharks but sea lions too!

I like a lot of different shark species but I must say, whale sharks are one of my favourites.

As I mentioned earlier, they are the largest non-mammalian vertebrate alive today. They are certainly the biggest fish in the sea. Their life span is estimated between 70-150 years.

They are migratory animals, they like warm water and will follow their food source. Like other sharks, they have a mouth full of teeth, about 3,000 to be exact, all in a mouth that can be between 4-5 feet wide. They don’t use these little teeth to feed though, they are one of only three species of filter feeding shark (the other two being the megamouth and the basking shark) and have gill-rakers (long, comb like structures on their gills) to trap and filter krill, crab larvae, jellyfish etc.

To be honest, they are probably one of my favourites because they are gentle giants and so beautiful. Their skin is a beautiful blue/ grey and decorated (carpet shark, remember) with bright white speckles. These speckles seem to glow against the blue background and are as individual as a humans fingerprints. They are stunning.

The trip itself was with Karla from MexPlore and I highly recommend it. It has three parts, they take you to a location where the whale sharks are feeding and get you close enough to swim with them. You are then taken to the sea lion colony where you can swim with them and admire the beautiful corals and parrot fish there. Lastly they take you to a gorgeous Sandy bay where they set up a picnic for you to enjoy before taking you back to the harbour where the tour began.

I mentioned earlier that you have to be careful when booking the Bull shark dive as some companies encourage the sharks into areas where they are not safe. To be honest, for any experience where you come into close proximity or contact with animals, please do your research first – for both your safety and theirs! I have even found some instances where a place is claiming to be a sanctuary, but they are still training animals (think Elephants, big cats and whales and dolphins) and treating them appallingly to do so  – and those are just the ones I’ve found. The worst places have no problem with lying about their activities, so dig as deep as you can before booking anything.

Especially when coming into contact with wild animals you should be an observer and not interact, unless the animal instigates it – and even then it should be done cautiously.

That’s why I was pleased when Karla used our boat ride out of the harbour not only to kit us up (wetsuit, fins, snorkel if you didn’t have your own), but also to give us some general information about whale sharks and to go through some rules with us about not getting too close and certainly not touching the sharks. The area of the bay is also strictly controlled, only so many boats out there at a time and only so many people are allowed in the water with the sharks at once. Only five people in the water per boat, that sort of thing. It stops us from overwhelming the sharks, amongst other things.

Sliding off the boat and into the water, my first glimpse of those beautiful spots and then the size of her enormous tail as she swam past me, that distinctive shark tail… left me breathless.

I quickly recovered and started to swim alongside her, making sure I was at least the instructed distance away. Her movements were graceful and unhurried but she was apparently a ‘quick’ one. Greg and I could keep pace, but the other two in our party were not swimmers. Karla called us back to the boat to locate a slower moving shark. We did this relatively quickly and off we went into the water again.

This next shark actually started vertical feeding!

Whale sharks have three methods of feeding:

The first is passive- swimming slowly with mouth open to get the plankton. This is most common and what we saw most of.

The second is vertical feed- where they stay almost motionless and use a suction method to pull in the food.

The third is active or ram-filter-feeding where they suck the water in as they swim to filter feed it at higher velocities.

Watching them do the things I had heard about was fantastic. We were so absorbed watching this shark feed, we failed to notice another one swimming towards us till it collided with us. It actually happened to us twice!

The sharks mouths are unusual in that they are on the front of their face rather than beneath like most sharks. The position of their eyes, to the sides, also means they can’t see anything in front of them. We were in their blind spot and they were in ours. On the first occasion Greg and I both felt the impact but were quick to swim back, trying to get out of her way. On the second occasion she bumped into Greg who was quick to alert us so the other swimmer and I could move before the shark caught us too. We both agreed afterwards that you can feel the strength in the sharks, they are moving slowly, drifting and feeding and yet when they collide with us you can feel the size and strength of them. The fact it didn’t hurt, they really are gentle giants.
The sharks seemed as surprised at the collisions as we were yet they didn’t panic, like us they just tried to adjust course to get past us. You should never try to touch them, in fact you should try very hard not to touch them, it’s not natural for them, but I was pleased that the experience didn’t cause us or the shark any harm. How could anyone want to harm such an amazing creature. The fact that some people do, it baffles me.
When we went on our honeymoon, we didn’t know we would be filming a documentary or that it would start us on the documentary making path. It was just our incredible honeymoon. Greg filmed the experience for a while and then returned the camera to the boat.

We then swam hand in hand, keeping pace with this fantastic fish. She knew we were there and she didn’t mind. We kept a reasonable distance but kept pace with her for quite a long time. It was something I want to return to Mexico to do again. It was incredible.

I could have happily spent all day swimming beside those sharks. But it was time to move on to the sea lion colony.

Sea lions are Pinnipeds – carnivorous, fin footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. Sea lions are the ones with the visible, external ear flaps and can actually move well on all fours.

Again we had the safety and rules briefing. While sea lions are not normally aggressive to humans, incidents are not unheard of. The males often stay on their rocks, but if you approach the males on the rocks you’re invading their territory and they don’t look on that kindly. The males are a lot bigger, stronger, more agile not to mention faster in the water than us and have a powerful bite with sharp teeth.

Being respectful of the creatures and the environment around us sounds so obvious but you’d be surprised by how many people seem to think everything around them was put their purely for their own amusement and that they are entitled to do what they want, when they want.

Once in the water, the female sea lions turned into water puppies. They were everywhere. Dashing around, above, beneath us. Floating upside down having a good look at us. It became a bit of a game, diving down, spinning around, they would almost mimic us. Where the sharks had been majestic, full of grace and beauty, the sea lions were boisterous, inquisitive and playful. I was so careful to try to tuck arms and feet in so as not to accidentally bop one but looking back at our footage, there was no danger of that. They were in control in that water, coming only as close as they wanted. I couldn’t have touched one without it’s wanting me to even if I had tried. (Which you never should!)

The smell of the area isn’t pleasant, at one point my snorkel clearing wasn’t good enough and I got a mouth full of… I don’t even want to think about it. Yuck! But overall it was such an amazing experience, just the kind of interaction I want. You should never chase an animal down, forcing it to interact with you. It should always be on their terms.

The whales in Magdalena choose if they want to surface beside a boat to say hello. The sharks here had the ability to swim away at speed if they didn’t like us being near them. The sea lions can certainly either swim quickly away or return to their rocks if they don’t want to be near us. In each place, these animals were fine with our presence and some even chose to play and interact with us. It makes the experience special and meaningful.

The thought of marine parks (I’m not going to open that can of worms here but I highly recommend everyone watch the BlackFish film documentary!), where animals are badly treated and forced to perform and interact with us when it’s not what they want, it’s beyond terrible.

Watching Greg spinning underwater and having two inquisitive sea lions swimming around him, the beautiful reef behind him and the sound of the nibbling parrot fish in my ears… memories I will treasure forever.

Again, I could have stayed with the sea lions all day but other people’s tummy’s were rumbling. Another quick ride on the boat took us to our final destination.

The sandy bay with its warm, shallow, clear water, warm gold sand and a quickly erected table and vegetarian friendly (on request) wraps, salad and crisps with a selection of soft drinks… what a lovely way to end an incredible experience. It was the last day of our honeymoon and what an incredible way to end it.
Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.
You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

The Underwater World of Mexico: Part 1: SCUBA and Cenotes

 

 
 
The Underwater World of Mexico: 
Part 1: 

 

SCUBA and Cenotes

 

 

A post by Lady Felicity

 

 

When Greg and I agreed on Mexico as our honeymoon destination we knew there was going to be some fantastic marine life to see. In preparation for this we decided it was time to learn to SCUBA dive.

We went for the basic ‘Open Water PADI ’ certificate, with the assistance of ‘Island Divers‘ on the Isle of Wight. This entry level qualification allows us to dive to 60 feet. Most marine life, coral reefs etc can generally be found within this depth anyway, so it’s the ideal one to start with.

It does, however, require both pool and open water sessions as well as passing a few theory tests. The pool and theory were no problem to either of us – we passed easily. Finding a time when the weather and water conditions in England were suitable for diving, when we are also both fully booked with work throughout the warmer months, was another story. Add to it that you cannot dive when you have blocked sinuses (Greg suffers from hay fever and I have a knack for catching colds!) and the time between us and the honeymoon started fast disappearing.

In the end, we had to bite the bullet and went to Lake Andark for our first of the two necessary open water dives. In January. To say the water was cold would be a huge understatement. If my memory serves, it was about 3 degrees.

Luckily our fantastic instructors took pity on us (they told us quite frankly that they weren’t getting in that water without a dry suit on and it seemed a bit harsh to make us do it if they weren’t willing to) and showed us how to be efficient enough in a dry suit to get by on our open water course. This worked a treat on Greg’s body. That stayed warm and dry – although his lips didn’t fare so well. Even a lip filler fanatic wouldn’t have wanted his huge, purple tinted cold induced swollen lips! Our instructors and I were quite bemused!

I was less lucky in the body department. I have somewhat skinny wrists and a skinny neck. This meant that every time I moved, a lovely cold trickle penetrated my suit, soaking me and my padded clothing beneath. Add to it that the algae was so thick, I couldn’t see anybody if they went more than a couple of feet away from me… it was an interesting introduction to open water diving. Despite this, the session was a success and we scheduled our final one to take place, just in time before our honeymoon.

Then Greg got earache. Which ear drops made worse. Turns out he got an ear infection most likely caused by the combination of temperature and sediments in the water. It was severe enough to give him a small perforation, which meant that diving was no longer an option (as with the infection he couldn’t equalise air pressure at depth).

Initially we were gutted. We had already booked to dive in four separate locations in Mexico. Luckily some of these could be changed to snorkelling trips instead, while others we had to cancel. It was also fortunate that the marine parts of our honeymoon were during the second half of the trip, giving Greg’s ear longer to heal, or all water activities would have been impossible.

 

One of the things we had initially booked as a dive but had to change to snorkelling was our trip to the Cenote Dos Ojos, and for those that don’t know what a cenote is, I will explain:-

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.

The meteorite that collided with earth about 66 million years ago, causing the chain of events which scientists attribute to causing the dinosaurs extinction can be found (if you go underwater and dig deep enough!) close to this part of Mexico. We also heard that these cenotes were a result of that meteorite. How could we pass up an opportunity to swim in them after hearing that!?

As well as this, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. In one documentary we watched, it explained that the Mayan pyramids are usually built over a cenote or near to a river. There is also usually a tomb inside the pyramids. This is to replicate sacred mountains as well as the cenote that runs beneath them.

This is a sacred place to the Mayans – they believe it to be the gateway to the afterlife. Many of the Maya used to perform a sort of pilgrimage to these sacred places and it would be replicated in the cities in the form of their great pyramids.

Some cenote are large, open pools, while others are caverns or cave systems. The water is usually clear, mostly due to being rain water filtering through the ground. When the cenote contains fresh rainwater but also connects to the sea, a halocline is created. The salt water meets the fresh water and it creates a blurry wall type effect. This in particular is, I think, the area which the Mayans believed led into the afterlife. They also believed that cenotes are home to demigods and water sprites.

All of these theories and beliefs fuelled my intrigue and desire to see them for myself.

The Cenote Dos Ojos, meaning two eyes cenote, is actually two cenotes connected by a 1,312 foot passageway. It’s famous for having the deepest known underwater cave passage at 387 feet deep. The cave system itself is also at least 200,131 feet in length. Add to it that the fact that the water maintains a very comfortable 24-25’C temperature throughout the year and is a great place to snorkel as well as scuba dive… it’s no wonder it’s so famous!

As we had originally booked to dive here we kept our guide, a lovely lady called Andrea from DivingPlayaDelCarmen.com, for the snorkel session. She kitted us out with wet-suits, fins and flashlights (we had our own snorkels and masks) and into the first of the cenote’s eyes we went.

This first Cenote was stunning. Quite deep in places and with stalagmite filled caves around the back and sides. The walls were decorated with fossil corrals and the water had a few delicate, beautiful, silver fish. As we dived underwater these fish were the only visual sign that we were in water at all – it was so perfectly clear. As we looked up at the surface it was a strange sensation. We could have been standing on land looking into the water rather than the reverse. As I ventured into the darker recesses towards the back of the Cenote I could see a line along the cavern floor- a line for the scuba divers to hold onto to guide them through the cave systems to the next cenote. I wondered if it would feel claustrophobic or fascinating. Likely both. I hope to return one day and find out.

Instead of going through the underwater cave system to reach our next Cenote we walked along pretty little jungle paths. Instead of going straight to the second eye, however, we went to a smaller, less visited Cenote.

This one had a sediment floor and pretty lily pads. It was home not only to fish but also to terrapins/ turtles. They were adorable little ones, more terrapin than big sea-living turtles. It was Greg’s first time seeing them in the wild and a very special moment.

Deciding we had intruded on the turtle long enough, we headed to the back of the cenote, where through a narrow maze of winding passages created by stalactites and stalagmites, at times only centimetres from our heads, was a bat cave. Lots of beautiful little bats flew around the cave and around our heads. For those of you that have watched our Mexico video, (Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty), it felt a bit like the bat cave in Calakmul if we had been standing in the centre of it! It was amazing!

There were also little silky string-like lines made by worms dangling from the stalactites, waiting to catch bugs for dinner. They were pretty (they seemed to glow around us) – but I didn’t fancy them in my hair!

**For any of you considering a trip to Mexico and to the Cenote Dos Ojos, to enter the bat cave you must be with a guide. To swim in the two eyes cenotes you don’t need one but to dive or enter the bat cave you do.**

The second eye cenote was another big, deep one. Open space, crystal water, caves along the edges and a larger, more open bat cave but home to a lot less bats.

No wonder the Mayans thought that the cenotes were spiritual, a place connected to their gods and the afterlife. It felt otherworldly and strange to me and I understand some of the science as to how they were created and why the water looks that way. Picturing the ancient Maya exploring cenotes without that understanding, without the diving or snorkel equipment… it’s not hard to imagine how it must have felt and appeared to them. It was certainly magical to me.

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.
You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

 

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia: Part 2

 

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia: Part Two

A post by Lady Felicity

The Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey, are big business. While flying in the hot air balloon during our first morning in Turkey, we got to see first hand just how big a business it’s all become – but if you want to know more about the hot air balloons, you’ll have to read the first part of this blog post!

The locals in Cappadocia have found just about every way imaginable to celebrate and make a living from the views. We saw horses riding through the valleys, people posing atop vintage cars and ATVs zooming along, kicking up dust behind them. Lots of photo shoots –  wedding photographs, romantic roof top accommodation, love seats, horse and carriages, all sorts of things to incorporate not just the landscape itself but us in our balloons above it too in the photographs. The balloons have become an important part of the view which draws people to this incredible part of Turkey. And why not – it is certainly an incredible spectacle to behold!

We decided that we should explore the fairy chimneys and these picturesque valleys from a different perspective, given the range of options available. We decided on two methods. First was an afternoon ride through the valleys on an ATV and second we went for a sunset horse riding tour.

The ATV (all-terrain vehicle – which in this case mean quad-bike) tour had me a bit apprehensive as I cannot drive and have never ridden a bike (unless you count Greg’s Stage-Tricycle!).

After a quick practise (despite what Greg tries to make out in the video, ‘Turkey – Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities’) on their test track I was confident enough to give the tour a go, so long as Greg and our guide didn’t mind my cautious approach.

Our tour lasted two hours and included a visit to the areas main valleys: Rose Valley, Girls Monastery, Red Valley, Swords Valley and Love Valley. At each of these valleys we would park up and hop off of our ATV’s for a quick look around and a picture or two before carrying on to the next one.

Each valley was special and distinctive in its own way, whether for the colour of the stone or the shape of the chimneys. All of them were beautiful.

As the tour went on I gained in confidence enough that our guide took us on a few bumpy, hilly, fun paths, much to Greg’s relief. Greg wanted to play and by the end, play we did!

While Greg wanted and enjoyed the bumpy, twisting, hilly paths when on an ATV, he was less keen on them when on a horse. Greg and I are not experienced horse riders by any stretch of the imagination – you can count the amount of times we’ve ridden horses on one hand – and still have a few fingers spare.

The horse riding tour offers views which you cannot see in any other tour because the places they take you are only reachable by horse. This is why some companies will not take you unless you have some riding experience.

When we booked our tour, we explained our inexperienced position to the owner of Moonlight Horse Ranch and he reassured us that we would be in safe hands, that he would show us how to ride the horse and, like the ATV’s, his horses are practically automatic.
Upon arrival at the ranch we donned our helmets, mounted our horses (the stunning, eager Cappadocian Caradot in my case and the stubborn Arabian beauty, Caramello in Greg’s), he explained the basic commands and off we went with our guide.

This tour also lasted for about two hours with a short rest stop in the middle. That rest stop was in the middle of nowhere… a nowhere that was an incredible journey to reach.

At times we were on flat or gently sloping tracks, enjoying the fairy chimney and valley views around us (when Greg’s horse wasn’t planting its feet and completely ignoring his words and nudges of encouragement!), while at others we were completely focused on our horses and the incredibly steep inclines or, worse, declines in front of us. Often with a cliff edge on one or both sides of us. I’d never seen a horse’s back legs resemble a frog’s before, but I have now. Watching the guide’s horse jump in that manner to ascend a steep incline and knowing mine was next was one thing, but when it came to the declines I quickly learned that I didn’t want to even look at his horse, didn’t want to see the crumbly, dusty floor which made the horses look as though they were stumbling and slipping as they descended.

When we reached the rest stop I suspect Greg and I were more in need of the rest than the horses were! Perhaps Caremello wasn’t just being stubborn so much as knowing what was coming and wanting no part in it!

Considering the rest stop was in the middle of nowhere and accessible only by horse, it was all remarkably civilised. A fresh fruit juice bar station, canopy covered seating, a blanketed, cosy cave room and, up some frankly disastrous looking steps (May once have been a wooden ladder but when it’s got that much glue and that many nails at odd angles trying to hold it together, I’m reluctant to call it even that!), a cave church with beautifully preserved, colourful frescos.

Greg was so shaken, he opted not to test the steps or his knees, and left me to explore the church while he sampled some juice and enjoyed the fantastic view across the valley.

While at the rest stop, another group of riders joined our small party of three. While some were experienced riders and were exhilarated and loving the views, one couple were as inexperienced as us and quite frankly terrified. The poor lady didn’t want to get back on her horse, she just wanted to stop. Her guide was reassuring, explaining the steepest parts were now over but also had to point out that the horse is the only way out of there, much to the lady’s dismay.

I had thought that Greg and I were afraid but not like this. While we were truly frightened at times we were still giggling rather than crying. Excited as well as scared. Enjoying the incredible views and experience even though it made us gasp in my case and sound like a religious sailor at times in Greg’s. If we had known what it would be like beforehand, we may not have been brave enough to do it and that would have been an incredible shame. It was an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, extraordinary experience and, having both survived it injury free, I’m so very glad we did it.

If you have never been on a horse and have a real fear of heights, just don’t do this one. It’s not for you. Stick to the ATV and unless the fear of heights means you struggle in tall buildings, try the balloon too. Both are excellent and purely enjoyable.

If you are fine on a horse, however, this is an experience not to be missed.

If you’re like us and inexperienced but want to give it a try, do it but don’t be surprised when you break out in a cold sweat or question your sanity for doing it!

At the end of the day, remember that the horse doesn’t want to fall over the cliff either and they tread this path regularly, they know what they are doing. So long as you don’t fall off the horse, you’ll be perfectly fine and have a chance to see some stunning views and have an experience like no other.
I’m less sure if Greg’s legs (or Caremello!) would let him but I would certainly be willing to do it again.

The Fairy Chimneys are incredible and however you wish to explore them, I doubt you’d be disappointed. We certainly weren’t. Just fantastic.

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.
You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia: Part 1

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappodocia: Part One
A post by Lady Felicity

Another adventure and another chance to try something from my ‘bucket list’.

In November 2019 Greg and I visited Turkey to film our video, ‘Turkey – Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities’. In a place called Cappadocia you will find the Goreme National Park, which is famous for its ‘Fairy Chimneys’.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of the Fairy Chimneys, a brief explanation might be necessary. Millions of years ago there was a long series of volcanic eruptions. The volcanic ash which fell as a result hardened into multiple layers of rock, geologically known as tuff. Over a long period of time, wind, water and ice whittled away at the tuff, but in areas where a harder rock layer rested atop the softer layer of tuff, the erosion couldn’t reach the tuff beneath – and so the fairy chimneys or ‘castles’ as the locals refer to them were created.

There are numerous valleys in the area, each with distinctive rock formations of different shapes, sizes and colours. We wanted to see all of these valleys, and so my aim was to view them and their famous Fairy Chimneys from above, from a hot air balloon.

Cappadocia is also world famous for flying hot air balloons. The amazing, otherworldly landscape combined with good weather conditions makes it the perfect place for people to fly in a balloon and also makes the hot air balloon the best way to see the landscape.

Our arrival in Cappadocia was actually after dark after a full day of aeroplanes and we had arranged the hot air balloon ride for our first morning in Turkey, just in case our flight was cancelled- we wanted time to try again on another morning if necessary, meaning that before our flight we hadn’t seen anything of the landscape yet.

We had booked our flight in advance, with Butterfly Balloons, and their van collected us from our hotel at 5:50am. We enjoyed a small buffet breakfast at their office to start and then still in darkness we were driven to the balloon inflation site.

A row of about five massive balloons, each in varying stages of inflation, their blasts of fire providing the only illumination. I must admit, the sight was both impressive and a little intimidating. While I’m not really afraid of heights, I have a healthy fear of landing unexpectedly from a great height. In other words, going splat!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a ride in a hot air balloon aside from the gorgeous view. It didn’t exactly help matters when, upon climbing up and into the balloon’s basket, the first thing they do is demonstrate the ‘brace position’ we all had to master before taking off, just in case we landed badly!

I didn’t really expect a rough ride and yet I was still surprised by how smoothly we just drifted up into the air, the earth dropping effortlessly away beneath us. Flying in a hot air balloon isn’t so much flying as it is floating. That’s certainly how it felt to me at least.

The wind didn’t even so much as ruffle my hair. I imagine that if I could have felt the wind, that would class as too strong for the balloons to fly. This is why all balloons fly so early in the morning, calmer weather before the sun rises and starts to heat things up.

The small towns below, such as Göreme, fit into the natural shape of the land. Little pockets of light nestled into the valleys in an otherwise dark landscape.



As the sunrise approached and the sky started to turn a more agreeable blue, the view opened up around us!

It was so surreal and peaceful up there, gazing at the incredible valleys below, it was actually a bit of a shock each time our pilot ignited the flames and with a noisy gust of fire our balloon rose higher.

As well as admiring the fairy chimneys and the beauty of the land below, the spectacle of all the other balloons, about 130 of them, rising into the skies all around us was fantastic, with our flight lasting an hour and twenty minutes and reaching a maximum height of 6,800 feet.

At one point, a lady in the basket next to ours asked where our landing area was. Our pilot waved his arm vaguely encompassing all the land below and said ‘’there.’’ He went on to explain ‘’I control how high we go but the wind controls where we land’’.

An incredible way to travel, but the harder job belonged to the driver below who had to chase us with his car and trailer bed. They are well practised in this, however, and as our balloon gently descended, the driver arranged his trailer perfectly, our basket gracefully landed upon it with barely a discernible bump.

Our flight had finished but the fun wasn’t quite over yet- the Butterfly Balloons team pulled our balloon down to the ground with ropes while the passengers clambered out of the baskets. We then all proceeded to shuffle along our partially deflated balloon, releasing the warm air from within and drawing it completely down to the ground. It felt almost ceremonious. Especially when the champagne corks popped and we were all sprinkled with bubbly, before enjoying a glass and a slice of cake before being driven back to our hotel – just in time for breakfast!

What an incredible way to start the first day of our newest adventure!

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

Palenque: Part 1: Into The Jungle

 
Palenque – Into The Jungle
A post by Greg
 
I can distinctly remember being in my childhood home and sitting down to watch a film with my father and older brother one evening – we’re going back nearly thirty years here. We’d watched all of the James Bond films to date (an era pre-Brosnan, let alone Daniel Craig), and I had enjoyed them, but they were never to be one of my favourites when it came to films.

That night we were going to watch a film called ‘Raiders of The Lost Ark’, which was apparently the first film featuring a character named ‘Indiana Jones’. I didn’t know it at the time, but sitting down to watch that film was going to be a life changing experience, and one which gave me a dream in life, one that would take nearly three decades, and Felicity, to fulfil!

As soon as the opening shot appeared of a mysterious figure in a fedora in a South American jungle, I was hooked on the idea of adventure. As his story unfolded over three films (the fourth would not come out until much, much later in my life of course) I watched a world of history, adventure and travel unfold before me. The only other film that reaches these heights in this way for me (and is, arguably, a better film), is ‘The Mummy’ with Brendan Fraser – which I won’t go too deeply in to at this point or Felicity will bring up the fact that I will watch anything with Rachel Weisz in it. That film, released when I was fourteen felt like part of the storytelling journey that had begun for me with ‘Raiders’, an adventure story which continued to inspire me.

It was these films that started me on my interest in history, and sparked the beginning of my history shows. They were also part of the reason why I leapt at the chance in 2007 to head over to Italy, where I would spend most of seven years travelling around the country performing. The first time I went to Venice in 2008, travelling overnight on a train from Turin to get there, it was Indiana Jones visiting the city in ‘The Last Crusade’ which had inspired my journey.

That, however, is the past and a world of fiction. This blog is about our adventures in the real world!

When we sat down to plan our honeymoon, we decided on Mexico because it was a country where Felicity could visit the whales of Magdalena Bay, and I could visit some jungle ruins. My imagination conjured up that opening scene of ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ from a faraway childhood memory, and that was what I was hoping for (hence Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty as the title of our video!).

You may have already read about our first ruin in Teotihuacan in an earlier post, and at some point I will get around to writing about El Tajin and Uxmal. All of these were incredible sites in their own ways, and it felt through those three as though we were edging ever closer to my ‘real jungle ruin’, but each one of them just missed it.

Then we arrived at the Mayan city of Palenque.

As we pulled up in the car-park, intending to head straight into the main site to see the ruins as they have been uncovered, we met the gentleman in the photo above, Marco. He introduced himself as a guide, and offered us a guided tour into the jungles outside of the main site. He was friendly and not pushy, and after he had explained what he could offer, he left us alone to discuss it.

It was only a short discussion – we were very keen to experience something a bit different, and the price was very fair – and so we set off with him out into the jungles. A few minutes in we discovered what could have been a minor problem – in the form of a slight language barrier. Luckily we discovered the problem and the solution at the same moment.

As we first made our way into the jungle we were introducing ourselves, and in some way a mention of Italy or Italian made me mention that I speak the language. At this point in time Marco seemed to relax and, switching to Italian, explained that he was fluent in Italian while his English was basic. In Italian we could relax, chat and ask questions, and suddenly I became Felicity’s translator for the tour. It was strange to be in Mexico speaking a foreign language, but one that was so familiar to me, having been struggling thus far with what wouldn’t even pass for ‘schoolboy Spanish’.

There is a lot of mystery about the Ancient Mayan people, and one mystery involves why there was a mass departure from their large cities. In Palenque, however, their reasons for leaving were probably as simple, and recognisable to us, as climate change.

This jungle, Marco informed us, had been cut back as the people expanded their city from its origins around 266BCE. This led to climate change, and the area became a desert, without enough rainfall to grow crops and feed the ever increasing population, until the city was finally abandoned some time during the 9th Century CE. After the people were forced away by this lack of water, however, the jungle began to take back control and spread back over the ruins until they were once again engulfed the city, and water returned to the area, where now a small river runs through the jungle, and a host of wildlife has returned including monkeys – which are beautiful to see, but don’t stand beneath them in case they need a ‘bathroom break’.

Out here in the jungle, as well as watching out for monkeys, we were seeing the ruins as they had first been found. We were pleased to hear that, with all the wildlife in the jungle, that the trees are now protected. What has been uncovered of the ruins (which, we were informed, is a mere 5% of the whole city) are now preserved as an archaeological zone, while everything left in the jungle remains overgrown.

Nearly every step you took you could see, buried beneath hundreds of years of tree growth, remains of Mayan houses, temples, and other buildings. We were off the beaten track – literally, a lot of the time – and when we paused we could hear nothing but the sounds of the jungle – monkeys in the trees, a river flowing and birds singing. There was no sign that we were within a mile of ‘civilisation’, and all of a sudden we were living a dream. We were in a jungle, finding ruins everywhere – and even making our way through some of the ruins – and I was having the type of adventure which I had only imagined while watching Indiana Jones. All that was missing was a bullwhip (although I did buy a couple of these to add to my show kit while we were on Isla Mujeres later in our journey).

In my next blog post I will delve deeper into the site itself, and its discovery. This post, however, is about achieving a childhood dream. I must note, I also watched Tarzan as a boy, and Palenque did give he a chance to play at being Tarzan – but for that, you’ll have to watch the video HERE!

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Greg

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

The Sound (of) Seals

The Sound (of) Seals
A post by Lady Felicity

The Isle of Man has beautiful countryside, picturesque beaches and plenty of historic castles and railways – but Greg can talk about some of those at a later date! Today I’m writing about wildlife… again.

On the Isle of Man’s most southern point, close to the Calf of Man Island, is a small section of water and a rocky islet which is populated year round by seals, and our trip to the Isle of Man took place in October 2019, which coincided with grey seal mating season (September- December).

The grey seal is the more common of the two species of seal found in Manx waters (they also get small numbers of common seals), and as around half of the global population of grey seals are found around the British coast, it should have been no surprise that we saw plenty in a place which is famous for them.

Grey seals’ hands and feet are formed into webbed flippers. They use their strong rear flippers to propel themselves through the water, while using their tail to steer. They have powerful shoulders which enable them to haul themselves onto steep and slippery rocks, which we witnessed during our visit (and which you can watch out for towards the end of our video, ‘The Isle of Man – Railways, Castles and Seals‘).

Their adorable faces look almost comical or cartoonish with their big, dark eyes which while good for seeing in dark, murky water, it is in fact their very discreet but highly sensitive ears which are most important to the seals for catching their dinner.

Their scientific name, Halichoerus grypus  adds to their comical effect as it derives from the Greek for ‘hook-nosed sea pig’. It doesn’t exactly paint a flattering picture for what I consider to be an adorable creature.

The Sound has a fantastic view, not just of the seals but also looking out over the Calf of Man island, and its cafe with its famous wall of panoramic viewing windows, serving warm, tasty, vegetarian-friendly food options… it was too good a place for us to only visit it once. I would have happily visited every day to watch the seals. As it was I think we visited on at least three of our five available days on the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is not just a hot spot for seals – during warmer months you can also see basking sharks, whales and dolphins in the surrounding waters. There are also plenty of coastal birds and one of my favourites, the puffin, can be found on the Calf of Man during the right season.

Apparently in the north of the Isle of Man they even have wild wallabies though you have to be very lucky to spot them!

For anyone that likes beautiful, coastal, rugged, countryside views and adorable wildlife (plus tasty food of course), The Sound and its cafe will not disappoint.

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S.
You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

The Underground Cities of Cappadocia

When I first heard of the underground cave cities in Turkey, I was fascinated by the idea that there was a whole city built by ancient people and designed to house thousands under the ground in times of war. When I then discovered that there is not just one of these, but thirty-six different underground cities across the region (though there are links between some of them), I wanted to get over to Turkey to see them at some point.

It was as Felicity and I were trying to decide on our next adventure, following our Honeymoon adventure in Mexico (you can watch the documentary, ‘Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty’ which we filmed on that trip HERE), that Felicity mentioned that she had wanted to take a hot air balloon over the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ of Cappadocia. We had a quick look, and were pleased to find that in a country of over three-hundred thousand square miles, the two things we had first on our list were within thirty miles of each other – and from there our latest travel adventure documentary, ‘Turkey – Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities’ was born (you can watch it HERE).

Of all of the underground cities the two which compete for the claim of ‘largest’ are Derinkuyu, which is the deepest, and Kaymakli, which is the widest. We decided we wanted to visit both of these, and a third, smaller city named Özkonak.

We had a very different experience visiting each of the three, and it is an order which I would definitely recommend – and a way of visiting similar styles of historical places generally.

Before visiting the first city, we, by which I mean Felicity, of course, had done some research. This gave us a basic idea of the types of things which we could expect to find in the underground cities on our arrival, and it meant that as we descended into Derinkuyu Underground City we were explorers. For the first part we had the tunnels to ourselves, and we were trying to piece together what different holes and areas might have been used for. Even when we started to bump into tour groups coming through, we managed to avoid them enough as we worked together to come up with theories. Some of these were correct – we managed to correctly identify hitching points and eating troughs in the ‘stalls’ – but with others we were wrong. For example, what looked to me to be a big mill-wheel for grinding grain turned out to be a large stone door (although we did find they had smaller mill-wheels, so I wasn’t too far off). We got to have our adventure, and really explore a place which was entirely new to us.

When we arrived at the second of the cities on our list, Kaymakli, we took up the offer of a guided tour from one of the official guides at the site. From here we could learn a little more about the history of the cities, and in particular he could show us how to ‘read’ the cities, and show us what we had got right and wrong with our own interpretations of what we saw. This was a crucial second step to having a fully rounded experience in the underground cities – we had wanted to explore ourselves, but now to reflect on what we had seen in the first city using the information we had received from the guide (who built both on years of archaeological work, and a youth spent sneaking into the tunnels to explore himself) deepened the experience.

By the time we got to our third city, therefore, we were ready to explore on our own once again, but this time armed with a lot more practical knowledge about what we were looking at.

This idea of taking a three step approach to a new experience – investigating on your own, then gaining knowledge from an expert, then applying that knowledge, is (in my opinion at least) a great way to experience a lot of new things.

I would certainly recommend it as a way to visit the underground cities of Cappadocia. If you suffer from claustrophobia, approach with caution, and try to avoid times when crowds will be busiest, but if you can handle being in the cave systems, it is well worth it!

Thanks for reading, and safe travels!
Greg

P.S.

You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.
You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

The Whales of Magdalena Bay

 
 
The Whales of Magdalena Bay
A post by Lady Felicity

I’ve always loved animals of all shapes and sizes, I find the majority of them both beautiful and fascinating.

I’ve also always been somewhat obsessed with the sea.

It makes a sort of sense therefore that some of my favourite creatures live within the oceans. I could talk all day about sharks, but that’s more an appreciation of their evolutionary perfection. When I talk about cetaceans however, it hits a strong emotional note within me. Everything about them intrigues me.

Like most things living in the sea, there is an air of mystery around whales that draws a person like me in. The more I learn of them, the more my level of intrigue and appreciation grows. It is for this reason that visiting the grey whales of Magdalena Bay in Mexico had been on my ‘bucket list’ for well over ten years.

The grey whales of Magdalena Bay were once known as ‘Devil Fish’, due to the fact that when they were hunted there in large numbers, they didn’t go without a fight. The grey whales grow to about 40-50 feet, and while the famous blue whale tops that with its whopping 80-90 feet, the grey whale is still in the top ten biggest animals on Earth. So it is more than capable of putting up a good fight if it is hunted.

The species can also live for up to seventy years, so some are old enough to remember the whaling. Now that the whales in Magdalena Bay are no longer being hunted, they have stopped fighting humans and instead curiously approach the boats that once hunted them. They have grown so accustomed to the tourist filled boats that on occasion they even surface beside them for a cuddle.

Another aspect that some members of the cetacean family have which fascinates me are spindle neurons (this is where Greg often jokingly rolls his eyes as he knows I can go on for far too long when on this topic).

 Put very simply, spindle neurons are a type of brain cell found in highly intelligent species. Humans, great apes, elephants and some cetaceans have them. They are linked to intelligence, communication, emotions, empathy, memory and that thing which gives us a sense of self. I personally believe they play a part in giving humanity our better qualities.

Research has shown that those species of whales which have these cells have up to three times the amount of any other creature on the planet. So much so that orca actually have a section of brain linked to emotion that other creatures just don’t have. I also believe it is thanks to these cells that whales such as humpbacks display a high level of altruism, not just towards their own kind but any creature they perceive to be in need of help.

That’s where I will stop on that particular topic for now, this being a travel blog rather than a marine enthusiast blog. But hopefully this will help explain why Mexico was such a big thing on my ‘bucket list’.

Magdalena Bay Whales are a family run company. They own a small B&B on the mainland as well as a campsite on Magdalena Bay Island. They have a small team of captains and small fleet of boats allowing them to take whale seekers out on the water to get close to the grey whales – or rather, to allow the whales to get close to us.

Greg and I opted to camp for a few nights on the island as it gets you closer to the regulated whale watching areas.

This amused Greg greatly, as I had never actually been camping. While the camp and our yurt were well maintained (the camp comprised of two yurts and maybe ten tents, an open restaurant/ palapa with fresh supplies brought over from the mainland and two toilets sharing one sink). Our ‘private bathroom’ consisted of an emergency ‘middle-of-the-night-wee’ chemical toilet and ten-litres of water each per day in a solar bag to shower with, hung at chest level. A bit of a surprise to a novice camper like me!

All I can say is that the hospitality of everyone that worked for the company made up for the lack of bathroom facilities, as did watching dolphins play in the bay as we sat beside our yurt on a quiet island, with humming birds feeding from the plants beside us. One day I want to return there and do it all again!

Each day started with a freshly made breakfast and then our captain took us out for six hours of whale watching. It was fantastic.  We watched as many a whale dived, giving that classic view of their fluke. Some whales swam along beside and beneath our boat, so majestic for such a large animal. We even had the chance to watch a large group of whales ‘spy hopping’ (they rise vertically from the water, sometimes rotating as they do so, to get a good look above water. I like to think that they enjoyed watching us even half as much as I enjoyed watching them), but the unexpected appearance of a lone humpback (the wrong time of year for them to ordinarily be in the area) that happened to breach in their unique way, at exactly the moment that Greg and I were looking in the right place at the right time… that was pretty breathtaking. It was our last morning on the water and such an incredible treat.

The whole experience was unforgettable and I highly recommend it for anyone that admires whales.

Thank you for reading, and safe travels.

Felicity

P.S. We strongly recommend Captain Marco and his team at Magdalena Bay Whale Camp. Find out about them by clicking here, and do mention you heard about him from us if you book!

P.P.S.

You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

Teotihuacan – Gateway To The Ancients

On our arrival in Mexico in early 2019, we landed in Mexico City after nightfall. After a slightly hair-raising drive out of the city in the dark, having to compete with unknown roads, a very different driving style, and wild dogs randomly appearing on the roads as we drove about thirty miles northeast, we found ourselves in a hotel a few hundred yards from the ruins of Teotihuacan – although in the dark we didn’t see them that night.

The following morning we set off for the site, and having paid our entrance fee we made two very good choices – an early arrival, and entering to park behind the Pyramid of the Sun rather than around at the main entrance to the site. This meant initially avoiding all of the stalls selling souvenirs, and meant that the famous Pyramid of the Sun was the first sight we saw on arrival, and also the first building we arrived at, allowing us to climb it before it got too busy later in the day.

The Pyramid of the Sun was built around 200CE, a couple of centuries before Teotihuacan reached its peak, and several centuries before the whole city was abandoned between about 600CE and 750CE. Why, exactly, the city was abandoned is still a matter for debate – as many public buildings were burned around the year 600, some claim it was an uprising against the rulers from within the city, while others theorise that an outside invasion began the downfall. Either way, people seem to have slowly drifted away from the city to leave it empty by 750.

As you climb up the Pyramid of the Sun, you feel the effort that must have gone into building that single temple, let along the entire city. The structure itself stands at two hundred and sixteen feet, roughly half the height of the Great Pyramid at Giza, but you are starting your climb at an altitude of a little over seven thousand feet. Having landed only the night before, and having travelled from just above sea level in our home on the Isle of Wight, we found our hearts racing by the time we reached the top – something to bear in mind if you make a visit to the site.

To find out more about our visit to the historic sites of Mexico,

After the Pyramid of the Sun, we climbed its sister temple, the Pyramid of the Moon. For me, this was a better view than from the top of the taller pyramid. The Pyramid of the Moon is a little over half the height of the Pyramid of the Sun, but stands at the end of the Street of the Dead, and so from the top you look down across the whole site in a single view. It was here that I found myself musing not about the end, but rather about the origins of the city. 

 

When the Aztecs first rediscovered the city in the fifteenth century they named it Teotihuacan, meaning ‘the place where the gods were born’. Looking out across the site it is easy to understand why the Aztecs would have thought that. Trying to imagine the people of 300BCE starting a city here, and all of these structures being built by people by the fifth century really took some effort. Especially as we know so little about the people that built it, including who they were.

 

It was once thought that the Toltec people had built the city, but as they only came to prominence in around 900CE, nearly two hundred years after Teotihuacan’s decline, this theory is now generally considered to be incorrect. Other people look to the Totonac tribe, or even unnamed people who had fled to the area after a natural disaster and built the city up from humble beginnings.

 

Whoever built it, and for whatever reason it was abandoned, the site today stands as one of the best historical sites of its type that I have ever visited, and I would strongly advise that if you are heading to Mexico at any point in the future, this is definitely a site that you should be planning to visit! 

Thanks for reading, and safe travels! 

Greg 

P.S. 

You can watch all of our travel adventures (and ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Comment’ on YouTube at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

 

You can also find out about everything else that we do at www.gregandfelicityadventures.com.

Welcome To The Adventure!

Greetings everyone, and welcome!

My name is Greg – magician, juggler, entertainer and travel documentary maker – and this is my blog! The main focus of this blog will be travel, history and magic, but do expect other topics to crop up as we go along.

Along with my wife (who for reasons of our work at Steampunk events and a series of Steampunk inspired audio-books I tend to refer to as Lady Felicity), we began this year launching a new adventure in our lives – the creation of travel adventure documentaries taking us around the world to share the sights, history, and wildlife in as  many countries as possible!

It all began this January, when we set off to Mexico on our honeymoon. We decided on this as our destination because it combined Lady Felicity’s love of marine wildlife, and her dream to travel to Magdalena Bay in the Baja California of Mexico, where at the right time of year you can take a boat out to see grey whales in the wild, with my desire to see ancient ruins in the jungles, and basically to be Indiana Jones (without the tomb-raiding aspects of his stories!).

From swimming with the whale sharks in La Paz (pictured below) to exploring ruins such as El Tajin (pictured above) we travelled all over in an attempt to see as much wildlife and history as we could fit in to a month.

About halfway through the month it occurred to me just how amazing the footage we were filming was, and just what a great experience it would be to share with the world, and with my background in video making and entertainment, we decided that we could create a travel documentary.

So our adventures began! In this blog I will be delving a little deeper into the history and stories behind some of the places which we have visited on our travels, a chance to provide more information than we could in our videos.

In the meantime, you can Watch The Mexico Travel Documentary Here and watch the videos of our latest travels on the Greg and Felicity Adventures Website!

If you’d like to help us out, then please leave a comment either on this blog or on our videos on YouTube – and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/gregandfelicityadventures.

Thanks for reading our blog, safe travels!

Greg