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Kat & Andrew's Worldwide Adventures

Mexico Amigos! (and the joys of budget travel....)

CANADA | Thursday, 13 October 2011 | Views [612]

Unfortunately there are many down sides to budget travel... such as red eye flights.....
An alarm at 3am after only a mere few hours of sleep is not a welcome sound. Then, whilst half asleep, trying to figure out where to return the rental car and make it to our flight on time!
Luckily we succeded, and spent the better part of the day in transit via LA to Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico.
 
We arrived in San Jose into even hotter weather than Vegas. Outside the airport we tried to figure out who were the genuine shuttle services and who were the scam artists. Thanks to some tips from previous travellers we picked the right shuttle and got herded off into a van, that was boarding on being over full, and driven at top speed to Cabo. I excitedly took in all the spanish signs that we passed, making my head swim trying to translate them all, only to discover that in Cabo, almost everything is in English, and they mainly take american dollars not pesos.
 
Our hotel was right in the centre of town (tick), with a pool (tick), ice cold airconditioning (tick) and our own room (tick). What else could we ask for? Well... maybe less large dead cockroaches in the middle of our bathroom floor and less middle aged drunken tattooed texans booking out most of the hotel. But hey, its Cabo!!
 
Cabo is the playground for american adults. Beer is cheaper than water in some places! Every 2 minutes you are being hassled to spend money on jewellery, food, souveniers, taxis, tours, hats etc even on the beach. First thing in the morning they are trying to get you to drink cocktails and on the beach they are urging you to do shots! Cabo is quite flash for a little mexican town, it has a lovely marina and expensive hotels along the beach. 
 
The heat there was close to unbearable. It sat around 38 degrees and didnt get much cooler than 30 at night. Walking down the road resulted in every bit of skin dripping with sweat and a heavy body with dragging feet.... 
We spent a lot of time swimming. Andrew got stung on his arm by a jelly fish but luckily it wasnt dangerous. We hired a jet ski and had a fantastic time and we also went on a little boat tour to see the famous Arch rock formation at Lands End. We got dopped off at "lovers beach" with "divorce beach" being on the other side hehe. A mexican rudely demanded a tip for helping us off the boat, even though we didnt need help. Except for him, all the mexicans had been super friendly so far. My fav was a little girl who served us tacos, still in her school uniform :)
 
After 3 nights in Cabo, we went on a 3 hour bus ride to La Paz. The seats reclined right back and were more comfortable than the concrete hard bed in Cabo so I was stoked!! We were going to spend a night in a little surf town called Todos Santos, but decided it was easier and cheaper to spend the extra night at our next destination. 
 
La Paz is a typical mexican dusty town where all the paint is peeling, the concrete foot paths are cracked and crumbling, and noone really speaks english. Its been good practice for our spanish skills! A few times we didnt quite get what we ordered... I can ask questions fine in spanish, but I have no idea what theyre saying back to me most of the time! We just alternate "si" or "no" answers and hope for the best haha. 
 
Our room had no air conditioning so it was uncomfortable the first night. Luckily the second night there was a good breeze all day so we got used to it, but the hostel was noisy and bright. Our bathroom this time had an army of ants in it. Fun Fun!! 
We walked through the back streets to find the Baja Ferries terminal, past loads of mechanics and what not, and were stared at like we didnt belong there... such a change from being hassled for attention in Cabo! 
There isn't much to do in La Paz so we walked an hour along the water front in the heavy heat until we found somewhere we were allowed to swim (only to discover people swimming at the beach right by our place later... GRRR).
 
I didnt really care much for the town until the sun started to set and the locals appeared in hords. The sky was a soft pink and teenagers were hanging around the waterfront on skateboards and bikes trying to impress the groups of young ladies giggling in a huddle. Little kids attempted to catch fish in the shallow waters of the beach, content families pushed their infants along in strollers and the streets had bumper to bumper cars cruising down the main drag... the little town suddenly had a touch of magic on a quiet Saturday night with not a tourist in sight (except us).....
 
From there we caught an over night boat from the Baja California Peninsula to Mazatlan in mainland Mexico. It has to be the most horrendous overnight travelling experience I've had to date... It was hot, so everyone was sweating, the lights were burning bright all night, they constantly played movies in spanish loudly (with a break between 1am-6am), people were always talking or snoring very loudly. I couldn't get comfortable at all.... not a wink of sleep and I felt disgusting. There wasn't enough room to sleep on the floor... it was indeed, cattle class.... And we were stuck on it for 18 hours. 
We hadn't pre booked accommodation in Mazatlan so just turned up on the doorstep of a place that was recommended and hoped for the best. For me, not having secure plans was a big thing! But it all worked out, a lovely lady took us in like we were her personal guests and talked non stop spanish with a grin :) We were allowed to check in early and had a much needed shower and a nap. The place was basic but it was cheaper than our dinner so we weren't complaining! 
We walked around the old town and the water front and I loved the charm and character of the Spanish styled colorful buildings. I would've liked to have had more time to see the modern side of Mazatlan. (The old town is the best part though, the modern part is 20km of golden sand beaches and high rise hotels which aren't particularly unique). 
We watched a spectacular sunset from our balcony and felt very very lucky to be experiencing this wonderful country.
Unfortunately it was another uncomfortable bed (so far only Las Vegas was acceptable... another downside of budget accommodation) so after another frustrating attempt at a good nights sleep, we waited 3 hours at the bus station for the next bus to Mexico City. (I managed to book our tickets in Spanish!)
As per our Lonely Planet guide, we thought it was a 20 hour bus ride so we settled in and got comfortable. The seats were great, it was dark and quiet, and it was as good as an over night bus ride was going to get. Managed to get snippets of sleep, but it was enough to stop me from swearing under my breath every few minutes in frustration.
I was unimpressed to discover that the bus wasn't going to stop for food though. 20 hours with no food?! We managed to get a sandwich at another town when we were picking up more people along the way. But surely a heads up to bring your own food should've been in the guide too!! 
The bus ride ended up only taking 14 hours and we got deposited at Mexico City's largest bus station at 4.30am rather disorientated. We had wanted to arrive in the day time as its not the safest city to visit....
We managed to find our way to the city by the Metro system and ended up cautiously wondering the deserted dark streets in search for our hostel, praying that it was open 24 hours..... Andrew had our passports and cash in a pouch tucked under his shorts and we were wary of anyone who got near us. But police were cruising the streets so we soldiered on. The place was like a ghost town with every window covered in thick bars and every door locked up tight. 
Thankfully the hostel was open and the gave us a bed without charging early check in fees. Thank god for small pleasures!!!!
More to come.......

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