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Kat & Andrew's Worldwide Adventures

The last of Mexico... (Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza)

MEXICO | Monday, 31 October 2011 | Views [1170] | Comments [1]

Final days in Mexico…. There are loads more that I want to see in Mexico, but I had definitely seen enough for one trip. I was ready to move on! But, I had grown to be comfortable there, as everything had become familiar. Columbia is a whole different ball game….  (I would like to go back to Mexico one day with an empty suitcase and more money! I kept seeing awesome gifts I would love to buy for people but I couldn’t… ho hum….)

We arrived in Cancun after 13 hours on a bus. Luckily we managed to get some sleep despite a crick in the neck and limbs loosing blood flow from being in contortionist positions. We hadn’t prior booked accommodation again due to being charged international fees whenever we put down a deposit by credit card but we had researched many cheap places in a few block radius and it would be unlikely that all of them would be booked solid. We turned up at our first choice and paid for one night only to be shown to a room we instantly loathed. Tip of the day – ALWAYS ask to see the room before paying.

 The room was tiny with 6 bunk beds and no ventilation. Despite the fact it was almost lunch time, 4 of the beds were occupied by very smelly and boozed infused blokes who weren’t impressed with the interruption. We weren’t given a key as it seemed no rooms locked and there were no lockers for security. There was only one shower for the whole hostel to use as well.  I got changed and we took off in search of another place and stumbled upon a gem. A 4 bed dorm room with a private bathroom servicing it, air conditioning, internet in the foyer, clean sheets, towels and lockers – all for the same price!! We instantly returned to hell to retrieve our bags and managed to get our money back. Phew! Cancun prices for a private room were too expensive but luckily we got only one roommate from Switzerland who was polite, considerate and not a party animal.

The rest of the day we wondered around downtown and got our bearings. The following day we got a boat over to Isla Mujeres and rented a golf cart to explore the island. It wasn’t very large and it was occupied by hundreds of large iguanas perched on top of walls sunning themselves. White sand beaches, shades of tropical light blue see through waters, palm trees and rocky cliff faces. Divine!    

Parts of the island were windy however and clouds were moving in but we still enjoyed a swim and some lazy time on the beach (despite some rather loud drunken young scots). Prices were ridiculous, almost double compared to downtown Cancun.  It was like we were in America!

 

The next day we got on a local bus to the hotel zone of Cancun. Once again the prices here were double. It is 20 km of golden sand surrounded by rows of fancy hotels with virtually no pedestrian access. We waltzed through a fancy hotels lobby and out to their pool and got to see the monkey from the movie Hangover 2.  Sooo cute, I WANT!!! We could’ve gotten away with swimming there but we went out onto the beach and used their deck chairs instead. The colour of the water where the sun hit it was incredible. There were small waves, which I’m not a fan of, but once I got out past where they break (while clinging onto Andrew) I was fine J

 

Our final day in Cancun, and in Mexico, was on a tour. 13 hours of tedious commercial tourism.  7am-8pm of pretty much waiting. It took well over an hour to pick everyone up from various hotels (and drop them off afterwards) and then we were shepherded on a large bus full of people to various stops including a market place, a small village, a buffet lunch (which was actually pretty good) and a lime stone sinkhole cave where you could swim with bats flying above you (and where the toilet stalls don’t have doors…. I don’t mind getting changed in front of people in the bathroom if I have too, but doing my business?! No thanks, I don’t want to share that intimate experience!).

The sinkhole was pretty neat (although we didn’t swim) but the reason we went on the tour was to see one of the seven man made wonders of the world – the ruins of Chichen Itza – and unfortunately we only got to spend less than 2 hours there, only half an hour of which was free time.

 

Chichen Itza was built by the Mayans in 800 AD and they were so advanced it is mind blowing. They built the pyramid in a way that twice a year, the sun hits the pyramid in a way that produces the shadow of a large crawling snake on the ground. Also, if you clap, it echoes through the pyramid and makes the sound of a bird followed quickly by the sound of a rattlesnakes rattle. These two creatures represent their main god that they worshiped. They chose the snake because it sheds its skin every year and they believed it was coming back to life so it represented renewal.  When the Spanish took over, they thought the snake represented the devil and they destroyed almost all of the Mayans books written about their history and way of life. The acoustics made by the pyramid was also used as a communication device with neighbouring towns. A certain drum roll would echo into the distance and alert anyone of an upcoming event or danger. The Mayans also developed 5 calendars’ that followed the movement of the moon, the stars and the planets. They were so accurate about time and numbers that even today, NASA follow almost exactly the same sequence.

 

That was the one benefit of having a guide – being shown things at the ruins that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and being educated on their history. I find it all very fascinating. We were also introduced to a little mayan boy who supports his grandmother by selling her handkerchief’s that she makes. They only have each other and she is too old to work. Kids in these under-poverished countries are sent to work very young and they know the desperation for money from as soon as they can walk and talk. Their parents know that for tourists, it’s harder to turn down a begging child.

 

The next day we flew 2 hours to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and stayed at the airport hotel. It would have been nice to see the place but it was only a stopover and we didn’t have time. It was half the price to fly to Colombia via the States rather than direct. We were worried we would have issues getting back into the States but all the customs official wanted to know was why did New Zealanders let Australian’s get away with calling themselves “down under” when it was inaccurate! And he was surprised that an aussie and kiwi were a couple.

It was nice having a HOTEL for a night. A massive comfy bed that I didn’t ever want to leave, a nice clean bathroom where you can actually drink the water and flush the toilet paper, and air conditioning!!! Bliss! AND everyone spoke English! (Due to habit however, we continued saying ``Hola`` and Gracias`` hehe.)  But alas, we had to leave.

 

The next morning we were back at the airport and flew 3 hours to Cartagena, Colombia to be greeted by having an argument with a taxi driver. He tried to charge us 50,000 pesos when the ride was only meant to be 10,000. And we were absolutely horrified to discover that Colombia is no longer a cheap country. Our guide book is only 5 years old for South America and we thought, surely, things couldn’t have changed SOOOO astronomically in such a short time. But yes, it sure has. No longer are private hostel rooms $5US per night. They are $15-20. No longer are meals $2. They also are $15!! We are very worried that if things keep up at this rate, we will run out of money half way through the trip….

 

In Mexico, we were getting a meal and a drink each for $10 total. Beer was around $1.50 US. (With the exception of places in Cabo and Cancun).  Local buses were 50 cents to $1. Intercity buses were around $40-$80 each. Accommodation was $10-15 for the both of us per night in a private room. I was under the impression that all of South America (except Brazil) was less than this. Woops, not so!!! I have also gotten used to the money we were spending being between 100-200 pesos. In Colombia, everything is in the thousands!! Mexico was roughly 13 pesos to the US dollar where Colombia is 1900 pesos to the dollar.

 

I haven’t figured out what the local food specialities are in Colombia yet except fish (with skin and head still intact – NO THANKS). However before we left Mexico we did try a few traditional things – a tlayuda which is a large crispy tortilla spread out like a large pizza covered in chicken, beans, avocado, lettuce and cheese. We weren’t given cutlery so weren’t exactly sure how to eat it!! We just broke bits off and ate it piece by piece but discovered later that you were meant to fold it in half and pick up the entire thing! We also tried agua liquidos and leche liquidos. Fruit juice mixed with some sort of powder and either milk or water. Very very bizarre but everyone seemed to be drinking it!

 

More on Colombia to follow…..

Comments

1

Hi,

We really liked your post and decided to feature it on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that other travellers can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!
Kate

  Kate Hoffman Nov 21, 2011 9:22 AM

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