Mexico Trip 2015

Mexico Trip – June 30 to July 12

For all pictures from our Mexico trip, please click HERE

Cancun

Our United Airlines flight arrived late in the evening in Cancun. We couldn’t find any buses from the airport to the city so we haggled a taxi to our hotel. We stayed in Cancun for only two nights. We found a great food stall place near our hotel that we kept coming back to as they had fresh delicious tacos.

Isla Mujeres

Our next destination was the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres. We booked a snorkelling tour that included seeing the underground museum of statues, lunch buffet on a private beach and open bar on the catamaran boat (aka party boat) that took us to the island. The most annoying part of the boat ride was the pumping loud music which I thought took away from the enjoyment of the nature around us but I guess all the other tourists didn’t seem to mind.

We stayed on the small island a few nights. We found a cool little restaurant for dinner called Ruben’s and tried their fish and it was amazing. The island has one of the best sandy beaches, Playa Norte. We also noticed great artistic abilities from a few unique murals on the island. (add picture?) Our time on the island was mainly spent relaxing on the beach and walking around the main centre of the island.

Playa Del Carmen

After Isla Mujeres, we went back to Cancun and took a collectivo bus to Playa Del Carmen. We arrived late in the evening and were hungry. We researched places to eat but they were a bit of a walk from our hotel. We walked for a bit and came across this local “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant. The people in the restaurant spoke no English and there were no English menus. We were relying heavily on our Spanish Lonely Planet phrase book which was quite the adventure. By this point, I was a bit tired of eating tacos so I wanted to try something different. I pointed to the waiter/cook (I think she was the same person) the item that I wanted to eat. It sounded good even though I didn’t really know what it was except it was something chicken. Phebe also did the same thing. The food came out and it was one of the best hearty meals we’ve ever eaten. They also served gigantic fruit smoothies.

The rest of the time spent in Playa Del Carmen was walking along the touristy 5th Ave, strolling along the beach, taking a dip in the swimming pool at our hotel, and a day trip to Xcaret theme park.

Xcaret

Xcaret is an eco-archaeological theme park where you can enjoy swimming in the underground rivers, take a snorkelling tour, and swim with the dolphins. We decided just to swim in the underground rivers as this was the most popular choice. The experience was incredible. It was so good that we did it twice. The water was super cold but also refreshing as the weather was so hot. The underground river from beginning to the end is about a 40 minute swim. After the second trip we were dead tired. We replenished our energy by having a seafood buffet lunch that included everything you could image.

After lunch, we explored the aquarium which included giant turtles, sting rays, lots of exotic fishes, and whale sharks among other things. Later on, we saw an equestrian horse show which was fun to watch as they did a lot of stunts with the horses.

In the evening, there was a presentation called “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular”, which is a celebration of light and colour with over 300 artists that takes you through the history of Mexico. The show was amazing and very well done. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. It was interesting to see the history of Mexico through song and dance.

Chichen Itza

Another highlight of our trip was exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza, now included as one of the 7 wonders of the new world. We booked a tour that included swimming in a Cenote, lunch buffet, and exploring the little town of Valladolid. One of the main drawbacks to seeing Chichen Itza is that you have to share it with thousands of other people. Another thing I noticed during this tour was that Mexicans will want to try and sell you anything at any time of day. For example, one of the stops along the tour was this jewellery stand. It was one of those typical jewellery stands – “once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”. In addition to all the jewellery stand, another thing for purchase is a painting with your name on it with a history of each letter. Moreover, on the bus ride, we were offered to purchase a tequila bottle with our picture on it, biodegradable sunscreen, and other “junk”. Even on the grounds of Chichen Itza, choruses of local merchandisers (you mean merchants?) saying “one dollar, one dollar” never stops. One of the interesting parts of the tour was seeing the sacred cenote, aka “well of sacrifice”. This was where the Mayans would sacrifice objects and human beings in the cenote as a form of worship.

Tulum

Our last few days in Mexico were spent in Tulum. The hotel that we stayed at was within walking distance to the Tulum Ruins which was very convenient. What sets these ruins apart from other Mayan ruins is that it is well preserved and is situated along the beach coast. They forgot to mention that the ruins are home to a whole bunch of iguanas roaming around. No, I didn’t try to mount any!

The Little Bus that Couldn´t

After seeing the ruins in Palenque I was off for an overnight bus to Cancun. So I thought. The bus was supposed to come around 7:30pm but it didn´t end up coming to the bus station at all! I ended up waiting at the terminal for 3 whole hours. I kept asking the ticket guy over and over again when it will come and he kept saying it will be a little late. Then around 10:30pm he finally comes to me and says the bus blew up. Or to that extent. He did wave his arms frantically at me as if the bus caught on fire. On a side note, I did get to watch Back to the Future 2 in Spanish which was quite interesting. Anyways, he told me there would be a bus the next morning at 5am. The last thing I wanted to do was stay another night! Of course I was a bit upset but plans always change when you´re traveling right?

The Next Day
Ok, I´m not sure if they got the same old bus that broke down yesterday but it seemed that way. During the ride it seemed the bus was swaying back and forth and I swear we were going to tip over. The was also this annoying screeching noise coming from the back of the bus. We left the terminal at 5am and the bus broke down around 7am…about 128km away from the city. They tried to fix the bus but to no avail. We waited for another bus to rescue us for over 5 hours! Some contemplated going to Guatemala and then taking a bus back to Mexico! I thought about pulling the old thumb out but everyone told me it was dangerous.  The bus that rescued us didn´t go to Cancun by the way. It went to a border town called Chetumal near Belize and then I had to take another overnight bus to Cancun. It was probably the longest day of my trip.

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The broken down bus

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The guys discussing what we should do next

The Mexican Triangle

You´ve heard of the Bermuda triangle right? Well, how about the Mexican triangle. I took an overnight bus from Mexico to Oaxaca, about 6 hours overnight. The bus dropped me off at a bus station somewhere outside the city limits at around 5 am, so I wasn´t sure where I was. Luckily I had my trusty GPS to show me how to get to the city. After a 45 min. walk, I finally arrived at the 2nd class bus station near the south end. I wanted to buy another overnighter to San Cristabol de Las Casas but everyone at the counter said I had to get to go to another bus station! Aiya. So much for getting a cheap ticket. I walked all across the city to get to the other station…the 1st class bus terminal at the north end. When I looked at the price I almost gagged. I walked all this way and found out I needed to change money. It was now almost 7am and nothing in the city was open. Oh, and did I mention it was Sunday? They sure take their Sabbath day seriously here because almost everything was closed! I had to wait until 10am to exchange money in the city and then walk all the way back to the bus station. By the end I was a bit exhausted but at least I know I´m working the ¨buddha¨off.

Arrived in Mexico!

It has been an interesting few days here in Mexico. I arrived here in the morning and I was surprised that there was nobody to hound me for a taxi at the airport. Not that I wanted to be hounded, but it was just weird. Maybe too civilized here for me;)
As big as Mexico is, it´s pretty easy to get around here.  The Metro can take you almost anywhere you want to go for dirt cheap (like .30 cents CDN). If I had the choice, I probably would not take it during rush hour again…but then again, I think every hour is rush hour in Mexico.

The hotel I stayed at included a city tour around Centro Historico of the Zocalo. Little did I know that it was a gruelling 3 hour tour! Don´t worry. I toughed it out and hung in there. Highlights of the tour include seeing a nude protest and eating grasshoppers. I also heard that they had an 8 hour tour to Teotihucan to see the pyramids. I said no thanks and opted to go by myself. So the next day I ventured out to see one of the largest pyramids in Central America (Pyramid of the Sun).  The whole site took me about 2 hours. So I saved 6 hours and spent the rest of the day eating tacos and drinking fruitshakes! Next destination is Oaxaca where I will be taking my first overnight bus.

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I just climbed that (Pyramid of the Sun)

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On top of Pyramid of the Moon overlooking Pyramid of the Sun

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Local dance in front of Catedral Metropolitana

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I had a few of these (grasshoppers)