Our first stop and we arrived safe and sound. We arrived in Playa del Carmen from cancun airport by bus. Cheap and cheerful-start as we mean to go on and all that. It took around an hour and was definitely the most comfortable coach i’d ever been on. And after an eleven hour flight, an hour seems like ten minutes. I’m not gonna go into PDC too much as it was not really our cuppa tea. Very touristy with bars everywhere loud pumping music and huge mainstream shops like forever 21 and mac. definitely not what you want to be seeing when you come to the other side of the world seeking adventure…to Tulum we go.
Arrived in Tulum by mini bus. These are really frequent throughout Mexico and are basically shuttle buses that take anyone and everyone. Proper felt like a local jumping on one of these. Highly recommend. Tulum is a beautiful part of Mexico right on the Yucatan peninsula. And here YU sure CAN TAN. El Scorchio Armani in these parts 🌞🌞🌞🌞
We rented bikes for the two days that were were in Tulum. For 180 pesos (£8) for two of us for 24hrs you really can’t go wrong. The beach is quite a mission from the town too so well worth it if like me your legs rub together when your hot so walking is a big issue. Yup I don’t have leg gap and I’m standing proud!
We visited some cool beach bars like le zebra and papaya playa, which when you enter are so amazing that you think “shit we really can’t afford to be here” but actually the food and drinks were all pretty reasonable. Here I continued my new obsession with fish tacos. Serious party in my mouth-think citrus sunshine vibes with fresh fish and homemade crunchy salsa and your half way there. We also rode our bikes the 15 mins to the tulum ruins in the archeological park which was so picturesque and felt like you had gone back In time. We also got caught In a thunderstorm which we really enjoyed however I did have a mini freak out that a tsunami was arriving shortly-thankfully it never came. Disaster did strike 20 mins later though when I came flying off my bike downhill and cut my arms up in numerous place. (G claims it was a graze). Either way I felt very sorry for myself. Did I just compare coming off my bike to a tsunami? Oh dear
Right so today we decided that we were going to go swim with some turtles around the bay at Akumal with our pals from back home. We got up and jumped on one of the local shuttle buses to Akumal which is usually around 15-20 minutes away and cost 30 pesos each – £1.50 (bargs) the driver seemed to be a part time rally driver and was going about 90mph the whole way so we got there in no time. The beach is pretty sweet and wasn’t really overcrowded, apart from the little Mexican men trying to persuade you to go snorkelling with them it’s pretty chilled.
We ended up going out as a group of 6 for about an hour, and within about 5 minutes had seen our very first green turtle! Apparently they like it here so much because of all the sea grass on the sea bed and in May and October they even come into lay eggs on the beach!
As far as the coral goes, it’s not great and there’s not that many fish but we managed to see a barracuda, an eagle stingray and a couple of parrot fish, however we were there to see the turtles so it was all in all – a success, We probably saw about 5 or 6 in the hour and for the 250 pesos (£12) it wasn’t over priced. Tonight we’re jumping on a 4 hour bus to Merida – See you on the flip side. G 🐢 Drove the 4 hours to Merida on the same ADO bus. Arrived to our hostel (Nomadas) at 12.30 am.
As G was paying the cabbie I knocked on the door and was greeted by a miserable guy who shhhhhd me when I said hello-awks. He ushered us in and G came in behind me whistling so he too got a death stare! The hostel itself is pretty cool with a gigantic pool bigger than any other hostel pool I’ve seen. Our room was equally as big but as soon as we got in I noticed a colony…yes colony of ants crawling up the wall. I am not scared of bugs but I definitely was not getting any sleep that night knowing they were there. G proceed to explain that ants walk like that if they are heading somewhere to carry out a mission. This didn’t really make me feel any better but made me laugh .and to be fair five minutes later I checked back and they were gone. I now keep wondering what exact mission they were on. I guess we’ll never know.
The first day we woke early and went back on ourselves to meet our friends Abi and Duncan in Chitchen itza. This place is pretty mind blowing. It was a lot prettier than id expected too and because we got there early we missed the hoards of tourists coming in on coaches. The ruins are pretty nuts and it is mind boggling how they were built and what actually went on there is crazy. After chitchen we jumped in Abi and duncs car and headed back to merida.
We had a few beers at the hostel and then headed out for a night of debauchery. After about 20 shots of mescal we called it a night and had a nice drunk sleep which meant no worrying that ants were gonna be crawling in every orifice. The next morning we headed out to check out the city. What I did love about this place is the fact that you can really get amongst it.
The food markets are really something. I could walk around them for hours just soaking in the different sights smells and strange goings on. They have a pet shop section in the market which was quite sad as they were all in pretty small ages. Strange animals like ducks which I couldn’t see being sold anytime soon and the cutest little puppies. Maybe ditch this part if you own a dog…or a duck for that matter.
After we’d got our fill of the market and had a late breakfast we headed back to the hostel and then out for dinner. We tried a traditional Yucatan restaurant with an outside inside vibe. I’m not mad on this cuisine. It’s a lot of Turkey and strange refried bean soups. Also if you think you eat too many crisps at home try spending two weeks in Mexico. You are greeted with a bowl or tortillas chips the size of your head at every meal and no matter how sick of them you are YOU WILL EAT THE WHOLE BOWL and then proceed to eat the ones that come with your meal too. My no carbs diet is on hold in Mexico which is a real shame as my arse has definitely doubled in size.
We decided to cut our merida trip short and leave on the last bus to head to Holbox (pronounced Holbotch) which is a tiny island off the mainland about 3 hours drive from Cancun. We arrived at the bus station for the the 11.30 bus only to find out it left at 10.30. This was quite irritating as we had checked out of our hostel but instead of screwing about it we just decided to jump on the bus to cancun and then get a connecting bus to Chiquila. From there you get to Holbox on a boat in 20 mins. We were so tired on this journey that we slept the whole way so it was actually pretty painless. Definitely recommend being as knackered as possible before doing a long ass bus ride. J ❤️
After the 20 minute boat ride to Holbox, we got a taxi to our hotel, there are no cars on the island everybody just zips about on cool golf buggies! We decided that as it was our 2 year anniversary we would splash out and get a nice hotel for our stay here, the one we chose is called Holbox Dream, it’s amazing, there is 2 swimming pools overlooking the sea and has its own part of the beach, this place is literally paradise.
The fact that nobody in the backpacking scene really knows about Holbox is a shock, its beautiful and unspoilt, the beach and sunsets are like something you’d see in a movie, there is plenty of wildlife and in May and June you can come here to swim with whale sharks and turtles!
We ate dinner at a local place we were recommended called Viva Zapata, it has a decent bar and we ended up having a few mojitos, the food was good but took over an hour to arrive at jays disgust, partly because we had munched about a months worth of tortilla chips but mostly because on average spaghetti takes about 12 minutes to cook. Last night for sunset there was probably about 30 people sitting on the pier watching the sun go down. Me and jay were the last two sitting there and after dark the stars lit up the sky, it was one of those things I won’t forget.
For me it’s worth coming here just to see that, we’ve only been here a day but it’s fast becoming my favourite place so far. G 🐳
I am currently sitting in our room showered and refreshed after a day on the beach. This is our last day on Holbox and I can honestly say I have fallen head over heels in love with this place. I know this because when I think about the fact that I am leaving and that chances are I will not return here again in my lifetime (apparently in two years or so this place will be overrun by tourist probably with huge hotels and the like) make me get a funny feeling in my tummy.
Every time I walk through the town square with it’s sand streets and colourful independent cafés and restaurants I get my phone out to do a video to show anyone and everyone back home but minutes later it’s back in my bag again…And I think it is because you really can’t capture this place In a video or even a lovely sunkissed photograph. It’s everything about this place, the friendly ‘ola’s’ of the locals, the fences made from coconuts, the way it seems so un-fazed and somehow unchanged by today’s world, the way the sea isn’t the clearest you’ve ever swam in nor the sand as white as other shores on the Caribbean Sea but to anyone who is lucky enough to have met Holbox would say it is pure perfection. I would not change a single thing about it bad or good. It works perfectly the way it is and I am so happy to have seen it today February 11th 2015
After saying our long goodbye to holbox we begrudgingly headed back on the ferry and bus to cancun. The ferry ride across to the mainland was the perfect end to our time on this beautiful unspoilt island. As after four days of the sunset ritual on the beach with the locals we got to see our first sunrise as we crossed the short lagoon to the mainland…and it didn’t disappoint.
We had heard so many negative things about cancun that we had planned on avoiding it all together however when one of my best friends Dawn from LA told me she was going to be in Mexico for four days working a trip with her mum who is a flight attendant, I jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with her before heading off-who knows when we would next get to sip a beer together on a white sand beach! Also she had never met G so this was a definite must.
We arrived in cancun and were greeted by Dawn, her mum Cheryl and Dawns sister in-law Flora. After seeing the long strip of huge built up hotels and western restaurant chains on our way to meet them from the bus station, we were elated to discover that they had hired a car and decided to drive to Tulum for a day and that we would spend the night there. I was always sad to leave Tulum so was so glad we got to go back and say a proper goodbye. This time as there was four of us we could afford to get a cabana right on the beach in the heart of tulum. The stars in Tulum are the brightest I’ve ever seen, I almost pulled a muscle In my neck for staring at them.
On the way back to cancun the following day, after a gorgeous breakfast on the beach and a full day walking and snoozing on the beach, we stopped at a cenote in Tulum as none of us had ever been to one. Some of the cenotes in Mexico are literally in peoples back gardens and can seem a bit sketchy when you pull in.
You are normally greeted by a man and his dog and English is spoken sporadically around the local cenotes. Anyhow we paid our cash £4 each and head to the back of the garden, past chickens and lots of little dogs running around. This cenote wasn’t as grand as the ones we had seen in the pictures but still, it was clear and deep and exactly what you need after sitting in a hot stuffy car. We all jumped in and swam with the little tiny fish and climbed the ladder and jumped off again and again.
Happy and cooled off we hopped back in the car and headed back to cancun. Now this is where we fall right of the backpackers shoestring and jump on to the JW Marriott hotel slipper. Cheryl insists we stay with her in the beachfront room number 1140 floor 11 overlooking 4 pools and the stunning beaches that cancun has in abundance.
This really was a slice of heaven for us and we took full advantage of the hot powerful shower, the all you can eat buffet breakfast- I had eggs and bacon on an English muffin and fresh grapefruit juice. I would tell you what G had but I dont think I have the time or the space for that matter.
We spent the next day chilling by the pool with everyone before they had to leave and we had to go back to reality. We booked ourselves into a cheap hotel not far from the airport as we were heading to Colombia the day after.
When we had said our goodbyes and headed back to our smaller, not so lavish hotel in the middle of a round about outside cancun centre, we grabbed some dinner and got an early night. Not before I proceeded to cut my foot open on a metal rod in the middle of the road. This isn’t very interesting but I am becoming quite concerned at to how accident prone I have become on this trip.
The next day me and G decided to have some cheeky fun and return to the nice hotel and see if we could blag our way in. I bottled out and ran to the loo whilst G brazenly walked up to the towel hut and said two towels please room 1140. When I came out of the loo he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat with two fluffy green towels and two sun beds that literally felt how you would imagine clouds to feel.
We chatted about our time in Mexico, the highlights and the lowlights (there really hadn’t been many), swam and snoozed the day away.
Mexico really was a great choice for a first stop. I feel like it’s just the right amount of prep for getting ready for a long trip in South America. We have got a great intro to basic spanish, we have got used to the heat and got a base tan (which sounds vain but is actually more useful for the fact that we now don’t have to be applying sun cream every two minutes!) We have also got used to bus journeys so now feel ready to take on the longer ones in South America.
And now we are here, as I am writing this we are riding the bus to Santa Marta in Columbia. I will let G tell you how we got here. Check out the Colombia page from here on out as we are here for the next five weeks