Adventures in San Ignacio, Belize

Once we arrived back in Belize City from our rainy and overcast few days on Caye Caulker we set off straight back to the bus station to continue our travels inland to San Ignacio. All we really knew about San Ignacio was that it was near a few archaeological sites and had some adventure style tourism available. With prices what they were in Belize we would have to evaluate what we could afford to do. The bus departed without much of a wait and we were soon on our way. It was an OK quality school style bus that flew along the road to the soundtrack of Caribbean dance and pop music pumping out the speakers.

San Ignacio turned out to be getting much the same sort of weather as what we had experienced in Caye Caulker: grey, overcast and threatening to rain. Stepping off the bus and collecting our bags we had no idea where in town we were and no great ideas about accommodation options. Our research had told us that it probably wasn’t going to be cheap here but as we wandered we were approached by a friendly guy affiliated with a tour company (after advising us on accommodation we were given a tour brochure). His advice was good and we set off to locate and check out a few guest house style places he had recommended to us. One was perfect; a few streets back from the shops, cheap, clean and run by a sweet older woman who spoke Spanish. We accepted a room and Tom started chatting away (in Spanish of course) getting to know our host. Continue reading

Caye Caulker; our first taste of Belize

It was with nervous excitement that we left our hotel in Chetumal, Mexico and headed to the port. We decided that we would try get to Caye Caulker by ferry (via Ambergris Caye where immigration occurs), but once we reached the port that plan was definitely up for debate. The cost of the ferry we discovered was over 1000 Peso, making a few hours on a boat very expensive. So we flagged down a taxi and headed for option two: the bus.

We reached the buses and were immediately shown onto a bus which would go to Belize City for the insignificant amount of 100 Peso (approximately, we can’t remember the exact amount). The bus left soon after and we were on our way to the border. For some reason I always feel nervous when doing the border crossings, even though I have nothing to hide and nothing dodgy in my bags, I always breathe a little easier once the stamp is on my passport. Am I alone? Does anyone else feel like this as well? A couple of notes I will make on this particular border crossing is to have all your FMM information for Mexico with you. Just having the tourist card is often not enough to avoid them charging you again. The proof of payment will be in an itemised invoice (not all airlines provide this without asking) if you flew in or if you crossed a land border just remember to keep your official payment receipts. A few of the other backpackers on our bus got stung with this “tourist tax” as we have been calling it. On the Belizean side the customs staff were all lovely and friendly. Overall the crossing didn’t take long even having to get out of the bus twice so we were off south to Belize City with no issues. Continue reading

Chetumal, our last stop in Mexico

After arriving back from our adventures around the archaeological sites near Xpujil we found a cheap hotel near town where we decided to stay. I was tired from driving and hungry so needless to say I wasn’t really in the mood for hunting down hotels with my pack on. After settling in we headed off in the search for dinner which was harder than it sounded. After walking down two main streets we were yet to discover a comedor or any other places to eat so what could we do but continue to walk on. We ended up on the water front but as it was dark there was no nice view over the water. There were however some street food stalls, hooray food! We inhaled a torta each and made our way back to the hotel. On the way we found more street food had appeared on the main street and upon closer inspection all the stalls seemed to be selling hot-dogs. The friendly guy who worked at the car hire company had recommended that we try the hot-dogs in Chetumal but we didn’t fully understand what was so special about a street hot-dog. Well, it turns out that Chetumal has an extra special version of a hot-dog which I’m pretty sure could induce heart attacks. It was a hot-dog sausage, wrapped in cheese, wrapped in ham, wrapped in a flour tortilla and wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried and served in a slightly sweet bun with the usual accompaniments. Tom handed over his 18 peso for one immediately but I passed on that food experience.

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El Hotdog empanizado; also know as: the heart attack hotdog

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Xpujil and the road to Calakmul

I know, I know, the title is a little tricky but let me tell you about our short two night adventure to Xpujil and Calakmul. To start with I’ll help with the pronunciation of Xpujil; it’s said Ish-poo-hill. So now as you read along you hopefully won’t struggle too much with this one. But there are other places we visited with just as fun names. If you run into trouble with them or want more information just remember; Wikipedia is your friend.

So lets get started.

We left Tulum bright and early and headed to the bus station where we boarded a bus to Chetumal. After using our lazy time in Tulum we were still actually undecided as to our next destination: would we stick around in Chetumal or would we mission to Xpujil? The issue was that Tom had lost his wallet with his driver’s license in Merida and driving was the easiest and cheapest way to get inland to the places we wanted to visit. They weren’t really on the usual tourist trail to say the least.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Chetumal and we made a bit of a spur of the moment decision and got a taxi driver to take us to a car hire agency. The plan was if the hire car was too expensive we would just stay in Chetumal for a day or two before departing Mexico into Belize. Luckily the car was just within our budget for two days hire, this was after the nice rental car guy lowered the price a little as well. But of course having the hire car meant that one of us would have to drive it. As Tom no longer had a licence that meant I would be driving on the right-hand side of the road for the first time, ever… Continue reading

Tulum and seaweed

Again another delay on blogging but I’m happy to say that Tom and I are back in the (currently) sunny South Island of New Zealand. We have had a busy month of travelling around to see family so have still been on the road living out of backpacks. The backpacks have grown a little with rediscovering clothes left at our parents houses as well as Christmas presents so a suitcase has been added to transport these. At the moment we are in Queenstown recovering from Christmas and New Year (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone reading this) so expect some quick posts about what we were up to between Mexico and our return home.


 

After leaving Isla Holbox where we swum with whale sharks we opted to skip both Cancun and Playa del Carmen we jumped straight onto a bus to Tulum. In short we unfortunately found Tulum to be both underwhelming and overpriced, although we did stay for a week and saw a few cool places. The first hurdle we encountered was finding accommodation. We hunted through the whole town in the dark and still ended up in what we considered an overpriced budget hotel. The hotel manager gave us a bit of a run-around after we asked for a discounted weekly rate, which they granted, but then started removing perks such as the free bike hire and kitchen use. We thought this was a little unfair and got a bit cranky. As we were about to leave and find somewhere else to stay they re-allowed the inclusions. So overall Tulum didn’t start out great and continued to be expensive. Because of this we didn’t opt to take any tours over the week but still visited some interesting places.

Because we had arrived in the evening after lugging our packs through town on a search for accommodation we had no energy for anything other than dumping our packs and sleeping. But before sleep Tom’s most important thing was a hamburger; street food style. I instead decided to be a bit of a weirdo and have breakfast for my dinner with muesli and yoghurt. Continue reading