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

Isla Holbox and the search for whale sharks

Leaving Valladolid we took a bus with our new friends to a random intersection on the road between Valladolid and Cancun. The only thing there was a tienda, a taxi stand and a bus assistant to assure us that there was another bus on it’s way to take us to onwards to the island. So the five of us camped out in the shade of the tienda to wait for an hour or so. The bus finally arrived and we were on our way to the ferry terminal to get to Isla Holbox.

Isla Holbox panorama

Isla Holbox panorama

Arriving to the island

Arriving to the island

Holbox (pronounced Hol-bosh) is a small island off the northern coast of the Yucatan. It has sand streets so golf carts are the main type of transportation, and a lot of mosquitos. Surprisingly we had actually made a booking for a place to stay so we had no stress as we made our way there to be welcomed (or not) by a rude, unhelpful and unfriendly staff member. Luckily his morning counterpart was the opposite; cheerful and friendly. After settling in we went for a walk to get to know the town and get dinner. That evening we ate fish at a restaurant on the beach with the sand between our toes while we watched the sun set. But food and drinks don’t come cheap on Holbox so for the remainder of our stay we cooked for ourselves.

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

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Fun in Valladolid

Hi everyone, sorry for the huge break between posts. The reason is that we have booked flights home to spend Christmas with our lovely families so we have a lot to see in a short space of time. Since leaving Valladolid we have seen so many new places and travelled through the remainder of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras so we have been super busy with our upcoming deadline. Don’t worry the posts will continue when we have time which I guess will be once we have returned to New Zealand. So stay tuned for all of our exciting adventures in Central America!


 

After an eventful stay in Merida involving lost wallets and police on the negative side and caves and ruins on the positive we took off via second class bus for Valladolid. To tell the truth we didn’t really know much about Valladolid except for the fact that it’s close to Chichen Itza. We arrived and did our usual search for accommodation. The first stop involved visiting a hostel we had heard good things about. They didn’t have a cheap private room available so we crossed the road and stayed at a new hostel, which was more like a guesthouse, but cheap nonetheless. As it had a kitchen we headed off on a mission to a small grocery store to get some dinner supplies. Over our five night stay here the girl at the deli counter at this supermarket got to know us which shows how often we cooked. We filled up our days here with activities so the days went by quite quickly with relaxation and beers being our only evening plans.

Streets of Valladolid

Streets of Valladolid

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What was lost in Merida?

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

The trip from Campeche wasn’t supposed to be long but it was hot in the bus and although we had booked and paid for a direct bus this one decided to stop in all the small towns along the way. The bus station in Merida is relatively central so we set off with our packs to locate a hotel or hostel. As we were in the Yucatan we now had proper hostels to choose from along with the usual budget hotel options. Along route to the zocalo we stopped in to see a hostel who’s rooms looked average to say the least (but certainly not the worst we have seen now). The next hotel we stopped at was cheap and after checking the room out we decided to stay. This hotel was 250 peso per night and was a half block from the zocalo. We aren’t sure why it was so cheap, but hey no complaints. Upstairs in the hotel was a restaurant and we ate there a LOT. It was a great price for tasty food, which had a lot of vegetables for Mexican food, and cheap beers (Tom will always check the beer price on a menu to ‘judge’ the price of a restaurant).

Stormy clouds in the Zocalo

Stormy clouds in the Zocalo

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Campeche

We are in Campeche

We are in Campeche

5 am wasn’t the nicest time to be arriving into a new place but as we were a little disorganised it wasn’t a completely bad thing. We had travelled from Palenque to Villahermosa and quickly decided that it wasn’t going to be the nicest place to spend a few days so we jumped back onto an overnight bus to Campeche. So there we were, in town before a lot of things opened, well before the sun was up. Given the amount of day we had in front of us you would think that finding accommodation would be easy. Not so. A lot of the hotels were over our budget here and the ones which weren’t were unsure if they had private rooms available until midday when guests were due to check-out. So we detoured to eat breakfast at the only food place we could find. After re-energising with an eggy breakfast we found a hotel which looked good and were able to leave our packs at reception.

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San Cristobal de Las Casas

San Cristobal centro

San Cristobal centro

After some Google searching while in Tuxtla Gutierrez we had discovered some cheap apartments through a hotel in San Cristobal. We knew we would be spending a while here just to relax and see some of Chiapas so booking an apartment with kitchen seemed wise, and at $100 USD for the week it was also relatively cheap in a very touristy location. So after walking eight blocks to a main street in Tuxtla and waiting on the side of the road we easily found a second class bus which was a cheap way to get the hour and a half up into the heart of Chiapas. Arriving in San Cristobal we took a taxi (lazy unimaginative option I know, but sometimes it’s nice not to squeeze the packs into already crowded colectivos) to our hotel where we would be shown to our wee apartment.

Our casa

Our casa

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Tuxtla Gutierrez – a series of unfortunate events.

After a long overnight bus trip we arrived in Tuxtla relatively well rested. Our goal as usual was accommodation and we made our way by colectivo to centro. First impressions of this city was that it was a bit dirty and definitely not very touristy. This impression didn’t actually go away at any point in the four nights we spent here and was compounded by our bad organisation. On the positive we found a nice hostel quite quickly and although we couldn’t go straight to our room (it was only about 9am) we were able to use the terrace café to relax in.

Settling into the café we ordered breakfast and loaded up the internet, the All Black’s were playing the Springboks at a time we could watch due to the game being played in South Africa rather than New Zealand. Our breakfast arrived and it was delicious café style eggs with a Mexican twist, I struggled not to inhale mine too fast. By the end of the game our room was ready and we could move our packs in. The hostel was more like a hotel as we had a private room with shower and the one night here was possibly one of the better things about our visit to Tuxtla. It’s unfortunate that they only had availability for that night in their cheaper private rooms. Continue reading

Palenque with the shortest visit to any new place so far…

Selfie at Palenque

Selfie at Palenque

The alarm woke us up at 3am. Not a nice time of morning night to be getting up but we had booked a tour and couldn’t sleep through the pick up time. The tour we had booked was three days long, started in San Cristobal and ended in Palenque. At 2500 peso each this was by far the most expensive excursion we had been on in the last eight months and although enjoyable, looking back we are unsure if it was worth that amount of money.

The van driver picked us up and it was soon obvious that he was a crazy driver. This set off my motion sickness and throwing up into a bag I always keep close during transport I was glad of the darkness before managing to get some extra sleep. The whole van of tourists was abruptly woken en-route as the driver clipped another car while he was performing one of his many dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. Even worse was that he didn’t stop. I’m glad this mode of transport actually had working seatbelts which has been a rarity. Over the next three days we would be visiting the waterfalls Agua Azul and Misol-Ha, Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak archaeological sites and the final day would be a jungle walk in the Lacandon jungle. Continue reading

Bahias de Huatulco

Our final destination on the coast we decided would be the more touristy town of Huatulco which is beside a large national park. We arrived after a relatively cheap collective taxi to Pochutla where we topped up our Peso at the Scotiabank before jumping on a cheap second class bus for an hour or so.

After arriving at the bus station it was immediately obvious that we had reached tourist country so we shouldered our packs and set of to hopefully find some cheap accommodation. During some internet research the previous day our initial impression of hotels in this town was that they would be at the upper limit of our budget. After stopping off at a few between the bus station and centro we were surprised to find that we had options. At about our fifth enquiry we came across a winner for 300 Peso per night. This got us a recently renovated room, en-suite, balcony and fan about four short blocks to the central plaza and less back to the bus station. This hotel ended up being super cute. When our room was cleaned each day they would arrange the towels as animals; we had a peacock, an elephant and kissing swans in a heart.

Our cute room

Our cute room

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