After a relatively quick 6 day trip through Belize it was time to pack up and head back to Guatemala. If you’ve been following our blog then you will know that we had previously visited both San Pedro la Laguna and Xela in Guatemala about five months prior. So that morning after meeting our friends, a British couple, the four of us hopped into a taxi which would take us from San Ignacio to the border and onwards to see some more of beautiful Guatemala.
The border crossing was easy and after we had our passports stamped we bartered with some money changers before exchanging the remainder of our Belize dollars into Quetzales. The next step was to find transport to Flores. The ever so helpful taxi drivers told us the only way was by taxi, typical. We were pretty doubtful about this and walked off in search for a bus. As per usual the taxi drivers started drastically lowering their prices the further we got from them. A helpful kid (probably after a tip) asked us what we were looking for and showed us where the colectivos were located. As we thought there were plenty of options and they were much cheaper. Tom was relishing the chance to start speaking Spanish again and I think our friends found that useful as they hadn’t been to Spanish classes yet. So with a very unstressful border crossing behind us we were on our way to Flores.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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).
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.
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 →
So after five weeks in one place we finally finished up in Mexico City and moved on. Not far mind you, Puebla was a short two hour bus trip and we arrived without fuss. Getting to our accommodation (again airbnb) was another issue entirely. A nice gentleman helpfully informed us that we could take a local bus then the new Metrobus line to get where we needed to go. Being brand new the Metrobus was even free the entire time we stayed in Puebla which was great. The only problem was that it was rush hour and the buses were packed full like sardine cans. Boarding with our packs was a mission and we finally squished on one. The weight of the pack plus the other people crammed shoulder to shoulder around us was quite unpleasant to say the least. We finally made it to our stop and popped out from the press of bodies in the bus into fresh air.
Week two in Mexico City was spent in the south at the house of my extended family here. It was a fantastic week where we were able to get to know my mum’s cousin, her husband and their two gorgeous daughters. Over the course of the week we were looked after and spoilt. It was a lovely change to living out of our backpacks in budget hotels. I sincerely hope that one day we can repay the favour by doing the same for them in New Zealand.
In order to get there we had to take a Metro and then the Tren Ligero. This was an easy trip to make but with packs on it became quite uncomfortable. An hour to an hour and a half standing with our packs on wasn’t the most fun but at least the trains weren’t too busy at that time. Continue reading →