Flores and Tikal, Guatemala

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.

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Pretty waterfront in Flores

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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

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

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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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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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