our final stop before heading back to Vancouver.
22.08.2013 - 25.08.2013 30 °C
Our trip out of Caye Caulker to Tulum was excruiating to say the least. Firstly we had to go back to San Pedro so Christian could pick up his paperwork. Then it was back on the ferry, back through Caye Caulker to Belize City, 3 hours later. In Belize we bordered a chicken bus that would take us to the Mexican border. Chicken buses are the old american school buses that have been repainted and drive all over central america. Called chicken buses as they jamn you in like Chicken! This bus took 4 hours (instead of the 2.5hr it was meant to), was hot, and drove so slow, stopping constantly to pick and drop people off. We walked across the Mexican border and after immigration got another to the bus station in town and from there instantly jumped on a 4 hour bus to Tulum, Mexico. It's worth noting that because we had almost no time between connections, all we managed to eat was a packet of chips and some weird sugary ham and cheese pastry. 13 hours after we left we arrived at our hostel, smelly, extremely hungry and very tired.
Our hostel, Mango, was an absolutely beautiful place run by an expat english couple, with a swimming pool, beautiful garden and lovely rooms. Indeed it had only been open 2 weeks! We got ourselves some mexican for dinner - enchilladas and fajitas and then happily went back to the hostel to sleep.
Our first day in Tulum we actually planned to go on a day trip to Chichen Itza, a mayan site but the bus was full so instead after a swim in the pool, we hired bikes and visited the beach. Tulum has a beautiful stretch of beach with fine white sand and clear blue surf. We spent several hours at two different parts of the beach. One of them was at a beach club. These beach clubs stretch the whole way down the coast and basically it has a restaurant and bar, maybe a massage table and lots of beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. It kind of frustrates me that the beach is not a public place. We did get to sit at the swings set up at the bar which was cool. Afterwards we went back and had a swim in the hotel pool and a nap - we still hadn't recovered from the travel day.
On our second day we got to go to Chichen Itza, 3 hours away by bus. It was incredibly hot when we got there and we stood under the trees for shade whenever we could. Chichen Itza was a mayan city, built between 900 - 1200AD. The complex of ruins that are left include many temples and public buildings, a sporting arena, the observatory, the marketplace and dominating the whole site, El Castillo - the castle. A huge pyrimad structture that was the centre of the city and used for religious purposes. The stone steps up this castle was enormous! Also in the site was two cenote, one where many skeletons have been discovered. A cenote is a large underground water cave where the roof has collapsed in and opened up to the sky. The sad part about Chichen Itza is that everywhere you go there are stalls set up selling souviners. The whole time you are walking round there are people touting. We didn't really like the exploitation of the culture or the harrassing we recieved. We only had a few ruins left to look at when the sky's opened up and it absolutely poured for 45mins. We stood hiding under a stalls tarpulin for a bit of it before giving in and just accepting we would get wet and walked around the last of the sites. After that we headed back to the entrance building to dry off and wait around for our bus back to Tulum.
We enjoyed another swim before heading out for dinner in Tulum. This time enjoying tacos and corona's - all we needed really. The tacos are quite different to how we have them at home, with chopped meat, not mince, soft tortillas not hard shells and no sour cream or other ingredients, just meat and guacamole.
On our last day, indeed the last travel day of our entire trip before we would start the long journey home, we had a lazy morning in then hired bikes to go to a cenote. It was quite surreal that this was the last day we would be travelling, doing activities in a foriegn land, but happily the last day we would have to speak Spanish and the last day we would have to put used toilet paper in the bin instead of the toilet!
We cycled a few kilometres out of Tulum to the Grand Cenote, a large cave lagoon where we got to go swimming in the clear refreshing water into 2 huge caves. Inside the caves were bats flying around and tiny fish swimming but most impressively there was stalicmites and stalictights that we got to swim around. It was absolutely beautiful. People were snorkelling and also diving down into some of the underwater caverns. The landscape all across the Yucatan peninsula is covered with these cenotes.
After this we rode to the Tulum ruins. This is another mayan complex but it sits beautiful on the coast edge overlooking the ocean. Although the ruins weren't as big or important in the mayan world we actually preferred it as the setting was lovely and we were able to go for a swim at the beach and there were no souvenir stalls.
After this we went for a quick swim at the beach and then headed back and caught the bus to Cancun.
We didn't really want to stay in Cancun but as we had a ridiculously early flight we had to. We had our last meal at a mexican pub, enjoying some mexican for the last time! Can't believe our adventure was over (or so we thought!)