Deep Green Jungle and Crystal Clear Water


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North America » Mexico » Chiapas
February 5th 2017
Published: February 16th 2017
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Buenas días!

A new year begins and the journey goes on. We are coming closer to the backpacker terrain of Mexico. The next destination was the state of Chiapas. A sleepless overnight bus ride brought us to San Cristobal de Las Casas. We slept away the day, wrapped in a thousand blankets. First we had to recover from the winding road through the mountains and from the temperature shock. The drop from 35 °C beach to 5 °C mountain climate needed some adaptation. At the Cañon del Sumidero “the Gang” with Mitch, Justin and Kika was reunited. We joined a classic touristic river cruise through the canyon. On both sides of the river, the walls are up to 800 m high. The scenery was stunning and the two massive crocodiles on the river bank fit perfectly into it all. All together we stayed in the hostel “Routa de Chiapas”, our home and nursery for the coming week. First, Mitch got caught by the Nella, two days later Eva was the next victim. Nella was what we called our lovely new friend – the Salmonella Thyphii. Antonia accompanied both to the doctor. Translating all the questions was like studying the characteristics of the bacteria for the microbiology class at University. Thanks Dr. Schmidt for the preparation for life. With a cocktail of funny pills to survive the next days we nursed them back to peak condition and continued with the sightseeing program. Cascadas de Chiflon and Lagunas de Montebello close to the boarder of Guatemala were on the plan. We took a tour and it was the first and the last one. The nature was precious, no question, but 8h on the bus and 3h in the nature are not equalized at all. The Gang really had it at our final stop when the driver said “You can join the walk for another 200$ p/p now or sit down and wait 1,5h for the others to come back”. Being herded around like cattle really tested our patience. Upon return, the great dinner at “Cocoliche” was a little compensation for the day.

When everyone was fully recovered we started the journey to Palenque. This road was a tough one. Not long, but very windy aaaaand the highest concentration of “topes” (speed reducers) we had seen. It was a test for our guts, right and left and up and down, breaking and accelerating… uuuff. We split the road in three parts and stopped at Tonina, some beautiful remote pyramids, and Agua Azul. It was supposed to be sparkling blue water but it was definitely more like coffee brown because of the recent rain. Still a really beautiful place J

In Palenque we slept at Maya Bell, the jungle camp with a greeeaat pool! It is just outside the famous pyramids of Palenque. To hear the monkeys howl in the night was a unique experience. When we got there, Mitch and Justin where waiting for us with bad news. Another case of the Nella – this time is was Justin’s turn. As Justin could not move we went with three people on Mitch’s bike into town to get some antibiotics. We quickly learned that you need a doctor’s visit first in order to get some antibiotics. Eva and Mitch debated who’s the better actor to be playing a sick Justin. Eva won out the battle and explained Justin’s symptoms as best she could. We got the antibiotics and the next day everyone was healthy again to visit the animal sanctuary with jaguars, parrots and Eva’s highlight: Turtles! The next day we went to the most beautiful pyramids in the whole Mexico. The author of the Jungle Book must have been there when he wrote this book. Great!!

Next stop was Merida. Laura, my Costa Rican friend moved to Merida a few weeks ago with her boyfriend Mau, so we visited them for a few days. With them we saw our first cenotes with crystal clear blue water. A horse train brought us from one cenote to the other. Horse train? A little wagon on rails, pulled by a pony, it was a funny way of travelling, haha. Close to Merida flamingos have their temporary home. This day we saw water in seven different colors: the turquoise of the ocean, kaki where the ocean met the river, brown for the river, red where the mangroves introduced the most tannins, amber and fluid gold in the mangrove lagoon, and pink in the salt lakes. The rest of the day we spent at the “Unique Mayan resort” beach somewhere near Celestun. Some people you just meet again and again and again – it´s like fate, Laura J See you soon, back in Costa Rica!

After Merida we had a very short Chichén Itzá adventure. We saw the sign along the road and jumped out of the bus with our big backpack and immediately froze at what we saw. Coaches everywhere, a queue of 30 m for getting tickets and entry prices, four times of every other pyramid we have been to so far. Could we see the pyramid with so many tourists? Probably not! We met Kathi there, a friend from home and turned around. It was still an adventure and we had a lot of fun hitchhiking back before spending the rest of the day at the cenote in Valladolid. Kathi will join us for the next two weeks!

Next stop was Isla Holbox. Hitchhiking failed because at some point there were about a 100 taxis but not a single car going the way we needed. Next time we will check the road first! In Holbox, the Nella Gang met again, but we left the bacteria on the mainland! We moved into a house, made banana-oat-pancakes every morning, tried to cook fish and explored the island by bike. We did not do much but time was flying. In Holbox we met Mitch and Justin’s travelling friends Gabe and Autumn. So the gang is growing 😉

While we were enjoying the island life far away from reality, Cancún and Playa del Carmen were hit by some drug related shootings. As we preferred the peaceful way of travelling, we skipped the main tourist destination with the people in fancy hats and neon shirts and went straight to Tulum. We shared a taxi with a Swedish lady and saved a few hours without spending additional money – great deal, even for our taxi driver as we made some sandwiches on the way.

In Tulum we moved into Casa del Sol. Erick was definitely not the fastest receptionist, but the funniest J “Giiiirls, this meal looks delicious – can I marry all of you??” Suuuure… haha! Eva found some yukka in a supermarket and freaked out (we had yukka for the next three days). Day 1: Snorkeling with turtles in Akumal – who needs a lifejacket for 100 peso if you have a neon yellow shirt? Day 2: Antonia, Mitch and Justin went for a dive in the cenotes. The first, “Dos Ojos”, was like flying over the moon and winding through stalagmites and stalactites. The water was turquois blue and you could see every pebble. The second, “Calavera”, with weird green light and a halocline (the line between fresh and salt water) which made the vision blurry at some points – some described it as a trip on LSD. For me it was simply unreal and something I’ve absolutely never seen before. The third cenote was “Carwash” – as before it became a dive spot the locales used to wash their cars there. Now it’s an underwater garden and the entrance to Aktun Ha, the second longest underwater river in the world. This time there was no guide line set up, our guide had to put one out and it felt like cave diving – scary. The gate to the cave had the size of a church, huge and completely filled with water. If you looked up to the sunlight, it was like floating through the underworld. Loco! While we dove Eva and Kathi explored the cenotes from above. Afterward, we went to a “secret” sunset spot and had a spontaneous sunset party #talktostrangers.

Next stop was supposed to be Punta Allan, but there was no way to get there without our own vehicle, so Bacalar and the lagoon of seven colors was the next destination. A magic place – ‘the sun drew with all the colors of the wind’ (Pocahontas).

Last but not least was a coastal village… for a long time we just called it Mmmhhhh because we could not remember the name: Mahahual. By day, cruise ships floated in with tourists. Suddenly they charge $8 USD for a cocktail and $2 USD for a coconut. We had fun negotiating with them back to Mexican prices and getting a cocktail for $2.5 USD. The locals call them their “populación flotando” the floating population. We tried to sneak in one of the ships, just to have a look, and found ourselves in a cage of souvenir shops. Even a dolphin was held in captivity for exploitation. Not funny. Then we got caught and asked to leave. This was a restricted area, for the “populación flotando” only. Fair enough, no one else wants to stay there voluntarily. This was Kathi’s last destination before going home and our last in Mexico. Sad day - Mexico was simply great!



What will we miss when we leave the land of cactus? The great food, the open mind and kindness of the people along with the stunning nature and all the little surprises on the way. Mexico is a lot more than what you might hear on the news, more than violence and drugs and the desert with cactus.


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