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Published: September 24th 2019
I've been a bit lazy so far so I'm writing this three weeks after the fact. Arriving in Mexico I noticed one thing immediately, it's FUCKING hot. Not like India hot, but this intense humidity which is reminiscent of a sauna. BUT it's so good to be back on the road again, no worries, no responsibilities...beyond making sure I stay alive. This truly is what life is about, something I might have forgotten had I stayed home any longer.
What I've noticed since I arrived is the way I feel has completely changed, the discontent built up over two years of working “a typical 9-5” mostly dissolved after one week. Such is the difference in feeling that I almost feel like two different people. What I love the most about travel is the question mark over the future. At home I can predict with almost 100% accuracy what my next week, or month etc will look like. But here, it's a complete unknown.
This trip has brought me to the other side of the world to where I'm used to travelling. My trip starts in Mexico. I then plan to travel overland to Guatemala, Honduras and Belize before flying to Colombia and continuing overland to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia over a seven month period before a two year working holiday in Canada. My main reason for coming this way is due to my extremely keen interest in ancient history, and what better place to start than the home of the ancient Maya.
My first stop was Cancun, it's the cheapest place to fly into in this area of the world. I had no desire to see it, which was vindicated by my one day spent there. It literally has to be one of the most boring places I've been in my life. The town is a 40 minute bus ride from the “world class” beaches. To call these beaches world class is a genuine insult to actual world class beaches. Sure the sea's nice and the sand's white, but the entirety of the beach is backed onto by a concrete jungle. I honestly don't understand why you'd spend 10 hours on a plane to sit in an all inclusive resort for two weeks, it's a waste of your time and your money. Just go to Spain. Safe to say I quickly booked a bus ticket out of there, heading for Tulum some two hours south down the coast.
Tulum was a nice place, and the vibes reminded me of Goa. Originally a backpacker haven some time ago, it's now a somewhat healthy mixture of Cancun and a backpacker town. If you're planning a holiday to Mexico I'd advise you go there rather than Cancun. The beaches are genuinely beautiful and there's lots of things to do there, beside sit around a pool. Everything is quite spaced out so it's an expensive stop for backpackers. I spent a few days there hanging around on the beach, checking out the local Cenotes and some Mayan ruins.
Due to the distance between everything a mode of transport was imperative, so I naturally chose the cheapest. A “bicicleta”. I was not prepared for the beach being a 6km ride in 30 degree heat and subsequently spent my entire time there trying to cool down. Something made almost impossible by the fact my hostel only had hot showers. And I mean HOT. Like scolding your skin hot.
One highlight of my time in Tulum was the Cenote, Dos Ojos (pronounced Doss-O-hos). A dive shop was really trying to get me to dive there, but having not dived for two and half years the idea of going into a cave was a little off-putting to say the least. Cenotes are basically sink holes which have created underground caves and caverns. The process started 65 million years ago. Without boring you with too much detail, the Yucatan peninsula is made of limestone. When the sea level dropped during the ice age, water created the cenotes whilst making a path to the sea. When the sea level rose again it left them in their current state.
Due to my early arrival I was able to see large parts of the cave with my snorkel, due to there being around five groups of divers all with torches. Dos Ojos is unique in that it's a huge cavern with two openings in which you can swim. It was an amazing sight to be able to look through from one and see the sunlight shining down through the other.
Next I was onto Cozumel, an island just off the coast of Playa Del Carmen (another resort area). The diving here is world class and a bonus was the island is marketed as an island paradise. Let me tell you, DO NOT go to Cozumel unless you plan to dive. Under the water is amazing, above not so much. Again huge holiday resorts own the best beaches and you have to pay to get in. I JUST WANT TO SIT ON A FUCKING BEACH!
I spent two days diving there, completing four separate dives. I saw three turtles, one of which was MASSIVE. It's head was bigger than mine. If it wasn't a drift dive (the current just takes you along) I'd have spent the full 50 minutes following him around. Certainly one to check off the diving bucket list.
The day in-between my dives I hired a scooter and drove to the other side of the island which has been left natural, except for the odd beach beach bar. The beaches on this side genuinely are world class, however the strong current means that you cannot swim and there's a lot of sea weed flowing in. At one point in the afternoon I thought I'll just pull over, park up and sit alone on a nice little beach. I pulled off of the road and parked down a very small but steep slope. It seemed like a good idea until I went to leave and realised my mistake. Scooters are quite a lot heavier than I am strong and turning it around was difficult enough, then gently using the engine I got the scooter stuck in a ditch which proved very difficult to get out of. I must have looked like a complete moron to the people who drove past. Eventually I got the scooter out with no damage but had to use what little sense I do have rather than strength, of which I have none. I spent the rest of the day chilling in a hammock (oh how I've missed hammocks) in a reggae bar, before getting caught in a tropical storm on the way back.
Next stop the old Colonial town of Valladolid.
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