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Published: January 22nd 2012
The new travelling
I have to get used to writing the blogs again, it has been a while since my last travels. After 5 minutes of thinking, I still haven’t got anything on paper. I am experiencing the “new travelling”, sitting in a hostel with my lap topped using the complementary wifi, so I shouldn’t feel the time/money pressure of sitting in an internet cafe. It is convenient this new way of travelling, even though I was a bit sceptic at first. When I entered my first wifi equipped hostel on a late afternoon, I saw many people sitting on the communal table faced down in their laptops or smart phones and not faced towards each other. Now I understand that it was just a coincidence, and many people are just using it a short time.
Another new thing for me is time pressure. I was fortunate to have travelled twice before, but then for a much longer time. Now I have “only” 10 weeks and so many countries I want to visit. This forces me to think about my short term itinerary more often than I am used to. Therefore my plans change almost on a daily basis. Cancún
After a 11 hour flight to Houston, a 5 hour layover and a 2,5 hour flight to Cancún I was so glad that I could get the last seat on the airport bus to town, from where it was a 10 minute walk to the Noriega Allende family, who were so kind to host me as a couch surfer. By the time I went to bed I was 24 hours awake. They hosted me for 2 nights, 1 day, during which I visited the luxury hotel strip of Cancún to recover from my trip on the beach in front of one of the many fancy hotels. Generally most of the afternoons have been cloudy and so it was on my first day on the beach, so I went to one of the fancy malls to buy myself an adapter for my European plugs and headed back to my hosts. After meeting the rest of the family I went to Cancún town, where everything is a bit more normal (no all-inclusive package tourists), with only a few hostels and a few quiet pubs, where I had a few beers. Tulum
On my second day I took
a bus to Tulum. Mexico is equipped with a good transportation network. As long as air-conditioned couches are available, I will use those, since in countries as Honduras and Nicaragua I most likely will be forced to travel on “chicken buses”.
Tulum is more laidback then Cancun and has a more “backpacker” atmosphere. I booked a dormitory bed in the Weary Traveler, which was apparently the place to be. The courtyard came alive in the evening, when all guests gathered to enjoy each other’s company. And when they stopped serving alcohol we went out to dance.
I hooked up with a few people from the hostel and during the day we visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum, located right on the beach. The city is also known for the numerous “cenotes”. These sinkholes or caves with crystal clear water are great for snorkelling. The best one I saw was the Grand Cenote, where some divers unintentionally lit the amazing underwater scenery. In the morning before I had to catch my night bus to Palenque I visited the ruins of Coba, which are nicely situated in a forestry area. Here I climbed my first the Mayan pyramid. Until now
this was the most difficult climb, especially descending was scary. Palenque
After another change of plans I went together with Jen from Canada to Palenque, famous for its amazing ruins deep in the jungle, of which only a small percentage is excavated. We stayed in a hostel in the El Panchan area, where at night you can literally hear the jungle. During the day we wondered around the Palenque ruins site, climbed a few pyramids and enjoyed the scenery. It was beautiful, the only downside was that we couldn’t go into the jungle to see tree covered pyramids on our own, all jungle trails were blocked. On the only accessible jungle path leading to the exit, we heard loud howling. At first I thought it was an enormous tiger or something, but it was just a group of little howling monkeys hanging around in the trees. San Cristóbal de las Casas
I booked an organized tour from Palenque to San Cristóbal, this way I could see the 2 waterfalls en route. When I arrived in San Cristóbal that evening, I was surprised how busy the city is. I imagined it to be a quiet highland village,
but the fact our taxi had to push itself through a traffic jam proved otherwise. I was supposed to couch surf at Cristina’s place, but because I was a day early I decided to stay at an Israeli hostel, where the Israeli couple who I’d met during the tour were staying.
The next morning I walked up to Cristina’s house, but I couldn’t find it! The numbering on the doors in the area just outside the centre was inconsequent and sometimes not even present. After dropping of my bag at the hostel, I e-mailed what happened and we agreed to meet in the evening in a more central location. During the day I walked around, visited the towns churches, both located on hills east and west of town, from where I had good views.
Late afternoon I met up with a couple, who I had met in Palenque, to have some tequila’s and mescal in a typical Mezcaleria. Already a bit dazed from the alcohol I went to pick up my backpack to finally meet Cristina. She took me to her home, where I had my own room. In the evening she took me to see her friend
dancing the Tango and we went out. It was weekend and there was a Jazz happening. We went to a Jazz bar, where the musicians after the concert went to jam. I had a really good time with Cristina and her friends during that weekend. The next day we went out again and on Sunday they came over to drink wine and eat paella.
Mexico, thanks for your beauty and friendliness.
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