After eventually making it out of Utila, our next stop was Mexico. With not much time left we had decided to spend our time in Mexico exploring the Quintana Roo region. Our first stop was Tulum but to get there we had to go through four countries, cross three borders and take an unexpected night bus. It took us a full two days and one night of travelling but we eventually arrived in Tulum in the early hours of the morning.
We had arrived earlier than planned after deciding to take the night bus from Belize City so hadn’t found any accommodation. This meant we ended up walking around Tulum at 6.30 in the morning, being turned away from hostel after hostel because they were full. We did eventually find some hostels that had space for us but as they were over $20, more than double what we usually pay for a bed, we decided that we couldn’t afford to stay in Tulum for more than night.
While we were too exhausted after all of our travelling to do much the day we arrived, we made plans to visit the Mayan ruins before taking a bus to Cancun the next day. These were the first ruins I had visited and while they were impressive, there was something even more breathtaking. The ruins at Tulum are right on the coast and it was hands down the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.
Cancun was our next stop and after the disaster that was trying to find somewhere to stay in Tulum we booked ahead this time. Our stay involved even more beautiful water, another visit to the Mayans and the most expensive night out ever. Do you know it costs $60 to get into a club in Cancun???
A major Central American attraction is the Mayan site of Chichen Itza near Cancun. The main temple is on postcards, magnets and souvenirs everywhere you look and despite all the hype, it didn’t actually disappoint. It did take us five hours on a bus to get there just to spend a few hours looking around before enduring the same journey on the way back but it was worth it to see such a well known historical landmark.
A little history about the Mayans seeing as they’re featuring so heavily in this blog. The Maya civilisation spread all the way from the southeastern regions of Mexico, down through Guatemala and Belize to the north of Honduras and El Salvador. The Mayans were around from 2000 BC until the mysterious collapse of Mayan civilistation toward the end of the ninth century that led to the abandonment of their great cities.
After a few days hanging around in Cancun, we weren’t quite ready to leave Mexico so we decided to make a stop on our way back down to the border. We chose Laguna de Bacalar, also known as the lake of seven colours. I thought the water in Tulum and then Cancun couldn’t get any better but Mexico just kept it coming. Bacalar has the clearest, most crystalline water you could imagine and is hard to look away from.
Overall we only spent a week in Mexico, partly to try and avoid the departure tax for stays longer than seven days (which we still had to pay by a day), partly out of a desire to get to Guatemala and partly because despite what everyone had told us Mexico was much more expensive than we were prepared for. This may be because we were there in the high season, right over the Christmas holidays, or maybe because we mostly just visited the notoriously touristy places.
Anyway, whatever it was, I feel like I owe Mexico another chance to bowl me over like it has most of the travellers we’ve met but that means giving it much longer than a week – I mean have you seen the size of it? – and visiting places that show off the true Mexican culture. I have a feeling that once I dig past the cities like Cancun and Tulum, Mexico could be a place that I could love.