Tuesday, July 15, 2014


We tend to romaticise travelling, but the truth is: my feet hurt as one blister is replaced by another, I am sweating bucketloads because of the humid heat, which also ensures I look like I just rolled out of bed on a constant bad hairday, the mosquitos have found their way to my body, my backpack is far too heavy, I have a cold thanks to the constant moving between sun and ventilated rooms and I am tired...so tired... The pay off is however worth it: I am meeting lovely people, my Spanish is improving every day, I see unique historical sites and landscapes. A good week in and I feel I have been here ages, as visited Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa, Tulum, Valladolid, Merida and now I am in the jungle, in Palenque. I have visited four Maya sites, which in all honesty has not given me more insight in the Mayan culture. Each site has been similar, yet different, as some places were bigger or had more bas-relief carvings or you could climb the temples and the location would make a difference too. In short: impressive. The people in the province of Yucatan still call themselves Maya and speak Maya, even though the younger generation less so. Besides language and looks, there is not much left of the Mayan culture; it has been completely replaced by Catholicism.
Another typical phenomena here are the cenotes, sinkholes that have developed due to the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.The water is crystal clear and often they can be found in cavernes, as some are completely underground, some semi-underground and some above ground (like a lake). I have swam in three of them and besides refreshing, stunning. One was in an actual cave, and we were surrounded by stalagmites, stalagtites and bats.

I have not had to spend any time alone, as I am staying with locals; either in a hammock or on a mattrass on the floor and listening to their (life)stories. One of my favourite results of travelling, or even life, is collecting stories. I meet other lost travelling souls during the day at various sites. I also met up with an adorable couple and their three years old (I somehow seem to spend a lot of time with three years old during this trip) who I had met seven years ago on a bus in France. I have hung out with a few Dutch I have met at the temples (seperately) and two days with an American guy (as asked him how a hat looked on me and we went from there), who even offered to stay in a hotel (work was paying), a nice luxury! The Mexicans so far have been generous and there seem to be no interest in ripping tourists off, even the taxis are honest. What I noticed here is that most people seem to be overweight. A lot of the food is fried I guess, but I also realised the amounts people eat, as one mother of a host offered me breakfast at eight in the morning and it consisted of a huge piece of beef and rice. I said an apple would do the trick for me..
The coast was very touristy, even though it is low season- except for the the resorts (sun, sea & sex), but now I have moved away from the coast .  I has a bit of a different feel to it, Merida felt like a real city, while the other cities felt like there was one big road and everything built around it. Merida has a lovely, clean colonial centre, although houses look less taken care of when you move away from it, but it did not feel dangerous anywhere.
I better try to get a night´s sleep, as I need to be ready at six for my two day excursion near the Guatemalan border ..

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Barely at day three and I have left my normal life completely behind. 

The plane was filled with young women with too much make up and tattooed men, looking forward to two weeks of getting plastered and the night clubs where Mexicans are not welcome. 
I was lucky to be picked up at the bus station of Cancun by Pintero, an amateur hip hopper, who showed me the parts of the city that could not have been further removed from the luxury resorts, His place consisted of one room, a few mattresses and a table, attached to it a tiny shabby bathroom. He said it was better not to hang around outside his flat in the evening. He was in the lucky position to make better money (350 vs average of 200 pounds a month) than most, thanks to his good command of English.
After a quick meal, that taught me I will be eating a lot of guacamole and corn based products with vegetables in the coming two months, he dropped me off at the harbour, where I took a boat to Isla Mujeres. This island is like many small islands I have visited: palm trees, the main street filled with souvenir shops and restaurants and beautiful, busy beaches with diving and snorkling day trips. Jacobo had waited for me. He introduced me to his girlfriend (20) and her three years old daughter (father no interest), took me out for dinner, shared his life story and then insisted I downed a few tequilla´s, while convincing the barman to play salsasongs, so we could dance to a few good tunes. This left me with some nasty blisters and still has me limping. 
His room was not much different from P´s, no kitchen, a small bathroom and no furniture. I made myself comfortable in the hammock, but J¨s drunk snoring and my excitement left me with little sleep. In the morning we visited the beach and in the afternoon his girlfriend had arranged for a scooter and showed me the island, which was highly enjoyable. In the evening I was beyond tired, but the couple convinced me to come out to a fun open air bar. I could barely stand on my feet, even though I enjoyed a few moves on the dancefloor (cumbia, salsa, raggaetonbachata is pretty much the standard music here, so that works fine for me!). Eventually they decided to put me in a taxi, one of their friends volunteering to accompany me- which was a good thing, with the stray dogs barking and the decaying houses being similar. He however, decided to stay and chat for another two hours, hoping for more, and eventually left when he finally got the message that ´no´ actually meant no. The rest stumbled in at five; yet again a night of two hours sleep, as I got up early to join a snorkling trip to a reef and an underwater museum (statues placed under water). After these days of acclimatisation I have left the island and am now ready for the real work to start exploring Mexico´s rich history...