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Thursday 21 Nov 2013
Tulum, Mexico

Temples and travels

On our last day in Tulum, Christina and I hired bikes and cycled up to the ruins on the outskirts of Tulum.  The Mayan temples here were part of the sun-worship rituals, where the Mayans would greet the rising sun over the sea. These ruins are hundreds of years old and were once a place of worship.  In most places this would trigger a sense of respect, but here it seemed to be the opposite.  It is one of the few temples with its own stretch of beach, and I found it quite disturbing how many tourists thought this made it ok to walk around in bikinis and shorts.  People were more concerned with getting a suntan than paying attention to the history and culture of the place.  There were no signs telling people to cover up, so I don't know why I should have been so concerned, but it felt disrespectful to the history of the temples.

We cycled back and followed the road to the coast.  Going by the map, this should have taken us no more than half an hour, based on how long it took to reach the ruins.  However, we soon discovered the map was not to scale and it took us over an hour in the blazing sun.  Then we discovered that the beach was divided up among the hotels and cabanas so there was no public beach there at all.  Instead we gave up the idea of a swim and settled in a nice reggae bar with cold beers and excellent fish tacos.  Silver linings and all that…

An early start the next morning and a 3 ½ hour coach journey took us down to the border town of Chetumal.  We shared a taxi to the port with a Norwegian lad from the bus.  The heavens opened on the way there and we sat in the taxi outside the ferry office trying to decide how long it would last as the water filled the street around us.  The taxi driver was in no rush, but eventually we decided to just make a run for it. I balanced myself on the lip of the door ready to jump across to the verge once I had got my backpack on, but as soon as I leant forward, my foot slipped and I found myself ankle deep in muddy rainwater.  So much for keeping my trainers dry! Hopefully these will dry out quicker than my last pair did (which I eventually abandoned in Cairns because they smelled so bad).

We had to pay a tourist tax to leave Mexico – this used to be included in airfares automatically, but not any longer.  If you cannot prove that you have already paid it as part of your airfare then they charge you another $300 Peso when you leave.  (Just to add to the confusion, the symbol used for Peso is the same as the Dollar!)  We bought our tickets, completed our immigration paperwork and paid our fees. 

The ferry to Belize was a large enclosed speedboat taking around 50 passengers.  We passed the journey watching Big Bang Theory on Christina’s iPad as we couldn’t see anything out of the salt encrusted windows.  After a couple of hours we arrived at the island of San Pedro, gateway to Belize’s island chain.  We had to disembark and collect all our bags, then shuffle along the pier to get our passports stamped at a small window.  There were some ominous looking black clouds heading our way but we got back on board before the rain caught up with us.  Unfortunately the rain came in through the doorway so our bags, which were under our seats, got a lot wetter than we realised.  It was still raining when we disembarked on Caye Caulker, but fortunately it was only a 5-minute walk to our hotel.  There are a lot of small hostels and cabanas on the beach, which don’t advertise online but just pick up guests as they roll off the boat, but we’d preferred to pre-book.  We were rewarded with a nice big room with air-con and a fridge.  The size of the room turned out to be a good thing as we had to string our wet possessions all over the chairs, curtain poles and every other available surface to try and dry them out. 

We had a delicious meal at Rose’s Grill, an open fronted bar a few doors along from our hotel.  They coaxed us in with a huge barrel grill out in the street and a tempting array of fresh seafood.  We had a whole snapper, grilled to perfection, and let ourselves unwind from the day’s travels.  

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #2 Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica

Travel blog by zobeedoo

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I met Christina in April. We travelled a bit of Australia together and both learned to dive. Now we're off to Mexico and Belize to see what the Caribbean and the Great Mesoamerican Reef have to offer, before I head down to Costa Rica for 10 days.

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