And the Journey Finally Begins...
Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
54Trip End Dec 22, 2011
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Ah yes, Mexico. Growing up my family would make a yearly pilgrimage across the border from Arizona into Nogales, Mexico. For what I have no clue, but it was a good way to spend a few hours I guess. Fast forward 20 or 30 years and I will freely admit that the border town nastiness and two trips to Mexico City and Monterrey four years ago, are pretty much my entire frame of reference for Mexico. Nogales has seared into my mind images of beggars, shacks climbing the hills, wall to wall grime and sewage smell, and my mom not letting us touch anything because we might get germs.
A year and a half of living in Hanoi has lowered my bar to the point I don't even see filth, noise, pollution, crowds, and decay anymore
Not wanting to spend $60 one way on a taxi I chose the $4 shuttle bus. For a $56 savings I expected a Vietnamese style hooptie ride but instead got a comfortable bus that even stayed in its lane the whole time with no slamming on brakes or swerving. Driving in Nam has been an insidious slide into a new normal of made up lanes and motoring down the wrong side of the road. The icing on the cake today was the peace and quiet...the driver didn't have some sick love affair with a 200 decibel horn the entire way as would be customary in Vietnam. Probably best of all people didn't push and shove and break in line to get on the bus. I actually caught myself before I shoved Hanoi style past two ladies, and I had to remember that antisocial behavior is not the norm in other parts of the world.
One observation about driving here does stick out though. Are Mexican motorists incapable of backing out of a parking space? Three times today I have observed a strange scene that makes one wonder. As soon as a car's backup lights indicate it is ready to manuever out of parking spot, an attendant runs out in the street while frantically waving a towel and blowing a whistle. The car then inches backwards at a glacial pace with a mildly panicked looking driver clutching the wheel. The slower the car moves, the angrier the attendant waives and blows. Strange indeed.
In addition to learning parking rituals, staying in downtown Cancun rather than the beaches helps me avoid a homogenized hotel experience that I could find in anywhere USA (minus the bad tap water). Sleeping local also puts me a few blocks from the bus terminal where I will make my way in the morning for my ride to the Holbox Island ferry. The concrete buildings downtown smack of Vietnam actually but with a few caveats. First, it's clean. I mean really clean. Hell, for all I know it may be the filthiest place on earth, but compared to Hanoi this is immaculate. Second, it's quiet. No honking, no yelling, no motorbikes, no nothing. Not even a single person came up to me and asked, "You buy from meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?" as would be customary in tourist areas in Vietnam.
Yes, in the space of a morning, I've gone from an upgrade to first class on a 757 to a bus to a hostel. It's kind of like I hit this trip cold turkey going from creature comforts to bare basics. This is my reality the next few months. I hope you enjoy following along.
How I got here:
Delta flight 537 from Atlanta to Cancun 2 hours and 20 minutes
Airport bus from baggage claim to downtown bus terminal 30 minutes - 48pesos ($3.50)
5 minute walk from terminal to Hostel Quetzal
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