From El Salvador to Playa del Carmen in 4 days!

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Sunday, January 1, 2012

Some intensive 2 weeks has passed. We did make it to Playa del Carmen for Wednesday 21st December to pick up Ramón's family! We left Santa Ana, El Salvador on the Sunday morning and got to Chiquimula, Guatemala fairly early. We managed to get a bus straight to Rio Dulce however it was not a fast one. We had said to Franco and Paula that we should be there around 6pm, we didn’t arrive until 7pm. However they had just arrived with the same bus company from the other direction a few minutes before so it worked out fine. In the office of the bus company, a sweet lady let me call the hostel we had booked for the night. They had to collect us with a speedboat since they were actually wooden cabins on the water. The place was really beautiful. We had a little cabin just for us, it was an open air cabin but each bed had a mosquito net so there was no problem. The cabin had two floors, a downstairs with seating area and a wooden walk to the bathrooms and showers, and an upstairs built like a four pointed star, with a large single bed in each point and some sofas in the middle. It was really nice. We had dinner in the restaurant which was not badly priced at all. Afterwards we decided to play some pool. All well, I was loosing big time, until I manage to push the white ball out of the pool table. It went bouncing down on the floor, down the side of the wooden cabin, down into the restaurant below and bounced nicely down the steps and plunged into the water. Paula and Franco had a hysterical laugh attack and couldn’t even walk down to the reception with me as I told them very embarrassingly what had happened. They said they would ask someone from the marine to go down with a mask and snorkel the next day to look for the ball. I don’t know if it was found as the next morning we left with the speedboat for Livingston.

We were not terribly impressed by Livingston but the boat journey there from Rio Dulce was beautiful. We had some trouble finding accommodation as everything was very basic. In the end we got a place and had some major problems with the lock and the key to the room. The previous guest had left with the key to our room, so they let us in with a master key. Then they got a new key cut, a very bad key, which got completely stuck on the lock and they had to unscrew the whole lock. After a lot of messing around and us leaving our valuables in Paula’s and Franco’s room, we finally got a lock and a key that worked for the one night. There wasn’t much to see just having one afternoon in Livingston so we went and got our passport exit stamp at the immigration office and bought the tickets for the speedboat to Punta Gorda, Belize for the next morning.

On the Tuesday morning it was time to say goodbye to Paula and Franco for now, they will be going back home really soon and we won’t coincide on the way anymore. It was sad to leave them behind and we hope to be able to visit them in Chile or them visiting us somewhere in Central America.

We took the short walk down to the port and got the speedboat to Punta Gorda, Belize, it went really fast and we arrived in only 45 minutes. Passed through the immigration without any trouble and went looking for the bus to Belize City. One had just left and we had to spend 2 hours hanging around for the next one. We took the opportunity to have some breakfast. We had high hopes for the bus as it was going to take 6 hours to Belize City, and along comes a chicken bus! It stopped absolutely everywhere! There are no local buses so the long distance chicken buses also operate as the local bus, therefore stopping every 50 metres. At least the promised 6 hours was correct and we arrived in Belize City just around 5pm. And of course missed the last bus to Chetumal, Mexico. We decided to head as far as we could and got a bus to Corozal, the last town in Belize before the Mexican border. We could have continued with another bus to the border that night but we had had enough with 9 hours on chicken buses and slept overnight in Corozal.

On the Wednesday morning we had one big goal, to make it to Playa del Carmen, find accommodation and pick up Ramón’s brother and wife (Manolo and Charo) at their hotel. We got a local bus to the border, walked across, and got another bus to Chetumal. Everything went smoothly and we were able to say that we had not been asked for an onward ticket or proof of departure from the country we entered during the whole trip. We had some late breakfast in Chetumal and then got on the second class bus to Playa del Carmen. We arrived just around 4pm and were really lucky to find accommodation on our first try. We just popped in to the María Sabina hostel and they were full, however the owner had a small studio apartment in the building where he lives, it was really spacious and within budget so we accepted straight away. Then off to eat something, shower, change and wait for the brother and sister in law and the kids. They arrived on time and very tired so the first night we went with them to grab some quick food and then said goodnight so they could recover from the jet lag.

The next 10 days we spent between Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, Cobá, Valladolid and Chichen Itza. Lots of beach and activities and some sight seeing. Christmas was spent in a nice hotel in Cozumel, the morning on the beach and afterwards we had dinner in Cozumel town. We took the nephews on a snorkelling tour and even saw a small shark, which was very exciting both for us and the boys. I never expected to see one. It was way down below us and the instructor said that they can’t really bite you. It does sometimes happen that they grab hold of someone and don’t let go, but it seems like they don’t harm you. You just have to poke the shark in the eye and it lets go! We rented a big family car for the 6 of us and visited Cobá, Chichen Itza and Tulum on our own, the kids loved renting bicycles to visit Cobá and getting around the archaeological site. We spent the last few days chilling in Playa del Carmen and going to the beach. It was with a lot of sadness we waved them goodbye at the Playa del Carmen bus station last night. As they spent New Years Eve on the plane back to Madrid we had a lovely meal and went to the beach to hear the final countdown of 2011. Our first year celebrating New Years Eve on the beach!

This morning we left Playa del Carmen for Tulum where we will take it easy for a few days and decide where to go next.
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