A different type of travel
Trip Start Sep 05, 2006
90Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
It had been two years since I'd left the country. Two years since I'd put on my old awesome Osprey backpack or used my passport. And for Christmas and New Years break, Ashley, Adam and I took off an ungodly amount of time (2 weeks) to backpack select parts of Mexico and Belize. And two weeks truly is an ungodly amount of time considering that I took all of 4 days off of the previous work year. On December 22nd amidst white flurries and dirty sludgy snow, the team was ecstatic to leave the cold of DC for the warmth of Central America, beers, backpacking, and relaxation
So, like all good backpacking trips the planning for the jaunt down south was minimal. Adam and I had each bought the requisite lonely planet, but aside from perusing a dozen pages or so, I knew nothing about the region. Upon our arrival in Cancun, we hadn't decided upon our day's ultimate destination, let alone a hotel and so the random decisions of where to go at what time began:
1) Valladolid: Even though the name "Valladolid" for some reason makes me think of aliens, we chose Valladolid as our first destination. Valladolid made sense as it wasn't Cancun and was close to Chichenitza, one of the few sites we had selected to see. There's little to report on Valladolid aside from the fact that they have super delicious breakfast street food. This little tid-bit is terribly important since one of my favorite things while traveling is eating the street food. For this reason, Bangkok might be my favorite city on earth because of the vast arrays of delicacies that you can find just about anywhere. Back to Valladolid; there's not a ton there, but it's easy to get to and easy to leave.
2) Chichen Itza: I'm embarrassed to say that upon arriving at Chichen Itza I was overcome with my world-traveler snobbyness
3) Merida: Merida was one of the only towns on our formal itinerary. This is because we had wanted to base of sorts to celebrate Christmas, and we'd also heard fantastic things about the weekend market, something that we didn't want to miss. Thanks to Ashley we had a bomb-ass hostel (Nomades, http://www.nomadastravel.com/) and I wouldn't have wanted to stay anywhere else. We had a room to ourselves and were a short walk to the city center. Without a doubt the highlight of Merida was spending an afternoon at the market (not the weekend market but the covered everyone-goes-there market). So as a day's activities we headed off for the market with empty bellies and went taco stand hopping
3) San Ignacio: After 14 hours of bus rides, San Ignacio was our first Belize destination. To get to San Ignacio, we passed through Campeche (MX), Belize City (BZ), Belmopan (BZ), and then finally San Ignacio. It was incredible what a difference there was between the two countries. I was expecting to be sad to give up Spanish but it turns out that Spanish is almost as much a lingua franca in Belize as in Mexico. San Ignacio isn't fantastic itself but there's a little town, Bullet Tree, a 10 minute drive away, which is great. We stayed at Parrot's nest which was wonderful. Unfortunately it rained quite a lot which put a damper on our trip to Caracol and the waterfalls. Caracol was another set of ruins (we're starting to be experts). If it hadn't been raining the waterfalls would have been one of the most beautiful and fun things that I'd ever seen. Too bad.
4) Caye Caulker: Our new years destination
5) Tulum: What a beautiful beach. And how sad that the weather turned shitty right after we arrived. If was kindof the M.O. of our trip that we kept being chased by bad weather. Highlights of Tulum were sneaking into the ruins of Tulum and being kicked out and diving the cenotes although the dive shop was quite sketchy
6) Isla de Mujeres: Our last stop was to see one of Adam's long time life friends, Michaela, who was on Isla with a group of friends and fiancee! The biggest shock here was that Adam, Ash, and I had just spent two weeks on buses and in hostels with puke on the floor while this other group (granted a couple years older than us) had spent the week in a swank huge house on this island. It was quite a wake up call on how different people travel and I think we're all ready to make the switch. As great as two weeks of backpacking was, the thought of being in one nice place for a week had lots of appeal.
7) Home: Getting of the Mark train back to DC's Union station, I think we were all in awe. We'd spent the last two weeks seeing ruins and oceans but damn union station and DC architecture is beautiful. It's grand. I love DC. I have a fantastic apartment and was ready to be back.
1) Drink Sol beer.
2) If you're over the age of 25, it might be a good idea not to stay in hostels with 20 year olds who can seriously out drink you
3) Rent a jeep in Belize and drive around.
4) Rent a jeep/ van and drive it down the coast of Mexico
5) Stay in city of Tulum instead of the beach (unless you want to spend $200 or more)
6) Let your family know your itinerary so that they don't freak out and think that you were kidnapped
Considering that I just used a year's worth of vacation, I don't foresee much travel in my near future. Until whenever that is, travel hard!