Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Mexico  , Quintana Roo,
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This is it. Our last entry. Well almost, we might have a stats and summary thing, but this is the last proper one. Let's get straight to it. After a glorious few days soaking up some tropical sun in Belize, we embarked a boat bound for Chetumal, Mexico, the 14th and final country of our Latin American trip of dreams.

First up in the land of tequila, sombreros and Corona was a visit to the small Caribbean beach town of Tulum, a brief 4 hour bus journey from Chetumal. That trip turned out to be the 51st and final bus journey of our travels. Bussing is probably one aspect of backpacking that we won't miss too much, but those 51 journeys most certainly allowed us to see many a mile of spectacular Latin American countryside. Back to Tulum and after finding a place to stay, we dropped off our bags and immediately headed out in search of some famous Mexican cuisine. The food was excellent, although this obsession that the Central Americans have for refried beans is something that we haven't managed to fully understand. At least they don't put those damn beans in any of their beverages, so we made sure to celebrate the arrival in our final country in appropriate style. Corona and tequila. Now there's a winning combo.

As soon as we arrived in Mexico we were struck by the significantly higher standard of living that Mexicans enjoy compared to their Central American counterparts. We didn't really venture off the beaten track, but all of the roads were in perfect condition, the busses were modern, the streets were clean and there were hardly any stray dogs roaming the streets. This all meant that we felt confident enough to hire a car and cruise around the Yucatan Peninsula as we pleased. We definitely felt completely out of place when we walked into Hertz looking like we'd spent the previous 7 months backpacking all the way from Patagonia, but we tried to act as nonchalantly as possible. After being told that the cheapest car was not available that day, we faked our most disinterested face and pretended that it wouldn't be a problem. The next level up was the magnificent "Dodge" Attitude. I haven't checked, but it seems that Dodge has some sort of arrangement with Hyundai, as somebody had clearly removed all Hyundai labels and replaced them with Dodge ones, except for the badge on the steering wheel which they removed and replaced with nothing. We kicked the tires, opened the bonnet, checked the boot space and did whatever else we thought one is supposed to do when hiring a car. The kind Hertz man then handed us the keys and we were off. 10 seconds later we realised that we hadn't driven a car for 7 months, the confused humans were driving on the wrong side of the road and beyond remembering to not stare at the sun, we hadn't really used our brains very much since leaving the Republic. Interesting combo.

The first stop of our Mexican road trip was the magnificent Tulum archaeological site, located on some cliffs right on the Caribbean Sea. The incredible setting was probably more impressive than the ruins. Owing to the extreme heat and the abundance of brash tourists, we returned to the Attitude after a brief exploration of the site. Next up was a short run down the coast to some beach where we ate lunch, watched some newlyweds take some action photos and then saw a naked guy walk out of the sea. After lunch the Attitude took us to the impressive El Gran Cenote. A cenote is basically a natural sinkhole filled with freshwater. The one that we visited was filled with the most crystal clear water that we have ever witnessed. We hired masks and snorkels and swam around the labyrinth of caves, awestruck by the natural beauty of the rock formations. Unfortunately Don's underwater camera has been relegated to the past tense so we weren't able to capture the essence of the cenote, but our eyes were still good enough to capture this unique experience.

Next stop on our road trip was the famous Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, a pleasant 150km drive from Tulum. After safely arriving at our destination we found a place to stay and then Don was stung by a wasp. The following morning we visited Chichen Itza where we spent a few hours wandering around the place and admired some of the beautiful old buildings and pyramids. Just like in Tikal, these Mayan tour guides were also of the opinion that this 2012 prophecy is a load of nonsense. Sorry Koob. After learning a few more things about the Mayans and sweating more than we thought was possible, we returned to the Attitude and hit the road again. Our destination, Cancun, could not have provided a starker contrast to Chichen Itza.

Cancun is probably even more crazy than what we had expected. The level of development is quite ridiculous, it felt more like Miami than a small city in Mexico. The number of fancy resorts, clubs, restaurants and shopping malls lining the main tourist area is incredible. At first we didn't quite understand how the place had developed so aggressively, but after a great drive along the coast it all made sense. The setting on the Caribbean is mind blowing, with one of the biggest and best beaches that either of us had ever seen dominating the entire waterfront. We weren't really planning on visiting Cancun and even though it was a bit over the top in some regards, we agreed that there was definitely an appeal to the place. Seeing as though we were in Cancun we thought why not, let's pay a visit to the infamous Señor Frogs bar/restaurant/madhouse. That place is wild. Within 15 minutes of sitting down, Don found herself being straddled by one of the waiters while he poured a whole lot of hard tack down her throat. And this was at 4 in the afternoon with a mostly empty restaurant. We can't even begin to imagine what sort of damage a bunch of fired up 19 year old spring-breakers could inflict on this place.

The following day we decided to head out of Cancun to the much more relaxed but no less spectacular Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast. We spent 5 days here and thoroughly enjoyed taking it easy for the last time before our long haul home. We savoured many an hour of rotting on the amazing beaches, driving around the island in a golf cart, playing beach bats for shots of tequila and rotting some more at a few bars while watching the Olympics and reminiscing about all that we had seen since landing in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the year.

After a great time spent on Isla Mujeres we returned to Cancun for one last skop before catching the first of three flights back to Joburg. That brings us to the present tense and as I type this I have just been informed that it is snowing in Joburg and even more exciting is the news that my brother Giorgio has just become a father! Congratulations to Jordi and Asher, we can't wait to meet Salvatore. That's 2 births that we have missed since leaving home, maybe it is in fact time for us to return. With that, we say farewell. We will have a roundup entry with some stats and a few last words, but for now we just want to thank everybody for reading along, posting comments and sharing some of our adventure with us. We've enjoyed the trip of a lifetime, but are so looking forward to seeing you all again very soon.

Love Don and Wa
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Nats on

Cant believe it's over! I almost cried for you! But can't wait to have you both home! Travel safe. So much love xxx

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