Mexico (1) - Yucatan

After it took us three hours to get into Mexico at the border with drug dog and completely x-rayed (Viva Mexico) we go to Chetumal in a nice RV park direct on the ocean. We stay a few days and visit Chetumal with the very nice Maya culture museum. 

But then we want to see our first Cenote. Yucatan is practically undermined from limestone caves which carry water. Dozens of them are very easy accessible and are merciless merchandised. First we go to the Cenote Azul at the lagoon of Bacalar. But we are somehow disappointed because it´s very windy and we`ve expected an underground cave but it was nothing more than a blue hole in a lake. Nevertheless the lagoon shines in a lot of blue shades and we meet again Rick & Nora. We`ve spent already a few nice hours with the couple in El Salvador. They originally started with a Tandem from Holland to Turkey and then hitch-hiked thru Asia before they went to America. The videos are really worth looking at it. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3n0CsmsV24

We move on to Tulum where we got a first impression about mass tourism in the area around Cancun. No chance to find a place on the beach. Thanks God we find a nice campground 30km away from Tulum and direct on the beach with a postcard view. We make a tour by taxi to Playa del Carmen and feel like in Miami or New York. This has nothing to do with Mexico and could be everywhere in the world. Approximately 10 years ago the small village with 5000 people was rebuild as hotspot for tourists. The concept seems to work and today the town has more than 150.000 inhabitants. We don`t really like it and are happy to be back in our small and calm campground. 

Next stop is Cancun because in  a few days our son Felix comes for a visit together with his girl-friend Melina. On a campground close to the airport we re-arrange our truck to take two more passengers. We pick them up at the airport and after they have recovered from jetlag we start the journey. And in fact we all fit in the driver`s cabin. This would not survive a police control in Europe however for Mexico it´s fair enough. For the next days we`ve planned beach and sun. Our first stop is Playa Delfines at the Hotel zone of Cancun. More than 110 hotels were planned at a drawing table and host mostly American and Canadian tourists. At the moment is spring break and the party zone is good packed. A tourist factory which you may like or not. For the next days we stay at a campground in Xpu-Ha with enough space for MOMO and a tent for the kids. 

We rent a car for a few days which gives us more flexibility in visiting the highlights near-by. In Park Aventura we can see Dolphins, sea-lions and manatees for free. It´s a tourist attraction and for some Dollars you can swim with the Dolphins, get a kiss from a sea lion and feed the manatees. After this we visit a Cenote, swim in cristal clear water and suckerfish clean our legs. 

On the next morning we get up early and at 8:30am we line-up in the queue at the entrance to the Maya ruin of Tulum. This is one of the most important Maya sites in Mexico and the most visited. The unique location direct next to the ocean is unrivaled. The city had its heydays between 1200-1400 a.C. and was a religious central point and dedicated to the Venus. We stroll around for two hours and then have difficulties to leave the location because hundreds of people flood the site. So it was very wise to be early. 

Most tourist buses stop at the Cenote Dos Ojos but we move on for another 6km on an unpaved road until we reach the Cenote Sac-Ac-Tun. It`s an underground cave only accessible with a guide. 1,5 hours we swim and snorkel in the underworld with crystal clear water and wonderful stone formations. 

The kids want to swim with turtles and so we go to the beach of Akumal after lunch. Hundreds of tourists are around and we are very sceptic whether we see fish at all. But surprisingly enough we see at least half a dozen of turtles and also some sting-rays. 

After a relaxing day on the beach we start to our Maya and Cenotes sightseeing tour in the Yucatan region. No other people built more than the Mayas. They erected huge sites with an unmatched architecture. The awesome pyramids, temples and palaces are simply overwhelming. The heart of every Maya site is the main pyramid where steep stairs lead on top. The palaces are big or small buildings with some rooms solely for priests, dignitaries and rulers. A Cenote was used to supply water. First we go to Coba. The easiest way to explore the vast area is by bicycle taxi. Very impressive is the highest Maya pyramid in Yucatan with 43m. 117 steep steps lead on top. After this we need refreshing and swim in 2 Cenotes with crystal clear water and the possibility for Felix to jump from high above. For the night we stay on the campground Suytun and in the morning we have the near-by Cenote on our own. 

We stroll thru the nice town of Valladolid and visit the monastery. Then we move on to the Cenote IK-Kil. This is something Felix wants to see as it is shown in every tourist guide book. We count 10 big tourist buses and more than 100 normal cars on the parking lot which sums up to more than 800 people and all want to get wet. However the Cenote is approximately 60m in diameter and it gets a little bit tight. But we finally made it to the water. A few kilometers further we find a nice place for overnight next to a cenote which looks more or less the same but only a few people are around. 

Today we have an early morning wake-up call for Chitchen Itza. This is a location you should not miss when you are travelling in Yucatan. We queue at the entrance at 7:30am and punctual at 8am we can go in. Chitchen Itza is the most famous Maya site and more than 10.000 visitors come to it per day. It’s a good idea to do the visit early in the morning because latest at 11am the big tour busses come and the area gets flooded. We are lucky and are almost alone for the first hours. The very huge Kukulkan pyramid together with the whole area is really very impressive and worth a visit. Around 11am it gets crowdie and hundreds of local Indios have set up their souvenir stands in the area and it looks more like a market place. When we leave the area the queue at the cashier is almost endless. 

We speed up and drive to Izamal where an Austrian has a nice romantic hotel together with a campground for RVs. The kids setup their tent and we relax for a day and enjoy the hotel pool. But its really very hot and the energy level goes to zero even with the kids. In the morning we wonder why we are hang to the right side and surprisingly we count our ninth flat wheel in 3 years. Unbelievable. In the afternoon we stroll thru the city center. The main attraction ist the Convento de San Antonio de Padua. The atrium is the second largest in the world after the Vatican framed from 75 covered arcades.

Back in Cancun we go to a campground close to the sea and relax a day on the pool. The next morning we leave the car alone and go to Isla Mujeres with a ferry. We`ve booked a nice hotel for one night and explore the island with a golf cart. It´s not much to see however Karin now knows how the island developed in 30 years.  She was here for backpacking in 1979.  

The next afternoon we go back to the mainland and then the time for the kids is already over. The wake-up call is at 5:30am and at 7am we say good bye at the airport. We really had a good time but is was far too short. 

MOMO can rest now for two weeks while we are in Cuba. But this is then part of the next blog. Until then, stay tuned, enjoy reading and looking at the pictures and like us on facebook. Hasta Luego. 

And finally a few nice snapshots

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