…and a Caribbean New Year!

Second half of Christmas travelling! After our stay in Chiapas we got the bus from Palenque, arriving 12 hours later (and minus an ipod, great) in Playa del Carmen. We had a bit of a shock upon arrival as it POURED with rain for the entire day! Not what you expect at the beach… The following day we went to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum, which running along the cliffs overlooking the sea were in an equally amazing setting as those at Palenque. For some reason there were iguanas literally everywhere. We spent the rest of the day chilling on the beach (my first Caribbean beach!) just below, apparently the 4th most beautiful beach in the world…

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The following day we went to another beach called Akumal where we rented snorkels and spent the morning swimming with turtles and fun nemo type fish. It was a really cool first snorkelling experience! Later on the in the day we went to visit some cenotes nearby (basically huge really deep cave things full of water).  The water was SO clear and surprisingly not as cold as you’d think. Not the best picture but you get the idea

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And if you really don’t here is a much better one I borrowed from the internet

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Our first night out in Playa del Carmen was so much fun, and also my first actual club night out in Mexico. Playa del Carmen is quite a touristy place (although not half so much as Cancún), so there were loads of other foreigners, especially from South America. Despite the fact that I was quite clearly not the only ‘blonde’ person in a five mile radius, the staring and unnecessary comments continued.  Great. Somehow we managed to get free entry into Coco Bongo, this mental cabaret/club that everyone had been banging on about and probably the hugest cub I’ve ever been to. We stayed out till 6am and spent the last hour on the beach waiting for the sunrise, which I rather conveniently managed to fall asleep for.

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A very nice almost sunrise

During our stay in Playa del Carmen we also went to the nearby island Isla Mujeres where we didn’t really do an awful lot besides sunbathing… For some reason there were cats everywhere, which is kind of weird considering that Mexico is very much a dog obsessed country.

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Isla Mujeres

We got the bus to Cancún and moved into the coolest hostel ever – it had hammocks and everything! We didn’t really do an awful lot in Cancún itself, partly because it was still raining A LOT and partly because it is probably one of the most touristy places I’ve ever been to, and that’s no understatement. There are so many American tourists in Cancún that prices are usually given in dollars before pesos. And everything is just considerably more expensive. I didn’t realise before going but Cancún as it is now has only existed for forty years or so, having been transformed from little fishing villages into a huge tourist destination.

We went back to Playa for New Years as it was obviously going to be a lot less expensive and still good fun. The main street was absolutely packed for the countdown (despite there not being an actual countdown, just all  kinds of alcohol thrown from all directions). Anyways, for someone who usually stays in and watches the fireworks from London on the TV (yep, that’s me…) I had an amazingly weird New Years, involving too much tequila and many a crazy Argentinian (one of whom randomly gave me a bunch of roses). After hanging around on the beach until 8am, waiting for and getting the bus, we made it back to the hostel at 11 where I then took a well deserved 21 hour nap!

During my stay in Cancún I also managed to go to Chichen Itza (it’s one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, so I could hardly miss it). Like Palenque and Tulum, Chichen Itza is also a really important site of Mayan ruins, although not as old as those at Palenque. I went with two of the others on a tour which was possibly the most touristy thing I’ve ever done.

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A very fun day despite the weather and not being able to climb any of the ruins

Everyone else had left by the 7th so I decided to go back to Playa del Carmen for a few days before my flight, mostly because it’s a lot nicer than Cancún and also because there are lots of places you can visit from there. What I wasn’t anticipating was that I’d be robbed the morning after I arrived… Having already paid for the hostel and needing the rest of my money (which luckily I hadn’t put in my purse) for buses, I then had the fun challenge of living off of 40 pesos (£2…) for the following 2 days. Fortunately the people in the hostel I was staying at were LOVELY, so despite not being able to visit any of the places I’d come back to see I still had a really nice time. I also learnt that it’s surprisingly easy to only spend a pound a day food wise! Thank goodness for Walmart’s 7p bread and 14p pasta…

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