To continue with my travelling adventures, I decided to go a place I’ve never been before. And not only a place, but a whole new continent for me. It was time to experience the Central American lifestyle. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not one of those fearless people who can just pack up and go anywhere and it really doesn’t help that whenever you tell people you want to go to Central or South America you see that worry bubbling away in their eyes but I guess deep down I felt it myself too. So for this travelling stint my lovely Mother and I decided to do a travelling tour with GAdventures, we picked the Mayan Discovery for 15 days which took us around several places in Mexico around the Yucatán Peninsula, popping through Guatemala, Belize and back to Mexico. After this tour, I decided to be brave (or stupid, or adventurous, whatever you want to call it), leave my Mother to travel back to the UK and go to Costa Rica on my own for 2 weeks to volunteer at an Animal Rescue Centre.
To make things easier as I packed so much into these 5 weeks of travel, I’m going to write about each county separately in different blog posts. So here’s to Mexico (before the start of the tour) to start…
So we flew to Mexico 3 days prior the start of our “Mayan Discovery” tour and decided to stay on an island just off of Cancún called Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women if you know you’re Spanish!). Now this place was small, but definitely beautiful. And was actually one of my favourite places I went to throughout this holiday.
So after getting up at 5 a.m. (UK time) to go to the airport, there being some complications with the flight leading it to be delayed for 4 hours, spending 11 hours on a flight to Cancún, getting a shuttle bus to Puerto Juarvez and catching a ferry for 30-40 minutes in the pitch black, we finally arrived at our hotel in Isla Mujeres 24 hours after we set off to start this journey. I was exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly, despite the loud noises coming from the street outside and some strange distant whistle going off every 10 minutes.
For our first full day in Isla Mujeres we decided to relax and have a beach day, so headed on down to Playa Norte the most popular and by far the most beautiful beach on the island. Now I’ve been to a lot of beaches in my lifetime, and I’ve been spoilt with spending my childhood summers on the sandy picturesque beaches in Barbados but I fell in love. This beach was amazing. The water is shallow for miles, and clear as anything. You can walk out so far and still be standing up! Never before had I experienced a beach like this. Not a stone or shell in place, just sand. It’s probably one of the most ideal beaches I’ve ever been to and would be perfect if you weren’t a confident swimmer or just wanted to relax! What made the experience even better was that we rented 2 beach chairs and an umbrella for the day, and the service there was divine. They had a waiter who kept coming up to us asking if we wanted any drinks or food. Can I just mention here that they serve an actual pint of Margarita. No exaggeration here, I’ve never had a pint of a cocktail before and let me just say it was the grandest thing ever! They even served really good food, snacks, full meals, you mention it, which is the perfect thing when you literally just want to lay down on a pretty beach all day and do nothing. I mean the only downside to this beach is that there are a lot of tourists, but if you can look past that then this place in really amazing. We literally stayed here all day. Eventually we tore ourselves away to freshen up before dinner, this is the point where I found out on day one I had already burnt my nose even though I was putting sun cream on every 10 minutes. (Note: If you’re thinking about going to any of the Central American countries I’ll be mentioning in my future posts, please be aware the sun is incredibly intense here and you will probably get burnt within a few minutes if you’re out in it. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy or windy, the sun will get you!). For dinner I got in the true Tex-Mex spirit and treated myself to a quesadilla. Isla Mujeres is actually a really nice place to be at night, a lot of reviews online make the place sound very quiet and peaceful however at night it’s very lively (but not crazy), the restaurants have live music going on, the streets are busy and the atmosphere is buzzing, which is really nice to see in a place. For me, I really enjoyed the atmosphere here, maybe it’s because it’s on a small scale, or slightly different and bohemian. But I don’t know, Isla Mujeres gave me good vibes.
Our second day in Isla Mujeres was all a bit of a let down to start but eventually picked itself up. We were meant to start our morning off by going on a snorkelling tour to M.U.S.A which is an underwater museum consisting of 500 life-size sculptures created to encourage and promote coral and marine life. Depending on which areas you go to, you can either dive or snorkel around the certain sculptures that have been made. These sculptures are super cool, and are of various things such as a car or a large group of people. I imagine it would be a really spectacular thing too see but unfortunately it was too windy therefore the sea too rough for us to go out so it got canceled. Instead we thought it would be nice if we rented a golf cart for the day and explore the island but funnily this was everyone’s idea to do on a Saturday morning so they were all booked up. So we went on a walk instead which apart from the lovely graveyard we walked past (feels strange complimenting a graveyard, but they’re so pretty here!) was a very bad idea as it was too hot, and we were walking in a dead part of town were there was nothing interesting to see except for the road. After turning back we found a little delight, being this hippie-esque cafe that had cute inspirational quotes all over the wall and a sign hanging up saying “Peace, Love and Safe Sex”. What better motto then that, eh? Not only was the interior of this place cool, but the food was incredible. After we ate, we decided going back to the beach would be our best option so went on a little detour of it and found the rocky, rough part of Isla Murejes which was a nice contrast. We spent some time exploring this, eventually ending up back at Playa Norte although this time further a long where you didn’t have to rent a chair and could just pick a space on the sand to dump your stuff. Being on the beach on a Saturday afternoon, you really see how popular Isla Mujeres is. Out to sea, all you can see are various boats carrying groups of people coming to the island for the day. Music playing, drinks flowing. It’s great. For me, it’s a perfect atmosphere. So much to do, yet you can still relax and have time out.
Our last day in Isla Mujeres was not a good day. I didn’t sleep a wink. At some point during the night, I delightfully came down with food poisoning – Great start to the holiday! To make matters even more fun, today was the day we had to leave to go to Cancún to start our Mayan Discovery tour in the morning, with the introduction meeting tonight. I felt like death. I couldn’t eat a thing. I stayed in bed for hours, eventually tearing myself away to get the retched ferry and cab to our new hotel for the night. It was one of the most difficult experience I’ve had to go through, forcing myself to do such effort things whilst feeling so fowl. But I survived it. And thankfully had some time to recover once we arrived before our meeting start. What terrible timing though. Most unfortunate.