Mexico week 1 – Cancun and Chichen Itza discover
How nice that you ended up on this story! We, Sigrid and Bryan, left exactly one week ago for far away Mexico.
Our first week we stayed in Cancun.
We’ll let you know here how that went and how we experienced our first week in this country. Here you will also be able to read some tips that can prepare you for your next trip. Would you like to follow our story? Then feel free to read on!
Although it was half past three in the morning that we had to get up, we left well-meaning and full of energy to the airport of Zaventem (Brussels). Sigrid just got her 25 kilogram suitcase closed and Bryan checked for the tenth time to see if he had packed everything. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Our great adventure.
Arriving at the airport everything went smoothly. From checking in our luggage (our limit of 25 kilograms not exceeded! Let’s hear it for Sigrid!) until boarding the plane. It was a pleasant start to our trip. Unfortunately, the aisle separated our two seats on the plane and so we went on a long flight alongside two strangers. Or not? The two seats next to Sigrid remained vacant when the doors of the plane closed. Hallelujah! We moved very quickly to the two free seats next to each other. What a quiet and luxurious flight! Close together and not fall asleep next to strangers. Hooray for the empty seats!
The flight, despite our optimal luxury and many chances to sleep, lasted a very long time. Sitting still for 12 hours is not nothing. Much to our annoyance we made a stopover in
and it took a long time for all the passengers to disembark. It also turned out that our free seats were no longer free. So the last hour of the flight we had to spend separately again. Fortunately, most of the flight was already out. An hour and a lot of turbulence further (the kind of turbulence that gets you jitters in your belly), we finally landed on Mexican soil.
Young learned, old done
Finally stretch the legs and get out as fast as possible! Not so. After half an hour of waiting for passport control,we still had to go through a (shorter) check of our luggage. Can we relax now? Not yet. Mexico’s airport is large and crowded. Like (almost) every airport. We didn’t have pesos (the currency in Mexico) so getting to pay for our stay wasn’t going to happen either. A very friendly taxi driver led us to the nearest ATM.
Of course the taxi driver kept waiting at the vending machine to take us to an overpriced taxi. We were tired and didn’t quite know how much peso a euro was exact. Conclusion: we paid way too much for our taxi to our destination. 1000 pesos, converted about 45 euros, for 20 minutes drive is just too much. In hindsight we are happy that we took a taxi, but we would only have given half of this.
The house we stayed in this week is in a typical Mexican neighborhood. You only see colourful houses with nice front gardens. Our neighborhood is also secured with a doorman. Apparently, several neighborhoods have a doorman who keeps an eye on traffic that goes in and out of the neighborhood. The house we stay in is quite large for an average Mexican house. It has several bedrooms (logical if you rent through AirBNB)
and a roof terrace with two hammocks. Yes, we see it all here!
Spicy, spicier, spiciest
The first thing we did was go looking for food. Tacos, tortillas, nachos, quesadillas… We didn’t care if it was just food. Our neighborhood has a lot of nice stalls and small restaurants along the side of the road. Choosing didn’t get any easier. We tried tacos, all different ones that we didn’t really know what they were dishing us. Bryan chose a sauce (which they always serve next to the dishes) and the burning feeling didn’t last long. Ha-ha! Tested and disapproved. We are not used to this and therefore advise against trying sauces. If you can’t resist, be smart and take a tiny bit (by this we mean a dip as small as a crumb). Even if you like spicy food, you’d better take a test first. Trust us. Mexican Spicy Is Extremely Spicy!
We want beach!
After searching for food, the search continued to the beach. The weather in Cancun is around 30 degrees and a little cooling was welcome. On foot we walked the route that the GPS indicated on our smartphone. So we passed the laguna, a lagoon, where you had a beautiful view of the enclosed water and the large hotel zone in the distance.
In the distance, right. The beach and the sea were still miles away. On foot was no longer an option in this heat. Take the bus. But where’s that bus stop? Well, on foot, then. The first piece of beach felt like heaven on earth. And then there was that view! Beautiful, simply beautiful. We picked a spot and we stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. This was the peace we’d been looking for for hours. Enjoy.
Road trip to Chichen Itza
One of the activities on our to-do list was of course to visit Chichen Itza.
This wonder of the world used to be a Mayan city and its remains are Unesco World Heritage sites today. This is what we want to see! This trip did require a bit of planning,as we didn’t like to book a day trip with the (overpriced!) organizations from Cancun. We chose to get to there ourselves as the tourist organizations were limited in time in certain places. We want to choose how long we stay somewhere so we took the
, about 10 minutes drive from our place of residence, directly to Chichen Itza. Very very easy and super comfortable!
What it’s really like
Chichen Itza himself was different than we imagined. It’s bigger and there’s more to see than just the one famous temple that you see on camera everywhere. Keep in mind that it is very hot (lots of open plains, little shade) and there are hundreds of vendors who constantly appeal to you. However, don’t believe their practiced phrase “For you $1“, because if you show interest then, their price increases considerably for what interests you and there is nothing left for 1 dollar. Of course, we understand that they ask for more, because $1 is ridiculously little for the handiwork they sell. So feel free to spend when you come across something beautiful, because (almost) everything is handmade and also fun as a souvenir.
After Chichen Itza we took the taxi past the famous
cenote I Kil
. This is a real must-see! Afterwards, this friendly taxi driver dropped us off in the town of Valladolid. There we spent the evening and then took the ADO bus back towards Cancun. A very tiring but very very nice day! (more on this day and tips for your planning, follow later)
Life in Cancun
We were already told by our AirBnB hosts that real Mexican life is not like that in Cancun. We will find outin the coming weeks. This is all about tourism. And although our stay is far outside the tourist hotel zone, this is not the“real Mexican life” either. We have become curious about what this is!
We’re starting to feel more and more at home here. We go shopping every day in the local supermarket, we take the bus like most locals do here and are not afraid to try new dishes. We spend most of our time on the beach. It is breathtakingly beautiful and quiet. In some places, anyway. We recommend avoiding the middle of the hotel zone. At the beginning and the end, you will find quieter beaches. Shopping winkelen is also best done outside the busiest areas. We choose to avoid the tourist centre because it is teeming with American partying tourists, the loud music and the desperate sales pitch of patrons.
We think Cancun is an amazingly beautiful place, but we are also looking forward to the next few days that we can spend in Isla Mujeres.
Sun, sea and beach but also peace and the island life.
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