On day two of my travels I woke up at 6am with jet lag just as the three Israeli guys in my room were getting in! I think they thought I was crazy but I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to get out of Cancun and onto Isla Mujeres to relax. So after going to sit on the roof and read my book in the rising sun I packed up my stuff, immediately regretting how much stuff I have with me and set off to find the bus to Puerto Juarez. Supposedly it was 5 minute walk down the road and really easy to find. Pfft! Not true. I asked two people for directions who looked at me like I was an alien. My Spanish is poor to non existent!! I wish I had been born with the ability to pick up language. I accidentally said thank you in polish to the shuttle bus driver last night who also thought I was a mentalist. Anyway, I digress…. the bus, was never found. I got a taxi with a German couple who also couldn’t find the bus.
Getting into the island was easy! And the sea between was so blue it almost didn’t look real. It was nice to be at sea after wandering in 35 degree heat searching for what appeared to be a non existent bus!
I was staying at Poc-an hostel on the island. The little streets I walked down to the hostel made me think of Cuba, not that I’ve been to Cuba. Really cute, colourful buildings and bustling shops. My hostel was cool, busy and right on the beach. Guess what??? Top bunk.. again! This time they were built into the walls. Very hard to explain but they were so difficult to get into. I actually ended up switching the second night. I was in a room with an Argentinian guy who’d be there for a month and two lovely Belgium and Dutch girls who were travelling together. After hanging out in a hammock all afternoon attempting to get it into my thick skull that this was actually happening (exhibit a below) the girls asked me if I wanted to come for their birthday dinner!
So glad I did as it was hilarious! The entire restaurant sung to Chiara who looked mortified.
The next day was beach time! Bliss! And it didn’t fail to impress. The bright blue waters and white sandy beaches were incredible. I was just causally swimming when a pelican dived to catch a fish right by me, bobbed around in the water for a bit and then flew off in search of his next meal. It was so hot that I spent approximately all day 10 mins on the beach, half an hour in the sea. Consequently by the end of the day I looked like I’ve been away for weeks! And I was smothered in suncream! Promise!!
In the evening we went down to watch the sunset! And it was amazing ( exhibit B below)
You all know me, I could have taken thousands of photos of clouds! They were epic and I suddenly felt content and comfortable in my surroundings. Who wouldn’t! It’s stunning.
Ok I better speed up otherwise I’ll be here for hours and you will all be bored stiff.
On the second day on the island 🌴 two English guys that had been on my shuttle from the airport turned up in our dorm. So we all went out for dinner, had one too many mojitos and ended up going for a midnight swim! Which was pretty incredible – completely quiet and huge moon shining down on the water. Day three was much the same. Beach, beautiful crystal clear waters and enough guacamole to keep me happy for weeks!
On Sat I said goodbye to everyone, went back to the mainland and caught a bus to Tulum down the coast. I was intrigued to see my first Maya ruins. On the bus I met a lovely Chilean girl, Regina from Santiago. We arranged to meet that evening for drinks. I got to my hostel which the girls in Isla Mujeres had recommended and it was a serious party hostel. This was when I realised I was old ha! Although got to love the two Italian guys in my dorm who thought I was 25 – although that was after quite a lot of tequila.
After not sleeping as the party went on until dawn I got up and went to the ruins. I got a collectivo which are basically shuttle buses that run up and down the coast between Playa de Carmen and Tulum. They can also stop you off at the ruins. I bought a ticket that included the ruins and 5 of the areas cenotes. In hindsight I was probably totally done as I could have done it a lot cheaper but hey ho, only on my 6th day and I’m still getting my bearings (not sure if that is the right kind of bear). The ruins were beautiful and striking situated on by the beach, very surreal but sadly so busy with tourists I didn’t really feel the special magic of the place I don’t think. Plus I was so bloody hot I thought I’d pass out! Having said all that, they are spectacular and it’s so fascinating to think back and try and imagine them inhabited.
After the ruins I got a collectivo, as instructed by the tourist office lady to Casa Tortuga ( which means turtle – total false advertising as no turtles) which was the cenotes that she’d sold me. Anyways I got off at sign, then realising it was a 2 km walk to get there from the main-road! Obviously 🙄. When I finally got there, nobody spoke English and the guides were all in Spanish. A kind Venezuelan couple said they would translate for me, and I changed into my swimsuit and life jacket and thought what the bloody hell am I getting myself into.
The cenotes were amazing! So beautiful. Underground labyrinths, caves with clear waters.
We were allowed to take our life jackets on and dive down. It was like an underwater world and like nothing I’d seen before. And sooo many bats. One flew in my face and I screamed ashamedly like a girl which the guide thought was hilarious.
The last cenote was above ground and very deep! There was a 6m jump in or the ‘walk down the steps’ for old people as the guide managed to say in English. So after about 10 mins deliberating I jumped and I landed so awkwardly which I’m sure you can all imagine. Totally worth it though. As we started to swim in the last cenote a huge clap of thunder and lightening strike scarred the bejesus out of us which made about 10 people left in the cenote move pretty bloody sharpish. Which is a good job as I needed to walk my mission back to the main road before the rain began, which I did not succeed in doing!
So I returned to the hostel drenched and covered in bites but it was worth it. The cenotes were every bit as stunning as the guide book suggested and I’d somehow managed to find some off the beaten track – literally.
That night I met with friends from another hostel I’d met in Isla M. Nice to see friendly faces and actually one of the girls Lucy, who I met that night I have ended up travelling with.
The next day I decided to hire a bike and cycle 4km down to the beach. I just got to the beach, settled myself in at a beautiful bar in the sunshine when Storm Harvey decided to hit the mainland.
Therefore I retreated inside and stayed there for hours until Lucy and Marianna ( a girl who incidentally lives in Wadhurst, how weird) turned up soaking wet.
We stuck around for a bit and then decided which should just cycle home and that we wouldn’t wait all night. However, Lucy had lost her bike chain key, and we spent an hour looking for it to no avail. So in broken Spainish, we asked the waiters for pliers and or a hammer and chisel. So two, incidentally very stoned waiters from the bar broke Lucy’s chain with a hammer and chisel. Which was just hilarious, and totally something that would happen to me, so at this point I knew I’d get on with this girl!
My last night in Tulum we ordered pizza, (via WhatsApp – who’d have thought) and beer and just chilled inside as it was tipping it down. Storm Harvey was in for the next 5 days, which scuppered my plans for Belize the next day. So instead I decided to go inland, with Lucy, to the jungle…….. which can be the next chapter of my adventure.