Beaches, fishies, and an American Invasion
24.02.2007 - 27.02.2007 33 °C
Well, the island of women was not as angst-ridden as we expected, we actually had quite a decent time. Yes, there were more tourists. Yes, the prices were generally (and generously) more expensive. However, the beach contained some of the finest sand (and THAT don't cost a thing), the supermarket prices were virtually the same as the mainland (aside from the produce, which still did not compare to the costs at home), and we met an older couple from British Columbia with whom we could compare stories and share like-minded opinions of the other, more southern tourists. Also, we found a decent hotel room with a balcony for 250 pesos a night, which although was more expensive than we have become used to, was not that expensive.
The first full day we were there, after we discovered the hotel room and moved our gear from the dirty Urban Hostel to our new pad at the Suemi (the innkeeper was a very sweet woman and the place had a festive bubblegum pink interior and no hot water, which was not much of a big deal in the humidity. We found a location where you could buy a half rotisseri chicken for 40 pesos, Jay gorged, and then we headed to the beach and roasted ourselves. This time we prepared with the s-cream, though, and didn't burn at all! I was quite proud of myself.
Later on in the evening we went to the grocery store, and since Kahlua is made in Mexico, a 40 goes for about 11$ CDN, so Jay and I split on it, along with some pastries for breakfast, ice cream, bananas, watermelon, milk and bologna. We returned to our room and made milk/Kahlua/ice cream drinks and watched in amusement as a festively dressed procession of Holbox dancers stopped directly under our balcony for the shopkeepers across the street and performed for 15 minutes! It was explained to me that they were there for the celebration of Isla Holbox' carnaval, which is an island not too far away.
I slept very quickly that evening, which was a good thing because Jay had set up a snorkelling tour with the innkeeper's brother, who worked with the Fishermen's co-op for the next morning. We were given snorkle gear and they took us in the morning to an area near the lighthouse where they threw some bait to attract a slew of colourful fish who flickered and surrounded us, making us feel like we were swimming in Fish, not water. Afterwards, we went near a reef and again found ourselves covered in sparkling, multicoloured bodies. We were not impressed with a dutch girl on our tour who stood on the rocks, one should never even touch the reefs and she was extremely insensitive to the ecology. Thirdly, we passed by an area where people pay hundreds of dollars to swim with and manhandle dolphins penned in a large seaside enclosure. I would love to swim with dolphins who are in open waters, but not under those conditions. Lastly, they took us to a restaurant and while they made some amazing barbequed mackerel with pesto spaghetti and salad, we snuck off to the Turtle sanctuary next door and saw all sorts of turtles, who are raised there until they are large enough to survive in the wild without being eaten by a bird or a shark. We didn't realize we had to pay to enter though, and since we didn't have any money on hand we left soon after. All in all, though, we had a great day.
However, Jay is getting a little tired of travelling, but we decided that we would still pop into Belize and Guatemala for 2 weeks, head back up to San Cristobal, and fly out of Tuxtla Guiterrez. So, this blog will continue for a little while longer.
We left that afternoon for Tulum, but mistakenly my bikini did not. We checked in at the Weary Travellers hostel and met the 15th Israeli backpacker, which puts them at 2nd place for region representers (after Germany). We also met an American girl and an Italian, and we discovered an interesting thing about any American traveller that sets them apart from all the other nations: When asked about their homeland, most tourists will say "Argentina" or "Canada" or "Israel". Americans will say "New Hampshire" or "Washington State" or "Atlanta". It's as though they assume everybody knows about the whole geography of their country. Jay and I have plans next time they mention "Georgia" or "Rhode Island" to reply "Wow, all the way from Europe, eh?", just because. We think it'll be funny.
Anyway, at the hostel our new Israeli friend taught us a fantastic new card game called Yaniv. We're very excited to teach it to everybody back home, it's super fun!
The next day I discovered my bikini folly and so rather than beating the crowds to Xel-Ha, I had to wait until 10am for the bathing suit shop to open in Tulum and buy a sexy but expensive new suit. Luckily I like it better than the old one, and it's an Argentinean original! So, we made it to Xel-Ha by 11:30.
Xel-Ha is the opening of one of the underground rivers in the peninsula, and I believe the curators thought it was so beautiful when they discovered it that they knew they'd be able to sell its use at a high price to rich tourists staying at expensive resorts nearby. So, they charge unbelievably high prices (60 US!) but that includes free buffet food, free alcoholic drinks, inner tube use, other natural activities that would be free elsewhere such as snorkleing and cave exploration and hammock swinging, and is thriving with more people than the fishies, although there were a lot of fishes. However, with all that being said, we had a great time and snorkled for hours, and Jay's parents visited the place last year and it was neat to know we were in the very same location. Plus, it was quite clean, and stress free (except when we got lost from each other for an hour). We stayed an extra night at the hostel, and then left this morning for Belize.
I will begin the belize entry in the next post, but the internet cafe is closing! As was our Mexican Journey. Adios for now,