Posted by: glenswatman | January 8, 2009

200812-2-MEXICO Yucatan peninsula

TUESDAY 16 DECEMBER – In Campeche we easily find the car park along the “Malecon” (seafront promenade) with Kevin & Ruth parked up.  Not only is the car park almost empty late afternoon but also it doesn’t seem to fill up until mid morning either so we get a nice spot parked beside grass.  I step out onto a rather slippery kerb then realise that it has all just been painted.  Ruth verifies this; the lads pushing their paint can along the road waked them at 5am.  We wander the town together.  It was originally fortified and many of the bastions and parts of the town walls remain.  The “zoology” (main square) is really impressive and dominated by a grand cathedral.  Exploring the surrounding streets we are impressed by “La Mansion Carvajel” with wonderful arches inside.  The side streets are almost all narrow and lined by gaily-coloured colonial houses.  It looks much like many of the old cities in Spain and has a nice laid back feel.  Near our parking place is a kind of square space ship shaped building.  People are climbing in up the steps so we follow and are surprised to discover what looks like a courthouse about to begin a session.  Maybe the convicted criminals are beamed up into space after sentencing!  On the corner of the zocolo we return to the “Chinese Buffet”, P80 (£4) including drinks.  Not a wide selection but good hot food and enough for us all to feel full.  Kevin returns to the motorhome, it is now a problem for them to leave Whiskey alone as it gets too hot inside for her.  Ruth joins us for a walk through another part of town and needs the Post Office.  The Mexican colour scheme is electric green, bright fuchsia pink and white so easy to find.  Must admit the male members of staff look very pretty in their pink and green uniforms.  Return along the Malecon.  A down side of where we are parked is that we can’t really sit out in the afternoon and it’s pretty warm in the motorhome but in terms of location it is brilliant.  The evening kicks off with a few Christmas floats driving past along the Malecon for which we have a ringside seat.  Adrian and Danielle (French people who now live in Vancouver) as also parked up in their motorhome and join us for an evening stroll.  Walking into the zocolo we are very impressed by the combination of regular lights outlining the tree branches and Christmas ones.  Wondering the side streets your eyes are drawn into people’s homes as they have the windows and doors wide open and Christmas lights and decorations to attract your attention.  Almost all their front rooms contain and elderly lady in a rocking chair.  We’ve arrived in Campeche today as my Rough Guide says there is a free “Sound and Light” show on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday but it is now P50 (£2.50).   It is held within the city walls but whilst we are waiting to pay we see them bringing out wooden pictures with cuts outs for the faces (rather like the silly ones where you take your photo on holiday) and decide it looks a bit too cheesy for us.  Back in the zocolo a local band is playing so we listen to them for a time before drifting across to the theatre.  Many in nights in December they offer free performances and tonight it is Jazz band “Sacbe” from America.  We arrive early and have a choice of seats in the 300-seater auditorium.  Sitting at the back we observe local customs such as the noisy back slapping couple with handshakes for greetings plus the way Mexicans just charge along the rows to empty seats whereas we would apologise for disturbing people and excuse ourselves to get past.  The theatre doesn’t fill up until right on 9pm and in fact many more arrive after and have to sit or stand in the aisles as all the seats are taken.  It’s a kind of laid back jazz with songs we don’t know that seem to go on forever with lots of diddly piano music.  After about half an hour we feel free to leave as many others already have done.



WEDNESDAY 17 DECEMBER – We arrive early at Wal Mart but the shopping does not work out as planned.  They cannot sell alcohol before 9am and as that is an essential part of the shop we have to hang around.  Heading towards Uxmal we cut across country down a small road lined with fields.  We spot a couple of farmers in dungarees and straw hats.  They don’t look at all Mexican as they are whiter than us so we guess some kind of religious group that live here as we saw others in Campeche, either that or there’s a barn dance going on somewhere.  The state border between Campeche and Yucatan is through a huge arch.  Kevin & Ruth peel off to visit Loltun caves but we’ve had our fill of caves worldwide and don’t think these will be any better.  We continue to the Mayan site of Kabah.  You can see much of the site from the road so we figure we will just take a few photos.  When we find out admission is only P35 (£1.75) we decide to go in and are glad we did.  There are 2 main buildings, The Palace of Masks has a façade with lots of elaborately carved masks of the rain god Chac and there’s another nice Palace higher up.  On the opposite side of the road is an ancient arch and other less complete ruins.  The ruins in this area are all in the Puuc architectural style and from around 900AD.  Mid afternoon we arrive at Uxmal with a special grassy overnight motorhome parking area, P120 (£6).  Adrian and Danielle are right behind us; they tell us that last night’s sound and light show in Campeche was not great.  Already parked up is Dean, originally from Birmingham but now living in Texas.  He is touring with his girlfriend Pinar from Turkey and his dog “the Bab”.  Our overnight fee entitles us to use the guest swimming pool so we dive in to enjoy it.  With a toilet block nearby and an outdoor shower this is a good as being on a campground for us.  Kevin & Ruth arrive and had an enjoyable visit to the caves.  At 7pm there is a sound and light show.  Admission is P60 ($3) plus P35 (£1.75) for the headphones with different languages.  Directly opposite the entrance we get our first view of the magnificent Pyramid of the Magician.  The show is held in an area known as the nunnery where we sit on a terrace.  All 8 of the motorhomers have gone along and none of us are impressed.  Coloured lights highlight some of the buildings but the information through the headphones is not synchronised with the Spanish version booming out creating and echo effect.  We were expecting some people to put on a depiction and pictures to be projected onto the walls but all we get is a brief history of the site and a legend.  Kevin says this is his first and last sound and light show in Mexico and we are inclined to agree although seeing the buildings at night was quite nice.  Return to sit out chatting, as it is a beautiful evening. 




THURSDAY 18 DECEMBER – We want to get into the site before the tour buses arrive so are at the entrance when it opens at 8am Mexican time (10 past).  By showing our tickets from last night we only have to pay an extra P48 (£2.40).  The couple that are in ahead of us veer off to the great pyramid so we have the other area to ourselves.  Immediately we are impressed by the size and quantity of buildings and the jungle like setting.  You are no longer permitted to climb the Pyramid of the Magician but workers are abseiling down whilst pulling out weeds.  It is impressive from all angles and probably not a pyramid in the true sense because of its oval shape.  Behind it is the nunnery courtyard surround by interesting buildings with lots of ornamentation.  Steve frequently gets side tracked trying to get close to the many iguanas’ that laze around.  The ballpark here still has the stone ring visible and looks a bit like the quidditch court from Harry Potter.  Up on the hill the Palacio del Gobernador (Governor’s Palace) is closed for remedial work but still looks impressive from down below. To do the repairs the cement is mixed by hand then to get it up to the higher levels they have a hoist system with men dragging the ropes to pull the bucket up.  From the terrace near the “Casa de las Tortogas” (House of the Turtles) there are stunning views of the other ruins.  We arrive alone at the Gran Piramide and climb the steep steps to the top.  It’s not all that difficult as they are deeper steps than other staircases and the tops have been levelled off with cement.  Sitting alone at the top is amazing looking out over the whole site.  In the far distance we can see other tourists arriving.  Ahead of the crowd we now venture to the outer parts of the less complete ruins and here Steve discovers many more mini “Godzilla’s”.  I’m beginning to think the creatures impress him more than the ruins as he sure takes a lot of photos of them.  Most of the Mayan buildings have single and double vaulted rooms all around the edge.  Steve decides to explore a few and finds a bee’s nest in one.  He photographs it and turns around to call me when one flies out and stings him on the ear.  Whilst trying to turn the camera off and holding his ear with the other hand he inadvertently takes a photo of himself.  I give him a bit of first aid treatment then we meet up with Kevin & Ruth to go to the old cemetery.  Near here we see another enormous Godzilla who poses for photos.  We leave the site after about 2-hours and have had a fantastic time and been very impressed.  It’s getting hot so it is really nice to be able to take a cooling dip in the swimming pool.  We invite Kevin & Ruth and Dean & Pinar to join us for a curry lunch.  Pinar brings along a Turkish salad, Ruth adds crackers to start, pineapple and biscuits and I serve the curry, rice, popadoms and rum soaked chocolate cake and ice cream – a veritable feast.  Spend the afternoon around the swimming pool.   Playing cards in the evening the security guard comes over and ends up sitting inside watching us. 



FRIDAY 19 DECEMBER – On our way to Merida Kevin pulls over after hearing a strange noise.  His inside rear tyre has gone and caught some cables in the process.  He has no proper spare, just a tyre without a rim, so makes the decision to carry on slowly to the campground.  Rainbow Trailer park is just off the Merida “periferique” ring road.  It’s not going to be a quiet place next to the main roads, with a huge shopping centre to one side and vets (with dogs barking) adjoining the campsite – however it is handy for the city.  Adrian and Danielle are already here and Dean & Pinar arrive soon after.  Ruth invites us for a chilli lunch after which Kevin heads off on his bike in search of a tyre place.  Steve and I crawl through the hole in the campground wall to emerge at the Liverpool department store opposite, part of a shopping mall.  What a transition from the small villages we have been in as it is so modern.  It’s not a huge mall but it does have a tourist style Noddy train running around inside.  Along with boutique shops and a food court there is a busy ice-skating rink and a cinema.  At P39 (£2) before 3pm we can’t resist going in to see the movie “The day the world stopped” but should have done, as it is poor.  Kevin has found a place to sort his tyre out tomorrow and is then keen to move on.  The campground is pricey but very basic as the toilets have no seats, the showers don’t work well, the electric spikes a lot and the swimming pool is closed.  Having hoped to be here for a week I also agree it is way overpriced but would like a good few days here to catch up on things and see the sights at leisure whilst Steve wants to move on asap. 


P250 (£12.50) with electric, P230 (£11.50) without


SATURDAY 20 DECEMBER – When Kevin & Ruth leave to the tyre place Steve joins them in order to drop our laundry off, not worth hand washing when it is only P8 (40p) a kilo for a service wash.  He walks back and we invite fellow campers Steve & Paula over for a chat.  They are an English couple and have lived in Alberta Canada for the last 8 years but are now moving here.  They have bought one house and are about to complete on another in a coastal town nearby then need to do them both up.  In the meantime they are living on the trailer park in an RV along with 2 collie dogs and a cat.  We get on really well and they ask if we would like to join them for a drive into town for lunch.  They take us to a nice restaurant in an old building with a central outdoor courtyard with fountain and mural painted walls.  Next they drop us in the centre, it’s a good job they have a small car, as the city streets are narrow and extremely busy.  It’s the last Saturday before Christmas so this may account for it being so probably busier than normal and knowing the Mexicans instead of this being a last minute chance to Christmas shop it is probably the first time they have done any!  The main square is full of small stalls and has a central stage with entertainment.  It is surround by interesting buildings and we especially like the Palacio de Gobierno where the upstairs room has some huge paintings by Fernando Castro Pacheco depicting the violent history of the Yucatan.  Some are a bit stomach churning especially the one showing someone being quartered alive by red hot pincers and pokers.  Spend the afternoon exploring the adjoining streets and people watching.  It’s interesting to see the hoards of young girls gazing into the show shop windows.  Back in the main square we enjoy a number of dances performed by small girls and boys in different cultural dress.  Just before 6pm we are joined by Kevin & Ruth then make our rendezvous with “Couchsurfing” host Ignacio.  He leads us to the restaurant/bar Pancho’s where we sit in their attractive garden having a drink and a chat.  Ignacio has lived and worked in Germany and is expecting to move to France next year.  We’ve more to chat about but Kevin is hungry so he gets his car and picks us up to take us to a local restaurant.  Somewhere out in the Northern suburbs he pulls up at a small place packed out with locals.  He gives us an excellent explanation of the menu and has samples of some of the meat fillings brought for us to try.  When he drops us at home we invite him to look inside our motorhome.  He seems amazed and keeps looking around with his mouth agape.  Tomorrow he is going to bring his sister Cecelia to have a look and then take us back into the city to enjoy the Sunday entertainment programme.  Once he has left we sit out chatting with Kevin & Ruth and Dean & Pinar.  They have been off exploring the coast on their motorbike and say there are no camping options there so it looks like our best choice, if we don’t stay here, is Komchen nature reserve that Kevin has found about 30km away.



SUNDAY 21 DECEMBER – After morning coffee with Paula & Steve we head out again with Ignacio.  He takes us back into the city centre where there is street entertainment.  In Santa Lucia square locals are dancing on stage to a local band.  The street between here and the Main Square and surrounding the square are cordoned off for pedestrians only and it is much quieter than yesterday.  We stroll the square and try a few local snacks and watch some ladies doing the same dances the children were doing yesterday.  There’s supposed to be lots more entertainment in Parque de Las Americas but when we get there it is completely empty.  Ignacio drives us slowly up and down both sides of the Paseo de Montejo so we can look at the pavement sculpture and the local architecture before dropping us at home.  Back at the campground we invite Paula & Steve round for a cards evening.  Just before they arrive Kevin & Ruth appear on the “Liverpool” car park.  The nature reserve did not work out at all as it seemed closed, derelict and uninviting.  Their next plan to stay on the car park is foiled when the security guard says it is not allowed so they return to the campground and join us in our motorhome.  Steve & Paula have brought over a board to play the car game “Sequence” which is great fun but only for 4 players.  We also play card games “Shit Head” and “Golf” amidst much chatter.  We get on really well with them, think the British sense of humour makes a big difference, feel like we have known them for ages and would love to spend much more time with them.  However the decision has been made for us to move on tomorrow.



MONDAY 22 DECEMBER – Away at 8am it is still after 10.30am when we reach the town of Piste.  The camping possibilities are terrible, the overgrown Stardust Inn or camping at the roadside at Piramide.  Neither holds any appeal whatsoever but having set off too late to beat the tour buses that arrive around 10.30am our only other options is to visit the Chichen Itza archaeological site along with the hoards of tourists and then drive on further.  Parking is P30 (£1.50) and it’s a shame they won’t let us stay there overnight, as it is better than the other options.  Admission to the site P108 (£5.50) includes the sound and light show but we won’t be hanging around for that.  Kevin sees how touristy it is and opts out and I am ready to do the same when I see the crowds but Steve says I should give it a try.  Even inside the actual site the approach to the ruins is marred by a host of vendors who call out offering you tacky souvenirs for $1 (50p).  The ancient city is thought to be of the “Terminal Classic” period 800AD to 1000AD.   El Castillo is the main pyramid and extremely impressive.  There’s no need for a guide as there are so many tour groups around it is easy to listen in if you want to.  Most of the ruins are roped off preventing you from climbing up or exploring the features closely.  The “Group of the Thousand Columns” impress us but the walk to the sacred cenote is horrible.  It is a long path with vendors on both sides and tourists shoulder to shoulder in the middle and the cenote at the end if roped off so it is hard to see it properly.  The ballpark is amazing in its size and the amount still intact.  Steve & Ruth think we have seen everything but my guide map shows a “Chichen Viejo” to the south of the main path.  Here “El Caracol” is an interesting round observatory building and the old church has a nice façade.  The walk to the unrestored part of the site is closed off so in about 2-hours we have seen all the main attractions.  After a quick lunch we head off towards Valladolid in the hope that the camping Kevin has read about on the Internet works out.  It’s not quite as described but “Suytun” cenote may work for us.  They say we can park overnight and only need to pay the P25 (£1.25) per person admission to the pools each day.  It’s also some sort of horse ranch with a big display arena and restaurant on a viewing platform above it but that area is closed.  The first cenote is reached down a narrow staircase and tunnel.   It is a small pool at the bottom of a sink hole (a cave or tunnel that has caved in) rather like a grotto with a cave like ceiling.  The water is murky so not for swimming.  The second cenote is where you can swim.  It is even bigger and very impressive with nice lighting, a small hole in the central ceiling and lots of stalactites and tree roots creating an interesting ceiling to the cavern.  The water is cool but clear, it is easy to get in and out and there are few fish.  Steve & Kevin cycle to the nearby village of Ticuch and establish that this is in fact the right place and that the alternative other camping at a restaurant is not as good. 


P25 (£1.25) pp



TUESDAY 23 DECEMBER – We want to visit the city and know that you go in by local shared taxi at P5 (25p) each.  Standing on the highway it is only a few minutes before one pulls up and sure enough that is the fare for the 6km ride.  Around the zocolo are lots of road works with about 20 men gathered to spread concrete onto a new pavement.  Most of the zocolo’s seem to be set up in the same formation with the town hall (complete with ubiquitous gallery of torture pictures) on the side immediately before the one with the cathedral.  Parked outside the church we are amazed to see a bright red German “coffin tours” bus, they are the ones where the back half of the bus has been converted into 3 tiered bunk beds.  Other churches have interesting alter areas and the Convento de San Bernadino has a couple of cenotes in the garden.  However the main point of interest for us is a really old typewriter they have on display.  Bump into Kevin & Ruth in the square, they have cycled in.  It’s lunchtime and we all eat in a type of food court but although the food is cheap it is poor.  We are surprised as we picked the vendor with the most local customers.  Getting the shared taxi back poses more of a problem.  There are designated taxi stands in the city for the various destinations and we soon find the one to Ticuch.  This time the driver asks P20 (£1) each, which would be OK if we didn’t know what the correct fare should be.  Decide to walk along a bit and another pulls up and asks for P100 (£5) in total, we tell him what we paid coming in and decline his offer.  About 10 feet further on the same guy pulls up and says P20 (£1) in total so we hop in.  During our afternoon cenote swim a tourist mini bus arrives and suddenly fountains of water are turned on.  It’s obviously done to make it seem more attractive but we actually preferred the natural silence.  I decide to do a bit of Christmas baking but have no proper recipe for cheese straws.  By the time I have modified one for “one bowl cheese biscuits” it bears little resemblance to the original one.  It’s neither scones nor biscuits but spread flat in a tray and baked it does turn out edible and rather more-ish.



WEDNESDAY 24 DECEMBER – We walk to and around the nearby village of Ticuch.  The cemetery looks very old and neglected and it’s strange to see loads of boxes piled up under a canopy labelled with names and dates – rather like cremation boxes.  The church seems really big for the size of the town and there’s music coming from it.  We are surprised to find it is a stereo playing music to accompany workers who are putting on some plaster, maybe a last minute fix for Christmas.  We see a couple of small frail old Mayan women carrying bundles of wood on their backs by way of a strap around their foreheads.  On the main road we check out the restaurant where motorhomes sometime park.  It is OK but right by the road so we are better where we are.  At the back of their property they have a small chapel and again we hear music.  This time a Jesus picture is framed with musical Christmas lights playing jingle bells!  Get back just before a bit of a downpour.  In the afternoon the gate at the back of the property is open and behind the restaurant we find an area of development.  There’s a lovely swimming pool, full of water, surrounded by a building site.  Small cabins are nearing completion as is a bar area.  The cabins have a double and a twin bed, wardrobe, air conditioner and en-suite bathroom and we believe will rent at a reasonable P250 (£12.50) night.  It’s a bit of a Mexican Mystery as to why the swimming pool is full though.  To remind us it is Christmas we watch “Carry on Christmas” whilst sipping sherry.



THURSDAY 25 DECEMBER – It still doesn’t feel like Christmas but we try to make it so by cooking a special meal.  After a couple of brief morning showers we are pleased that things improve so we can sit out to eat.  Ruth & Kevin bring over their chicken dinner and I have cooked a pot roast beef.  I’ve done a trifle for dessert and etched “Happy Christmas” onto the cream and Ruth has home made cookies and delicious brandy balls.  We play cards in the afternoon then watch the old British classic movie “School for scoundrels” in the evening. 



FRIDAY 26 DECEMBER – We want to make sure we get to the archaeological site before the tour buses so set off at 7.15am leaving Kevin & Ruth to follow later.  The road to Coba is being widened but at the moment the original narrow road is even narrower as the road works intrude.  With a car overtaking us and another coming towards us Steve has to move over as far as possible.  With the sun in his eyes he misjudges the roadwork warning signs and we smash into one with our wing mirror.  They are a stupid design sticking out about a foot wider than the vehicle.  We hear a bang followed by glass breaking and find we are left with just the bottom quarter of the mirrored glass.  There’s nowhere to pull over so we must continue to the end of the road works then tape the remainder in place.  Parking at Coba (P50, £2.50) is in a large level lot opposite the lake.  A couple have been camped here overnight in a tent and the gateman says we can stay over.  This site is from around 100AD.  We enter the site around 8.30am, P48 (£2.40) and being the 5km walk.  You can hire bicycles or be ridden round in a triciclos but we are happy to walk.  There are few tourists around and we explore the ruins near the entrance then continue heading to our left to reach an interesting small but rounded off pyramid.  It’s still very quiet so we get to see lots of native birds.  At the end of the track “Nocoh Mul” is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan and you can climb it.  It’s not so steep and the steps are wide so not difficult although they have put a rope up the middle to help you if needed.  From the top we can see over the jungle with the top of the rounded pyramid sticking out.  Sitting quietly by the temple it is quite funny to suddenly see other tourists appearing above the top step.  We have no problem with the descent and head off to explore more.  Kevin & Ruth are just coming in as we are on the path out but it is still relatively quiet.  The far ruins are not brilliant but have lots of stelae (large carved stone tablets).  Heading back to the entrance we are amazed to hit the main path and find bicycles, triciclos and people charging towards us in great numbers.  It’s only 10.30am but the car park is full of coaches with queues for the tickets and the bathrooms.  Our overall impression of Coba is that the jungle setting is nice and the tall and rounded pyramid the best features.  It’s interesting that we seem to end up spending around 2-hours in all of the sites regardless of the size or features.  Walking around the lake to the village we pick up tortillas at the local factory.  Two girls are working flat out to keep up with demand.  They begin by grinding the corn and making the dough.  This is dropped into a machine that makes it into thin circles.  These drop down a sloping conveyer onto a plate that rotates (comparatively) quickly around through an oven.  As the tortillas come off they are scooped up into piles. P9 (45p) buys you a kilo of approx 46 tortillas.  Next door we catch up on Internet at P12 (60p) hour.  On the way back we see some local kids down at the waters edge enticing the crocodiles with meat on a string in the hope that tourists will be impressed and tip them. 




SATURDAY 27 DECEMBER – Cutting back up to the main highway means we are on a narrow road with overgrown hedges taking off a precious foot at each side.  Whenever a vehicle comes towards us we opt to pull off as far as possible, pull in the wing mirror and wait.  On the main Valladolid to Cancun free road the villages all seem to be selling pot plants, maybe for the tourist hotels.  Reaching the city we are lucky to spot “auto gas” being sold at a garage opposite Motel Campestre.  When Steve comes to pay they try to short change him by P10 and with Kevin they try for P30 – it’s all very blatant but the first we have noticed this trip.  We have a “Couchsurfing” host lined up in district 18.  Street signs are difficult to see and misleading but I head us in the general direction whilst stopping from time to time for further info.  We do end up going around in a small circle at which point Kevin decides he would rather spend P80 (£4) on a map of Cancun than keep trying.  As it turns out we are very near and soon find the parking by a park in front of Carmen’s complex.  She is of German descent but grew up in USA then moved to Mexico and married a local.  We are made most welcome and invited to use the pool and facilities in her home and she gives us a key as she is going out.  We take a walk to the nearby Americas shopping mall (typical of a big centre in any country) then continue up the main street of Tulum.  Kevin & Ruth have to return to Whiskey who will be hot in the motor home but we continue to an area with tourist shops, restaurants and then a main square.  Nothing is really inspiring but that’s not surprising, as the city was not begun until 1970 and then purpose built with all the tourist hotels on the island and a commercial centre inland. 




SUNDAY 28 DECEMBER – Carmen’s plans a lie in and a lazy day.  Steve & I walk up to Wal Mart, about 10 minutes away to catch the bus to the hotel area.  P6.50 (33p) takes you anywhere on route and we do the full 25km long stretch.  The ocean is absolutely gorgeous with lots of different colours of bright blue.  There are dozens of huge hotels side by side.  We also see a few shopping centres and restaurants and most buildings are Disney style kitsch.  At the far end we alight at The Westin Regina Resort and wander through to the beach.  The ocean is picture perfect.  All beaches are public but hotels block the access making them seem like private stretches only for guests.  On the peninsula Club Med make it virtually impossible to get to unless you walk along the beach.  It is at Punta Nizuc where the snorkelling is good however you can walk along the beach from Westin for about 10 minutes south then over the rocky headland to get there.  The lifeguard tells us the loungers are only for guests but there is nothing to stop us setting up directly in front of an empty one to benefit from the umbrella shade.  Once in the water the strong current carries you over the rocks to a beach further down.  There are a few fish and a little coral but nothing outstanding.  The water is nice and warm and the general scene is most attractive.  Walking back along the beach we stop off in the Westin Hotel and manage to mingle with the guests without being challenged so use the pool and changing rooms.  Returning on the bus we get off at a shopping centre area but it is almost all American stores and restaurants at American prices, although we do find a little Mexican tortilla bar above Hard Rock café and enjoy sitting out on the terrace looking over the ocean whilst eating them.  Other areas looks like the European tourist resorts with imitation streets full of themed bars and we can just imagine the night scene.  In the evening we join Carmen and Pati for a pasta meal in at Carmen’s place.



MONDAY 29 DECEMBER – With few tourist attractions to interest us we take the day off for doing odd jobs such as Internet and laundry.  In the afternoon Carmen takes us for a drive out and we get two new wing mirrors cut as they are only P80 (£4) each – having a spare will hopefully mean we don’t need it!  Kevin & Ruth need special stuff to treat Whiskey for ticks and manage to find it and we also fit in a shop at Wal Mart and Costco.  There we cannot resist the hot dog and unlimited drink deals at P20 (£1).  In the evening I cook a veggie curry in the motorhome, Pati is vegetarian but as it happens can’t make it but we are joined by Kevin & Ruth and Carmen and Ayesha.



TUESDAY 30 DECEMBER – Tourist hat day today as we set out and hail a taxi to Puerto Juarez, P30 (£1.50).  Kevin & Ruth have left Whiskey at Carmen’s place where she is happy to be with her dog Gia.  The fast ferry to Isla Mujeres is P35 (£1.75) each way and we have bought tickets when a vacation club seller accosts us.  It’s a bit of a dull morning so we agree to accept his offer of reimbursement of ferry return tickets plus use of a golf cart for the day and breakfast in exchange for 90 minutes of our time.  Avalon resort is on the small island attached to the main part by a rickety wooden bridge.  It’s getting old and the rooms are simple but the location is stunning.  However none of that would have us even considering parting with $39.000 (£25,000) plus all the other hidden extras their club involves.  We quickly give our reasons for not being interested and there is very little pressure but it is interesting that the closer comes in and for just over $2000 (£1300) offer us 10 weeks each year in their vacation international club plus 2 free weeks at their resort.  Still not interested with weekly maintenance fees varying from $199 – $650 on top.  This is a good part of the island for snorkelling so emerging from the complex it is easy to settle onto a sun lounger without question.  The water is stunning and pleasantly warm.  Snorkelling is fun but the water is a bit churned up, the coral has all been killed and the fish are not all that colourful.  We walk the streets of the tourist town and it has a really nice island feel, if we were visiting this area for any length of time this is where we would want to be staying.  After a buffet breakfast and liquid lunch of a bucket of 5 beers for P60 (£3) is just perfect taken on the terrace of Jax beach bar.  Having received P500 (£25) in cash for the golf cart hire we are all happy to spend P4 (20p) of it to do a local rickety bus ride of the whole island.   Arriving back at Cancun port the taxi drivers want P70 for the P30 journey but walking down the street the 3rd driver to pull up takes us back for P30.  Carmen has had other Couchsurfers arrive and in the evening her house is full as Ayesha calls in with some friends, Pati is home and her 3 new guests, Franco (a Mexican). Aiko a Japanese girl and Anne Laurie a French girl arrives soon after.  She cooks up crepes and we begin with savoury ones and the progress onto sweet ones.  She cooks so many, one at a time that it is around 11pm when we have finished.  An amazing Couchsurfing experience to have a German born, American raised host with her Mexican girlfriend with Couchsurfers from Japan, Mexico and France staying in the house and others from England and Canada parked up outside.



WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER – Late morning, along with K&R we walk over to the shopping mall to go to the cinema.  We were led to believe Wednesday was 2 for 1 and intended going for the VIP tickets but the cashier tells me it is all full price today but there is special deal on them tomorrow.  Settle for going to the regular theatre today, P31 (£1.55) to see the new movie Australia.  It is almost 3-hours long but the time passes quickly as we enjoy seeing many of the places we have visited and recognise all the icons.  Get back around 4pm with time for an afternoon snooze before regrouping for the evening.  The Finish girls have arrived but intend going out partying through the night so actually don’t need at bed at Carmen’s.  The other two girls are joining us all for a shared meal and around 9.30pm we eat a pasta dinner followed much later by an interesting home made apple tart.  Meanwhile some friends of Carmen’s have called round to chat.  Around 11.30pm we set off to a party and in fact arrive just in time to be introduced to everyone and be given a glass of champagne to toast in the New Year.  So a somewhat typical laid back and last minute Mexican style celebration. 





WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER – Late morning, along with K&R we walk over to the shopping mall to go to the cinema.  We were led to believe Wednesday was 2 for 1 and intended going for the VIP tickets but the cashier tells me it is all full price today but there is special deal on them tomorrow.  Settle for going to the regular theatre today, P31 (£1.55) to see the new movie Australia.  It is almost 3-hours long but the time passes quickly as we enjoy seeing many of the places we have visited and recognise all the icons.  Get back around 4pm with time for an afternoon snooze before regrouping for the evening.  The Finish girls have arrived but intend going out partying through the night so actually don’t need at bed at Carmen’s.  The other two girls are joining us all for a shared meal and around 9.30pm we eat a pasta dinner followed much later by an interesting home made apple tart.  Meanwhile some friends of Carmen’s have called round to chat.  Around 11.30pm we set off to a party and in fact arrive just in time to be introduced to everyone and be given a glass of champagne to toast in the New Year.  So a somewhat typical laid back and last minute Mexican style celebration. 



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