The Mayan Highway (Mexico, Belize, Honduras)

I entered in to Mexico through Cancun once l left Cuba. My initial plan was to stay in Cancun but after meeting Igor in Havana, he told me to take a bus straight to Playa del Carmen which is about 40-minutes south of Cancun and l while l can’t speak about Cancun, Playa was beautiful and l fell in love very quickly. I spent 3 nights here where l stayed in the Yak hostel and joined a few of their activities including a class on how to make mojitos, which turned into more of a learn to make a mojito and then drink as much as you can with the remaining time left in the hour. While at the Yak, l saw a guy called Viktor from Sweden who l had actually met in Cienfuegos in Cuba and a Turkish-German guy by the name of Kc (pronounced Casey) who has actually been travelling for 3 years and only going home for a few months here and there.

Viktor left after my first night (remember him though), and then that was when l met Kc and we formed some laughs over the next couple of days. On the 3rd day we joined the hostel in playing volleyball but with the volunteer that was taking us to the net, not having any interest and literally walking off to go swimming, we did what we could. Here we met a beautiful Israeli girl by the name of Shani and our duo turned into a trio. We played some South American guys in a 3v3 beach football game and as we were playing for drinks, they thought they had it in the bag, however when Shani beat all 3 of them in one run, l think they became a little scared….. we won the game and they paid up.

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Playa del Carmen beach

I left Playa and headed to Tulum via a collectivo taxi, which was cheaper than the bus at only 40 pesos and once again l was on my own. I heard that Tulum beach was beautiful but also the town was close to Coba. I arrived into Tulum and realised the beach was 7kms away from the town so while l did visit it both days to have a swim, would l say it is worth it? My answer is no. My second day in Tulum l headed out to Coba which is a group of Mayan ruins, and while not on the wonders of the world list like Chicken Itza, said to be beautiful in its own way because its set more in the jungle and it is beautiful and cheaper, the only problem is the bus to Coba. It leaves at 10am and doesn’t return until 3pm and once you have spent about 2 hours at Coba (I was walking too and not cycling), you are left with a lot of time to kill and there isn’t much to do in the town. The story of the day though is once l had visited the big popular temple, l went out to the further one and not many tourists went this way so l was alone on this track and as l headed around a bend, a person was waking the other way and it could have been anyone but on second look, l couldn’t believe it but Viktor made an appearance.

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Coba’s main temple

When l first entered Mexico, l wanted a few days to relax and do nothing at all to a point where l could sleep and not be questioned why l was being so lazy. I had the opportunity to space out and do this in a town called Bacalar. Bacalar is situated about an hour north of the Mexico-Belize border and inland but is situated on a lagoon but known as the lagoon of 7 colours. To get here, you have to take a bus and ADO is the main first class bus service in Mexico. The cost is about 220 pesos. I stayed at Blue Monkey hostel which was right on the lagoon and had its own jetty so l could walk straight down in the morning and dive straight in for a morning swim, which l did take advantage of every morning. I spent 4 nights here and was the perfect time to rest. I should also mention that on my third night, Viktor made another appearance and we both stayed the final 2 nights and then headed off to Chetumal via another collectivo taxi costing 40 pesos each.

Here Viktor and l separated again as he headed onto Caye Caulker and l was staying in Chetumal for a couple of nights. I only decided to stay in Chetumal due to the sole reason that when l was in Cuba, l was speaking to an American lady who told me to visit the zoo here as it is more of an eco-zoo. On my 1 full day l had there, the owner of Downtown Hostel in Chetumal lent me his bicycle for free and l rode up to the Mayan museum which is one of the best in Mexico to learn more about the Mayan culture and life. It cost 73 pesos to enter and while it wasn’t all that big, it was still nice to see and learn a bit of world history. I moved onto the zoo after this and it looked like a rundown place from the outside. It cost me 20 pesos to enter and once you are through the front gates, its well looked after and all the animals looked happy but then again, l’m no animal expert. The camel looked like it wanted to spit on me or anyone who walked past (I say anyone because being midweek, there was about 20 people there and 2 school groups), and as l also had plenty of time looking at animals by myself, l did spend some good quality time with the monkeys trying to play games with them.

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Chetumal sign

After Mexico, I headed by bus into Belize, once again without much planned except that l wanted to take the boat from Belize to Honduras and it only runs once a week on Fridays. I had booked 2 nights in Belize City and when l arrived, it quickly dawned on me why a lot of people say not to stay in Belize City. It is not that the city is dangerous but more the fact there is literally nothing to do in the city. I met up with Viktor again (I know, it’s funny to think we didn’t plan any of this) and we both had a look around on trip advisor for what to do and when number one is a small bridge on the main road, we decided to move onto San Ignacio where we could conduct a day tour to the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave or better known as the ATM cave. The tour cost $95usd ($125aud) but it was completely worth it except that we were not allowed to take cameras due to past incidents with tourists and the Mayan artifacts.

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Stock photo provided by Mayawalk tours as we were not allowed to take cameras on the tour

Viktor and l separated once more (and at time of writing, we have not crossed paths again) and l headed onto Dangriga on the coast of Belize where l was planning to take the boat from on the Friday. I was told that Dangriga is the cultural centre of Belizean music however when l arrived and l asked the information lady about where to go to experience this, she kindly informed me that is wasn’t until the weekends which wasn’t going to work for me, so l went for a walk to see all l could in Dangriga which, if you could believe this, is less than Belize City. I was the only one at my hostel for the first 2 nights which was right on the beach which could make things look up, except for the fact that the water a dirty brown colour, at least l was entertained by the local Belizean premier league football team training every night right out front my door.

Friday came and l was excited to get moving again after a couple of unexpected rest days. I walked onto the jetty as where l was instructed to get the boat from however was turned around by a bus driver telling me l was in the wrong location. Walk back a different direction for 15 minutes before l find a travel agent to get clarification, turns out l was in the right place to start with. The boat arrived and once l had paid for my ticket, $67.50usd ($89aud) one way which includes departure tax from Belize, the rough sea crossing to Honduras began.

I arrived in Puerto Cortes, which is the major port town of Honduras, where l experienced a rude start to a new country. I was highly ripped off by the money exchange man and then being no other taxi service around (I needed to take one to the local bus station) l used the same company the guy works for and his friend would stop at a bank for me, but when the first ATM didn’t work, he took me to another 2 and charged me an extra 50 Lempira (). It doesn’t seem like much, but in central America and being a budget backpacker, then that could mean money towards a whole meal. I was shoved onto a local bus to take me into San Pedro Sula where l planned to stay a couple of nights and while the city was large, it didn’t have all that much to do either while it is also known to be one of the most dangerous cities in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it had a vibe of everyone was watching you.

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The ‘international’ jetty to Honduras

I spent 2 nights in San Pedro and then took the long slow bus journey down to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua to visit Gabriela who is a friend l met in Myanmar and then onto the rest of the country which will be in the following blog.

Below is the ferry option to Honduras. Note before, the times have changed and it actually arrives in Dangriga at 11am with arrival time in Honduras around 4pm. Starla ferry is the company and they do have a website.

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