Mayan ruins and more beaches
07.05.2009 - 10.05.2009 33 °C
We left Isla Mujeres on Thursday and we will miss that little chilled-out island. A rental car awaited in Cancun.
We drove to Valladolid, a colonial town with old Spanish architecture near several Mayan ruins. When we arrived it was fiercely hot without the reprieve of a beach. The car’s AC had not worked well and we were hungry. We scoped out a couple of hotels and settled on the ultra cheap place without taking a really good look at it.
Upon returning after food, water, and exploring the town we realized that it was a true Shithole and somehow we would have to close our eyes and leave early in the morning. I honestly didn’t even want to touch more than I had to in that place. It was a long night and I had all our little alarms bells set-up along the doors and windows. Needless to say I did not sleep a wink. Live and learn. In the morning we set-off for the ruins of COBA. There are few signs describing the ruins because they want you to hire a guide at $25 US for an hour whether the group is one person or 20. When I stood beside another group to listen a guide wanted to charge me $5 US, well that’s rather annoying so we didn’t learn too much but it was interesting to walk around. So much for my Mayan ruin schooling for the kids.
Next we drove to Tulum, a coastal town with a beach area. It’s a combination of hippy and an upscale granola boomer and we could not find a place for under $60 a night. We finally settled on a beautiful simple eco lodge with no electricity, diluted salt water from the tapes, and many cool geckos. This place breathed yoga, meditation and peace but at that price I knew that Tulum was not for us. It’s a place I would go back to but it needs exploring as it is one long stretch of low key cabins on the beach, we were not able to find the budget area but I am sure it’s out there.
The Tulum ruins were very interesting but we had the same problem with fees and guides. You also have pay to park in these places and after a while the constant cash grab dampens the experience.
Off to Playa del Carmen to find accommodations then drop off the car. Time was tight as the car had to be back by 1pm and we raced around looking for decent accoms. P del Carmen is far more tourist and bigger than I thought and we said yes to a place we should have said no. It was a five night deal with food included and the alarm bells should have gone off for me right there. We left the next day as the food and drinks were awful and we found a great place with a kitchen right by the beach. Luckily the first hotel only made me pay the one night but I have to see their accountant for the refund check. Yikes. The other bonus (I am bitting my tongue here) is a giant Wal-Mart 6 blocks away and things don’t get cheaper than that! So this time we will definitely meet our budget target.
Good news, Chris is meeting us in Panama on June 14, we will head to Panama early to scout out the beaches and accommodations.
If you haven’t made reservations ahead of time scope out as many hotels as possible and ask for their lowest price, if it’s for more than three days they will drop the price. This should be a verbal agreement don’t pay ahead.
If you get a kitchen make sure there is a supermarket nearby, you don’t want to cab it every time you grocery shop.
Watch for the scams at Mayan ruins.
Find a traveler who looks like they have been there a while and they will give you many dos and don’ts.
Visit a cenote (natural cave pool excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving) but look at prices as some are ridiculously expensive.
Don’t rent a car in Mexico. There are ridiculous insurance costs, charges and taxes. It’s not worth the price as the buses here are excellent and can take you anywhere.
Don’t get sucked into a beach club situation where you must buy their food and drinks if you are sitting in their beach area. Bring a towel and sit where you want to sit, have a beer where you want to have a beer.