Mexico - our own way
So we’re sitting on an air conditioned coach bus going toward the Mexican-Belize border and it gives me a chance to reflect on my week in the Yucatan. Having travelled through many countries in southeast Asia, some of which have legitimate terrorist organizations, I was more scared of my brief foray into our NAFTA partner. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Our version of traveling consists of local transport and off the beaten path destinations. It’s nearly impossible to go somewhere no one else is as this place was packed, however we did get to do it OUR way.
We rented a car and left super early to travel to the ancient ruins of Ek’ Balam, a lesser known Mayan city, but were greeted with beautiful temples and buildings that peeked through the jungle canopy. With these ruins, guests are still allowed to climb to the top and we were witness to fantastic views of the surrounding forest, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves, of which our pictures can attest. After a second day of ruins, the ocean-side city of Tulum, we were ready to see some natural sights. Our travels took us to a cenote, a fresh water spring that forms caves and swimming holes. The crystal clear water, fading darkness of underwater caves and huddling bats above us gave quite the experience. We also signed up to swim with whale sharks! This would be our second time, having done it once before in the Philippines. Our experience was made all the more special as this time we were swimming through water with limitless visibility. With our strong swimming skills, we were able to cruise along beside the giant fish and watch them feed and look directly into their eyes. The experience was amazing!
Our brush with nature wasn’t complete as we took the local ‘collectivo’ to Akumal beach. This is a famous beach where turtles come to feed on the seagrass. With fins and snorkel in hand, we submerged into the beautiful blue water and found ourselves surrounded by feeding turtles. It was quite the sight to be able to dive down the 4 or 5 feet to the bottom and watch these gentle creatures chomping away. There was also a coral reef that held a wary spotted eel, large parrotfish, squid, stingrays and a variety of other reef inhabitants.
Mexico was a wonderful place to visit and beyond the sneaky gas attendant trying to overcharge us for gas, a completely safe country. We spent our days eating at local restaurants, having authentic food, cervezas and margaritas, meeting locals who had even visited Canada, diving the beautiful coral reefs and relaxing to people-watch the hoards of visitors from a rooftop Rasta bar. Mexico has so much to offer and I can definitely see ourselves coming back, but only if we can do it our way again.