Yucatan 2017

2017-02-09 : Fly to Cancun, Stay Pl del Carmen
Our arrival at CUN, and our bus ride to Playa del Carmen were smooth sailing. Very easy. Playa is really busy and crowded. One thing that struck me that I really like is that there are bike roads on nearly every street - it seems to be a very bicycle-friendly place. Our AirBnB accommodations come with free loaner bikes. I think we'll try them out tomorrow!

2017-02-10 : Playa del Carmen
So, today I discovered that Playa del Carmen really isn't the place for me. It's pretty much all tourist strip, crowded beach, and dance clubs. We had a nice day anyway, and I do really like the murals painted on a lot of the buildings, but I wouldn't want to book a whole vacation here. One day was enough. We had a good visit with Joerg and Barbara, too, who are in the area from Edmonton. They were passing through Playa today so we managed to meet up for lunch. Cool!

2017-02-11 : San Miguel, Cozumel
I'm disappointed to report that seasick seems to be my go-to feeling when traveling by boat now. Curse you, Friendship Rose!
Almost immediately upon arrival at Cozumel, Brent and I started feeling more comfortable than we were in Playa del Carmen. That place is much too party-beach and too full of barking vendors for us to relax and enjoy. San Miguel (Cozumel) reminds us both a little of Port Elizabeth (Bequia), and so far we really like it. We found Brent a dive for tomorrow and I am formulating a plan to rent bikes to ride out to San Gervasio the next day.

2017-02-12 : San Miguel, Cozumel
While Brent was out diving today, I put on a bunch of kilometers walking around San Miguel and figuring out our cycle route out of town for tomorrow. When he got back, we went for dinner and cervezas.

2017-02-13 : San Miguel, Cozumel
Approx 42km (round trip) to San Gervasio, then Mezcalito's Last Frontier at the windward coast of Cozumel. We opted not to do the entire circuit, which would be something like 60 or 70km. The dedicated cycle route seems to be only along the windward coast, so we didn't ride on that, but the highway has cycle lanes instead of shoulders, which are as wide as the vehicle lanes. It was a very pleasant ride.

2017-02-14 : Valladolid
Today was kind of a nothing day thanks to Mex car rentals. We left Cozumel bright and early to get our car in plenty of time to visit Rio Secreto and then make our way to Valladolid. Rio Secreto was not to be, though, as the Mex office was having issues with their electricity so they couldn't print our rental agreement nor our proof of insurance when we got there. The guy seemed to expect us to just be on our way without our paperwork, but uhhhhh... hells no. We waited around for three hours to get our paperwork and be on our way. They got the printer working just before I pulled the plug and went mega-bitch on them demanding a cancellation/refund so we could take the ADO bus to Valladolid and get there on time to check in at our place. But, they got the printer working just in the nick. Brent did a fantastic job of driving the unfamiliar roads with heavy, random traffic and signage that left a lot to be desired.
We really enjoyed Cozumel, and could see coming back again sometime. We left a few things on the table: Brent would like to snorkel Palancar and Colombia reefs; we'd both like to do some snorkeling, and we'd both like to see the rest of the island, either via car or bicycle. I also feel a strange compulsion to learn how to ride the Colectivas, since they're our favorite form of transportation in the Caribbean.

2017-02-15 : Valladolid - Izamal, Chichen Itza
We rose and shone early and took the "little" highway out to Izamal (highway 11 via Tinum, Balantun, Dzitas, Quintana Roo, Tunkas and Sitilpech. Sitilpech didn't show on my map, and their municipal building said something about Izamal on it, so we thought we were in Izamal. The info wasn't adding up, though, and we were discussing what to do when we were invited to take a tour of the local church. We took the tour, and when we reached the top of the church, our tour guide pointed out Chichen-Itza in the distance one way, and then Izamal in the distance the other way. Ohhhhhhhhhh!!

Izamal was a delightful little town, and the pyramid was just one small part of it. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the town, and would happily go back again.

Making some hard decisions about what to "leave on the table" and what to do, we continued on to Chichen-Itza. We've heard that people don't like it as much as some of the other sites, but hey... we're in the area, so we GOTTA go see the most famous Mayan ruin site, right? Well, what they say about it being crowded and very touristy is absolutely correct, HOWEVER, the site is absolutely worth visiting. It is enormous, and impressive. We paid extra to get a personal tour guide, and I'm so glad we did. Louis was fantastic. He's Mayan, and very knowledgeable about Chichen-Itza and the history. His first language is Mayan, so he taught us some words (which we promptly forgot, except for Ma'alo kim (happy trails), which I wrote down. I cannot stress this enough... visit Chichen-Itza and GET THE GUIDE. It made the difference for me between loving it and (probably) hating it.

Left on the table for a future trip: Uxmal, Ek Balam, and the Cenote in Valladolid.

2017-02-16 : Coba, Tulum - Playa del Carmen
Yes, yes Doug... Brent DOES have to stop and look at every pool of boiling mud (and every pile of rocks, as the case may be). I had planned to spend about an hour at Cobá today, but we ended up spending three (you know... to make sure Brent saw EVERY pile of rocks). So, then we ended up having to zoom through Tulum in order to return our rental car and get to our BnB on time.
We're leaving so many things on the table this trip. Now we've missed doing any of the cenotes in the interior and around Tulum, and we've missed doing Rio Secreto. We can see at least two future trips to do things we've missed (a trip to Merida to see it, Uxmal, and spend more time in Izamal), and a trip to visit cenotes and do dives and snorkeling missed this time.

2017-02-17 : Cancun
A couple of things I've discovered about Playa del Carmen:
- It costs less than half to go by ADO from Playa to Cancun than it does from Playa to the airport, even though Cancun is further.
- Carrying a full backpack lends instant and full immunity from harassment by the street vendors
I chose our AirBnB place because it is across the street from the ferry terminal to Isla Mujeres. That will be super convenient for us for the last leg of our trip, but it turns out that it's also a very interesting barrio in its own right. It is well outside of the main/tourist areas of Cancun, but the barrio, and the next barrio, clearly used to be "the" place to be. There are still a lot of establishments in the area, and a lot of old, decaying, former "it" places. It was extremely interesting to explore.

2017-02-18 : Isla Mujeres
We took an early ferry to Isla Mujeres and walked the ~2km to our host's home. He had agreed to let us drop our bags at his place early, and then return for check-in later, which was super handy. We then spent the rest of the day exploring Isla Mujeres, walking over to the Tortugranja to see what that was about, then up to Playa Norte where we enjoyed a cerveza on the playa among the hoardes. I haven't gotten the wifi information from our host, so, so far, no wifi (other than when we're around the corner at the Green restaurant).
Apparently it's too windy right now for diving from Isla. We've been told to call on Monday morning to find out if Brent can go on a dive on Monday afternoon because tomorrow (Sunday) is out of the question.

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