Round the World 2003

Travel time: January 2003 - January 2004  |  by TatiMatthias FreirePetri

Our dream trip


We can't really believe it!! We are here in Isla Mujeres, sun and Turquoise waters from the Caribbean Sea!!!
Isla Mujeres is near Cancun, but has nothing of the mass tourism from Cancun. Clear water with colors varying from baby blue to green, turquoise green, white sand, peace!!

A dog's life..

A dog's life..

We arrived here Friday here, Thursday in Cancun. What a dream!!! After a week full of stress in Germany, we finally managed to finish all the an preparations.
It was crazy, we almost haven't slept the last days, only to get everything done. It was Wednesday 11:30pm and our stuff was still all over the place. I thought we wouldn't make it!

But we made it!! At 10:30am... don't ask us how.... we were in the plane, all set! ready to rock and roll!!!
The plane started moving and we still couldn't believe it, we are starting!!!
But of course this is not quite true!! We have started our trip 6 months later... first thinking of it and then working to make it happen!!

So now, lets travel together!!

Take a seat!

Take a seat!

We are here in Isla Mujeres since Friday... yesterday Tati got her Diving Open Water Certificate!!! ) Diving is really something!!

And here is said to be one of the top spots in the world for diving... we can tell you is beautiful!!! Really colorful fishes, lots of them... is just as being in an aquarium.... And every thing is so slow and peaceful, the only thing you hear is your breathing... steady and slowly..... almost meditative!!
It is addictive!! Really!! Not counting that we have seen 3 sharks, 2 moreas, and 1 turtle!! It is great! The corals here were pretty destroyed with a hurricane 15 years ago. They say that Cozumel is in a better shape!... We will try that at the end of our time here in Mexico.

Tomorrow we are heading to Valladolid, then Chitchen-Itza (Mayan City), Coba (Maya Ruin, both in the interior of Yucatan), Playa del Carmen and then Cozumel. After that... Costa Rica!!

We are still quite white but not as bad as a few days agoJ
Matthias is trying all the see food and Mexican food.... really meaty everything....
Tati is concentrating on an overdose of Papaya!

Chichin Itza is great, and we also went to Coba, a ruin in the middle of the forest. It is amazing to see all this Maya Culture in rocks and carvings.... pity that so little is known about it...
Chichin Itza is younger, so we could see more details. We arrived at 8:30am and could climb the big temple (pyramid) with the beautiful morning light... mind blowing!! The contrast of the constructions with the green of the forest and vegetation is impressive. More impressing even after we went to Coba, which is really in the middle of the jungle!! Coba is not tourist so we could just enjoy the walk ... as if we were in a natural park, and from time to time we would get to a great ruin!!! Climbing the biggest one.. 42m high, we were able to understand what Coba is about:
a big Manhattan with 20,000 buildings, just swallowed by the Mother Nature!!! The trees and plants grow everywhere!! On the top of the pyramid we could see all the region, and mountains of trees..., which indeed are other pyramids and constructions that haven't been digged out yet. It is really astonishing! In Coba we could also get an idea of how hard is the archeologist's work.... getting one rock here... another there... and trying to put this huge puzzle together!!! It a life long works....!!!! WOW!!!

Magic and mystery..

Magic and mystery..

So since Isla Mujeres we have been to Valladolid, small city, Mexican colonial, that apart from being the door to Chichin Itza, gave us a good hint of how Mexican culture is about... happiness come with colors, loud music (oh, my God... and how they love LOUD music, everywhere!!!) and lots of parties!! And how they party!!!

We got also the idea of how religious people are. In every window we could see images from saints, Jesus, Maria, even the Pope was there! Some houses have even altars in the from door. At night, after our bike ride to see the big Cenote (a cave with a clear blue pool), we got back to the Hostel and the big catholic party was starting!!! Prist, images, al the old ladies dressed with the tipical dress of the region ( a white plain dress with reaaly colorful flower stripes on the top and at the bottom of it), kids, men... everybody to celebrate the Patron of the City!! Well, all colorful flags, Mexican band with guitars and violins to sing the ´Amen´ parts, sweets and food stands everywhere!! And we... naively thought that... being a religious party... it wouldn't last long, right? WRONG!!!... At 3:00am Matthias woke up with the full steam band sounds!!!

We really enjoyed Valladolid... calm city that apart from one or another tourist bus that eventually stops in the main church (Mayan construction by the way...) is really not touristy enough to prevent the locals to look at us with a ´Oh... Jess... I'm seeing a foreigner!!´ kind of look!!! Well... to Matthias was even more funny... the kids would look at him as if they were seeing an ET, just fallen from the sky!! Funny... but.... well.... I guess they don't have lots of Blond Mexicans over here... weird enough!! ha.... And the people.... round faces, big white smiles, if they are tall... they can be Tati's size (1,53) yes, they are pretty small!, brown skin, roundish bellies, jet black straight hair... and lots of hair... men and women!!!

It was great just to take our time and go around the city and breath the local stile.

After that we went to Coba, city with ca 30houses and funny signs aiming for the gringos like: Restaurant, ship praises!!¨ (Cheap Prices, is what they meant... I guess.... hi )

And now we are in Tulum... the city... well... nothing WOW, besides the prices that are quite outstanding... but tomorrow we will try the regional cave diving, let's see what we get!!

Today we just bought a Mamei... that fruit mix of Papaya and Mango that I never saw before... we haven't opened it yet... but it is on our To DO List for the day!! ))
... this IS FUN!!!!

We have been receiving news from Germany... snowing and all white....
Its quite different from here... me and Matthias are fighting not to get a sun burn.. or even a sunstroke... with all this sun and hot temperatures of Mexican winter... hi

Well... where have I stopped in my stories...???
Ahhh... cave diving.. Tulum.....

Man!!!... That "Grand Cenote" cave diving was really something!!!! Tati was not so enthusiastic about it, after all... what can be nice in a dive where we basically see no colorful fish or amazing coral formations???? But Matthias was more willing to try it, so we ended up with an AMAZING experience!!

Well... it is true that there are neither colorful fishes nor coral formations... but these stalagmites and stalactites.. and columns... it is really an impressive view... and then, when you are inside the cave you look back, where the sun light is coming in the opening of the Cenote... it is hard to describe what THAT is... it is just as being in a big-cavy-living-room, lights turned off... and then you look between stalagmites and stalactites... and see simple the most amazing deep blue possible... it is breath taking!!! But you are under water.. so better not hold your breath... chapter one of the diving course!!!... but this was a hard task!!!

And amazingly enough you still see some silver fishes once in a while... although we were asking ourselves... Hey, guys, what are you doing down here with all this dark??? What are you living of??? No green plants or ... food!!!!???

But we can imagine that there were just passing by and when they saw the same deep blue we did.. they just got lost and decided to stay... no matter what!... hi

- after this dive we checked out from our Hotel.... which was quite another experience.... super loud and... not enough.... at 9:30pm they turned on the water pump... which luck us ... was simply in the top of our room... :-/
Well, we couldn't stand it... it was just too much... The trucks, buses, cars, and loud parties in the street were already a lot.. but a water pump was a little bit too much! Tati just picked all her PMT-bad-moodJ and went down stairs to complain. Poor two Mexicans that were in the reception.. they were quite not believing when a 1,53m of woman in a huge pajama T-shirt + a not-really-matching-trousers got there in a not-at-all-good-mood.. and nicely tried to explain to them that a HOTEL was not supposed to turn on A SUPER LOUD water pump in the NIGHT!!! Well, The guys couldn't even respond.. they were just looking at Tati and saying.. "but.. but..."! Finally they told her that in 20min they would turn it off.... but she must have looked at them with such a "20 MINUTES!!!"-face that in 2 seconds he corrected himself to 10-min.
.. must have been a funny scene to watch!!! )))

Well.... now you understand how happy we were to after our super cave dive to check out from the Hotel... )

and... we went snorkeling in another Cenote, while the other guys went diving again. For budget reasons we decided not to dive, but it was anyways a great bath in this amazing blue water of the connote called "Car wash" (as the locals used to wash their car there before the touristy discovery of this nature beauty)

And we headed to Playa del Carmen... it was great to see the super blue ocean again after our inland explorations!! Playa is said to be something between the laid-back Isla Mujeres and the super adrenaline Cancun... well, we can really tell as we haven't been to the Neonic-Cancun, but after Playa we guessed that is better that we stay away from there.

We already thought that here is an overdose of Neon and souvenir shops!! Lots of Hotels, which make the prices drop quite well, )
But, the nice thing here is that all the "attractions" are located in one single street, their 5th Avenue.

So, if you walk one block up, or down, or left or right... it is choking to see the difference!! Really calm areas where you can easily hear crickets singing the nightlife.

It's really interesting. And the beach is really nice, white sand, not full of people, and nice to swim... no waves though. And if you are searching for more tranquility... just walk 20min to the right and.... you share the beach with some other 2 or 3 couple! Really cool!! And... well... We never get tired of looking the blue and turquoise colors of this Caribbean See.... WOW!

We are having lot of fun discovering the contrast in Playa, looking outside the window of our room and seeing the beautiful beach and see colors... entertaining ourselves observing and analyzing how many ways are there to attract the attention of tourists over here... it is fun!

Plans for the next steps?... we don't have many... take it easy... probably go to an Island nearby, Cozumel, for a dive... and we are already studying the guide of Costa Rica (on the 13th we should be flying there!) )))

..Nice to have a computer to write again!! )
although we are fighting here with the keyboard to find the right characters.... but... let's give it a try!

- Where have we stopped? Oh yes, Playa.... we were discovering Playa and taking it easy!
The next day we decided to try a beach 10km north of Playa.. Described as being the most beautiful and tranquil in the region, we though, well, let's try to get there. Not that this beach is exactly accessible, or also inaccessible, but we almost gave up as we were asking the locals how to get there and ... nobody new the Punta Bete beach!!! Weird!! Anyway, we went to the bus terminal and asked if there was a bus that would stop in Punta Bete, answer, yes. )

Well, we took a bus.. And asked for being dropped at Punta Bete. 10km after... the driver told us we had arrived. We looked around and, we were basically in the middle of the road, no sign of beach or even an indication of where to go! Asking the driver he pointed out a non-paved road... After 2km of walking we finally got the first sign that we were in the right direction, a sign saying: Punta Bete, 100m!! Basically you have to know that this thing exists, otherwise it is no way to get there!

What we found.. Paradise! A beautiful beach with 3 hotels in a role but nothing else, quiet!.. We just got our books and picnic to the shade of a palm tree and we had a relaxing afternoon.

Window to paradise..

Window to paradise..

By then, we have changed our flights to go to Costa Rica 2 days earlier, as we were studying the Costa Rica guide and finding out how many interesting places to be seen! We had then 4 days left in Mexico and decided to go to Cozumel.

For what we have read in the guide book about Cozumel and we were reluctant of going there. Reasons.... HIGHLY expensive, super top end tourism, world top diving spot... but beside that... nothing! So we were expecting to get there and find an Island of millionaires paying US$ 100 for a coke.... expensive to get there and expensive to stay there!

We booked our dive from Playa and decided to go for one night and then come back after our dive. While booking the dive the guy told us that as soon as we get there to go to the diving center and ask the owner for tips of cheaper places to stay... sounded promising!

Cozumel.... after 45min with the ferry (some dolphins in the blue water) we got to the Diving Paradise Land! And actually, Cozumel was the big surprise of our Mexico trip.. We indeed got out of the boat and saw its first street..... Full of Jewelry Shops!!! But if you go one block further... it is completely another world... it is a normal Mexican city, super tranquil, lots of cheap places to eat and also to stay. The funny thing is that Cozumel has a port that big Cruisers use to port and deliver quite a huge amount of passengers. Inside the boat people are told not to leave the first street, otherwise it is too dangerous, etc....
Once we met an adventurous couple in the second block of the city... they looked at us, asking if we were also of the boat and then asking if it was safe to go further... So, anyways, basically all the tourists from the cruisers, almost 9 a day... stay in the first street... together with the Jewelry stores... Unfortunately they miss the experience of enjoying a really nice city, with an incredible bakery.... ) .... And amazing landscapes!!

But... getting to the dive shop, the super friendly owner Manuel told us about two places... the first one was fully booked and then we ended up in the incredible "Los Arrecifes"!! For US$ 20 a night we enjoyed the super Canadian hospitality of Vic and Claire Ann in a huge room with leaving room and kitchen, sparkling clean, great company of other guests (almost all divers) and ... if this is not enough.... they have a huge library and move selection that you can just borrow and watch at night!!

No need to say that our 1 night plan was changed to a 4 day/stay!

The diving... great!!! Colorful corals and incredible fish colors... it is just unbelievable! The amount of fish is so big that it is almost like asking them to give you a little space so that you can swim a little bit! All kind of parrot fish... huge ones!!!... And stripes all over.... and ... is just not describable! After our 2 dives... Las Palmas and Santa Rosa we were just open mouthed, not words possible to share what we have seen!!

Tati diving..

Tati diving..

The other day we resisted the temptation of going diving again... more for budgetary reasons than for free willing.... but we decided to rent a scooter and go around the Island..... What a ride!

That was when we found out how much our guide was wrong describing this Island as only a diving paradise!!! In a 2-hour-80km ride you can go around the entire Island. Well... it took us 6 hours, still with the felling that we were running against the clock!!! Cozumel has attractions for everybody! Basically the Island is an unexplored jungle, super green interior, with amazing beaches all over! You can hick its reserve trails, horseback ride the green fields, snorkel in the non-waves-thousand-of-fish west coast beach, or stop and just relax under the most laid back reggae atmosphere of Punta Sur, the south end of the Island... , or body surf in the white sand and wavy beaches of the west coast!
It is just an amazing island!!!

We went from Cozumel, straight to the airport with the feeling of missing-already!!! But... Costa Rica was waiting for us!!!

You are here : Overview The Americas Mexico Mexico
The trip
Start of journey: January 2003
Duration: 12 months
End of journey: January 2004
Travelled countries: Mexico
Costa Rica
New Zealand
The Author
TatiMatthias FreirePetri is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 18 years.
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