I’m now finishing up my time on this trip in the Mexican Peninsula. What a great part of the world!
Getting off the heavily beaten tourist and backpacker trail – connecting with locals again and enjoying their hospitality and genuine human friendliness. I’ve met some great people who have gone out of their way to offer assistance. From getting a free bus ride from Semuc Champey to Coban on a premier bus with AC (after chatting to one of the locals on the back of a 4×4), to getting offers for free accommodation with the sister of a restaurant owner I had spoken to in Chetumal, then offers of a free local tour guide in Valladolid and many others. The further away from the tourist trail you are, the more exotic you must seem to the locals (and perhaps the more in need of assistance)
Cenotes! Before this trip I didn’t know what a Cenote was, but now it is one of the favourite things I’ve seen in Mexico. For those who don’t know, they are basically like sunken holes into the earth filled with water (often crystal clear cool water), they have come about due to the type of rock that this part of Mexico sits on and how it has only recently been pushed above the ocean level. There are hundreds and hundreds of these Cenotes in Mexico (perhaps thousands?), and many of them have few touristic layers of expenditure you need to get through to visit – you just need a local to tell you where they are.
Serious chilling at Laguna Bacalar – this place is the most chilled town I’ve been to in the Americas. Everything was chilled and relaxed and it is sitting on a beautiful freshwater lake. After one night I had to keep moving as I was fearful I was get stuck there! But if I was ever going to host a meditation or yoga retreat…
Snorkeling and beautiful beaches – the beaches here are genuinely spectacular. The sand, water color and temperature, the marine wildlife and coral reefs.. I stayed at 5 different coastal cities, but by far and away my favorite experience was snorkeling at Akumal. I met a guy from Texas who loved snorkeling and was looking for a snorkeling buddy to head out with (his girlfriend was afraid to), he knew where to go and had gear on offer – perfect! We went out for a solid 2 hours session, saw around 10 massive turtles up close, then founds some schools of fish, and some corals. It was my first real snorkeling experience and I loved it. I tried to replicate that experience up in Cancun and at later islands but I think Akumal is where it is at!
Other highlights were seeing some more Mayan ruins including the obligatory and probably over- hyped Chichen Itza, hanging out in the separate cities of Flores and Coban in Guatemala.