21DEC12. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
So, hopping on the R1 bus from Playa Delfines away from the hotel district, takes you to Porto Juarez where you can catch the ferry to Isla Mujeres. The cost is $140 pesos (a little over $10 usd) round trip. It takes about 20 minutes and there’s a ferry leaving about every half hour.
Most people when visiting this tiny island, hire motorbikes or golf carts. I hired a motorbike for $250 pesos for half a day, basically. The rental place is directly across from the port exit, so you can’t miss it.
21DEC12. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Considered an escapists beach, this is one of the less populated beaches in the hotel zone. It is beautiful. Immaculate. You have to walk it. The water is pretty rough, though, so be very mindful of heavy currents and rip tides, stay close to the shore.
I got there on the R1 bus coming back from the El Rey Ruins. So easy.
21DEC12. Cancun, Mexico.
Rather than opting for a long bus journey yesterday, I decided to take the day off and stay local. So glad I did. It was a great day. First, I found out the the R1 bus takes me to the El Rey Ruins and to Porto Juarez where I can catch the ferry to Isla Mujeres. The bus is very easy to catch. A minute walk to Tulum Ave. from my hostel. About 8 pesos for a bus ride. The bus was never crowded, either. First stop: El Rey Ruins, the only Mayan ruins site actually in Cancun…basically smack dab in the hotel district.
You may read some comments from people saying it’s not worth it, but I disagree. Having been to Chichen Itza the day before, El Rey was a welcome change. More quiet. I was able to enjoy some solitude. You can climb all over these ruins and really explore. The ambience was spectacular as there were dark clouds looming overhead making everything seem so gray, which in itself, made everything seem older.
El Rey dates back to the 1300-1500 a.d. period. It was a trading port and high officials apparently lived here.
It’s open every day from 8am-5pm and it costs $42 pesos for entry (under $4 usd.) I hear that it’s free on Sundays, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Hundreds of iguanas roam the site. You can get quite close to them as they are not that afraid of people. The caretakers of the site feed them tortillas daily. So in an iguana’s mind: a person = a tortilla = not so bad. They do very simple math.
21DEC12. Cancun, Mexico. Canon 550D,Lens EF18-135mm
I took a quick trip over to Isla Mujeres today, hired a motorbike, explored the tiny island, and stopped at an awesome place called Polo’s Mango Cafe. Excellent menu, all Caribbean-style…authentic. Great, friendly service. Wifi. Fresh and clean. Vibrant colors. Good music.
21DEC12. Isla Mujeres, Mexico. top: Instagram Sutro, lower: Canon 550D,Lens EF18-135mm
Because I was literally just arriving to my hostel, hadn’t even gotten into my room yet…I wanted to book a tour of Chichen Itza through them (Mayan Hostel.) 45 usd. 15 usd to the hostel and then $30usd when you buy your ticket. This is how it went. A van picked me up at around 715am and took me to a place called Plaza La Fiesta. This is where you book your actual tour. So I now know that I can take the R1 bus on Tulum for about 8 pesos and get off at the Plaza (therefore not having to pay the hostel a fee) — but, truth be told, this is just information to help the next person because I am still ok with paying the whole 45usd. I met people at the Plaza who had been herded in from other places and some paid like $65usd for the same deal, and were told they were getting breakfast, a new bus with a bathroom…all of which they didn’t. I wasn’t told any of that so I didn’t feel deceived. Our bus was kind of old with no toilet, but it had a/c and the bus wasn’t full, so you could spread out and sleep. We probably left the Plaza a little after 10am…(a huge line in the Plaza of people going on different tours)…At about 1120am, we got to a cenote (seh-NO-teh), an underground cave/swimming pool…and were given 40 minutes to swim, take pictures, shop (shopping is forced upon you at every stop.) *Count on a 12-14 hour day away
At about noon, we left for the restaurant to have a buffet lunch. Again, you have to walk through a shop to get there and they push free tequila shots, but push you to buy the bottles even more. Lunch was ok. I’m a vegetarian, so my choices were a bit limited, plus, I don’t usually eat much on those kinds of things, anyway. It’s in a big open-air banquet room, lots of flies are also hungry at the same time you are…I had some chips and salsa and some watermelon.
After lunch, we finally headed to Chichen Itza. Our tour there probably started at around 215pm. The tour goes about an hour and then you have free time to walk around as you like. Our bus was going to pick us back up at 5pm.
Chichen Itza means “at the well of the mouth of the itza” in Yucatec Maya. It thrived between c.600-1200 a.d. It was easily one of the largest Maya cities. Archaeologists still visit here to try to piece together this past civilization and it is estimated that around 12 million tourists visit these ruins each year.
The Temple of Kukulcan (a Maya feathered serpent deity) is more commonly referred to as El Castillo, The Castle. This step pyramid stands about 98 ft. (30 meters) high.
The Great Ball Court: The Mayans were competitive and they took their sports seriously. They played games in which, if a team lost, the captain of the losing team could be beheaded to offer up to the gods as a sacrifice.
*ideas gathered from tour guide,wikipedia
20DEC12. Yucatan, Mexico. Canon 550D, Lens EF 18-135mm
Basically I am here because on New Year’s Day of this year, I proclaimed on my Facebook status that I would be in Mayan territory on December 21st for the end of the world. And even though I’ve been all around the globe this year, I found a way to get here to Cancun in the nick of time. Here’s how the first day went in regards to the Big 3: transport, accommodation, and food.
TRANSPORT: Cheapest way to get from the airport is to take a lovely air-conditioned ADO bus. I took it to Cancun Centro for $52 pesos (around 5 usd.) The ride was about 20 minutes with no drama. They also have buses to Playa Del Carmen, etc…Walk out of the airport and go right. Walk to the end and there will be ADO counters to purchase a ticket.
ACCOMMODATION: Strangely enough, I booked The Mayan Hostel online while I was still in Bogota a couple of weeks ago, and they didn’t ask for a credit card number or anything. Just a reservation. And then last week when I was in Orlando, I got an email from them confirming my reservation. Still no money upfront. I liked these guys before I even got on the plane. Now, it’s a no-frills place. I’m in a private room with a private bathroom and a fan. It’s costing $2036 pesos (160 usd) for 4 nights in total (so, yes $40 a night.) I don’t usually book a room before I arrive somewhere, but because it’s the holidays and the end of the world, I thought it best to be safe. I will seek out other options over the next few days to see if I want to move on. But, it’s good for now. And I definitely wanted to be in a hostel called The MAYAN hostel on December 21st. 🙂
FOOD: Dinner was had at Gory Tacos. I know the name doesn’t sound appealing, but ‘gory’ doesn’t have the same meaning in Espanol. A huge basket of tortilla chips with 4 sauces came out as an appetizer. Then I ordered vegetarian fajitas and a bottled water. Total price: $120 pesos (around 9.40 usd)
19DEC12. Cancun, Mexico. Transport – Instagram X-Pro II, Accom/Food – Instagram Lo-Fi, Fajitas – X-Pro II