25th April 2018
I entered the state of Yucatan by a second class bus and during an interesting journey. We were coming from Campeche and through all the small towns and villages. Halachó was the first small town, where we stopped in Yucatan. When the bus just had left Halachó, it started raining and it rained heavily. Arriving in Maxcanú it rained cats and dogs. I got some rain on me and was looking around, where it came from. The Mexican woman sitting with me in the first row showed me, that it was coming from the door. It did not really close. The door was hanged around two cm to low. Anyway in Kopona it did not rain, neither did it in Umán or Mérida.
Mérida was my destination for six days. Here on the Yucatan peninsula are lots of interesting things to visit, though I extended the time for my stays. When I was aware the distance to my host, I took a taxi. It was for 70 MXN. I told the taxi driver, that it is much, but well there I happily paid the amount. It was really far away from the bus station. My new host is a Web developer. He works most from home. He had got very good references, therefore I was happy, when he invited me, because I had not got any answer to my requests. I arrived there between 5pm and 6pm.
Leaving the taxi I was a little unsecure about the area. It did not seem one of the better once, but I thought, it may look better inside. It did not! My host was still living with his parents. He lived in a room upstairs with private shower. He was sleeping in a Hammock, which is not unusual in the South. He had a bed (on stones) and a mattress for his guests. I was happy, I have got the bed. There was then also another girl, who was sleeping on the mattress. His room was semi clean, the shower mostly only had cold water. What me really made uncomfortable was the way the bottom floor looked like. There was a living room and a kitchen and it was so messy, that it was hard to come through to the stairs. I was allowed to have my food in their fridge and to eat in the kitchen, but their was nearly no free space in the fridge. The kitchen itself was not good organised and it was hard to clean my dishes. The father was very kind. The mother did not talk with me, she even dit not try. I was eating out in a nearby simple restaurant, called Taqueria Mixe and I ordered a Huarache. It was for 108 MXN. I could have ordered something cheaper, like simple tacos, but I never had tried Huarache before. After the meal I walked a little more downtown and found a fruit and vegetable shop, where I bought a half Papaya. They did cut one for me. Unfortunately I did not see the grocery shop nearby, but on my way back, though I walked further to buy yogurt, bread and more. I walked a while and came to a shop similar to the Oxxo shops, where I bought the food needed. I was back at my hosts home before it became dark. By the way, even in Mérida are most of the streets numbered. Only a few has names.
Now I met the other couchsurfer. She was a little more strange, than I am used to. She started a conversation about the Royals and explained, that there are no real royals anymore. Even I told her, I do not care about Royals, she started again with this subject. Her next subject was the catholic faith. She told me, that she has been told, that she has to go to the church every day and pray. I answered her, that we in Sweden have the freedom to believe, what we want. We are not forced to, to believe in any God and that I am a humanist. She finally talked about, how long she already lives in Mexico and that she want to go further to another country, e.g. Canada. Though I told her about the age restrictions. Now she started to claim, that she could never live in Sweden, because of the cold and I explained to her, that the weather in Sweden is similar to the weather in Canada, though she has to find another country to go to. She also was going forth and back with her topics. When she was in the bathroom, my host told me, that she is a bit hard, but it is the way it is. I was going to bed soon and also felt asleep soon.
My host had spent the evening with a friend, who he had helped with a website, he told us. I was a little disappointed about that, because I would have liked to have a chat with him. It seemed to me, that he did not know how to handle me, because of my age and prefered to leave us alone.
26th April 2018
I awoke around 7:30am, tog my medicine and stayed in bed for a little while, sitting up. I had got pain in my back during the night. I reviewed the hostel in Campeche and had then breakfast in the kitchen – at the kitchen table. My hosts mother did cut some fruits for her husband and herself. They were eating in the living room.
At 10:15 I left the house and found a bus station by the explanation of my host. The bus was for 8 MXN to the city centre, but I left too early, because I thought, we were already in the city center. I found a coffee shop and ordered an Americano. It was for 44 MXN. With help of my GPS I found the real city center easily, but it was around half an hour to walk. Close to the church “Iglesia Monteja” there was I first told by a waiter of a restaurant, that I have to go to a nearby mall, where Maya people sell their handcrafted items. He also told me, that it is the last day for two month. Another man told me soon afterwards, that I should visit a place, where a Maya shaman heal with jade stones. He also told me, that the jade was very old. It would be from a meteorite, which fell down to Yucatan 50,000 years ago, why there are no longer dinosaurs. He added as well, that it would be the last day for two month I could meet the shaman here, because the Mayas would go out to the villages, where they would have bull fightings. He furthermore told me, that the tourist office is closed on the middle of the day (it was just high noon) and showed me a card, stating, that he was from the tourist office. I was actually interested in to see a real shaman, though I followed this man to a gallery, but there were no shaman, only shops with jewellery, Panama hats and other things they try to sell to tourists. I took a look around and left again.
My next stop was the tourist information, which actually was open and where I asked for a free map. I got a brochure with maps inside and even the free events in town were listed. Now it was time for the cathedral. On the steps sat begged and I actually gave both of them a 10 pesos coin. After visiting the cathedral (the churches and cathedrals are actually all different inside. The gold ornaments etc. like they have in Rome, are not usual here at all, but often they have very well decorated altar shrines. Furthermore some saints, Maria or Jesus are dressed in textile dresses.
From the church I was to an Oxxo supermarket and bought a bottle of water as well of mango juice and continued then to the Parliament building. I asked, if it was allowed to visit it and I was welcome in. There are lots of big paintings on the walls. In addition to that, there is a big room (I think it was used for meetings) with many paintings. The admission is for free – even for foreigners.
I did the same with the Town Hall. Here were not so many paintings, but the meeting room, still with its inventory could be visited as well as the huge balcony.
I was craving a snack or cake, though I went into the “Italian Coffee Company”. I prefer Mexican cafes, but this time it was none close to, where I was. I just had got my piece of cake (in Spanish called pastel) and a coffee frio ( an iced coffee), when it started raining cats and dogs. The cake and the coffee were actually for 115 MXN together. I stayed as long as it had stopped raining. While I was there I booked a bed in a hostel for the upcoming and further nights in Mérida. When I finally left the coffee shop I took the lowest parts of my trousers off, because of the flooding. I was happy that my sandals are made for walking in the water as well.
I walked all the way back to my host. Twice I had to look for and found shelter for the rain, because it started again. Back at my host, I did tell him, that I had booked a bed in a hostel and that I will leave immediately. He told me, he understands, because he lives so far from the city, though I did not tell him the main reason. While “moving out” I forgot my food in their fridge and messaged my host later, that he and his family can share it. It was actually not much.
I did not walk to the bus stop, because it is hard to go by bus with a lot of luggage. I started to walk the Calle 22 downtown and was looking out for a taxi. After around 10 minutes, one stopped and took me to my destination. Asking him for the price, he showed me his taximeter (on his smartphone), it was fastened to the back mirror. The ride to the hostel was for 60 MXN. Close to the hostel, he looked for it, though I really came right. It was actually not so easy to see.
I was welcomed by the owner of the hostel. I had booked it for 745 MXN with breakfast and taxes included. I got a bottom bed in a female only room and he told me, that I could switch to another bottom bed the next day, because mine had no electrical contact nearby. He even showed me the wi-fi password. Before I left for another, but much shorter walk to the city center, I asked him about tours to the Maya sites around. The cheapest tour to Uxmal was for 600 MXN and he told me, that he will care about, that I will get my money back, if the tour will not start and if I will book by him. I told him, I have to think about it. 600 MXN are a lot of money for me.
While walking to the city center I also looked for tours and prices and found out, that all operators have the same prices. I walked to the Parque Santa Lucia, because I was first told, that there should be Mayan artists, but then, that there will be a music festival. I had not eaten yet, though I was looking for, what the restaurants offered, but the prices were so high, though I took only a marquesita at a stall. A marquesita is that kind of crepe I already had tried in Ciudad del Carmen. This time I ordered it with cheese. The crepe was sweet, though I did not really like that combination. I found an excellent seat to even see the orchestra. It was high up without support for my back, therefore I cared about to sit right up. The orchestra played for an hour or two and there were different singers and dance groups. It was a nice evening. On my way back, but still on that place I bought an ice cream with two scoops, which was for 40 MXN. The marquesita had only been for 25 MXN, though I thought, the ice cream was expensive. I was still hungry and bought a sandwich, when I passed an Oxxo. I ate it at the hostel and was soon afterwards going to bed.
27th April 2018
I awoke already around 6:30am, tog my medicine and then a shower. The hostel served a continental breakfast with added fruit. This morning it was a banana and a slice of water melon. Breakfast was served between 7:30am and 10am. I was one of the first to attend. At 9am I left for a “free” walking tour, which is held everyday from 9:30am and lasts for ca two hours. Close to the tourist information at the town hall you have to sign up for the tour.
We had a Mexican guide, talking Spanish as well as English throughout the tour. Most of the tour was around the main square. He told us, e.g. that the cathedral is the oldest on the continent, that the town hall has a moorish top, that we can see French influences by the benches on the square and explained, that this influence came from the money-making by sisal. The grown up children of the rich people were sent to Europe, especially France for their studies. When they returned, they introduced the French style. The guide recommended us to go and see the Paseo Montejo, where there still are mansions in French style. He also told us, that sisal actually was called Henechen and became the name sisal by the harbour it was shipped from. The Yucatan peninsula was for a long time without interest for the Spanish conquerors, but only until they discovered the sisal ropes made by the Mayas. The Jesuit church nearby has still Mayan elements in its walls. He also told us about a jail nearby, which now is a museum, but under refurbishment. A cartoonist should have made a lot of cartoons of the jail and it’s visitors, which for the moment can be seen on another place. The guide was nearly a bit shy about the tip, but he has got a lot. He told us then, that he is working for the government. At the end I asked him about the meteorite and he told me, that it is true, but there are no longer pieces existing of it.
I had a Guanabana and chocochip ice cream before I was looking for a bus to Izamal, another Maya site. The Guanabana (which is a fruit) was very sweet and the chocochip ice cream did not taste choco at all. Anyway it was for only 23 MXN. To find the bus to Izamal was really complicated. Unfortunately they did not really tell me the street number, but one of the drivers in another direction, which I asked lately. Well by the combi buses I did not see the queue nor that I first hade to buy a chip, which I then, in the bus, had to give to the driver. It was my first time to do that. I was already in the bus, when I was asked for the chip. Therefore I had to leave it again and take the next bus, but before I had to queue to buy that chip. On the way to Izamal I fell asleep for a short while, but that did the Mexican women in my row as well. The one on my right hand side did fell with her head on my arm, actually only for a short time.
Well in Izamal I was very hungry, though I bought a meal at the first restaurant I found. If I had seen before, what I saw, while I was served I had chosen another restaurant. The female cook had a bloody badly taped thumb and she also sat then at a table cutting pork rind. I was wondering if the meat in my one Empanada was of that, but the taste was ok. The other Empanada was with cheese. I also had a little mug (ca 250 ml) of agua de Horchata. All together was for 40 MXN. It would have been much more expensive in Mérida. By the way I did not get any problems with my stomach after this meal.
In Izamal I had to ask for the way to the pyramid. I could not see it from the city. Unfortunately I did not used the signed street either, though I came to the backside of the monument before I finally found the entrance. There was neither an admission fee nor a box for donations. There was only one pyramid, but there should be more. This pyramid was built for Kinich Kak Moo, the sun-god. You can read more about it by Wikipedia. I was surprised, when I found a sun of stones in the stairs after I had been on the top. The stairs are very uneven, though I was thankful for the helping hand of another tourist. There were only a few tourists coming and going and now sellers around either.
The other monument, which is recommended to see in Izamal is the ex-convent. I walked there too, but did not get impressed. The town is one of the “pueblos magicos”. All the houses in the city center and even the ex-convent are painted in the same yellow colour.
For more photos of Izamal click here.
On my way to the bus stop for the combi buses I came instead to a bus stop of the bus company Oriente. I checked the price and it was the same like for the smaller buses, though I was going back by a real bus with space for me and my feet. I did not have a passenger on the neighboring seat either. Back in Mérida I walked back to the hostel and also bought food on the way. Finally at the hostel I had a meal. Later on I wrote a short notice about my memories, made a request on help and on CS. Furthermore I have got two new roommates, they are Swedish, usually living in a town close to Gothenburg.
28th April 2018
I was up before 7am, took my medicine, had a shower and ate breakfast. 8:30am I was ready to go, even I was told, I will be picked up at the hostel for the tour to Uxmal and Kabah between 9am and 9:30am. A car came already 8:50am. I was told, that we will pick up someone more and join the tour at the office for the tour company. Finally at that office, we had to wait some minutes more for the small bus (for 15 people). Anyway this bus picked up more people, when we had entered. The guide followed from the office.
When we came to Umán, the guide explained that the old houses were oval and had only two doors – one in the front and one in the back, but no windows. There is only one room in the houses and the roof is made of palm leaves. Here in that city, we could see such old houses. The doors are in the middle of the long sides. In addition to that, the guide told us, that the church of Umán does not have a tower and therefore is unique. I had already seen that, when I came with the bus from Campeche. I just did not know, that it was the only church in Mexico without tower.
The bus stopped the first time at a shop, that we could buy water. There were also bathrooms. I think the name of the place was Muna. I already had my water and I did not need the bathroom either, though I stayed in the bus and was wondering if they have a contract with that shop, because they also sold souvenirs.
Well at Uxmal, we had to pay two fees: 70 MXN for the state of Yucatan and 164 MXN for the Mexican government. These fees were the highest for visiting this place for us foreigners, Mexican people did not pay so much. Our group had mostly Spanish-speaking people and only four of us needed guiding in English. Our guide, almost 60 years old, maybe already 70 years old, did explain in Spanish first. Meanwhile the English-speaking group had time to take photos and vice versa. That means, when he explained details for us, we had hardly the possibility to take photos of them. We climbed some old buildings, but not the biggest pyramid at the end. We were given time at the end to do so by our own and he named a time, when we had to be at the entrance again. I did just make it back in time, even I did not climb that pyramid. By the way there were some shops and also some stalls selling souvenirs as well as restaurants.
For more photos of Uxmal click here.
I hoped, we would get lunch now. I was hungry and so were others of our group as well, but we had first to go to Kabah, that means we were brought there by bus. I had just had time enough to buy another bottle of water, before we were going further. In Kabah were no other buses and very few cars. There were also only one entrance fee. The guide did collect the entrance fee of all of us and then pay at the cash. He did not get individual tickets, though we could not check, if he took the right amount of us. The guide explained for us, that Kabah is special, because of the “Palace of the Masks”, which facade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the rain god Chaac. Read more about it on Wikipedia.
For more photos of Kabah click here.
We were going back to the Maya site of Uxmal for the late lunch. We could choose of three main meals and also between different kinds of soups. I chose a meal with pork, cooked the Yucatan way and called “Cochinita Pibil“. It looked similar like the one I linked till and was tasty. There were also another pork meal and a chicken meal to choose about. The waiter told me, I had made a good choice. As a dessert we got a tiny bit of “Flan Napolitano”, a kind of “Creme Caramel”. The lunch was included in the price, but not the drink and not the tip. This was told for us by the guide and twice by the waiter. We were placed on two tables. The guide, the driver and the Spanish-speaking tourists on one table, we English-speaking tourists on another table – a table for four persons only. I do not like, when the waiters tell me, that the tip is not included, but for the other women (we were all single travelling, but in different ages) it was more strange, because they told me, that in China and Australia all is included in the price at the restaurants and no tip given. One of us did neither order a drink nor give a tip. The other two gave 5 MXN as tip and I put first also only 5 MXN on the table, but changed my mind and put 10 MXN instead, because I was thinking, that the whole meal must have been for 100 MXN, maybe more.
Later I bought six postcards with views of Uxmal, because three were for 25 MXN. I took a rest, when I was back at the hostel. I was the first one they left. I did not recognise, that we were there, because the bus did not stop directly at the hostel. I was off and going to the hostel without a tip for the driver and the guide, even the guide had told us before, that the tip will be shared 50/50 between him and the guide. I just did not like, that he was asking for money, because I already had paid a lot for the tour and I am sure, he and the driver will get paid of the tour company. This asking for tips made me sure, that this tours are nothing for me. I only took this one, because I had to try once, to know how it is.
After the rest at the hostel I was on twitter for a little while and my dinner were food I had in the fridge at the hostel. This night I awoke several times.
29th April 2018
I was up around 9am, had breakfast and a shower. I thought I will take “a day off”, that means, updating my blog and care about myself instead for trying to see as much as possible. Travelling for a long time, I think those days are necessary. I used the time as well to take some photos of the hostel.
The owner of the hostel did tell me, that there is music and dans at the main square, though I went there, when I was hungry and anyway had to go somewhere. Actually I had two big pizza slices in a restaurant close to the hotel. Together with a soft drink (the did not have bottled water) it was for 46 MXN only. I continued anyway to the main square, but did not find any life music. On the way back to the hostel I was looking for more t-shirt and more underwear, though I do not need to go to a laundry so often. I bought two t-shirt and a pack with three panties. They had US sizes and I hoped, they would fit better, than the first I bought in Mexico.
Back at the hostel I updated my blog for a while. Luckily I opened the panty-pack. There was a security thing left, though I had to go back to the shop for getting it taken off. When I came in their people looked at me, because the security pillar made noise. I had not heard anything on the way out, what surprised me. Anyway I was going to the first/main cashier, as I thought, she was – and I was right. I just explained in English and she understood. I had the receipt with me, of course, though it was no problem. This security thing was taken off. I continued to the main square to check, if there maybe anyway may be life music and dance and there was! I was first only looking at all of them and had fried plátano slices. I came closer to the music, when I bought agua de Horchata and started dancing, when I finished the drink. It was easy, because three guys of the band did dance on the scene, because it was Zumba, not Salsa and it seemed, the Mexicans were not used to either. I stayed until the music stopped and all were leaving. On the way back to the hostel I bought some kind of bread and had it then with the tea. Before I was going to bed, I was for a little while on twitter. I was going to bed around 11pm, but had heartburn, though I sat up in the bed with my back against the wall, that meant, my legs were out off the bed. Laila, the helper, even she from Argentina, cared about me and gave me two more pillows. Therefore I could soon sleep the right way around.
30th April 2018
I awoke twice that night. The first time around 2am, the other time around 6am, but I stayed in bed until around 8am, when I started my usual procedure: Medicine, shower and breakfast. Afterwards I went directly downtown and bought soon a bottle of water. First I was looking for that museum with the cartoons about the jail, but I could not find it. I continued to the “Paseo de Montejo”, but did not find it straight away either. Though I walked a lot, found a closed museum (most of them are closed on Mondays), had an ice cream and bought some strawberries. I also was to a bathroom somewhere. Finally I found the street I was looking for and took some photos of the houses from the “Belle epoche”. Unfortunately there were not many left. Instead high office buildings were a fact. Some of the houses in French style were not cared about and therefore very ugly.
I continued on the Paseo de Montejo until I came to the “Monumento a la Patria” with the Mexican flag. The monument itself is the more interesting in that case. It has Mayan motives.
Even I had drunk a lot, I did not feel well. There was only a McDonald’s close by, though I went there and had a chicken nuggets meal. The cashier asked me Coca Cola and even I answered agua naturale, I was served Coca Cola. Anyway I felt much better after the meal and continued to Walmart, because I had forgotten my tissues and really needed them. At Walmart I found the panties 40 MXN cheaper than in the shop, I had bought before. I was already wearing one of them and they felt great, though I bought another 3-pack. I also bought another pair of shorts to have during the night. When I entered the shop I had to leave my backpack and got a number for it. Unfortunately I dropped that number somewhere in the shop and was afraid, that it would be difficult to get my backpack back, but on one hand side a security guard had found my number and on the other hand side, the guy, who had taken my backpack and given the number to me, remembered me and the backpack. Though I did not have a problem. Outside I tried to drink the mango juice, I had bought here, but could not open the lid. I soon found helping hands – and as usual male hands.
On my way back on the Paseo de Montejo I was to an HSBC ATM. I have some closer to me, but here it seemed more private, without a lot of interested eyes. I also bought somewhere another bottle of water. I had planned to go to the town hall in the evening to look at the “cowboy dance”, but the owner of the hostel did asked us, if we are interested in a barbecue. In that case he would manage all of it: Buying meat and vegetables and grill the meat. He told us, he can do that for 100 MXN each. I was in immediately, because I prefer such a social event instead of an event, where I am the lonely stranger. Others participated as well. Someone told, 100 MXN was too much, but I was thinking about, what I pay for a good meal and there are often no or nearly no vegetables included.
It took time before the owner was back from the shop. He had bought biff as well as pork, vegetables, potatoes (for homemade French fries), beer and Coca Cola. Meanwhile he cared about the barbecue, Laila cared about the salad and the potatoes. Meanwhile we were waiting for the meal, Adnan, a Mexican guy from Mexico city, tough us dirty Spanish words. A Japanese and an Italian guy (coming by motorcycle) told us about, when they met first time and that they now came together, because both were visiting Mexico. For some reason I told them, that I would like to have a moped with a “car” in front of, like I have seen them the last week and they told me, that they had such one in India and that it had been fun. We were also taking about our travels and where we will go afterwards. They were jealous of, that I can travel for a year and more in a row. Though I told them, as usual, that I could not travel, when I was in their age, but that they surely can continue travelling, when they retire. It became 11pm before we were going to bed. I was not on the Internet this evening.
For more photos of Mérida click here.
1st May 2018
I cannot really believe, that it already is May. Anyway I am going further to my next destination, still in the state of Yucatan. After the usual ritual in the morning, I was ready to go some minutes before 10am, but the farewell took longer than I am used to in a hostel. It was like saying goodbye to friends. Laila asked for a photo of us and the owner of the hostel dit take it. Then he explained to me, how near the bus station is and in what direction I have to go. On my GPS I only had found another one for second class buses – much further away, but I have been told of him, that from the bus station 150 m away, even second class buses depart. After hugs from both Laila and the owner of the hostel, I walked happy to the bus station and caught the 10:30am bus to Valladolid. It was for 125 MXN. I still forget, that buses for a special hour do not leave at that hour, but arrive. Though I was looking for that bus to early and the security guy told me, to go back to the waiting area. He later told me, when the bus for Valladolid arrived. Even this time, it was no problem to put my two backpacks in the trunk. Most of the people on this buses to take all their belongings to the seat – even they had shopped and had a lot of bags with them. The driver did check his phone in every village. Maybe it had to do with the destinations for the tickets, the timetable for the bus or he simply checked his private messages. All is possible.
One of the stops on the way to Valladolid was Chichen Itza. Half an hour later we arrived in Valladolid. The bus station was only some blocks away from my hostel. I chose to go down to the street 35, where the hostel is and then walk the street for the few blocks, though I arrived at the hostel, but that was the only time I did that, because I did not like that dirty street with abandoned houses and houses, people lived in, but did not care about, like it seemed. Finally I arrived at the Guacamayas (which means parrots) hostel. It reminded me of New Zealand. I checked in and paid 918 MXN for six nights, all taxes as well as breakfast included.
I was hungry now and was walking downtown for a meal. I found a nice looking restaurant and entered for its atmosphere. They had a dish called “Serrano roll”. Maybe you read my travel story of Spain and remember, that I love Serrano ham, but I was afraid, that this restaurant would be very expensive and that roll very small. Though I asked for a description. They showed me such a roll and it was quite big, like a big burrito field with Serrano ham, asparagus and salad. If I remember right, even cheese was included. I took a seat and ordered such a dish and a beer. I chose a make I never tried before. It was called Montejo. Actually I did not really like it. The meal was for 105 MXN, the beer for 30 MXN and on the bill was outlined, that the tip is not included. I left in all 150 MXN, but I cannot recommend the Serrano roll, because the green asparagus was hard. I could not even cut it with the knife! The name is Bistro La Ville on Calle 40.
I walked further and was checking the handcrafts offered. At one place I found a lot of nice things made of sisal, which was an important export product from this area, before the nylon was introduced. The prices are quite high for this handcrafts and even I try not to buy a lot of souvenirs, I bought a little turtle, made of sisal. It was not so expensive, just 50 MXN. I continued to a Soriana supermarket and bought yogurt, bread, cheese and milk as well for my evening meals (dinner).
Back at the hostel I had a chat with a girl from Germany in the bedroom. She had just finished her studies and was still waiting for the result of the last graduation works. She had travelled Peru before she came to Mexico. Talking about the higher prices for strangers, she told me, that it was worse in Peru and it is good to take a tour to Machu Pichu, because the prices as solo traveller would be the same, but it is much more complicated to try it as a solo person. Furthermore she told me, that it is only possible to buy tickets with the passport. There are no reduced prices for foreign students as long as they do not have a student card with a photo, which one cannot get in Germany.
When she left for having a meal downtown in Valladolid I made my files. Afterwards I was too tired for updating my blog.
2nd May 2018
I awoke already at 6 30am and was ready for breakfast an hour later, but the breakfast was served 8am. It was freshmade hotcakes, served with honey. Furthermore we got a banana and papaya in cubs. When I asked for coffee, a mini box of Nescafe was shown for me. The water I had to boil by myself. The female employee was not service minded. It seems, she does not like to work.
After the breakfast I walked to the bus station and bought a ticket for the bus company Oriente with destination “Chichen Itza”. The ticket was for 33 MXN one way. The bus should leave 9:30am, but was 30 min. late. Finally in “Chichen Itza”, a very well-known Maya site and as it seems the most important on the Yucatan peninsula, I had to pay 254 MXN in admission fees. There were two fees like in Uxmal. The one for 70 MXN for the site and the other one for 184 MXN for the government. As usual the fees for Mexicans were lower. I walked around, checking with Wikipedia, reading the signs and a few times listening to a guide from a group, when I just stood close. It is amazing, what this people could build, decorate etc. 1000 years and more ago and I think, I have got as much out of the visit like during the guided tour to Uxmal, but I could do it my way. By the way, nobody is allowed to climb on the ancient buildings.
Unfortunately there is so much business around the site. Not only the restaurants with there very high prices, but also hundreds of stalls selling items, tourists should believe are from the Mayas. It was much worse than in Uxmal. Many of the old buildings and pyramids are far away from others. On the path in between stood many Mexican people, someone may have been Maya, and sold lots of different things like masks, magnets, clothes, “leather”-paintings, you name it. I was a little interested in such a painting with the Mayan calendar. I ask at different stalls for the price and have been told 400 to 500 MXN. When I told them, that it is too expensive, they asked me, would I could pay, but I told them, that I am not interested. That worked, but once, when I told the seller, I could not pay more than 200 MXN. Though he asked me for 300 MXN and unfortunately I agreed. It was not really for the price I write unfortunately. 300 MXN are just 13 EUR, but I am not sure about the quality and especially because the seller did hold my money up telling another seller happily, that he had got 300 MXN. It sounded like I paid absolutely too much, but I am happy I could make his day.
For more photos of Chichen Itza click here.
When I were at the bus stop I could not see any bus, though I walked to the junction for Valladolid and tried to hitchhike, but only one car stopped, not going in the right direction. I was again thinking about New Zealand, where people asked me, if I want a hitch for the heat. Even Mexican’s are usually very kind and helpful, but behind the wheel, they are different here in the South. Two Oriente buses stopped on my sign, but one was for Cancun and the other one for Mérida. Finally after a waiting time for nearly one hour, the Oriente bus, which stopped, was for Valladolid. I bought another bottle of water on my way back to the hostel.
When I checked my emails in the evening, I had one from booking.com, telling me, that I did not pay enough at the hostel in Campeche. Though I told them, that I paid, what they were asking for. When my roommate was back, she told me, that she even had been to a Cenote (sinkhole), but that she had lost her partner at Chichen Itza, when she was looking for “the church”. She showed me her App Maps.me, which even works offline, showing details of the Maya site. She told me, that the App also shows collective traffic etc. The last one is for Mexico neither shown by “here” nor by Google maps, but I miss that. Though I installed that App and deleted the App “here”. – Even this evening I was quite early to bed.
3rd May 2018
When I awoke around 7:30am in the morning, my roommates had already left. They had not told me the evening before, that they will do, though I was wondering if I had been snoring during the night and asked for another room, but I soon found out, that they were no longer in the hostel. I was told around 8am, that the breakfast was ready. There were breakfast for two more guests, if I should call it breakfast, because there were only chopped fruits on the plates for us. It was water melon and papaya. There were also an open can with (warm) water for the Nescafe or tea. Though I had of my earlier shopping: Yogurt as well as bread with cheese.
I had planed to go to another Maya site this day, to Ek Balam. I found the collective taxi by the app Maps.me, which was a good start. Well there at this taxi place I was asked, if I will go to Ek Balam. I was the first one, though I had to wait. It took not a long time before two girls and a Mexican man joined. It was around half an hours drive to go there. The fee was 50 MXN for each passenger. The admission fee for Ek Balam was similar to the one in Chichen Itza, but the government fee was a little lower, though I had to pay 211 MXN like all foreigners have to.
I read Wikipedia for information about the site and its architecture and when available I also read the signs, close to the buildings. This site is not so big as Chichen Itza, but on the highest pyramid is still a lot of the stucco to see. It is fantastic, especially by thinking about, when it was made. I asked the owner, if it was facsimile, but he told me, it is original. To see the stucco, I had to climb the pyramid the halfway up, but all the people did climb to the top. Therefore I thought, there was something more special to see. It was not, but had a great view. As all the Mayan buildings, the steps are high, but often quite short. I really had to climb. There were no handrails – they never have, though I had to use hands and feet. I was wondering by myself, how the short Maya people could force the steps and how it must have been for children and elderly. The way done was worse, of course. Kind people asked, if they could help me. The first question was, if they could take my little backpack, but I told them, that the backpack is not the problem. A woman, who already got a helping hand of her male partner, offered me her hand, but I told her, that I have to do it my way. I did not see any people in around my age there, but the first tour was coming, when I was leaving the place. Furthermore there were not many stalls selling souvenirs and not one restaurant or snack bar.
For more photos of Ek Balam click here.
Back at the collective taxis, I had to wait for around 10 minutes before the car was full. One of the waiting passengers asked, how much we have to pay if we only are three in the car. The taxi driver told him, the ride is for 200 MXN, if we only are three passengers, we have to pay 67 MXN/each. I was not willing to pay more than 50 MXN and the fourth passenger soon arrived. It was a Mexican man again. During our waiting time and even the taxi ride, we travellers talked about our travels. It was the guy, who initiated the conversation.
On the way back from the taxi station to the hostel I saw a restaurant called “Taco Kay”. It looked nice and I was in need of a lunch, though I went in. I ordered two chicken tacos (fajitas) and a small agua de horchata. The tacos were for 18 MZN each and they were very well filled. In all I paid 56 MXN and gave 10 MXN in tips. I really can recommend this place!
After the meal I went directly back to the hostel. I started to update my blog, but after a few lines I was so tired, that I put aside my tablet and my phone and fell asleep. It was around 7pm, if I remember right.
4th May 2018
I awoke at 4am with pain in my back. I tried not to disturb the other travellers in the room – there were new ones, this time from France. The came, when I was asleep. I left the bed ca a quarter to seven, tog my medicine, answered emails (had to reset my password for twitter, because twitter has been hacked) and had breakfast, but not by the hotel. The woman was around, but did not make breakfast for me. I checked the fridge, there were nothing she could prepare breakfast with. Though I did take of my yogurt…, what I had bought for the evenings.
I had to go to a laundry and looked on Maps.me for it, but the laundries showed on that map, were not existing, almost the two I tried. Where the second laundry should be – and that was five blocks away from the hostel, I asked a man for the laundry. He told me, that it was round the corner in the next street. He was anyway leaving his home, though he pointed out the laundry to me from that corner. At the laundry we agreed, that I could pick up my clean clothes at 7:30pm. I could have got it earlier, but in that case, I should have more to pay. I had exactly 4 kg clothes to leave and here they were for 52 MXN. I only had a 500 pesos-note, though I had to pay, when I pick up the laundry. There were no change as usual.
I went back to the main square and bought a bottle of water on the way. From there I went to the Ex Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, because it was recommended as a historic place. It was founded by the Franciscan Order in 1552. There is the former convent, a church and more. In the building of the convent is a museum about the convent and a cenote for the water supply, where lots of guns and Mayan pottery was found. There are also explanations about the wars (of Independence and Caste war).
The admission fee was as low as 30 MXN, but I could not see the Museum, because they did not have change for my note. I looked around for an ice cream shop, but only found a restaurant, where I asked, if I only could have an ice cream. That was OK and I ordered a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of coconut ice cream. Meanwhile I was waiting for the ice cream, I was served a glass of water (for free) and the ice cream was then nice looking served with a mint leave. It looked not only good – dark chocolate and coconut ripples, it was also very tasty. It was actually the best ice cream I have got so far in Mexico.
I was going back to the ex-convent and bought my ticket, which was a band. I spend two or three hours there and was looking at all things, which were possible.
Out in the heat again going back to the hostel I was to the Soriana supermarket again, to buy more yogurt. I walked first a little to far, but I am still good in walking, though it did not matter.
Back at the hostel there was a guy together with the woman, who usually made the breakfast for me. I asked him, if he speaks English. When he answered a little I told him about the breakfast and even that I will require money back for every morning I do not get breakfast. Soon I updated my blog, but had to interrupt for picking up my clean clothes. It drizzled, when I left the hostel, but became more you further I came. On my way back from the laundry I have got a natural shower 😉. I was happy, that it did not rain cats and dogs this time. – This evening I actually managed to update my blog until 30th April.
5th April 2018
After my usual routines I have got breakfast around 8am. This times it was hotcakes with honey again as well as hot water for the coffee, but I did not get any fruits. There is something strange the days I get hotcakes, because the milk I bought reduces a lot. I only had once a cup of milk and every day a little for my coffee, but now it is nearly empty. First time we had hotcakes, the box also was put in with my name inside the door. I always put it in, so my name can be seen easily.
I left the hostel 8:45am to go to a private building “Casa de los Venados”, which’s owner collects native art of Mexico. He opens his house for guided tours and all he asks for are donations for other project started for native artists. He recommends to donate 5 USD respectively 100 MXN. I did take good time to go and find that building, though I was half an hour early. The guide soon arrived and told me, that he is the guide and will be in and change clothes as well that I have to wait until 10am. The building is close to the main square and by that to the government building. In front of the last-named building was a kind of military action with two tanks, military people in their uniforms and a lot of other people in between, which all were dressed the same style and all had red caps.
I was back in good time to the first named building, other people were attending now as well. When we finally were let in – exactly 10am, I have got this strange feeling, which I know of, I need to drink more water. I asked the guide for a glass of water, but he told me, that they do not sell water and sent me to the pharmacy at the close corner of the street. I was thinking about, what he had made, if I would have fallen over. Anyway all went well after I had water and the guide had been waiting for me to start the tour. There are lots of native artifacts in that house. One of the most impressive is a wall high kind of painting. Actually it is done in clay from the state of Puebla. It was done like tiles and put together on the wall in this house. It is amazing!
There were also a lot of skeletons and similar, regarding to the day of the dead. The guide did not only explain about the art, but also the stories of the pieces and the history of Mexico.
There were also a piece, meaning the “alter ego” of a person. The name for it is “nahual” in the native language “Nahuatl” (Aztek). Unfortunately I did not take a photo of it. Even I had heard the name Frida Kahlo before, I did not knew, whom she was until this day. There is a sad, but real story about this painter. Her pieces now sells to very high prices, though in this house were only copies of them. The original works one can see in Mexico city. The guide also recommended us to see the movies “Coco” and “Frida” – about the life of this artist. The tour was for 1 1/2 hour, but should have been 1 hour only, because there is a tour every hour, starting 10am, 11am, 12pm and 1pm every day of the week. Though the information of the “zona turistica” about only one tour a day is wrong. You can check out it on their website.
The military action was still ongoing, when I left the “art gallery”. I took a rest and sat down on one of all the benches at plaza principal, made notes and checked my photos. Afterwards I had a big ice cream. Unfortunately it was not at all as good as the one the day before.
This day became my “museum” day. While I was looking for the museum with the great name “Museo de Roque” I was coming to a hotel instead, named “Casa de Rogue”. He was very kind and showed me around a little in his hotel, which he had inherited from his grandmother, he told me. He even told me, that the house he has got after his grandmother only was the building, where the reception is now. The hotel had a nice garden with a swimming pool. He then told me, that more people have asked him for the museums, because he has one each on his lefthand and righthand side. By this I got to know about another museum, the museum “MUREM”.
The name “MUREM” is a shortening for “Muse de Ropa Étnica de México” (Museum for etnic clothes of Mexico). The museum was new opened a week ago, I have been told. The admission fee was 100 pesos, well worth it, but because I have to try to hold my expenses low, I told them, that I would like to see the exhibition, but because I am retired, I could not afford it. The woman answering for the admission fees told me, if I am 60 or more years and have proof of my retirement, I could see the exhibition for free. I actually have proof of it from Germany (in Sweden we do not get such a document, there is only the age counting respectively people with disabilities and lower age have the same rights and a document). The fact is, that my German document is still in my former name, but it was accepted by my explanation and for the matching first name and date of birth. A young woman was showing me around and not only explained, from which state of Mexico the dresses came, but also if they were sewn by hand or machine respectively which parts were sewn by hand and which by machine. In addition to this she also explained, what the special dresses were used for. She gave me a lot of her time totally for free.
The last museum for the day was the “Museo de Roque”. It seems to be inhabitat in an old church. A garden was on a site of it. From there policeman came from time to time, just crossing the building. The museum showed the history of the city. Lots of that I already knew as well as the artifacts were not cared for very well. The glas vitrines were not really clean or the glass so old, that it was not clear. It was no idea to take photos inside. Furthermore there were lots of mosquitos in the second part of the museum. In a special nish were photos of events from the city, but most of them were taken down again, what I could see by the marks at the wall. I really felt sorry for this museum. It had deserved better.
Finally I was so hungry, that I had a hamburger at a Burger King. The menu was as usual at the wall behind the desk. There I saw a “King Combo” for 59 MXN, but then I had to pay 74 MXN instead. I think the offer is just with a small drink and a little box of French fries. Anyway they had asked me, if I want medium sizes or big sizes. I chose the medium ones. I really have to think about to answer them, that I will have the one for that price.
Still time left before the sun will go down, but anyway not so very hot anymore I was looking for the street “Calle del Frailles”, which is recommended by “zonaturistica” for the colonial houses. I missed that street two days ago, when I visited the convent, but Vallodolid is not so big. It is easy to reach all the sightseeing attractions by walking. Actually I was a little disappointed of the houses in this street. There were only a few looking “colonial” and those needed som refurbishment. However even here were artisans selling their items.
Back at the hostel I needed to use the bathrooms, but as many times before, there was no paper. I do not know, why I always go there, when there is a lack of paper. Anyway I was going to the reception asking for another role. Unfortunately the hostel had totally run out of paper, though the receptionist had to go and buy more. Fortunately he did not have to go far. The next shop is close.
Later in the evening I updated my blog for the 1st and 2nd of May. I hoped, I would come further, but did not, even I was not to bed before 11pm.
6th May 2018
A awoke already at 7am, but had to wait for the bathroom including the shower. This day were almost 7 female travellers at the hostel and this hostel had also only one (1) shower. At 8am I asked at the reception for my breakfast. The receptionist went shopping and came back with two eggs, a tomato and a banana. Though he prepared scrambled eggs with tomato for me. In addition to that I have got the banana. I was happy, that I had some bread by myself. I ate at the same time like the French girls from my room. When I finished breakfast and was going back to the room, the floor in front of the bathroom, which I had to cross, was very wet. Therefore I tried to tell it the receptionist, but none was there. I tried it a second and a third time, with almost ten minutes in between each one, because I made my files. There was now more water on the floor. The third time I reached one and he actually took care of it immediately.
When I was sitting at the table in the garden (the one for breakfast etc.) and wrote my blog, a man with his family arrived. He did change candles and the flagstaff, though I think he was the owner of the place. He asked for my plans and when I told him, that I will go to the sinkhole (cenote) in the afternoon, he told me, I could go to the main square. I do not know, if he was not comfortable with my presence, but I anyway stayed at the table.
At 1:30pm I had a light meal with yogurt at the hostel and made me ready for the Cenote. It was very close to the hostel. This Cenote is actually in town. I had to pay 30 MXN to see it for full. There was a point, where one could have a look on it, but for full you can only see it after paying that amount. I asked for a safety vest, because I had read, that it is recommended to have one in cenotes. They are usually deep. A safety vest to rent was for additional 30 MXN, but I only had taken my coins with me and 26.50 MXN left, though I was going down to the water without one. First I enjoyed the beauty (which can be discussed) of the place, then I checked if I should take a swim. The thing was, that the steps in and out were high, though I was afraid, I could not make it out again. Therefore I did not take a swim, thinking about, there will maybe somewhere be another one, which is more comfortable for me. By the way down I saw en iguana on the rocks. Furthermore the water seemed to be really cold.
Well out of the Cenote again, I was looking for an agua de Horchata. Usually a half liter is for 20 MXN, sometimes it is cheaper. I went to the food court with the “economic meals”, but even there I was asked for 30 MXN. I told the seller, that I do not have so much money with me and was on my way to leave, when he asked me, how much I have and then counted my coins. He told his wife, to give me half a liter agua de Horchata with ice. This one was tasty and not too sweet. The ice did nearly not melt before I finished the drink.
Back at the hostel, I dried to put over photos from my phone to my SD card, but it was not working. Unfortunately the card broke, when I dropped the phone the evening before. I did not see anything broken and was happy about the 600 MXN I had invested some weeks ago for a secure shell, but now I have seen, that even the shell was broken a little. Fortunately my photos were all already saved on Google photos. I changed to another card in my phone. Afterwards I tried out the broken card in my tablet and here, I still could see most of the photos. Anyway I saved this card without using it anymore in the hope, I can save the photos to my laptop once I returned home.
I continued with my blog until I was going out for dinner around 7pm. It was already dark, but the city seems to be save. It is not a long way either to the food court. The stall, where I bought the agua de Horchata was closed, but most of the stalls were still open. It was strange to see, how it works there. One of the stall is hanging his body as much as possible out of the place. Everyone of this stalls has no opportunity to let one of the employees leave the stall. There are gates making it impossible. The one special employee is waiving the menu and calling, that they have the best offer. Going to one of them, you will get the menu as well as a pen and paper. When you have chosen, you have to write down your order and bring it as well as the menu back to that special employee. After another employee has prepared your meal, you will be called to pick up it. I have never seen that before in Mexico or elsewhere and I do not know the reason for it. Anyway I ate a tasty taco empazada. It should be a speciality for Yucatan. There are four tacos for one order to the price of 60 MXN. I paid 40 MXN for a drink with papaya as well. There were cheaper options, but it was the only one with papaya. By the lack of service I did not pay any tip. A woman was sulking around the tables, looking at my plate, when I just got it, making a nice like “ha”. I understood, that she was begging for food, but at that stage, I did not know, how many of the tacos I needed to get full, though I answered her with a similar noise and she went further. If she had come back after my third taco, she had got me fourth, but I could not longer see her around.
From the food court I could hear music and dreams, therefore I was going to the main square looking for it, after my meal. Close to the middle of the main square were dancers, who looked like Maya dancers. They were asking for tips. On the site of the square, at the town hall, was a band playing for dancers. The street became full of dancers after a short while. The town hall was open, but I was happy with taking a look on the murals through the windows.
Back at the hostel one of the French girls told me, that it will be free breakfast for all guests of the hostel the upcoming morning at 7:30, because the owner will have taken a video for advertising of the hostel.
7th May 2018
I had a bad night, because of heartburn, but was anyway early up for not missing the breakfast. The video itself I was not interested in. I was at the table at 7:35am, but there was no breakfast, though I went to the reception and asked the woman, when the breakfast will be served. She went to the shop, bought egg and tortillas. It surprised me, because in the fridge were a whole plate with eggs. On a sideboard lay fruits: Papaya, melon and more. This female employee served me soon scrambled eggs with tortillas. Meanwhile I was eating, one of the French girls came, looking for breakfast. At 8:30 am she went to the reception asking for it. She did not get an answer. The woman was going to ask someone. When I was finishing my breakfast, which I had extended with yogurt and flakes, this woman did peel the papaya and the melon. She did not offer me any fruit! She always looks like she does not know anything and hangs with her head and even body like she has guilty conscience. It was not only me, who thought that. One of the French girls said this to me as well, without asking her. I am wondering, if the communication between the owner and her and the other employees and her made her this or if she was born that way.
I packed my backpacks and updated my blog somewhat, because it was to early for going further to Cancun, because my host was working until 6pm. Around 10:15am the French girls were told, that the breakfast was ready now and got an apologise for the delay. At 10:30 I was told, that I also was welcomed to the breakfast, but I checked out instead. By the way, I never have seen that woman so happy like shortly before I checked out. I think it was something regarding to the video, which changed her so. On my way to the bus station I made a detour to an HSBC branch for taking out cash at the ATM. There was a closer ATM, but I had seen the evening before, how tourists’ card did not return. In addition to that, that ATM is at the food court with no chance to hide, what you are doing. I have got the whole amount in 200 MXN notes, which I was not happy about. I find it easier to take care about my money, when it comes in 500 MXN notes, which is usual at ATMs.
At the bus station I bought again a second class ticket, this time for Cancun. It was the bus company Oriente serving again. My bus was for 11:30am. I bought a snack and a bottle of water during the waiting time, which became long, because the bus did arrive half an hour late (and departed 15 minutes later). During the waiting time, the two French girls arrived. They was going with an ADO bus to Mérida. Their later goal was La Paz, BC, where they will be house sitting for a month. They told me, that is a dream coming true. I was thinking about my two weeks in La Paz and wondering, what they will do of double the time. I hope they will not become disappointed.
For more photos of Valladolid click here.
For my continued travel, please follow the link for Quintana Roo.