Arriving back in Mexico from Cuba, we got on a bus and headed south to Playa del Carmen – a touristy, concrete place on the Yucatan peninsula, a place we wanted to get away from as quickly as possible. After staying a night, we got on a ferry to Cozumel, an island 30 minutes of Mexico, we were told it was less touristy, and the snorkeling was good as the waters were so clear.
We’d booked a hostel (renown for divers), which was right on the beach, to the North of the island where the white sandy beaches were, it was a great spot, and was good to have access to a kitchen again to make our own meals, as eating three meals out a day was becoming a bit monotonous.
The heat was unbearable, it was 32 degrees, and 64% humidity, me and tom had never felt anything like it, just sitting down was an effort – the room had no AC so we slept with the fan, about an inch from our face, and that still didn’t do the trick.
The beaches on the peninsula of Mexico and Cozumel were suffering from a huge bout of seaweed, large amounts washed up on the beach, making the most prettiest of white beaches look less tropical, more Mediterranean – apparently it normally occurs February to April, but something was happening in the water to prolong its stay!!!
On the island, we rented a scooter and rode round the island to find some of the best spots to snorkel. The snorkeling was amazing, the reef was so colourful and breathtaking I could’ve stayed under the water for ages just watching the tropical fish following out their day-to-day routine. The name of the beach was Sky reef, it was by far the best on the island, just off shore, although there was also tropical fish to be seen right on the shore at our hostel.
Leaving Cozumel, we had a full day of transport planned out, as we wanted to get away from the touristy Cancun peninsula and move onto Guatemala. After getting a ferry to the Mexican mainland, we then jumped on a bus to take us south to Tulum, where we spent the day taking in the ruins – however it was so hot, we were quite literally dancing from shade to shade and in the end had to take shelter from the unbearable sun on the beach with the ocean breeze and shade of a rock to make us feel human again. We hung around Tulum until our bus for Belize was ready to board at 00.11am – it was a long wait…
After 3 hours on the bus, we were woken when we got to the Mexican border – it was a hairy experience, we were told to get out of the bus and in the dark, in the middle of nowhere we formed a queue while officials checked our passports with torches, we were then individually led into a room, where an official asked us to pay $35 each, well we had no money, after asking for official documentation to show the we owed the exit fee he just kept saying no, no, then the official looked at us and said ‘’you will have to wait here until 8am, for when the ATM/bank opens’’ – well if we’d stayed we’d have missed the bus, and there was definitely no ATM in the vicinity, i’ll stress we were in the middle of nowhere. He then said, “you’ll have to ask someone on the bus for money, otherwise you’re staying here.” Luckily there was a guy who had a wad of dollars, who kindly paid for us, until we paid him back in on arriving in Belize – thank god he was there, as we would’ve still been at the border!! The border official just tossed the money in a top drawer, stamped our passports and that was it – crazy thing when we got back on the bus, people had been charged different amounts – it seems you are at an unfair disadvantage at night, where the border officials get you by the short and curly, and they can try and run whatever scam they want on you – I personally wont be crossing that border alone, or at night again!
We got our stamp to enter Belize and on arrival, we headed to buy our tickets for our shuttle from Belize to Flores, Guatemala – yes you guessed it another border crossing. The uproar of the Mexican border hassle got us talking to a Guatemalan, Valerie – she too was going to Flores, so she took us under her wing and helped us get there – our first mission was to fill our ravenous bellies – it’s a shame, we weren’t staying in Belize as the people were really friendly, they had this Caribbean/Creole laid back accent going on, and because it was originally part of the British Empire, they typically speak English. Finding a cafe we ordered up a sandwich and a Jonny cake – now the sandwich was good but the Jonny cake wow – it was delicious , a cornmeal flat bread, fried in coconut oil and stuffed with a black bean paste, stocked up on water we awaited our shuttle.
The shuttle arrived, it was basically a transit van and it was packed to the rafters with people, we were quite literally squeezed in, it was hot and we were bothered… After two hours of taking in the countryside we hit the border, we paid our exit fee and then walked across from Belize into Guatemala… another two hours later we arrived in Flores.