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Southern Mexico
Submitted by Lincoln Yates (Catch22) March 2002

This was our first taste of Latin America its people music and wildlife, and I must say it was an amazing experience, we only had two months for this trip, but as usual time ran short and we had barely scratched the surface, so future trips are definitely on the cards.
Our trip started from Cancun through southern Mexico into Guatemala then onto Belize finishing back in Cancun a circular route that was to take approximately two months, we had originally planned to include Honduras but this was not to be, due to the lack of time.
This region is so diverse, with such a variety of interesting things to see and do - you won't be able to see it all unless you time is limitless, or you rush from place to place
So I suggest take it easy, enjoy today and see what tomorrow brings!!!

Before I begin I would like to mention that it is a good idea to have a little Spanish under your belt, as once you leave the confines of the cities not many speak English.
There are plenty of places in Guatemala to take a Spanish lessons ie Around Lake Atitlan, Antigua just to mention a few

Cancun

We arrived after a long flight from the UK having to wait four hour for a connection in Atlanta (U.S.), it was late and we opted for the Airport shuttle bus to take us to our pre-booked hotel ( When arriving in a new country by air it is better to have something booked for the first night its less hassle) Normally, on this occasion it did not work so well, we arrived at the Hotels reception to be told it was full, even though we had booked it, someone with the same name was in our room, mmmmmm
So we had to hit the streets at 11.30 pm, not the best thing to do in a strange city, anyway luck was on our side and within 10-15 minutes we had found somewhere, more expensive than we wanted to pay, but it was a bed, and thats all we could think about.
The next morning after a lovely nights sleep we headed straight to the Bus station and boarded the first bus south. Cancun was much more westernised than I had imagined, it was very busy and a skyline that reminded me of the U.S. This was not for us

Tulum

Cabanas at TulumAfter a short journey of approximately three to four hours we arrived at our chosen destination, we were dropped off on the main highway with no idea which direction to go, so when all else fails head to the beach. after a short walk of maybe 2Klm we came across all the cabanas and campsites. we stayed at a place called Santa Fe Cabanas, right on the beach and what a beautiful palm fringed beach it was, I think it must have the whitest sand I have ever seen, we had to wear sunglasses to walk down the beach as the glare was blinding.
We had no hammocks so we chose a cabana that had a bed, the cabanas are thatched huts with a sandy floor, some had beds others you just hung your hammock, all were within 25m of the turquoise sea, "Bliss" A great place to relax and forget the pace of the 21st century.
Tulum is famous for its beaches and its picturesque Maya ruins poised on a cliff 15m above the Caribbean sea, they are well worth a visit, Sundays normally are free.

Palenque

It was a 12 hour journey to our next destination Palenue, more Mayan ruins but this time situated in the hauntingly beautiful jungle, the town itself is nothing to write home about, but towards the ruins are several places to stay all nestled in the jungle.
We stayed at El Panchan which is also the entrance to the National park, here are three places to stay, all under different ownerships and each having its own restaurant and area's, all set in fantastic surroundings.
The jungle is abundant with bird life and if you are lucky a glimpse of the howler monkey is possible, but more often heard than seen
From here it was only a short walk along the road to the ruins (best not to walk the road after dark there has been a few incidents). The ruins are well worth a visit especially the burial chamber and a hike up the Templo de las Inscripciones 26m high. there is plenty to see in and around the ruins and a couple of days should be enough to explore the ruins and surrounding area
If you have time a good day trip from Pelenque would be a visit to Agua Azul a series of beautiful waterfalls set in lush surroundings
The food here was very good, cheap and most nights there was some kind of show. After spending longer than we should have, it was time to move on and a change of scenary

San Cristobal de las Casas

Situated at a elevation of about 2000m there is a big shift in temperature especially in the evening, the main reason people visit San Cristobal is its indigenous way of life and local crafts and markets.
Again our accommodation was very good, we stayed at a place that was not in any guidebooks but was recommended to us by other travellers, always a good form of reliable information. Tonalli 5 was a typical Mexican guest house with a brightly coloured court yard and a roof top terrace and at 3 a night was good value
We were getting close now to the Guatemala border, so our next destination would be the town of Huehuetenango in Guatemala

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