Tuesday, 28 April 2009 19:53

Trip to Central America 2009


After a long lead time and planning phase, finally the March 21st arrived. Early in the morning Daniela, Reto, Claudio and I could board the plane toward Mexico. One last good coffee and a Gipfeli, we sat in of Iberia’s airplanes and the first disillusionment went wide – barely legroom, unfriendly service, no personal entertainment system and 12 hours fight ahead of us. Surviving this we took a taxi to our hotel in the “Zona Rose” in MEXICO CITY and started the search for dinner and the first Tequila afterwards. And this search was really worth it – in retrospect we had the best Fajitas eaten the whole trip and we also proofed that you never should despise a Tequila after dinner or lunch.

For the next two days we started to explore MEXICO CITY and we started with the Centro Historico. By surprise there was a demonstration in front the national palace – but everything went peacefully here. While this demonstration ran, we concentrated on the Aztec Templo Mayor and the accompanying museum. Following this – and after a great view from the Torro Laninoamerica - we decided to relax a little bit having a boot trip including some beer at the Jardines Flotantes. For the next day we planned some cultural activities, but Monday seems to be a day off and so we just visited a “Believe it or not” and waxwork museum. In the afternoon we finally drove to visit the Basilica de Guadelupe.

The next morning we had to drive again to the airport to fly to CANCUN. The next day we should be going to meet Martina and Gianfranco and also pick up our rental car. But before we could get a first impression of a bunch of Americans and Spring Break. Before picking up our last two travelers, we visited ISLA MUJERES and explored the island by club car. Afterwards the evening program had first priority including the second part of Spring Break.

The 26th of March was our first day as „six pack“ and so we drove to COBÁ. Besides the first Maya ruins the main goal was to see the Nohuch Mul pyramid which is the second highest Mayan structure at all with its 42 m height. Climbing this temple was only given to two of us – stupid acrophobia. To increase the holiday mood, we bought the first sombreros at this location. In the end we continued our trip to reach our next objective - CHICHÉN ITZÁ.

Shortly after our arrival in the evening we learned that the guided sight-seeing tours will start at 8 o’clock in the morning. To visit this world heritage we accepted this recommendation without any regret.  Being one of the largest and most important archaeological sites on the Yucatan peninsula, we expected CHICHÉN ITZÁ to be overrun with tourists and less beautiful pictures. But the early bird catches the worm and so we were nearly alone while visiting the site. Having nearly finished our tour, the first buses with lots of tourists arrived. Our guide was really a master and told us some specialties about the stones the temples were made of and clapping the hands in front of the temples leads to interesting echoes.  A truly amazing acoustics. Checking out at the hotel, we drove to MERIDA.

After all MERIDA was not what we expected and we just made a sight-seeing tour by bus.

On the road to our next destination we made a stopover in UXMAL. Once again we were surprised to visit this site nearly for ourselves – but we really liked that because we could visit this world heritage nearly without any disturbance. Continuing our trip we had lunch in HOPELCHÉN – the first time we tried a restaurant at the roadside. This was absolutely no mistake and should be much better than the dinner we should have in the evening (later on more about this).

Finally we arrived in CAMPECHE and stared to take a deeper look at the travel guide to find out what exactly is recommended for the evening. It did not take very long and we found a highlight and an insider tip. The supposed highlight was a light and sound show at the bastion of CAMPECHE called Luc y Solido. But rarely we had enjoyed such a bad performance. And the restaurant insider tip should not be better – called Casa Vieja was advertised for Mexican and Caribbean food e.g. hot fish dishes. But there was only bad food and nearly every one of us had some problems with the stomach afterwards. This time of the day was a total disaster! And again the salvation was Tequila at the hotel bar. Afterwards everything was fine again.

The next day we liked to relax at the beach, however the search was unsuccessful. Again we looked through the travel guide and found another Mayan site not far away called EDZNÁ. With this the day was partly saved and we got a first impression our next destination.

As the next stage was one on the longest we started early in the morning toward PALENQUE. This Mayan site is located in the rain forest of Chiapas and is quite different from what we saw before (except EDZNÁ). But in the evening we were relaxing at the pool including playing a little bit pool volleyball. On the last day of March we left the hotel early in the morning for the archaeological site and as the days before, there were not much tourists around. And we were lucky again to start that early because the temperature and humidity rose very quickly. Though starting early in the morning leads to an early end and so we visited the Cascades de Agua Azul in the afternoon. At this site the water falls down over multiple wide cascades of limestone ranges and creates some natural pools which are really a great refreshment and good for a bath.

On the 1st of April 09 we headed for our jungle camp. Near to CALAKMUL we booked three cabins in the middle of the wilderness and all of us were very curious about it – what about the comfort, the animals and everything else. But it was not that bad and after a short night – at 6.30 AM we had to departure for the ruins – we had a quick breakfast. CALAKMUL is likely the biggest and most important Mayan site at all and therefore the distances between the single temples were also large. Having a shower back at the hotel, we were on the road again heading for our last Mexican destination (at least for 4 of us).

But the way to TULUM should not only be one of the longest, but also one with obstacles. Not talking about the numerous road works, no, just 30 km ahead of TULUM at a speed of 140 km/h one tire of our rental car exploded. A very good maneuver of Claudio stopped us unharmed at the roadside. Equipped with inadequate repair tools (a kids car-jack, a breakdown triangle in pieces, an inadequate wheel wrench …) we stared to change the wheel. Working hard on it, a very friendly Mexican pulled over his car and helped us with professional tools and know-how to change it within an hour and so we could move on for the last kilometers. Searching a while for the hotel we finally found it and enjoyed the rest of the day.

The next two days were planned for regeneration and the 03.04.09 was anyway a special one for Martina – her birthday. And it was really great that for this Friday an Ibiza Party with DJ Jon Rasta was announced at our hotel. After having a special desert with an extra ordered birthday cake and a birthday song presented by some waiters, the party started. There were also two special show acts and after the party has officially ended we enjoyed some minutes in front of our hotel rooms.

The 5th of April was the day we separated again. Daniela, Claudio, Reto and I were brought to the bus terminal from where we transferred to Belize. Martina and Gianfranco continued their beach vacation at Playa del Carmen before returning to Switzerland. Our bus trip did not take very long, the border crossing was no problem and so we arrived early in the afternoon in ORANGE WALK.

After the check-in at the next hotel we walked around in ORANGE WALK to get a first impression of Belize and also to find the first location to drink a local beer. Back at the hotel we asked for a recommendation for dinner and were advised to have a look at a restaurant at the Crocodile Walk. Being bothered by a lot of mosquitoes we were using plenty of insect repellent and after a while we ordered dinner. The next morning started with a long and interesting boat trip on the New River to LAMANAI. Following this 2 hour trip we joined a tour to see 6 out of 600 Maya buildings. Back at the hotel and a refreshing shower later, we went back to same restaurant evening before and this time we also saw a living crocodile – right in front of us on the table!

Taking a taxi to BELIZE CITY the next day and afterwards a „Chicken bus“ to the Belize Zoo, we saw a lot of animals this day. If you like to see pumas, jaguars, ant eaters, Aras or toucans you should not miss to visit this zoo.

But BELIZE CITY just was an inter-station and we took the boot to CAYE CAULKER. This island is part of the 2nd largest reef worldwide and you get an impression of Caribbean feeling. This evening should be really a funny one, because during the search for the room key an extra bed was broken and during dinner the same two slogans were repeated over and over again: “I don’t know but my ass is killing me” and “I like the way you bring the beer”. After dinner we went to the “I and I Reggae Bar” which nearly had more back-doors than seats.

Another border crossing later we checked in to our hotel in FLORES. During a short sight-seeing tour by foot we saw some typical carpets of flowers. We decided to keep the evening short, because the next day we were picked-up at 5AM to be transferred to TIKAL by bus. After the typical late arrival and a one hour bus tour we spontaneously decided to take the tour around TIKAL alone and without a guide.   We picked-up a conversion of a German speaking guide, we went for temple IV after a short stop at temple I & II, to enjoy the view before all the other tourists arrived. We had a look at numerous other temples and while we finished our tour by noon, all the other tourists arrived by overland bus. Have fun in the heat! Relaxing or canoeing had been the afternoon activities.

The new day did not start as expected. We had to drive by bus via Guatemala City to PANAJACHEL and we arrived at the bus terminal one hour before departure as recommended. But surprise: only two of four seats were booked! Half an hour and resolute discussion of Daniela later, we sat in the bus and hoped, that everything will fine. And everything was fine, even the private shuttle in Guatemala City was waiting for us. Late in the evening we arrived eased at the hotel and heard they were overbooked. But they upgraded both booked rooms to Master Suites and we took this upgrade gladly. The Lake Atitlan is famous for taking some pictures of three volcanoes either during sun rise or sun set, but we were not fortunate because of the weather – it was always to cloudy. The next day was booked for easy living and shopping in town.

And suddenly the last two days of vacation started. A taxi drove us to our last destination – ANTIGUA GUATEMALA. During the trip we could gather some impressions of local daily life and started for a sight-seeing tour in ANTIGUA GUATEMALA by foot after arrival at the hotel. In the evening there was a live concert of Banda Vega at the Plaza Major, which actually was not that good and after a while we decided to go for dinner and afterwards to a pub. On the last day we planned to visit a silver factory, but it had been closed since four years (our travel guide was only three years old!). So, we went on to the coffee museum and bought some last gifts in the gift shop. After that we liked to go to some hot springs in the surrounding area, but the local guy at the reception of the museum advised us to not do that because it too dangerous. A last very good dinner and a hot Salsa party on that evening before we drove to the airport the next morning.

After a long return flight via Panama City we landed again in Zurich on 17.04.2009. Thankfully it was not too cold and thermal shock was not too hard.

CONCLUSION: Belize we will come back :-D

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 April 2019 15:03