Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

After an incredible journey through Cuba, we flew back to present day Mexico, landing in Cancun.  Whilst only a one hour flight, it is like moving 60 years in to the future.  We stayed for a night, and organised car hire for a week-long road trip through the north-eastern Mexican states of the Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

To me, it feels like Cancun is an outpost of the USA, and lacks the authenticity of a real Mexican town.  I was very glad that we would be able to experience more of Mexico on this road trip, it had been over 10 years since I had last backpacked through the great country.

We headed west and our first stop after leaving Cancun was at Ek Balam, a little visited Mayan site, with some great stonework.

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After exploring the ruins, we headed to Valladolid, a great little Mexican city, where we ate some incredible food, and prepared to explore one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza.

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An amazing site, marred by the fact that ropes have been put up on everything, and no climbing of any description is allowed anywhere.  Whilst there will be many that agree this is a good decision by the Mexican government to ensure the future of these sites, I for one am stumped as to what damage walking on stone will do, especially stone that has been expose to people and the elements for hundreds of years.  Still a great site, although not one of my favourites.

The weather was brutally hot whilst we were here, so it was off to find a cenote.  A cenote is an underground water well, and is pure heaven on a hot summer day in Mexico.

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After a refreshing dip in a couple of amazing cenotes, we retired for the day to more incredible food, and a quiet cerveza (or two).

The rest of the week continued to delight, as we explored old Spanish colonial towns, ate like kings, explored more ruins ad generally had an amazing time in Mexico.  It is a country that should be high on everyone’s travel list.  The people, food, history and beaches combine in spectacular fashion to produce a travel destination like no other in the world.  It had Mirella jumping for joy (if Toyota are looking for a new commercial girl….)!

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We rounded out the week at Tulum, one of the few ancient sites built by the beach, it was a great way to cap off an awesome week in the Yucatan.

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Yucatan in Pics

Posted: September 16, 2013 in Mexico, North America, Photos

Cuba

Posted: August 8, 2013 in Cuba, North America

Cuba.  The name alone evokes strong sentiment.  Revolution, Bay of Pigs, Communism, Cold War, Nuclear War, Fidel, Che, what does it mean to you?

To me, it is an opportunity to travel through a living piece of history, and try (and fail) to understand what this small island in the Caribbean is, not only to itself, and also to the world at large.

We flew on Cubana Air, surprisingly modern, a short flight from Cancun, yet more than world away.  Upon arrival, we were met by our transfer.

Airport transfer!

Airport transfer!

A sign of our two-week visit, the 1950’s Chevy started without a problem, and sixty years after being built, transported us back in time to central Havana to our casa de particular (homestay).  We were warmly welcomed by our hosts, who shared the two bedroom apartment with us for the next three days.

It is difficult to describe what Cuba is, and how it feels.  The description I favour is as follows; “a living museum, where time stopped in the 1950’s with the revolutionary overthrow of government by Fidel, Che and co..  Apart from a trickle of goods and services from the USSR, and other countries sympathetic to the Cuban cause, all that remains is what existed in the 1950’s….”

To say it is breathtaking would be a massive understatement, and we spent the first few days wandering around in Havana and the immediate surrounds in amazement at the preservation that has taken place (by necessity).

Havana

Havana

We soaked up as much of the world heritage city as we could, then headed south-east to Trinidad.

From one world heritage city to another, Trinidad did not disappoint.  We continued to stay in homestay accommodation, which landed us in a 400 year old colonial mansion!

Our accommodation

Our accommodation

The few days spent here were nothing short of incredible, as we wandered cobblestone streets, enjoyed a local festival where we drank mojitos for 25 cents a pop!, and enjoyed fantastic Cuban live music at night.  We ate like kings, with whole lobster and giant fish plates served for lunch and dinner, after huge breakfasts of fresh fruit and eggs, food heaven……We also found time to take a day trip out to a former sugar cane plantation, on a steam train, so cool!

Steam Train

Steam Train

The art was also a feature of Trinidad, so many pieces to choose from, including this very unique piece below.

What the...

What the…

We continued on to Santa Clara after a few days in Trinidad.  We stayed longer due to this:

Cheap!

Cheap!

Santa Clara reeked of history,it is famed for an amazing victory during the revolution, delivered by Mr Guevara himself.

Revolution!

Revolution!

The bulldozer above was a crucial war tool, as Che and his brigade used it to derail a train filled with weapons and soldiers heading for battle.

After Santa Clara, it was time to go to a Caribbean beach, Cayo Coco, where we enjoyed a four star all-inclusive resort or next to nothing, heaven!

Cayo Coco

Cayo Coco

An awesome two weeks in Cuba, whilst we may not understand it, we certainly thought it to be one of the best countries either of us have ever been!

Cuba by Photo

Posted: August 8, 2013 in Cuba, North America, Photos
Tags: ,

Here is a guide on how not to fly from Galapagos, Ecuador to Cancun, Mexico.

Morning one, wake up very early, take local bus across Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, transfer to ferry to Baltra Island, then take next bus to Baltra airport. Board plane, fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador.  Let some passengers off, take on more passengers, take off again to Quito, Ecuador.  Collect baggage, and then check baggage back in for flight to Lima, Peru.  Arrive Lima late at night.

Morning two, after 5 hours sleep in small hostel near airport, head back to Lima International, check in for flight to Mexico City.  Fly 6 hours to Mexico, sit in airport for four hours.  Take fifth flight in 36 hours to Cancun, Mexico.  Hop on local bus, head to downtown Cancun, find accommodation, descend in to a coma like sleep.

After this inauspicious start to our relaxation time in Mexico, things got markedly better.

Cancun!

Cancun!

Having been to Mexico 10 years ago, I was not a huge fan of Cancun.  Mirella had not seen the place, so we stayed for three nights, after which, Mirella was also not a huge fan of Cancun.  Whilst it certainly serves a purpose, and is a great place for a party, it was not what we were looking for after four months in South America.  We headed an hour south to Playa Del Carmen, a little slice of heaven with great local food, one of the best beaches in the world, and a gluttony of accommodation options which allowed us to find a an absolute bargain only metres from pure white sand and Caribbean turquoise waters.

I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday here, 38 years young!

Rooftop Infinity Pool

Rooftop Infinity Pool

We spent the next ten days drinking way too much alcohol, sleeping in, eating way too much good food, and generally lazing about.  Was a great break after all the flashpacking through South America!

One of the huge benefits of our awesome apartment was a full kitchen, and being able to walk in to the local fish shop and buy whole grouper for $4-5, and then head to Walmart for some of the best produce in the world at ridiculously low prices, made for some spectacular eating!

While doing a whole lot of nothing, we decided to book the next part of our journey, Cuba, another bucket list destination, and the details will be in the next post, stay tuned….