My first impression of Cancun was twisted by the tired crankiness that only comes from a 22 hour flight journey. So while the first night there I was not in love with the place I tried to keep an open mind. It reminded me of a weird mix of Surfers Paradise and Phuket. Our hotel was located at the top of the hotel zone and within walking distance to the clubs. The beach and hotels reminded me of Surfers but the people on the street trying to sell you everything from jewellery to club entry was what reminded me of Phuket. Not something that I wanted after a long flight when I just needed to relax, our venture out of the hotel was short only for food.
Speaking of our hotel, I stayed at the Krystal Cancun and really I can say that the best thing about it was the location. Beachfront with a nice pool overlooking the ocean with its own pool bar and located close to shops, restaurants and other transportation. I was really happy with where the hotel was situated. The facilities and the lobby of the hotel had a 4 star feel so it was unfortunate that our hotel room itself felt more 2 star. From the “$80 a night roadside motel” feel of the bathroom to the view looking out over the back service area and rooftop of the restaurant next door, complete with noisy pump which was programmed to go off at 6am for 15 minutes. Not knowing what any of the other rooms in the hotel were like I think we possibly had one of the worst, this was because the hotel hadn’t noticed the request for 2 beds in the room which meant it took him 5 minutes to find us something suitable. Another thing that slowed down our check in was the fact that somehow they’d dropped two letters from my surname and had the room booking under Jeanette Wards.
Nevertheless we didn’t spend much time in the room so the disappointment was minimal.
On my first full day in Cancun we walked to the nearby ferry terminal and took a trip out to Isla Mujeres. The first ferry ride was smooth and felt quite quick. Once we arrived on the island our plan was to collect a Golf Cart for the day and explore. Our first lesson was to bring cash to the island. The ATM on the main street we were warned recently was found with a skimmer attached and the EFTPOS terminals at the first two Goft Cart places were not working, however third time lucky we found a place that was working even though it was $100 Pesos more for the cart we were soon on our way.
The first stop was for a drink on the beach, soaking in the sun and the view of blue blue waters.
We then decided to enter the “Coolest place in Mexico” also known as the Ice Bar and they might just live up to the moniker as it was a chilly -18c. After a bit of conversation with the lady at the entry we decided to buy an entry only without drinks however she must have liked us as when we got inside they told us that we did have one included on our pass, the bar tender must have liked us too as he gave us a free shot each as well.
We lasted about 15 minutes in the Ice Bar, by the end of which my feet were starting to feel numb but they rest of my body had acclimatised, they give you a fur cloak to put on however as it was 30c outside I wasn’t wearing a lot underneath it and I only had sandals on my feet.
From there we drove to the Turtle Rehabilitation Farm. It was very busy and as touristy as I expected. You could purchase little packets of food to give to the adult turtles that weren’t being released and there was a man with a horseshoe crab scaring the little kids which was entertaining to watch.
From there we drove to the very tip of the island where there was a restaurant with a beautiful 180 degree view. More issues with the Eftpos machines when we tried to pay for our food but luckily the eventually worked and we were on our way. We ended the day with a walk around the main town of Isla Mujeres which was packed with shops and bars for the tourists before catching the last ferry back to our area of Cancun.
The second day of the trip was Luis’s birthday and I had booked as a present to him a visit to one of the seven new wonders of the world: Chichen Itza.
The tour started early however we still managed to get up and go grab some Starbucks before being picked up at 7.35am, we were shuttled to the main bus meeting point and boarded our coach for the 3 hour journey to the archaeological site. On the way there they served continental breakfast and the guides introduced themselves and filled us in on what was going to happen that day. The staff were great, funny and informative which is always a winning combination and we learnt how to count using the Mayan Calendar, don’t ask me to do it here or explain it though because it is very complicated.
The first stop of the day was for souvenirs made by and sold to benefit the locals of the area, while there were lots of pretty things knowing that I still had 10 weeks of carrying my bags I restrained myself. Though I was very taken by a local stone called Golden Obsidian which appeared black until the sun hits it when it turns gold. Fortunately for my wallet I couldn’t find anything made in the stone that I really wanted but it was very cool.
Finally we were on our way to the site, even with the early start we weren’t arriving at the park until midday. We had our tickets already (they’d been picked up during the shopping stop) and so we walked straight into the park. Our guide had us stand in the shade while he taught us about the different areas of the park like the ball court, main temple, sacrificial alters, sacred cenote and after about an hour with him we then had an hours free time to explore and take photos. One thing that surprised both of us was the amount of hawkers in the park selling trinkets and souvenirs, we had been warned off of them by the guides on our bus though.
Chichen Itza was a lot smaller than I had thought it would be however it was very pretty, two of the sides have been rebuilt to the original however the other two sides show the vandalism that happened when stones were taken from the temple to build nearby houses. Those houses are now also heritage protected so the stones can not be taken back again.
The design of the pyramid was fascinating with the whole monument acting as a calendar. There are special designs that can only be seen on the solstices and as the seasons change when the sun rises the light will hit completely on one side of the pyramid on the first day of one season and the flight hits another side completely on the first day of a different season. On top of that the stairs on each side all add up to the exact number of days in a year. There was so much more however I won’t list it all here.
After the park we were taken to a buffet lunch and sat at a table of 4 with two new American friends from California. As if the tour guides controlled the weather a storm broke right as we were all seated for lunch and being in the tropics it was pouring down, however the weather had all cleared up by the time we had finished eating.
From lunch we were taken to a Cenote for a swim, initially we had been quite excited about this idea however when we got there it was crowded with tourists and not at all what we had all imagined so none of us went in.
Then it was time for the long drive home and we were finally dropped at our hotel (second last to be dropped off with the boys from Cali being the last) at 8.30pm.
The third and final morning in Cancun was spent in the pool then having a lazy brunch before catching a taxi down to Playa Del Carmen for the next part of my trip. So while I spent 3 nights in Cancun I really didn’t spend much time there. The beach was beautiful and if you like large resorts then it will work for you however I much prefer the vibe and style of Playa Del Carmen even if the beach isn’t as nice. More on that later though!