The backpacks are out and we are back doing what we love to do. After a few months back in England getting used to the wind, rain and near freezing temperatures we have arrived in sunny Mexico.
After a long, uncomfortable flight on a Eurowings plane (we hadn’t heard of them either, and for good reason) we landed in Cancun.
The plane had as much legroom as you would receive a short haul Ryanair plane and the only free thing given out was water. Yes, we had to pay to watch films and pay for, quite frankly, terrible food. The ‘highlight’ came when I accidentally pressed the emergency button in the loo and my business was cut short by a concerned air hostess.
After 15 hours and a short stop off in Dusseldorf we were thrilled to reach the Carribbean and it’s 20 odd degree evenings.
I’m fairly certain we got ripped off on our first taxi ride out of the airport but as we arrived to a friendly welcome from our hotel owner and his dogs, all was forgotten, he even offered us a free upgrade on our room.
Sat in a peaceful pool-side garden, we happily drank a couple of cervesas and ate a quasedilla before retiring to bed. It was exactly what we needed after enduring 15 hours in the hands of Eurowings.
We got a taxi, for a fraction of the price we paid the previous evening, to downtown Cancun and to our posh hotel, a combined Christmas present to each other before we hostel hop our way around southern Mexico over the coming weeks.
Anna was particularly excited at the prospect of room service, a first for us both, while I was just thrilled to feel sunshine after what has felt like forever.
The first port of call for us was to find some authentic tacos and they didn’t disappoint although I must say, they were spicy.
Spicy is an understatement actually. Anna had heart palpitations and my eyes were the colour of the inevitable sunburn that my pasty skin will succumb to.
After a few months of learning un poco tourismo Espanol, I was proud that my restaurant Spanish held up as, outside of the hotel and tourist focused restaurants, English isn’t widely spoken here.
We headed back to the hotel and drank a couple of margaritas either side of swimming in the pool before deciding that a few celebratory drinks were in order and wandering to the nearest collection of bars.
We continued eating reasonably priced tacos, drinking lager and tequila for a few hours until the alcohol took control and my restaurant Spanish descended to a confused level.
I managed to order two soups and two forks which visibly confused our waiter but God bless him, he obliged with my request.
Anna laughed so hard that I decided the only way I could get my own back to her mocking was to persuade her into a chilli eating contest, I lost that too.
After a fun few hours, and surprisingly still having room in our stomachs we took a couple of beers back to the room and ordered room service, Anna’s only request for the evening. I must admit, I did feel quite posh as a smartly dressed attendant knocked on the door with a large plate of fajitas under a metal cover.
Primer dia en México had been a success.
After a good sleep and grabbing breakfast, we got a bus down to the beach. The language barrier worked in our favour and we ended up getting the ride for free, I felt guilty but soon got over it.
Our first sight of the Carribbean didn’t disappoint, the sand was so white and the water a beautiful mix of turquoise and blue, we were happy.
After a play in the water and a near encounter with a school of large fish, my attention span had neared its maximum so we packed up and got a bus back, which we did pay for this time.
After some lunch we resided back to the hotel pool for a couple more cocktails, bliss.
Feeling lazy, we didn’t achieve much over the rest of the day until we got hungry and wandered out to find a restaurant.
We ordered more tacos, a drowned sandwich (in a spicy tomato sauce) and two micheladas. The micheladas received mixed reviews. I liked it but Anna had two sips out of her one litre drink and couldn’t face any more.
I’m not entirely sure what a michelada is but I think it’s a litre of beer with spicy sauce, salt, pepper, ice and optional shrimps. Admittedly it was bit odd but not dissimilar to a bloody mary.
After an early night and American TV I got up early and used the hotel gym in an unsuccessful attempt to combat all the lager, tequila and bread I’ve eaten since arriving here.
I then had a ‘tight arse’s nightmare’ and realised the hotel provided a free breakfast buffet,. This meant we spent unnecessary money on breakfast elsewhere the day before. It was an emotionally confusing moment for me personally as I had received a free breakfast but still knowing I could of had two!
It was time to leave our 4 star hotel and Cancun behind as we donned our backpacks, booked a hostel in Akumal, and set off to try and work out how the bus system works here.
With a little help from Google translate, my very basic Spanish succeeded as we got a very reasonable ticket and found our bus to Akumal.
I’m glad most people have arms. If it wasn’t for them pointing, I would have had no idea what they were banging on about after I asked for directions.
Walking to our hostel in Akumal, we were immediately happier with our surroundings than in Cancun. Far more rugged, covered in commissioned graffiti, roaming street dogs and not a chain hotel in sight. We wandered through the small town with our big ‘ole backpacks on and felt more at home than we had in the previous few days of relative “luxury”.
After a confusing check in, complete with a mix of broken English and Spanish and we were pleasantly surprised by our room considering the outside of the building wouldn’t look amiss in central Mosul!
Another slow day of exploring the town and it’s little backstreet restaurants was had. In one, Anna shrieked thinking she had seen a rat but it turned out to be a lost tortoise casually plodding through the room.
That evening we were drawn into another small restaurant by the delicious smell of a BBQ. We were handed a huge platter of authentic food and a local even shared his tequila with us. Luckily it didn’t have much effect due to the huge mass of chicken, salsa, tortillas and guacamole we had consumed.
Akumal is known for its large population of turtles and sting rays that live in its shallow, calm waters so we rented some snorkle gear the following day to go and explore.
Avoiding the numerous scam artists who claimed you could only snorkle with a guide we made our way down the beach and got into the water.
Unfortunately we were evaded by turtles and sting rays but did see a lot of tropical fish so we didn’t leave disappointed.
As the beach is in a protected zone, you do have to pay 100 pesos (roughly £4) to ente. After returning our gear, we grabbed a few pre mix cocktail cans from the shop, found a quiet spot on the beach and relaxed for a few more hours, making the most of the entrance fee.
We were briefly joined by a couple of iguanas who were sunbathing a few feet away from us.
For dinner we found a small place serving food. With only a metal sheet for a roof, there were many locals there and we decided that it would be the place for us.
The food was simple but great and we rounded off the evening at a little bar named tequilaville.
We awoke the next morning with our first Mexican hangover. As we tried to check out of our accomodation, we couldn’t find any staff so had to leave the hotel without an adiós. Oh well.
As we were wondering how to move onto our next stop, a collectivo (shared taxi used by locals) turned up and asked if we needed a lift to Tulum, which we did.