Mexico Journal Pt. 1

In addition to general updates, we´re adding a travel journal that won´t be updated as often, but will contain more photos and detailed adventures...

Leaving the States - Cancún
After weeks of debating when we would leave and return, we arrived at the Orlando airport on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 26th, sleep deprived and anxious. Thanks to Bijou and Tony for making it easier for us to get there and get some sleep.
 The plane was late but quick and we met up with Jacob at the gate in Ft Lauderdale. I was hoping to mail some packages from the airport post office before we left, but since the plane was late to make the connection, I had to bring them with us. Jacob was exhausted from staying up all night to fly in from Atlanta, but we made it Cancún without any problems. After we were stamped through customs, we were approached by a few people in yellow uniforms with a golden lab looking for agricultural goods that couldn´t be brought in the country. We picked up our bags from the baggage claim and went through another round of security checks. Then we exchanged some money (at a terrible exchange rate by the way) and got tickets for a bus to Playa del Carmen. We booked it out of Cancún to spend the night on the beach and try to get a hold of my friend William in Merída, and catch up on sleep.

Playa Del Carmen
We arrived in Playa del Carmen in the afternoon and went looking for the hostel that I stayed at last time I was there. We found it, ´La Ruina´, and arranged to stay there for 60 pesos a night, and got settled. In deciding to set up the tent for the night, we realized that we didn´t have the poles: first major setback. The weather was awesome, hot and sunny, so we took a little dip in the ocean and wandered around looking for cheap vegetarian meals and water. Playa del Carmen is nice a nice place to start a journey, sleeping in a hammock on the beach and having a cold drink in the sand. Being a tourist town, most of the people are familiar with many languages, but the shopkeepers don´t ever let down the barrage of "Hey friend, I have what you want right here," everything from hats to drugs. I wanted to make a shirt that said "We´re travelers NOT tourists. No thanks." -bridge

This is my first trip to Mexico and I wasn´t sure what to expect. The tourist nature of Playa del Carmen took me aback at first as did my lack of sleep and inability to cope with such hot humid weather. After a snack of avocados and a dip in the ocean though the adventurous spirit returned. Playa del Carmen was a nice "halfway house" between the US and Mexico. -bird

Chichén Itzá
After 2 nights in tourist town getting our bearings in Mexico and catching up on sleep, we borrowed an alarm from our Italian hostelmates and woke up at 5am to catch a 6am bus to the ruins at Chichén Itzá. We got off at a little tourist center and had to pay an entrance fee of around 166 pesos. The  road to the ruins was lined with vendors selling everything from carved wooden masks to shawls to knives. Like in Playa del Carmen, they were used to the tourists and kept up a steady barrage of  "10 pesos! $1! Mas barato!" One man even said, "Buy here, cheaper than Walmart!" A humid heat made my northern self feel like I was walking through a warm bath and the tropical trees of the Yucatan behind the vendors added a surreal feeling that I was on a movie set. The first view of the ruins themselves was breathtaking. In a clearing stands huge stone edifices intricately carved. Walking around and seeing all of the tiny details and reading the history was incredible. 
After walking around looking at the ruins for a long time, we had to make the decision of going into Piste and staying the night or traveling on to Merída. We opted for a meal of pizza and margaritas and then hopping on another bus to Merída to meet up with Joe´s friend William. The beach and the ruins were both beautiful in their own way but I was excited to go somewhere that felt a little bit more real and a little bit less like a tourist set-up. -bird

A city! A city! As the bus rolled into Mérida I watched the urban life roll by (not always a good thing) and was amazed at how globalization works. In some ways Mérida is uniquely distinct, in others there is still a Coca-Cola advertisement on every corner. We walked from the bus stop to the Plaza Mayor, the center of Mérida and the locale of the governor´s palace/Yucateca Mayan History Museum. We finally met up with Joe´s friend William and he was incredibly gracious. During our stay he showed incredibly hospitality, friendliness, and generosity. He told us many interesting facts about Mérida from sociological and political history to punk history. He and his wife Elysse also told us about the holiday Hanal Pixan, the Yucatecan Halloween that was happening while we were there. He introduced us to some of his friends there who were equally as wonderful. We walked around a lot, explored the markets and the museum, and just hungout with friends like we would in the states. By that I mean, we quickly realized there is a universal love of talking about music and sharing youtube videos and eating pizza. The second morning we were in Mérida, Oscar´s mom Gaby (at who´s house we stayed) made us a really amazing breakfast. While all of the boys were upstairs hanging out I got to have a really amazing one on one conversation with her. I´m really appreciating getting to know all kinds of people as we travel. Mérida feels very special. -bird

Mérida to San Cristóbal 
Though we were forewarned not to take night buses, the only bus leaving Mérida in time to get us to San Cris for Dia de los Muertos left at 11:50pm to Palenque. We caught the bus and slept through most of the night. The buses here are freezing cold all of the time. From Palenque to San Cristóbal however we started going through the mountains. The mountains are epic and beautiful here but a little trying on the brain and body to go through them being shaken on an old bus. We passed through little Zapatista towns and though I felt a bit queasy I couldn´t tear my eyes away. I sat next to an old abuela who was from the area and every once in a while she would point out a river or a town. When we passed through the Zapatista villages I tried to superimpose them onto the map in my brain and any information I may have previously learned. It all amounted to a feeling of being very impressed with the importance of this place. I couldn´t have been happier to get off of the bus though.... -bird