My number one Mexico must-see was Chichen Itza. I’m a history nut, so coming face to face with one of the seven wonders of the world (according to some lists, anyway) was something I didn’t want to miss out on!
Early in our planning I’d thought I would do a day trip to Chichen Itza from Tulum or Playa del Carmen, but eventually we planned our itinerary in a way that meant we didn’t have to take part in an overpriced tour.
We decided to drive from Tulum to Chichen Itza. We’d already been driving around the Yucatan Peninsula quite a lot, so we weren’t too nervous about the drive. The highways in this area are well maintained, and we hadn’t run into any issues so far. Yes, can you sense that foreboding?
We left in the morning, and the drive itself took about two hours. There was a stop in a tiny Mexican town for a desperate toilet trip, but this part of the drive was quite uneventful. Since Chichen Itza is Mexico’s top tourist destination you are very unlikely to get lost on the way.
We arrived mid-morning, and the carpark was already packed. It was also burning hot, and reached 40 degrees Celsius while we were walking around. It’s a huge site, but unfortunately there are a lot of touts and people selling things on the actual pathways inside the site right in front of the temples. Combined with the huge numbers of tour groups it’s not the most relaxing place in Mexico!
I spent about 45 minutes walking around and looking at all the different structures and buildings. It was impressive, but having been to Tikal just two weeks earlier it wasn’t as mindblowing as I had expected. To protect the structures you can’t walk or climb on any of them (which is fair enough!) but there is plenty to look at. Eventually however the hot sun did me in and I had to escape for a cool refreshing coke.
Most people visit a nearby cenote to cool off, so that’s what we did next. The most popular one is the Sacred Cenote, where you walk down a series of steps and ramps until you reach a huge waterhole. The water is really deep, so people kind of cling to the edge. I imagine it could get very crowded, but it was just what we needed.
We then drove on to Merida. And this was where we ran into trouble. Because as we travelled down the highway in our two car convoy, we came across a kind of blockade with police cars. Who immediately pulled us over.
Unfortunately we didn’t speak Spanish, and they didn’t speak English. They looked through our car, although I don’t know what they were searching for. They all had huge guns and were wearing pretty serious uniforms. And they were laughing a lot and smiling, and gave us a thumbs up when they saw a bottle of vodka. Of course no locals were pulled over, but they were all slowing down to watch what was happening.
It felt like it lasted forever, but we basically showed them one passport, they kind of opened a couple of bags but didn’t look inside, and then they waved us on. We got back in the car, drove in silence for a few minutes and then started freaking out. That’s the kind of thing everyone says happens in Mexico, but we hadn’t expected it to happen to us!
We spent one night in Merida at Luz En Yucatan which was super cute. It was probably the most “authentic” place we stayed in, although I’m not sure what authentic really even means anymore. We had a walk around Merida and everyone agreed it was nice to see a real Mexican city rather than the tourist destinations we’d been in so far.
And then we flew to Cabo. A place that exists entirely for tourists.
As connoisseurs of Laguna Beach and The Hills, we’d all become aware of Cabo as a must-visit party destination thanks to LC, Kristin and the rest of the gang’s drunken trips to Mexico. But by total coincidence (seriously) we ended up staying in the exact hotel they stayed in. At least we think so. We looked up as many clips on YouTube to compare as possible.
The hotel was the ME Cabo, and I can’t say I was that impressed. It was a big, flashy, lifeless hotel that was empty for most of our stay. The pool was nice enough, and it was right on the beach. But it was expensive, and felt pretty soulless.
Most of our time in Cabo was spent either in the pool (which did have a party vibe on a few of the days we were there), walking along the beach or eating at the nearby restaurants. There are things to do around Cabo but they’re all quite touristy, and we just weren’t that interested. Plus I’d now been in Central America for four weeks, and I was happy just to do nothing. We had four nights in Cabo, and that was more than enough.
And suddenly my time in Mexico was over. Would I go again? Absolutely, and I’d love to see more of Central America. Costa Rica is definitely on my list, as well as Honduras and Nicaragua. And don’t even get me started on South America!