With 2.5 weeks planned for Mexico and Belize, what better occasion to resurrect the travel blog, we thought!
We had been saving what's left of our annual leave this year in order to take an extended Christmas break in the sunshine - and not having taken any time off since July, a holiday feels long overdue...and it feels good to forget about work until the new year!
So we decided on some familiar territory (Mexico's Yucatan Peninsular) and some new: Belize's cayes (pronounced 'keys') which are just over the Mexican border at Chetumal.
The day before we left London there were glitches with the air traffic control computer system, so we feared we would be held up (or even have our flight cancelled, if the news was anything to go by). Now, our flight was delayed - but not for the reasons you might have imagined: One of the cabin crew tripped over and cut his head (before we took off) so we had to wait while they called for medical assistance and took his bag off the plane.
Then when we did land there was another plane on 'our' stand in the airport so we had to wait for them to move before we could disembark.
It wasn't a massive delay but we were certainly glad when we finally arrived at our accommodation in Isla Mujeres by 10pm Mexican time (about 4am UK time) - a long day's travel but worth it!
Since then we've been relaxing and enjoying ourselves, hanging out on the beach and sampling Mexico's cuisine (tacos, burritos, quesadillas and chicken mole - a savoury sauce made from chocolate, spices and chilli), and cocktails (something tequila-based for me and rum-based for Kev!)
In Isla we went scuba diving on our second morning - our first dive was in the underwater museum, amongst the stone statues of people, followed by a second dive I the nearby Manchiones Reef - and then we hired out a golf cart in the afternoon to drive around the island (which is only 5 miles long), though Kev's off-road antics meant we had to pay an excess on return for cleaning!
It was lovely to be back on Isla - which hasn't changed a bit since we were last there 2 years ago, so it was easy to relax into our holiday with such familiar surroundings.
The weather so far has been pretty good - cooler than we expected at around 26 or 27 degrees Celsius, but definitely hot enough in the sun - and scorching compared to England in any case!
Unsurprisingly it doesn't feel very Christmassy over here - there's something about summery weather that just doesn't feel festive, but there are Christmas trees and decorations everywhere, including a few snowy scenes and shivering snowmen which do look a little out of place, as you can imagine!
After 3 days in Isla Mujeres we took the Ado bus (much like a Mexican version of the Greyhound buses in America) to our next stop, Tulum, where we spent the next 4 days.
Tulum is a charming beachside town surrounded by jungle and with a motorway running through the middle of it.
Our accommodation happened to be right on the main road so we did feel a bit like we were living at a truck stop. In addition to this, we were right by a speed bump so had the constant squeal of big lorries and cars slamming on their brakes in a desperate bid to slow down before the bump, which usually ended in the car bottoming out - it basically sounded like a constant series of car pile-ups throughout the day and night! Still, it's funny how quickly we got used to this and were soon sleeping through the noise.
However on the other side of the premises was jungle, and we were visited one morning by a large family of coates (pronounced co-ah-tees), which are Mexican raccoons. As we enjoyed our breakfast in the garden, twenty-odd raccoons descended on us from the treetops to be fed by the hostel owner - this experience is not to be confused however with eating breakfast (or trying to eat breakfast) with the monkeys around in Borneo! The coates are timid and not aggressive (and very cute!)
One particularly sunny morning, we got up early to go to Casa Cenote - one of the many 'cenotes' or limestone sinkholes across the region. Casa Cenote is situated right by the beach so the water in the cenote was saline, rather than the usual (freezing) fresh water. We hired a kayak, a snorkel and mask and spent the morning paddling around in the water, then spent the afternoon on the adjacent beach, reading and watching the pelicans dive into the sea.
The next stop on our trip is Belize - I'll write you another post from there.
I hope the Christmas preparations are going well!
Sarah and Kev xx