Cancun has two parts: the hotel zone (or the 'ho zone' as we backpackers jokingly call it) and downtown. The hotel zone has the beach and all the fancy resorts. Then there's the 'real' Cancun, or downtown where the actual Mexicans live. Because I could afford it downtown, that's where I stayed, but just because it's real shouldn't imply that it's better. It's not. Downtown Cancun is basically a mini-America of concrete and fast food restaurants and a few more Mexicans about than in the US. . . Maybe. Worst of all the beach is a 30 minute drive away, which pretty much leaves nothing to do other than eat McDonalds while perusing Walmart.
|Too many tourists, ruins of Tulum, Mexico|
I approached the front desk: "hola or, uh, buenos notches. Umm, reservation Jordan Wagner. . .Umm una female dorm. . .or damas dorm I think. . .por favour," I attempted.
"hi Jordan - yes we have you here," he answered in perfect English (clearly I wasn't in South America anymore), "but we don't have a female only dorm, it's mixed."
I sighed, irritated. The advertisement on the Internet had specified a female-only dorm and I had sent an e-mail confirming that I would, in fact, be put in that dorm. That - along with the $10/night price tag - was the only reason I chose this hostel. Apparently they are bunch of liars around here! Let me explain, I'm not so prudish that I think males and females shouldn't bunk together, I have done so often. However, experience has taught me that I prefer a female-only dorm for 3 reasons. First of all, I am an extremely light sleeper and statistically females are less likely to snore. If there is snoring, they at least tend to do it quieter. Secondly, dorms often have mixed toilets and there is a reason why in almost every other situation bathroom activities of males and females are separated. I don't want to know what goes on in there, it's awkward, and the last thing I want is to stumble in to a toilet with the seat left up and piss dribbling down the side. Yuck. Finally, most of the boys in dorms are perfectly pleasant, but occasionally I've been stuck with some creepy asshole, and I like to avoid this inconvenient situation, if possible. It appeared in this hostel, however, I wasn't going to have a choice.
|My very nice hotel in Playa del Carmen|
Next I went to Playa del Carmen. It was, admittedly, a nice beach. It was also a busy beach with a mega-resort feel, which is not really my thing (somewhat ironically since I live in a mega ski resort, but it's just different when it comes to beaches, I want them to be pristine and empty!). I took the public bus out to the ruins of Tulum, the only Mayan site right on the ocean. I was quite possibly the hottest I've ever been as I walked the road to the park entrance. It was so roasting the heat waves had heat waves, and I picked 1:00pm to be out and about. I arrived at the ruins and discovered it wasn't only me that had braved the heat, there were hundreds and hundreds of tourists in a park not that big. A dark-clouded thunder storm was rolling in and the light and setting were amazing. Now, if only I could get a photo of the ruins without 5 dozen Americans posing in front of them. It was nearly impossible, but I managed to snap a few.
|Local chilling, Caye Caulker|
|View just before I hopped in the water, snorkelling, Belize|
|Me at Tikal, Guatemala|
Tikal was cool, but at the risk of sounding like a total travel snob, I thought Ankor Wat in Cambodia was a titch better. What Tikal has that Ankor Wat does not is silence. There are no 8 year olds pursuing you ruthlessly to buy their post cards then giving you the finger when you don't (yes, I witnessed this at Ankor Wat). No one much is at Tikal, you can wander through the jungle in peace, then BAM you walk into an 1100 year old ruin. Pretty awesome. It was, however, the hottest day of all time on the day I was there, so after a few hours in the mind burning heat I was ready to hurl myself off of one of the pyramids. I am generally quite heat tolerant, in fact I like the heat, but there is no way around discomfort at 98% humidity and 38 degrees Celsius. BLEH.
I'm still sweating it out in Central America, but today is rainy. I have less than 2 weeks to go until my journey is at it's end. I will try to get one more blog post in before then.