Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 14 Cancun to Tulum Mexico

As my last blog said, I absolutely loved the Chac-mool cenote cave diving. So wouldn’t you know it, I searched around again and found another awesome Cenote, the Dos Ojos Cenote, as recommended to me by my great friend Duncan McDonald. 

All I can say is wow….. This one was like flooding Carlsbad Caverns and diving through it. My pictures didn’t come out too good compared to the other ones because there was not enough light in this cave and made pictures impossible with my little goPro camera.

It was literally pitch black swimming through these amazing caves with just and underwater flash light, but 300+ feet of visibility and amazing stalactite sand stalagmites were clearly visible and a wondrous thing to behold in front of my eyes.

Not to self: when you are sick fighting a fever, sore throat and muscle aches, do not go scuba diving two days in a row in Cenotes, with very cold 70 degree water for a few hours, lowering your immune system and having your illness make the next few days riding am motorcycle unbearable and extremely painful with high fever, intense muscle aches, coughing and chest pains, regardless of the once  in a life time appeal of such an experience, or the fact that you don’t eat anything the whole day just because you want to make it on time to a cenote for their last trip of the day. Or maybe not, I leave that to your own crazy and ridiculous discretion.

I made a new friend called Günter from Austria that dove with me, and once again had a cool German accent in Spanish. I also met my diving guide Edgar, who apparently used to live in San Francisco, and came back to the Yucatan because he was tired of paying the San Francisco cheap rent of $1500 a month for his 1 room apartment.

I also got a nice reminder that in the US, life is governed by law and checks and balances. While in Mexico, life is governed by who you know and people, as kindly reminded to me when cars were being pulled over to pay fees to enter the Dos Ojos Cenote, while Edgar had made friends with the guy up front and he waved him by the rest of the cars without pay. Viva Mexico!

After Cenote diving we made it to the town of Tulum, where we had some authentic Chinese food made by Mexicans….just like in the states, I felt right at home.

We then visited the Tulum ruins, which was rated the #1 thing to see in Mexico by Lonely Planet travel guide.

I’m sorry to say, I believe they were wrong. Crowds, long lines, massive tourists, one main ruin to see and expensive is all it was. Besides the nice 100 ft long beach with the ruins over it, it was a total bust, a tourist trap, taking money from you for parking, entrance fee and charging $20 pesos for a small soda. Yes the beach was beautiful with the ruins in the background, but that is all this place really had to offer.

Uxmal is definitely still my #1 pick of Mayan sites to visit along with Teotihuacan.

After a painful night of fighting my illness, I was feeling the after affects in the morning, and off we were to Belize.

Before entering Belize, I tried to sell a bullet proof vest my dad had lying around the house, to which Brett decided to bring on the trip with us. Well needless to say, with all the violence and such, u would think it would be easy to sell such a thing, in fact it was extremely difficult to try and sell. People and pawn shops didn’t want to do anything with such a thing after walking around Chetumal for a few hours trying to dispose of it. Besides the guy on the street that approached me trying to sell me what looked like a fake camera, there were no real prspective buyers.

 So once again, I’m stuck dragging along this stupid bullet proof vest I didn’t want along in my trip all over Latin America and try to sell it.

As we arrived in Belize, I started to realize, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Or in this case, in my first “real” foreign country.

As we drove in, we had to get our passports stamped out of Mexico, and our vehicle importation document sorted out, which took less than 50 min. Arriving in Belize we went through Belize customs and immigration which took another 50 min. I’m thinking to myself, oh boy I have 13 more of these international entries to go, and this is the easy one, can’t wait until I get to the hard ones like Guatemala and Honduras, bribes here we go!

So once in Belize we were confronted with a random man that said we had to get our motorcycles “fumigated” to go through, and he was the one to get it for us. Well as sketchy as it seemed , he looked official and thus paid the man $10 US dollars to get our papers, he quickly jumped on a car and said he’d be back……needless to say Brett and I looked at each other and we both thought, “dang, we just got haggled for $10”.

So as the man went off, we proceeded get our mandatory Belize vehicle insurance that cost $200 pesos (18 US dollars) for a week. After our decals and importation papers were finished, we luckily saw that random man come back with our papers. So yes, it was true about the fumigation papers, he then told us of how cops around Belize loves bribes, and told us how to protect ourselves and what to do and not to do etc. So we paid him a nice tip and onward we went.

As we drove through this beautiful country, and its un-believable (un-belizable) huge pot holes and bad roads, I started to miss Mexico. (better get used to my un-belizable corny belize joke)

At this point I realized that all my life I never truly felt as if I was a complete Mexican, as if something was missing or was wrong. The fact that I’m a light skinned, skinny(athletic) 6”2 tall Hispanic male living in the states doesn’t help my case. But regardless , yes I speak the language, I have the family, I’ve eaten my abuelitas food, I lived in Mexico, I love lime, I’ve drank tequila, I love soccer, but something has always been missing. Now that I have traversed the entire country by land, lived with the people, interacted with the people, seen and lived the violence through the people, lived through the food, the locations, learned the history, the spirit, received discounts because I am a Mexican national, bargained my way through deals, given loads of tips, asked countless direction off the streets and random people, Mexicans saw me as a fellow Mexican never knowing I was born in another country. I finally felt I have earned my place as a complete Mexican, since I have been through all this in every part of the country from north to south and even with the taramaura indios. I’ve learned about my the majority of my people in a deep profound way not many have the privialge to do. I now feel a strong bond and connection to call this country my own in a sense and finally feel I have completed my goal of learning about Mexico the right way and being one with it. Viva Mexico!

On a better not, here’s a list things I found funny and interesting for you amusement….

Things I learned in Mexico

1.       If you want huge amazing muscular arms-become a Mexican lawnmower, they are the guys on the side other high way with machete’s clotting the grass all day swinging their arms to the ground cutting the grass on the shoulder of the road.

2.       The best tortas you’ll ever have will be in the most random and dangerous of places and can never be duplicated.
      "auto hotels" are places where there's typically a garage for each hotel room. And is also the hang out place where people take their prostitutes to get their money worth, and let everyone know by leaving the windows open for all to hear



Things I’ll miss about Mexico

1.       The rampant dogs that try to bite my leg and at the motorcycle when they heard me coming down the street.

2.       The amazing people

3.       The amazing tortas for $15 pesos

4.       Aguas frescas for $10 pesos!

5.       My carrot juice from Merida

6.       Cenote scuba diving

7.       The redundant conversations about the same thing over and over again with the gas station fuel pumpers.

The smell of the fresh fruit farms when you drive by

Things I won’t miss about Mexico

1.       The horrible speed bumps

2.       Always having $5 US or more in coins in my pocket

3.       The smelly rotting trash and feces smell that occurs randomly

4.       Breathing in the pollution and smog from vehicles missing their mufflers and lack of emissions control.

5.       The  costly toll roads

6.       Stupid federal police speeding by you at 110 mph

T   The sick dogs that are hurt, missing legs, or look as if they are about to die due to lack of water and/or food

      The funny looks people give us when we drive into "auto hotels", two males, completely oblivious to the fact of their true nature they behold and think of us because of it


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