A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico Road Trip 09

A 2000 Mile Round Trip starting in Cancun and going towards Mexico City

sunny 37 °C
View Chris' round the world trip on dezmondos's travel map.

It wasn’t a great start to my Mexico trip, I was meant to be getting into Cancun airport at 12.45 and meeting Tahnee at 4pm but when I turned up at 4.30am at Santa Domingo airport the flight was delayed for 3 hours which meant I missed connection. 14 hours of waiting at airports woop woop – it made me regret the decision of going clubbing the night before in DR – I left the club and went straight to the airport – not a good decision. Anyway I finally made it to Cancun – poor Tahnee she had been waiting 6 hours Im not complaining though, I will have to get used to this over the next year or so I bet!
We arrived at our hostel and the sensible thing would have been to sleep but no, we cracked open the duty free vodka and went for it. Now I think that im quite sensible, especially when I get in to a new country – I like to find my bearings. But nope, we left the hostel blind drunk to find a bar. I can honestly say I cannot remember a thing – apart from not being able to remember the name or location of our hostel, lol. The next day was not a good day for us – we were both suffering from upset stomachs ( a nice way of putting it) we were thinking it must have been the ice in the drinks – doh.
We went for a bit of an explore of Cancun that day – we headed towards the hotel zone which is where the beach is. It is low season at present in Mexico so everything was pretty quite in Cancun which suited me fine – didn’t really fancy an 18 -30’s style trip to Cancun. On this trip I want to get as much local transport as possible for we were bussing it everywhere which if you know me is a big achievement – I won’t even get buses in England. We headed for a walk down the beach and it was amasing – not quite on par with Nassua in the Bahamas but still pretty impressive.
One of the main reasons in coming to Cancun was we wanted a bit of party for my birthday – yep I am now 27! Doh – its going to fast. We decided to blow the budget for the day and go for a jungle tour as they call it – it was 2 hours on a jetski with 40 minutes snorkelling, it was an amasing experience, we took off through the lagoon and went out about four miles off the coast where our jetski decided to run out of Gas! It would have been scary but luckily the guy sorted us out. We tied up the jetskis to a buoy and went snorkelling. I have to say it was one of the highlights of my trip so far – we were miles offshore but only in about 15 – 20 feet of water. There was so many fish all around us – Tahnee reckoned she saw a sea turtle but I didn’t see it so I don’t really believe her ;-). The experience made me want to get to Honduras even quicker to get my diving qualification. I was getting stalked by to Barracudas which was pretty scary to be honest, especially when they go for your flippers!
It was good news on my birthday – Tahnee decided to extend her trip so she was now gonna hang around till I made it to Bolivia. I always wanted to do this trip on my own but Tahnee is pretty laid back – similar to myself so I couldn’t see any problems. After a very drunken night out for my birthday we heading to pick up our car for a 10 day road trip of Mexico covering 2000 miles. We were heading to Campeche, Puebla and Mexico City. We met some friends in the USA from Mexico so we were going to Puebla to stay with them. We headed towards Campeche but stopped in Chichen Itza to see the Mayan ruins – one of the new 7 wonders of the world – I can see why they call it that. People are no longer allowed to climb up it after someone feel a few years back which was really disappointing as I really wanted to go up – I was thinking about making a run for it but the guards with the assault rifles soon put that thought out of my head.
Before I go on, I just want to say we did no preparation for this road trip, we set out from Cancun with no maps and no accommodation booked – probably not the best idea but it made the trip a lot more interesting. We arrived in Campeche – its is a small historical town on the coast, no beach to speak of but it has a really nice centre with a cathedral. Our hostels balcony looked out right over the central square – such nice view – shame I couldn’t say the same about the hostel! The toilets and showers were disgusting – they stank and the cockroaches running around on the floor didn’t help – but hey I’m sure I will be staying in worse places in South America so I will get used to it. The next day we drove about 6 hours to Villahermosa through the coastal city of Cuidad Del Carmen. The coastal road was no where near as pretty as I expected but we saw so much of the Mexican culture and the way they live. One thing that we were not expecting on this tour is the amount of Army checkpoints. They were everywhere, we got pulled a few times but as they couldn’t understand our very broken Spanish they just waved us on our way. We were told not to travel at night in Mexico as the army checkpoints like to my tourists wallets a lot lighter.
We arrived at Villahermosa to spend the night in the hostel – we had the address but could we find it?? (there was only one in the city) nope. So after driving around for about two hours we gave up and went for a beer and some food. Its amasing that how after a few beers everything looks and feels alot better – so we stumbled upon this cheap hotel, used Spanish to book a room (they actually understood us, woo hoo). We met some Mexicans, so we decided to go and see them in Puebla, which is about 2 hours away from Mexico City. So we set off on our 7 hour journey to Puebla , again we turned up with no map and only a destination point – the Zocalo, it an historical market square. Now Puebla is a big city – I would guess the size of Manchester and I don’t know how but we found it.
We were staying at Dianas’ and we went out that night with Diana, Majari, Aldo and one of Dianas’ sisters., and what a night it was, we drove to Le Tigre a pretty cool bar where it was only $30 for a bottle of vodka! So naturally we bought two. Anyway to cut a long story short it was very messy! Majari was being very ill, and we had to get back with the car. I was in no state to drive so Dianas sister volunteered – now she had been drinking all night aswell but it still seemed like a better idea for her to drive. We got back and then found out she didn’t even have a license! Good old Mexico. I made a right idiot of myself that night, in my drunken state I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, slipped over in the bathroom and smashed the sink and ripped it off the wall good and proper – so embarrassing trying to explain that the next morning!
We saw all the sights the next day, we walked around the historical centre and visited the cathedral. It was a really good day and even funnier when Tahnee got accosted by two street performers in front of a hundred strong crowd. We needed a quiet one that night as the night before was starting to take its toll, so we all went bowling, where Manuel and Najari joined us which was good to see them again. We had a really good time in Puebla we really got to know the local life of Puebla and we would never have experienced that without our Mexican hosts. We had to leave the next day but went to see Aldo play football and played a bit of crazy golf. We had to visit Mexico City being as we had come that far, it is huge – took about an hour to get there and an hour to reach the centre. We found our hostel and had a pretty quiet night - the driving was beginning to catch up with us. It is amasingly cheap for beer in Mexico city, for a 1.2 litre of Corona it was costing about $2 – and thats in a bar – and it only gets cheaper from here!
The next morning we headed on a free tour of the city – I have to admit I’m not really into history but the tour was really interesting – we were taken to the plaza , the third biggest in the world . Did you know that Mexico City is the biggest city in the world with 22million people? I didn’t! Also the city is actually sinking as it was built on a lake, if you look around you can actually see the streets sinking in places and the buildings are sinking. We went to the national palace which has some amasing paintings on the walls and we learnt all about the history of the country. We met a couple of girls on the tour from Slovenia and all decided to go to Teotihuacan which was some more Mayan ruins – which is where the Pyramid of the sun and moon are located. They were impressive – not as pretty as Chichen Itza but we could climb up these. The view was great, although the climb was pretty tough. The locals were driving us crazy with the constant badgering to buy cheap crap – it wasn’t even good quality!
Now we were going to Honduras after Mexico so we started looking at how to get there. Flights were not an option as they were around $400 but I had heard about a ferry that leaves Belize on a Friday to Honduras but it only leaves once a week. The is also a big political battle going on in Honduras at the moment so it was not wise to travel through the capital – we have heard that there has been curfews and no one is allowed out after dark – but this is on the mainland – we hoped! So it made even more sense to stay along the coast. So we had 4 days to get to Placencia in Belize.
The drive back to Cancun was an experience – maybe not one I would like to do again, but definitely an experience. We drove 14 hours back to Campeche and then another six the following day. Once in Cancun it was a five hour coach trip to Chetumal – on the border of Mexico to Belize. We made it all that way and got told there was no more buses that day so we found a hostel and caught up on some sleep for our 5am wake up the next morning. Now the bus station had told us the bus leaves at 6am in the morning – so we arrived at 5.45 and yep, guess what there was a 6am bus but not from this station – if only they told us this the day before! So we got a taxi to the other station (which was actually a cafe) and then started our 4 hour chicken bus trip to Belize City.
Well thats the end of my Mexico trip – I have to say it was nothing that I had expected. Mexicans are one of the friendliest nationalities I have ever met! They were always willing to help and not once did I feel worried about my safety. There is loads of talk about Mexico being a dangerous country- don’t get me wrong, im sure certain places are but then so is England if you went to the wrong area. I would recommend a visit to anyone.

Right – next stop Honduras (with a brief visit in Belize)

Posted by dezmondos 05:18 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo and Samana

sunny 35 °C
View Chris' round the world trip on dezmondos's travel map.

Well the cruise was the end of our foursome – its been such a good laugh hanging out with Katherine, Tahnee and Hava – definitely three friends for life. After a sad goodbye me and Katherine headed to the airport for our flight to the Dominican Republic - with one hell of a hangover from the night before. After a gruelling eight hour wait at Miami airport we boarded our flight – the flight ranks up there with one of the worst I have been on – we flew straight into a lightning storm – now I would say that im a pretty good flyer but I was shitting myself (whilst putting on a brave face for Katherine of course), there was so much turbulence and the constant flashes of lightning through the windows was more then a little concerning! To be honest it probably wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for my hangover. The last night on the cruise was a bit of a crazy one to say the least – I wont bore you with the details but it ended up with me, Tahnee, Hava and a bunch of Puerto Ricans deciding it would be a good idea for a late night swim – and then being threatened with not being allowed to disembark the next morning.
Katherines mum and one of her sisters picked us up from the airport that night – and oh my god! I thought Italians were the worst drivers I have ever seen. Dominicans are CRAZY drivers – for example there were cars racing each other in the streets right in front of the police, and a red light apparently means you only have to stop if you feel like it! I was staying between Katherines house and Fabios’ – who I also met at camp this year.
I spent the first two nights a Katherines house – I met her two sisters and mum – which is an amazing cook – there was definitely no chance of me going hungry here! We spent the first two days on the beach up in the touristy area – I was a little concerned when it came to the time to park and the parking attendants were carrying shotguns! After the first two days it really dawned on me that I need to brush up on my Spanish (did I say brush up? I mean learn Spanish!) as I wouldn’t always have Katherine around to help me out.
The good thing about staying with Katherine was that I got to see the real Dominican Republic – most of the people here have never even seen an English person. I had to be a little careful – I mean I couldn’t walk down the street on my own at night – but im ok with that – we were in the city. Right back to the food – I love it, we went to the street vendors and bought empanadas, which is kind of a fried tortilla filled with meat, cheese etc and oh my god it was amazing – and cheap. We took it down to the sea front with a few beers and sat to watch the sunset. I still cant get over the prices – beers and food for three cost 300 pesos which is about 4-5 quid – bargain! There is also loads of fruits I have never even seen before – I would recommend trying Limoncillos – they kind of look like grapes with a hard shell – you peel them and suck on the seed inside – tastes like lemon and is gorgeous.
We were staying in Santo Domingo – the countries capital, but we headed up the coast to Bocachica when we went to the beach – the public beach was a bit of a nightmare as being white they think you have lots of money and are constantly hassling you to buy some overpriced tacky gift. So we headed to one of the restaurants that had its own private beach – oh my god I was in heaven – it was like something out of the movies – now the first time we went I turned up in shorts and a vest top – was a bit of a mistake as in the Dominican Republic everyone wears white to the beach so I stood out even more. The second time however I was prepared! I thought I looked like a bit of a tit to be honest but I wore a white linen shirt and trousers – I fitted straight in!
That night I also had my first driving experience... I have to admit I was a little cautious at first being as it wasn’t my car and these drivers are complete nutters but I quickly found out that if you dive the way everyone else does you do just fine – its not in my nature to ignore red lights, especially when there is a police car next to me but as they say ‘when in Rome’!
There were two days that really stood out for me on this visit:
1: Now I had been staying between Katherines and Fabios place so we went out with one of Fabios housemates Sergio and his girlfriend. It was such a laugh – after quite a bit of vodka at their place we headed out to the old town – went to a few bars and nothing much was happening so we decided to all go to the strip club (sorry mum, the girls wanted to go more then us!) Well that was the plan anyway – when we got to the car and the battery was dead, shit. It was funny as we were drunk but it wasn’t somewhere you wanted to be broken down with two girls. We were trying to flag people down for a while when one stopped – only problem was they didn’t have any jump leads, so in typical Dominican style they went to work and took the battery out of their car and turned it upside down onto our battery so the terminals met to start the car – crazy – but it worked! Anyway, we went to the strip club that was now closed as we took so long – doh. So we decided to call it a night as it was getting close to 4am, on the way a police car drove by, obviously saw that I was a gringo and there could be a quick buck to be made and with his flashing lights pulled up beside us and was waving us down. I was like shit ‘come on lets pull over’ – but no, this is Dominican Republic, Katherine shrugged and just drove off down another street. I was in a state of shock but apparently that is what you do... thank god they didn’t try and follow us!
2: Then there was Samana at the north of the country. I drove to Samana – yep that’s right I drove 3 hours there and back – I stand by this statement – Dominicans are the craziest drivers in the world and they have the worst roads. The pot holes were like 2 feet deep and they would come out of no where! Oh and another good thing about the driving laws there is no drink drive laws! You can actually drive whilst drinking – so we pulled over for some Presidente (National Dominican beer) and had a couple on the way (sorry again mum) but you need it for your nerves driving over here.
Im so glad I had Katherine there to negotiate – she got us a good price to go over to Samana island – it was a little strange as this big scary looking black bloke got in the car and was telling me where to go to his boat – I did at first think we were going to get kidnapped but Katherine seemed confident enough so I just went with the flow. Now the island really was paradise – we sunbathed ate some more Dominican food and just relaxed – such an amazing day!
I have to say I have had an amazing time in the Dominican Republic – I cannot thank Katherine and Fabio enough for not only making me come in the first place but also the hospitality they have shown. They have shown me a side of the country that I would never have seen if I came on my own.

Next stop Mexico!

Posted by dezmondos 04:40 Archived in Dominican Republic Comments (2)


A four day cruise to Nassau, Coco Cay, and Key West

sunny 37 °C

Now I know what your thinking... a cruise to the Bahamas?? Not really backpacking around the world Chris! But hey, I worked hard all summer at camp so I deserve it and anyway it was really cheap. So we rocked up at the Cruise check in terminal all excited. Now I look back at this and it was pretty funny.. it was definitely not funny at the time however. We made it on to the cruise with four minutes to spare! We all thought Katherine would have the most trouble getting on as she needed a visa being from the DR and she had lost her I-94 card (visa documentation) from her passport which she needed – but nope she checked in straight away. Then it came to me... now the J1 Visa that I came to the USA on is a little complicated and Im not sure that the officials really know whats allowed when it comes to leaving and rentering the USA on this Visa – and it didn’t help that I couldn’t find the correct form that was stapled in my passport ( it wasn’t staple there anymore, doh) after panic and a sickening feeling that I wasn’t going to be allowed on the cruise I found the paperwork at the bottom of my bag – Im usually quite organised – not sure what happened there!
Then it came to Tahnee – which was a lot more complicated – she had lost the form completely and they were refusing to let her on. Now luckily I had thought ahead and three days before me and Tahnee applied for tourist visas just in case there was problems – thank god we did! See I told you I was organised! But there was still a problem, she didn’t have the print out for the tourist visa – shit! It involved us sprinting to the nearest internet cafe which was 10 minutes away in 100 degree heat to print this bloody form out – 4 minutes to spare – we made it woo hoo!
The first stop was Nassau, the Capital of the Bahamas – I was so glad when we arrived – I wasn’t feeling great - now im not sure if this was due to see sickness or the amount of alcohol I drank the night before – but I was popping sea sickness pills like there was no tomorrow!
Nassau was a bit of a shock at first, we were swamped with locals trying to sell us stuff – so we headed straight to the local ferry to Paradise Island – and oh my god they were not kidding when they named it that! I have never seen a beach like it – it was white sand and crystal clear water. We spent the day on the beach, the girls had massages and I had a few beers. It was all fine until around 3.30 – the heavens opened and it rained – not normal rain it was more like a tropical storm. We picked up our stuff and started running – now there was no way we were getting the ferry back in this weather so we crammed into this battered taxi which had only 8 seats and when we opened the door there were 12 people already in it! It was raining so we squeezed in. We had a crazy night on the cruise that night which obviously involved alot of alcohol – we woke up the next morning and all the waiters knew mine and Tahnees’ names and the drinks that we drunk – hmm...
The second day of the cruise took us to Coco Cay which is an island owned by the cruise company – I have to admit it was a little disappointing, basically they just wanted you to use all their facilities (which were obviously overpriced). We decided to just spend some time on the beach – we rocked up and wondered why there wasn’t many people in the water – we got in and found out why – jelly fish were everywhere! We thought we would hang out back on the ship for the rest of the day and hmm, I looked down into the water and saw a shark! Maybe it was a good thing that the jellyfish were there.
We stopped in Keywest the following day and had a look around, nothing could even compare to Paradise Island so I had stopped comparing by this point. I have to admit that I did not think I would be on a cruise to the Bahamas on my travels but I’m so glad I did – we all had an awesome time. Although now is the time for cheap living.

Next stop Dominican Republic.

Posted by dezmondos 17:20 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)


Miami baby!!!

sunny 34 °C

We flew into Miami and it was cloudy and raining, doh! I was looking forward to some sun after a pretty wet summer at camp. Lucky for us the morning after when we woke up was sunny, we stayed in South Beach which is just down from central Miami. I feel totally in love with Miami – its a people watchers paradise – we must have sat there for a couple of hours just watching people. The women, cars and beach are beautiful - totally fake (especially the women) but it is a great place to hang out, definitely a party town.
I couldn’t believe there was so many Spanish speakers – now Katherine has been trying to teach me Spanish ready for my Central and South American adventures. So far I can complement women on there looks, order a beer and insult people – I know what your going to say ‘all important stuff’ but its probably not going to help me find out when my next bus is leaving in South America. 60% of the residents in Miami speak Spanish as there 1st language (pub quiz fact for you there).
We spent a lot of time people watching over the first day whilst drinking ridiculously overpriced cocktails – budget blown again. Now the only bad thing I have found about travelling with three girls so far is the shopping, so I spent about 3 hours being dragged around shops – I wouldn’t of minded so much but I have no room in my backpack for new purchases, so no shopping for me.
The nights involved more Hukka and some clubbing – the hostel arranged some pretty cool club trips which got us in for $15 ( alot better then the $50 entrance fee we would have paid). We met some pretty cool people – a couple, one from Spain and one from Argentina – now they were properly travelling and totally put my plans to shame – they were camping everywhere, sold handycrafts to pay there way, and used the couch surfing website to find places to stay for free.
Im gonna give the Couch surfing website a go – its basically a site that puts you in touch with people willing to let you stay at there house for free. I wasn’t sure at first but I think Im gonna give it a go – it will save me a few pennies on hostels at least. Miami is definitely somewhere I would recommend – but I don’t think I would be moving there anytime soon – well unless I won the lottery!

Next stop, Bahamas.

Posted by dezmondos 16:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York City Baby!!!

Been here so many times, but its still as amasing as ever!

sunny 26 °C

This was the day - the final day of camp!! Over 3 months at Round Lake and Kislak camp had finally come to an end - I can honestly say that this really has been the best summer of my life so far. I have done some pretty cool things met some amasing people - some of which I know will be friends for life even the they may live on the other side of the world. My experience this summer has made me even more determined to make the most of this trip and to see and experience as much as I can.
My plans had already changed from originally intended but I suppose it was inevitable that my plans would change when I meet people along the way. A few of us from camp decided to do a bit of travelling together which made me taylor my plans slightly - I was meant to be flying out of Chile on December 8th heading to Sydney but due to a few countires being added to my trip I decided to push my flights back until February 22nd 2010 - I was already hard pushed to do South America justice in just two months.
So me, Katherine (Dominican Republic), Tahnee (Australia), Hava (France) and Jay (UK) headed to New York for four days. As I have been to New York before I was acting more as a tour guide then tourist but it still was an amasing experince. So we turned up at our hostel which was suprising nice compared to some of the hell holes I have stayed at in NYC.
The first day just consisted of walking around the city and taking in Time Square - even now when I walk out of the subway and see the lights it still takes my breath away. It was also Jays 19th Birthday so it couldnt be a pub crawl but we visited Hard Rock and Hooters. As we had a short time in NYC I was slightly annoyed that we didnt get to do much in the first couple of days - so on the last day I was determined to get us much touristy stuff in as possible! So we were up at 8.30 and made our way down to the Statue of Liberty - which was sold out of tickets - good start Chris! So we took in the sights such as the Brooklyn bridge, Ground Zero, South Seaport, took a ride in a bicycle taxi , walked Central Park and went up to the Rockafella centre - which by the way, if you visit NYC you have to do. The view is so much better then the Empire State building - you can see trhe whole of Central parke and you actually get to see the Empire State building! Then finally we went to the Museum of Modern Art - which I have to say was pretty boring as museums go... I mean whoo would pay money to see 3 belts laid out on the floor called art?? well, us apparently!
Our last night crept up on us so fast so we decided to go all all out and plan a good night, first stop - Shrek the musical - I would highly recommend it to evveryone - it was hilarious, we did get pretty drunk in there but the parts I remember were funny. So after Shrek the girls wanted to go to Coyote Ugly - the bar from the film - a little dissapointing - the barmaids - well your into slightly obese, aged women dressed in a skimpy cowgirl outfit this is the place for you! They didnt even spray us with water when Katherine asked for a soft drink - I mean what the hell!
Then we headed to a Hukka bar (no not a hooker bar, which is what I thought they meant - now if anyone has seen me attempt to smoke it basically involves alot of coughing and spluttering - but suprisingly I was ok at smoking a hukka. We headed to a club in the lower east side after that and got a little tipsy to say goodbye to NYC.
Well that was the end of our time in New York City - although good times were had a part of me wanted to get through New York City rather quickly as I wanted to experience new countries - not ones that I have already been. I ve been itching to get started on my real travels all through camp and now the time has finally come.
We said goodbye to Jay as he had a couple more days in NYC before flying home - so it left me, Katherine, Tahnee and Hava to head to Miami - its a hard life, travelling with three beautiful girls - but what you gonna do!! hehe.

Next stop Miami

Posted by dezmondos 10:27 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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