Coming back to my hometown in Munich after travelling through South and Central America was very overwhelming.
Being more than happy to see my friends and family and not sleeping with 10 other people in the same room mixed with getting super depressive about the missing southern attitude, weather and lifestyle was sometimes tough.
That was about 3 months ago.
Now I can luckily call myself the new intern of Estudio Hispanico! Living in Barcelona has always been one of my goals. I studied Spanish in Barcelona 3 years ago for nearly 2 months. That’s when I fell in love with this place.
Spending so much time by myself was the best thing I could ever have done, even though it was sometimes challenging. But facing challenges is a part of growing up!
When I arrived in Cancun I first planned to travel the whole ‘’strip’’ from Mexico down to Colombia and see everything that Central America has to offer. For all of you who plan to go on a big trip: plan as little as necessary – you will change your mind anyway!
So did I
To make the most of my – almost-5 months I wanted to focus on three countries: Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia.
Today I’d like to give you an idea of my time in Mexico – my absolute favorite.
I don’t think I should inform you about the number of inhabitants, exact height, sizes etc.
But what I want to make sure – from the start – is that Mexico is not a place you should be scared of.
All my friends told me to leave my crop tops at home. ‘’Mexico is not Germany, Val!’’ they said.
Of course it’s not!
But as well as in Germany as in Mexico, there was no moment when I felt unsafe or got into a weird situation. I made sure not to cross the streets by myself when it got dark and I always ‘’left my eyes open’’. I relied on my good sense of people and I never got into any trouble.
Mexico is a huge country and it would take ages to see all of it. I stayed for ‘’mas o menos’’ 3 months and saw most of the Caribbean coast, as well as the Pacific one, some parts of Chiapas and the two biggest cities Guadalajara and Mexico City.
Let’s start with a throwback to my time in Yucatan, the peninsula towards the Caribbean Sea.
Just as everyone else I arrived in Cancun. Not because of its stunning cultural attractions but because of the cheap flight I got!
I was more than excited when I entered my first MEXICAN AIRPORT! There was surprisingly no difference between a European one and this one.
I stayed in a little hostel in Cancun downtown – the place where most of the locals stay.
If someone asks me what Cancun is like I always answer ‘’Cancun for Americans is the same as Mallorca for Germans’’. Just to sum this up.
Of course there are lots of daytrips you can do, such as visiting Citzchen Itza (Chicken Pizza!!) or the natural swimming pools aka cenotes.
It took me a while to understand what Cenotes are, what they are made of, where they come from, why they exist!
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.
Of course I copied and pasted this from Wikipedia but I really couldn’t find words to explain it by myself.
I think I’ve never seen something like that before (maybe because they only exist on the Yucatan!)
After visiting Citzchen Itza – which was more interesting than I thought, even though it was overcrowded and full of street sellers- I made my way down to Playa del Carmen.
Playa turned out to be one of my favorite spots in the whole country!
It might sound strange for other travellers who saw more of Mexico. Just as Cancun – ‘’Playa’’ – is a very touristic place. You will find lots of Argentinians, Italians, Venezuelans, Americans and Germans there but because Cancun is in most cases the start or end destination for everyone, it became a hotspot to start or end up your trip! Besides going shopping, partying, meeting people and hanging out on the beach you can also do daytrips to Tulum and see the stunning Maya Ruins by the coast, the nearby cenotes and its beautiful beaches.
Most travellers stay in playa for at least 2 or 3 days. I ended up there for nearly 1.5 weeks and I came back for a couple of days before taking my flight from Cancun to Bogota.
Why did I stay so long and what did I do if there’s practically nothing to do besides shopping, partying and chilling on the beach?
I went shopping, I partied a lot, I chilled on the beach and I did a Spanish course to feel at least a little bit productive !
It’s not always about seeing huge waterfalls and challenging oneself by doing an overnight volcano hike.
Especially if you’re travelling by yourself it’s all about the ‘’vibe’’ and the people you meet! It’s good to spend time with yourself, having time to reflect on everything, but on the other hand you want to share your experiences and ideas with people you can get along with – that’s why Playa, for example, was a great place to stay. I met a bunch of really nice and inspiring people.
After Playa I went further down to Tulum, where I also stayed for nearly one week.
I can see myself crying on Valentine’s day in this ‘’fancy organic smoothie shop’’ (you will find plenty of them in Tulum) being so upset because it’s Valentine´s day (fair enough) and my birthday was coming closer – which I used to spend with my friends and family over the last 20 years! What I want to say is: being homesick is also a part of your travels, there’s nothing more normal than this so don’t be scared of having really bad days as well. As I mentioned: the more challenging it is – the more you will grow with it.
In the end this group of girls (the Berlin angels) found me, cheered me up, celebrated my birthday with me and enriched my whole stay in Tulum.
A lot of serendipities happened to me, just like that. Things you didn’t expect to happen and in the end the made you really happy.
After snorkeling in some cenotes, visiting some ruins and meeting more or less inspiring people I made my way up to Valladolid – before hitting Islas Mujeres – (don’t look up this route on a map, you will see that it didn’t make real sense). If you want to have a break
from being barefoot all day and literally doing nothing but trying to get the sand out of your bunk bed sheets, Valladolid is the place to be. It’s a little town in the inland, less touristic than the spots on the coast and nice to get an idea of the Mexican lifestyle!
Max, one of my favorite travel buddies, and I spent 2 or 3 days together in this little town. We rented bikes and cycled to cenotes, watched a typical Mexican carnival procedure and cooked some really nice Thai curry (so Mexican) in our cozy hostel.
If you plan to go to the Yucatan make sure to visit at least one of the islands that are based
just in front of the Penisula. Holbox – more ‘’tranquilo’’ than the others and a bit further away from Cancun. Islas Mujeres – full of Americans driving golf carts as if it were the most exciting thing they ever experienced but also the most beautiful beaches with a turtle farm on top! I haven’t been to Cozumel so far, but it’s a famous spot for divers (which I didn’t do during my whole trip, because of my huuge fear of fish and the deep sea itself).
I finished my yucatan trip in Bacalar. It’s a city, located at the same-named lagoon.
It was named a “Pueblo Mágico” in 2006. A magical town. That’s probably the word I was looking for when I started my stand up paddle session at 6 in the morning to see the sun rising up on the lagoon of 7 colours.
Sounds like magic! Not just like the following 17 hours I spent on the bus waiting to arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas.. but this story has to wait! Keep posted!!