A Travellerspoint blog

San Ignacio

Adventures in the ATM cave

sunny 30 °C
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San Ignacio is a small town in Belize near the Western border with Guatemala. It seems a strange place at first, with one main bar and restaurant street and not much to see or do in town. In the end I liked it though, it had a nice feel to it.

The main reason I went there was the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, a large cave in which Mayan pottery and skeletons have been found. The tour of the cave is very expensive, but I really wanted to see this unique place. After driving for about an hour, the adventure started with a hike through the jungle to the cave. It is about 45 minutes to walk there, but with the many explanations of our guide, it took us much longer.
Hike to the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Hike to the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

After stopping for a small snack, we entered the cave. We first had to swim a few meters to get in. Then it was about an hour of walking through more or less wet parts, climbing over rocks etc. We got to admire the great formations in the cave and were shown some of them that are supposed to look like Mayan gods... We also turned off our headlamps and walked in the dark for about 10 minutes, led by our guide, which was an interesting experience.
Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

At the end we reached the dry part of the cave. Here we saw the remainders of the Mayan sacrifice rituals, broken pottery and the bones of the humans sacrificed.
Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave


Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave


Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave


Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

It was strange to see these things in such a place. At the end of the dry chamber came the highlight, the Crystal Maiden, the entire calcified skeleton of a girl that was sacrificed here.
The Cristal Maiden at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

The Cristal Maiden at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave

After seeing this, we walked back out of the cave, had lunch and then hiked back to the minibus. I enjoyed the tour a lot and am glad I went, despite the cost. Especially our good guide made it really interesting.

That night, we all felt like we deserved a bit of a party, especially because it was a Friday night. So we had some drinks with the other people staying at the hostel and then went out for a big party in San Ignacio...

After finally trying the typical fry jacks for breakfast (a fried dough, which you typically eat with butter and jam), I was ready to leave San Ignacio and Belize and travelled back into Guatemala together with one of my roommates. It was a short but nice stay in Belize.

Posted by sarahm_lux 19:14 Archived in Belize Tagged san_ignacio actun_tunichil_muknal atm_cave Comments (0)

Caye Caulker

A Caribbean paradise in Belize

sunny 35 °C
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I arrived in Belize city at 5.15 in the morning. Belize City is known to be pretty dangerous and the bus station was almost empty at that time of the day, so it all felt a bit dodgy and I was happy to not be the only tourist in the place and waited together with the Welsh woman that was on my bus until the sun went up. We then got a taxi to the watertaxi terminal where we took the boat to Caye Caulker, a very small island about 45 minutes from the mainland.

Belize straight away looked and felt very different from the rest of Central America, much more Caribbean in a way, and of course it was strange that the people were speaking English all of a sudden.

On the boat I met a Swede with whom I ended up spending the afternoon, hanging out at the hostel, which was beautifully located at the seafront, walking around the village, eating jerk chicken on a pier, hanging out at the hostel some more and talking very silly things...
Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker


Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker

Later on we went to a bar to watch the sunset and then back to the hostel where we drank some rum and then joined a group of people in going to a couple of bars/clubs. Unfortunately there were not so many people out and it was all a bit quiet, but we all got to dance a bit which was nice.
Sunset in Caye Caulker

Sunset in Caye Caulker

The next morning some of us had to change hostels because they had reservations and the hostel was full. Luckily the other hostel was nice too, although not in quite such an amazing location. Afterwards, I went to one of the piers with the Swedish guy and we just lay in the sun, rhyming and playing movie games (don't ask...) there till it was time to get some lunch.
Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker


Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker

Then we went on a snorkelling tour (finally really did something!). The snorkelling was great! But the highlight was that we got in the water with loads of stingrays and nurse sharks. The captain fed them so that they stayed near the boat and we got to watch them from close by and had them swimming around us at times. It was an incredible experience!

That night we had a really good dinner. I ate a whole snapper and a shrimp kebab with rice, garlic bread and coleslaw on the side, while drinking rum punch. For a starter nachos with salsa and for dessert a small piece of tasty chocolate was included. A big meal!

The next morning, I left the island. I would have liked to stay longer because it was such a nice place to relax and just enjoy the sunshine and the ocean views, but unfortunately I had no time left.
Sunset in Caye Caulker

Sunset in Caye Caulker

Posted by sarahm_lux 20:55 Archived in Belize Tagged caye_caulker Comments (1)

Campeche

Beautiful houses and more carnival

sunny 35 °C
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I went to Campeche for a couple of days from Mérida because they have a big carnival too. When I arrived there, I was pleasantly surprised by the town. The centre is inside the old city walls and is beautiful! The buildings all have different colours and everything is very clean and quiet.
Campeche

Campeche


Campeche

Campeche


Campeche

Campeche


Campeche

Campeche


Campeche

Campeche


Sunset in Campeche

Sunset in Campeche

Although I really liked the city I had a pretty bad experience on my first afternoon there. I was randomly walking around and enjoying the sights when I realised that someone was following me. At first I thought I was just imagining it, but he really was. When I walked back a street I just had come down, he appeared at the other end again as well; when I went into a shop, he was somewhere around when I came back out. He was wearing a hoodie and sunglasses and kept talking to someone on the phone. It was really creepy. I walked around trying to get rid of him for a while, till I got a chance to slip into my hostel without him seeing me. I did not dare to leave the hostel for a while afterwards. Luckily I never saw him again.

The carnival parade that night was a busy event. It was a very nice parade, with colourful floats and costumes. However, this was the slowest parade I have ever seen! In between some groups we had to wait over 20 minutes, so that in the end the relatively short parade took over 2 hours.
Carnival in Campeche

Carnival in Campeche

The next day, I wanted to see more of the town, but was feeling a bit lazy, so I decided to take the very touristy little sightseeing train driving around town. It gave me a nice tour around the city, the walled part and some other neighbourhoods. After this I went to the botanical garden, a small but nice place inside one of the ramparts of the old fortress walls.

The Malecón in Campeche

The Malecón in Campeche

After walking along the 'malecón' for a bit, I went to a light and sound show that night with a German from my hostel and a Japanese that I met on the little train, the 'tranvía'. It was a bit strange at first when we walked around the walls and got some explanations and then saw a short video which was really just a promotion video of the city, but the actual light and sound show was not bad. The history of the city, from the discovery of the place by the Maya to current times, was re-enacted on the city walls.

After the show we went to see some fountains next to the main square which lit in different colours and move in the rhythm of background music. It was a very nice display.
Fountain light and music show in Campeche

Fountain light and music show in Campeche

The next day, I went back to Mérida where I spent a lot of time waiting in the bank to pay the Mexican exit fee and then just hanging out in the city for a few more hours before getting on a night bus to Belize.

Posted by sarahm_lux 20:42 Archived in Mexico Tagged carnival campeche Comments (0)

Mérida

Carnival and Uxmal

sunny 34 °C
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I got to Mérida just on time for the carnival. The night I arrived, the first big event of the carnival, the 'Quema del Mal Humor' (the burning of the bad mood) took place. Some famous people from Mérida were on stage and talked about the carnival and invited some people onto the stage for a funny dancing competition. The king and queen of this year's carnival and other important figures were presented and a small firework display was lit. After this, a live band played. It was a pretty well-known band from Mexico, so that the people were sincing along and having a good time.
Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida

On Thursday, I saw some of more of the city and visited some museums until the afternoon, when the next carnival event was on. It was the parade of the young children. My Australian roommate and I were lucky and got invited to watch the parade from one of the private rooms' balconies. We had a great view and could sit down while watching, away from all the people down on the streets. The parade was very nice, mainly because the kids were really cute in their costumes and doing their best to show us the dance choreographies they had learnt for this occasion.
Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida


Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida


Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida


Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida

On the third day, I took a trip out of the city, to the ruins of Uxmal. They were some very interesting ruins, much better and bigger than I had expected of this lesser known site. It was not as busy as at the more popular ruins which made the visit even nicer.
Uxmal

Uxmal


Uxmal

Uxmal


Uxmal

Uxmal


Uxmal

Uxmal


Uxmal

Uxmal

At night it was time for the carnival again. This time it was the big, I think the main, parade. There were big colourful groups and floats. It is very different to the German and Luxembourgish carnival; most groups are sponsored by big companies, international such as Coca-Cola and national such as the bus company ADO, instead of being mostly organisations, associations, schools etc. like in Europe. There were some really well-done and colourful costumes, while other groups were simply wearing colourful promotional t-shirts.
Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida


Carnival in Mérida

Carnival in Mérida

This was all I saw of the carnival in Mérida because it was time to travel on the next morning.

Posted by sarahm_lux 18:26 Archived in Mexico Tagged carnival uxmal merida Comments (0)

Isla Mujeres & Chichén Itzá

Another Caribbean island and more Maya ruins

semi-overcast 28 °C
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From Tulum, I took a bus to Cancun and then a ferry to Isla Mujeres, which meand I pretty much travelled on from one beach to the next. The main beach on the island is really pretty, with palm trees and white sand, and not too busy. So it was very nice to relax and lie on the beach the whole day on Monday when it was finally nice and sunny again.
Isla Mujeres beach

Isla Mujeres beach

The rest of the time on Sunday, when it was cloudy the whole afternoon, and Monday I spent at the hostel which had a nice restaurant/bar inside and an even better sandy outside area with hammocks and a bar that opened at 11pm.

On Tuesday, my French roommate and I rented bikes and rode them around the island. Isla Mujeres is very small (it is only 7.5km long), so, including stops, this only took us 3 hours. The ride was nice but it did not take us along the coast as much as we would have liked. It was good exercise in any case.
Art on the walls of Isla Mujeres

Art on the walls of Isla Mujeres

In the afternoon I left the island and took a bus to Valladolid. I slept over in this town so that the journey to Chichén Itzá would be shorter in the morning. So I got the first bus to the ruins on Wednesday. This turned out to be a great idea because it was not too busy yet when I arrived, but when I left hundreds of people had just arrived with all the tour groups. The site was great! I am not sure whether I like the ruins better than Palenque, but what I find more interesting about them was that there are more different types of buildings, while the ones in Palenque were all very much alike.
Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá

From Chichén Itzá I took a bus to Mérida where I arrived in the early afternoon.

Posted by sarahm_lux 22:05 Archived in Mexico Tagged isla_mujeres chichen_itza Comments (0)

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