Monday, 11 August 2014

People I met

Now that my trip is almost over and I arrived at my last stop, again in Oaxaca (I already miss traveling) I decided to make a colourful map of the world to get an image of all the people I met.

With some of them I just talked a few words, with others I spent a day ore more (not with the Austrians and Germans - At home I have both Austrians and Germans, I don't need them when I am traveling). But I really enjoyed meeting every single person and everytime when talking I got some new impressions. I am glad of everyone I met. I would love to post some pictures of people but they were all taken from the other person and they promised to send it to me at the end of their travels, so it might still take some time until I get them.

Even if the part is not coloured, I also saw lots of Asian people, but they were mostly traveling in groups and therefore difficult to connect to.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Isla Mujeres

Yesterday I decided not to stayat the beach in Tulúm for another day but to go to Cancún early so I can do a daytrip to Isla Mujeres. I really couldn't just chill on the beach when there are still beautiful places out there that wait for me. Also, my skin didn't really like all the sun on the beach. Or maybe it just wanted to show my true self, which is probably a redskin.

So everybody I talked to about Isla Mujeres told my how beautiful it is and how important it is to go there. I was a bit sceptic because I could not imagine what could be so different from what I've already seen. But luckily I was also curious and so I took a ferry to Isla Mujeres today. The ferry arrived on the north part of the island, where I found the most yellow house I've ever seen.

So I took a bus (5 Pesos, which is about 30 cents - the cheapest bus I've ever taken) to the south part. And it was fantastic! It was like in Norway or Ireland, just with sun and warmth. It's the Ponte Sur, the south end of the island, were also some ruins were found with lot of female statues of the godess of the moon, love, fertility and medicine. That's why it was called Isla Mujeres. This point is also the most east part of Mexico.

Even the houses down in the south looked like a warmer Norway. It's like they split up the island - in the north the hotel and city part and in the south the nature part. And both parts were amazing (even if the south part was more beautiful).

The sea was as turquoise as anyone would expect from the caribbean coast. Since there was no beach on this part of the island the water was even clearer than anywhere else.

Again there were lots of iguanas, like this one that was (at least in my imagination) watching after its island.

I had the chance to watch a beautiful sunset on the Island when I got back at a beach in the north.

It was not as majestic as I hoped it would be but it was the first time I got to watch the sun "touching" the sea. It remembered me about the fact that I only have very few days left here in Mexico.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Playa de Tulúm

I used my last days in the Caribbean to stay in a Cabana at the beach of Tulúm.

The caribbean sea is really beautiful, it really is as turquoise as on pictures and the beach is nearly white and has the softest sand I've ever experienced. The waves are pretty high and irregular. Some waves come from the left, some from the right, some come directly after each other, some break directly over you. Swimming is pretty hard without swallowing any of the salty water because of the irregular waves. But it gets better the farther you are away from the beach.

Today I even got up early to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately there were many clouds avoiding to catch the moment the sun appears on the horizont, but it was still beautiful. And chilling in a hammock and watching the sunrise was even better.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Grand Cenote

Again, I spent a day at a Cenote. After ending up needing a taxi at some point of every daytrip so far in Tulúm I decided to take the bike to go to the Grand Cenote, that was about 6 km away of the hostel. Therefore I really wanted to get there early, so there will still be some shade on the streets. It did not make any difference for my sleeping habits because it was already too hot to sleep at 7. This time I was lucky to pick a bike without issues, so I even could drive a little faster without needing to fear that the chain falls off again.

My decision to get to the Cenote early was the best I could have made. Everything was nearly untouched, the surface of the water was waveless.

When I got into the water, there were fish swarms everywhere and I could just dive through them. There were even small turtles swimming in the cenote so I swam with the turtles.

The turtles and most of the fishes disappeared when all the tourists arrived at about noon, but there were still beautiful caves to swim into without any danger and the water temperature (24 °C) was quite refreshing. I will really miss the cenotes.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


When I got up today, it was already too hot for me to do anything than relaxing in a hammock next to the pool in the hostel (I love hammocks! Especially outside, when there is some breeze of air cooling you down). At noon I finally convinced myself to get up and look for the collectivo, which is a kind of shuttle service, that was supposed to take me to the ruins of Coba, another mayan city.

It was quite difficult because the collectivo only goes there when it is full, but after waiting an hour in the heat, still nobody except me wanted to go to Coba. After that, they took just me to Coba, which is 50 km away from Tulúm upcountry. It was a pretty big areal and most of the ruins were in pretty bad shape.

My main target was to get up the gran pyramid because it is the biggest mayan pyramid and I was told the view would be great. The stairs were high and in quite unregular intervals. Therefore I really had to concentrate on my steps while chlimbing. But getting down was even harder. I endet up just sitting down on the stairs and taking one step after another - so just in case I can't fall deep - just slip down some stairs. While climbing I overheard a conversation between a guide and a family, and the guide told that people do fall down of the pyramid and 4 years ago they lost a kid because of this. But it's not as bad as in Chichen Itza where in total about 60 people fell.

But the view was worth it. I am absolutely sure no photo can show the beauty of the panoramic view on the top of the pyramid. I tried my best to catch the height as well as the jungle in the background. If you look closely you may be able to see the laguna of Cobe in the background. I don't know the guy but I thought he would be good for scale.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ruinas de Tulúm y Cenote Dos Ojos

Yesterday evening I arrived in Tulúm, a small town at the beach in the Caribbean south of Cancún and about halfway to the border to Belize. I only visited the beach shor, so a post about the beach will follow in some days. In Tulúm, if you want to go anywhere you just take the bike. So my hostel offers to borrow bikes for free - and some of them are really frightening. The first one sounded like it will break in all its parts everytime I pedaled. Also, the chain fell of twice. I was lucky that everytime a helpful guy was near that got it back into its place. So I discovered the bikes don't like to be driven faster than grandma-speed. And that is how I discover Tulúm at the moment.

In the morning I visited the ruins of the mayan city Zama, now known as Tulúm, a city that was built 400 a.d. and controled the yucatan area until the spains arrived at the continent. The city is really lovely and the view is amazing. It even has its own caribbean beach. I was lucky to get there so early, just when the site opened, so the area was not filled with tourists - there were about 6 people at the site. When I got out, about 50 people were waiting at the ticket office, and another 100 were on their way to the ticket office.

At noon, I headed to the cenote "Dos Ojos" (= two eyes), which was recommended by the husband of the hostel owner, a german guy now living in Tulúm. It is one of the biggest cenotes in the area - actually they are two cenotes - and surrounded by some kind of park with lots of small cenotes. They are called ojos, because they are like circles of water with some kind of island in the middle. At Ojo Uno you only had a small part to swim, and only professional divers were allowed to dive through the tunnels "into the underworld".

Ojo Dos was bigger, you could nearly swim the hole circle (which is about as big as the half of a football field), and there were also tunnels for professional divers. It is really a paradise for diving. The water is so clear you feel like looking through glass. It feels like you can touch the ground if you just dip your finger into the water, while the water actually is about 4 meters deep. There were no colorful fishes to watch, only small brown ones and lots of stone formations, but it still was an amazing experience. All the divers needed some underwater flashlights for the tunnels because it got really dark in there. Most of the people explored the Ojos with snorkels, but I decided not to borrow or buy one, because I am fine with holding my breath pretty long. It's like I am more made for diving than swimming. I even thought about starting professional diving as a hobby but then I realized this might just be another expensive hobby I will never be willing to spend my money for.

After I explored both of the eyes underwater, I decided to relax a little and got to the rest area - some trees with hammocks inbetween them. It was so comfortable that in the end I just chilled there some hours. And then went for another dive in the cenote and so on. I didn't leave the park until all the shop owners started packing their stuff. Now I am absolutely sure that we need some cenotes in Austria!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ruta de Puuc

Some days ago I received an advice on how the mexicans visit the archeological sites of the mayans and how I get to see sites that are not really touristic and therefore hard to visit. Every sunday there's a bus for the "route of puuc" - puuc is an architectural style that was very common in that area between about 700 and 1000 A.D. - with a bus driver that only speaks spanish and mostly mexican couples and families. We got to visit 5 archeological sites: Labna, Xlapac, Sayil, Kabah and Uxmal.

Some of them were really small, only one or two buildings left that are partially intact, like in Labna which was the first one.

The second one, Xlapac, also only had some ruins left. They all had about 2000 inhabitants in the age of 700 to 1000 A.D. Sayil, the third one, still had a beautiful palace that was mostly intact.

The fourth mayan city we visited was Kabah, which had once been a pretty big city with lots of leftovers, but most of them deep in the jungle and therefore not open for visits. we only got to see the palace. Kabah even had a stone street to be connected to Uxmal, the most important city of this region that time.

I pretty much looked forward to seeing Uxmal, because lots of people told me how beautiful it is and that it is much better than Chichen Itza because you are allowed to go up the pyramid. So when I entered the site, saw the pyramid next to some big building where the nuns lived, and I saw it was prohibited to climb it, I was really disappointed. Really, that's the best part of visiting a mayan city. Well, not exactly the climbing part but standing on top of a pyramid, seeing all the buildings and just enjoying the view. (The following picture was taken from the palace that was built on a kind of hill, not a pyramid.)

I couldn't believe that there was really no mayan city left where you are allowed to go up to the top of a pyramid. So I combed through the area, looked what it had to offer. There was also a ballgame area (of the game I wrote about in the Chichen Itza post), seems like this game was quite popular. And I was lucky - there was another pyramid on the backside of the area, about 80 meters high and open for visitors. Up there there was no place to hide from the sun but the view was worth it.


I just spent an really adventurous day in Homún, a small village southwest of Mérida. I was told  I should go to calle 67 between calle 50 and 52 (all the streets from north to south are named in even numbers and the others in uneven numbers in Mérida) for a collectivo taxi, which is like a shuttle bus, so I just thought I will go to calle 67 and follow it until i reach the collectivo taxis. I should have had a look at a map of Mérida, because calle 67 suddenly ended in some huge market where they sold everything you can imagine and everyone was doing their saturday shopping there. I should have taken a photo of it. After I made it to the other side of the market, calle 67 was gone, there was just calle 54 to my left and right. I did find calle 67 afterwards again, but it did a good job in hiding from me.

So I found the taxis and my hostel adviced me to go to Cuzamá because there are three cenotes over there. Therefore I asked the guy standing in front of a collectivo van if this was the taxi to the cenotes and Cuzamá. He told me that it won't go to Cuzamá but I can see five cenotes and a gruta, so I decided to take this one, even if I had no idea where it would take me.

It turned out that there was a village shortly behind Cuzamá called Homún, and I even remembered a girl at the hostel telling me about a great place to see cenotes called "umun" or something - I think I found the place. Over there the bus driver let me out at some place where lots of "bicycles" were waiting to carry me to the cenotes and the collectivo just went on with all the other people in the bus. It was quite terrifying since I had no idea where exactly I was, where all the other people in the van were going and how I am going to get back to Mérida.

This guy took me to all the cenotes (and the cave) and it was amazing. Sometimes there were just small holes in the ground with a ladder to go down, sometimes you could even see people swimming down there.

The water was always cool and refreshing and clear as crystal. The only reason why you could not see the ground sometimes was that it was just too deep and therefore too dark to see anything. Also it was fresh water, therefore no water of the ocean - but floating did work well there, better than in some swimming pools.

Some of the cenotes had adapted some extras to have more fun, one even gave me the feeling of an underground public swimming bath (which is quite a nice idea), only some slide was missing.

But the most fantastic experience was the cave - I explored it while only wearing my bikini, because the way was leading through the water most of the time. I had to be careful not to hurt my feet by stepping on some sharp stones or stumbling over some big rocks underwater, and in the end I was standing in water up to my upper arms - therefore they told me not to take my camera with me and that's the reason why I don't have photos of this experience - but it was totally worth it. At the end of the path there was another cenote with water clear as crystal (the water on the path was a little bit more dirty) and even some drawings on the walls which might be pretty old. Now I also want a cave with a cenote in it for my dream home.

I did get back to Mérida, the "bicycle" or whatever you call that kind of transportation, just dropped me off at some taxi station, and a collectivo back to Mérida arrived shortly afterwards. So If you ever get to Mexico and want to see some cenotes, go to Homún, it's not as touristic as Cuzamá and you can see a gruta too!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Chichén Itzá

I spent this wonderful sunny friday on the biggest and most touristic archeological site of the Mayas in Mexico, Chichén Itzá. We were warned before that we have to arrive early because at about 11 all of the tour buses with loads of tourists will arrive at the site and it might get really crowdy, so we (a canadian girl I met at the hostel and me) got up at 6 to take the bus at 7 and be there at 10. It turned out to be not as crowdy as we feared because the site is so big, but there still were lots of people.

The first thing you see when you enter the site is the big pyramid. It is really beautiful and represents the center of the city, with palaces and homes of the wealthy people all around. Unfortunately nobody was allowed to climb the pyramid because rumours told us that some years ago two people died when one of them fell and the other one wanted to help. Travel guides mostly tell that the piramid is just not made to support that many people.

Next to the pyramid there was the arena for their special ball game. On the left and the right side on the wall you might see some kind of loop of stone. This represented the goal where the ball had to go in. To shoot they were only allowed to use their waist or breast but not their feet or legs or arms. If they score a goal, they die - that's the target of the game.

A pretty long path away of the pyramid there is the holy cenote. Here, rituals were held and both voluntaries and enemies were sacrified by throwing into the cenote. Again, people volunteered to die to become some kind of god or get into the underworld. It was like the target of life for them.

As i wrote before, there were also palaces in Chichén Itzá, right now there are only ruins with lots of columns left. That's were the rich people lived - as I discovered later, there are no homes of other people left because they just weren't built in stabile stone and therefore not able to outlast more than 1000 years. That's why I always had to wonder where the people lived. But I would totally move into that palace if it was still intact.

Right now, only lots of iguanas live at Chichén Itzá. They even walk around on the pathways through the site as long as nobody approachs them too closely. After visiting the site I had the feeling I am getting used to the temperatures, at least a little bit, but I had to realize that the temperature just cooled down a little and therefore it was a little bit more pleasant. It also started raining shortly afterwards (but just for a short period of time).

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Porto Progreso

Today a nature tour my hostel offered lead me to Porto Progreso in the north of Mérida,a small city of fishers. We explored the most beautiful places around and got to discover beautiful flamingos and mangoves and even a cenote.

The female flamingos live in different areas than the male flamingos, but they both live in some kind of shallow lakes near the coast. Only in February the male flamingos come to the females to mate. In the picture there are some male ones. In the same area you can also find crocodiles and alligators but you better not go looking for them.

To get to the cenote, we had to ride a boat through small canals in some kind of wood, which was quite adventurous. The boats did not even have motors, just some guys pushing the boat through the canals with a long pole of wood.

The cenote, which is basically a source of fresh water from underground rivers, hold beautifully clear water at a temperature so low that it was really refreshing to swim. There were also some pretty big fishes inside that swam very close to you if you did not move too much.

After that, we went to the beach for lunch (the restaurant offered lots of different ways to eat fish) and afterwards we could swim in the Golf of Mexico. But to tell the truth, the water was so warm it felt more like a bath tub than the ocean. But the beach was almost white, which offered beautiful views.

Then we were introduced to the treasure the Mayans were protecting for their wealth: the salt lakes. In this kind of lakes, for some reason, lots of salt is produced nearly all the time. There are just water (from the rain or the sea) and the sun heating up the water needed for the chemical reaction. The water in this lakes is so salty you will completely float if you lie down in the water, just like in the Dead Sea. Also, the water is very good for your skin. You just need to make sure it is not too hot before getting in.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


Today I arrived to Mérida after an overnight bustrip of 13 hours that endet up to be 15 hours. But for some reason I haven't figured out yet I did not get travel-sick at all so for the first time while doing an overnight bustrip I could really catch some sleep and arrived in Mérida without feeling completely wasted.

When I decided to do some sightseeing at noon I quickly had to realise that it's nearly impossible to just walk around and enjoy the city that time of the day. So I tried again in the evening and this time I was successful - that is also the reason why some of the photos might appear a little bit dark.

Mérida is rather different than San Cristobál. First, it is way hotter in Mérida. While in San Cristobál people are selling gloves on the street you can't even buy any jackets in Mérida anywhere. Also, San Cristobál is more traditional than Mérida. You won't find many people here that wear traditional garments. Therefore, traditional handmade stuff and souveniers are more expensive while casual clothes are way cheaper here in Mérida. Shirts are about 3 to 8 euros and pants are about 8 to 15 euros and they really look great. I already thought of renewing all my clothes over here, but unfortunately both my budged and the space of my backpack won't allow it.

Just like in every other mexican city, all the shops are open until at least 10 in the evening, which is quite refreshing, because like I wrote before, just walking along the streets before 7 in the evening is nearly impossible for someone who is not used to that temperatures like me without getting a sunstroke. But that does not mean that it gets colder in the night. Right now the time is 10 p.m., I am sitting outside and still longing for more ice-cold water which I would really love to pour over my head rather than drinking it. But I am sure I will get used to the heat since i will be staying in this climate zone for almost two weeks.

This picture was taken from directly in front of the hostel - it is located pretty central at the zocalo, the center of every city. The hostel is quite luxurious in comparison to the hostels I experienced earlier. There is a water supplier with both ice-cold and very hot water available for free, also the beds are not bunk beds but single beds (which is great because bunk beds always cause bumps on my head) and the water pressure of the shower is rather strong. Also I heard that the breakfast is excellent - I am looking forward to experiencing it tomorrow.