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After another long bus ride on a night bus, I arrived in San Cristobal in the state of Chiapas.  That day I visited nearby caves, where huge stalagmites hang from the ceiling.  San Cristobal is located in a fertile valley, surrounded by green mountains.  It is very colorful and lively.  Indigenous women wear traditional outfits.  Every village in the area has it´s own, unique dress, and often speak a different language.  Most people, however, also speak Spanish.

I spent the evening with Alex, a guy I met in Oaxaca, Laura and Sophie.  First, sitting on the flat rooftop of our hostel and hiding wine bottles.  Later, we went to a bar for a beer.  Some local guy took us to a Mexican club.  There I felt I was in Mexico.  The atmosphere was great, and we were the only foreigners.  Local band played good music and the dance floor was soon full.  Alex, who was quiet before, underwent a total transformation.  He showed us his break dancing moves and I was glad we had him with us.  The locals are great dancers and they must felt sorry seeing me dancing.  We left at 2.30am but Alex wanted to go back. And we did after he walked on his hands which proved he was really determined haha.  Again we saw a great display of break dancing by Alex and regular dancing by a few couples left in the club.

The next day, of course, we didn´t feel great.  I went with the girls to the village of Zinacantan, 0.5 hour from San Cristobal.  All women wear blue shawls and navy skirts.  Even young girls playing in the schoolyard wore traditional clothes, which must have been uncomfortable and hot in the strong sun.  
It was good to see those people hold on to their tradiciones, but even there change is on the way.  Sooner rather than later this diversity will be lost, replaced by boring, one-for-all, "made in China" style.


Not far by Mexican standards lies a hot, little town of Palenque.  Surrounded by the jungle, it exists only to accommodate tourists heading for the famous archaeological site nearby.  I went there with Emmanuele from France, who I met a day earlier.  Right after we entered, we had 2 of the greatest structures in front of us.  To the right, the pyramid called Templo de los Inscriptiones.  with the burial chamber of Lord Pacal, who ruled Palenque in the 7th century.  In front of us, in the center of the site, stands El Palacio.  This group of buildings together with a tower is the most spectacular.  It´s walls broken by pillars and open spaces create the impression of lightness, making Palenque-style architecture unique.  There are many temples of different sizes and it took 4h to walk around.  When I got hungry, I just picked up a few avocados that fell from trees and ate them.  Delicious.  Walking back to the car park past beautiful waterfalls surrounded by thick jungle, I couldn´t resist the temptation and took a dip in the refreshingly cold water.

As part of our tour, we went on to the waterfall called Misol-ha.  About 20m high, it was a breathtaking sight.  The beast part was walking behind it and getting completely soaked.  The last stop was Agua Azul, meaning "Blue Water".  Because it was still rainy season, it was more like "brown water".  However, it´s series of jungle waterfalls and cascades are quite beautiful even when not so blue.
The locals sell handcrafts and food along the river, and children offer bananas for a few pesos.  One girl said to me "if you don´t buy my bananas, you have to give me 1 peso".  I was joking with her saying "only 1 beso?" (beso means a kiss).
Overall, it was a great and eventful day.  It finished in a downpour on the way back to Palenque.


I like this town in the state of Yucatan.  Not too big but not too small.  I decided to use it as a base for visiting nearby ruins of Ek-Balam.  I hired a bike which had the most uncomfortable sit in the World.  It was a 16 mile ride 1 way so I started early to avoid the sun.  I arrived at 10am and was the only visitor there.  That´s what I like.  I could enjoy the 30m high pyramid called The Tower, discovered and excavated only recently.  It´s stucco carvings are 95% original and very impressive.  The wildlife included many lizards of different sizes and a scorpion.
I knew cycling back was not going to be easy.  I had to stand pedaling as sitting was too painful.  The midday sun was merciless.  I enjoyed the challenge, but wouldn´t do it again.

In the evening I returned to my hostel and met 3 girls, 2 Mexican and 1 Canadian.  They said they were going to some restaurants to sing and play.  I went with them.  As it turned out, this is what they do.  They play small guitars to get money or sometimes food and drink for it.  They go from place to place and bring happiness to the lucky people who meet them.  It´s amazing how little they need to be happy.  We went to the central Plaza where they played just for fun, and a transvestite (a man trying to be a woman) did some hilarious dancing.  The youngest girl, Rita, borrowed a bike and cycled around the Plaza, playing and laughing, followed by a dozen of stray dogs.  I have a mental picture of this and will never forget it.

The following day I went to cenote X-Keken.  Cenotes are deep pools created by disintegration of the dry land above an underground river.  X-Keken is quite special.  It is a cave with a lake inside.  A small opening above lets the sun in.  Huge stalactites hang from the ceiling 10m above right down to the water surface.  Bats fly quietly in all directions.  I took my time swimming and enjoying this amazing place so different to anything I have seen before.


I was getting tired of ruins, but Tulum was one of my "must see" places.  The ruins themselves are not spectacular, but the surroundings are just amazing!  Tulum is perched on coastal cliffs in a beautiful bay above the azure Carribean Sea.  There is a small beach where many visitors cool down a little.  There are also hundreds of palm trees but it was a mistake to seek refuge from the Sun in the shade they provide.  Tiny but very aggressive mosquitoes hiding there achieve a very impressive bite per minute rate, as I soon found out.  
Most of these Maya-Toltec ruins are roped off.  However, I did go to some forbidden places to take photos.  It´s funny how quickly others followed my bad example.  I don´t like restrictions but so many people visit Tulum that it must be protected.  Especially the Castillo, which is the main structure, standing on top of a hill.

From the ruins it was a short walk to Playa Maya.  It was exactly how I imagined a Carribean paradise.  Endless stretch of blazingly white sand, crystal-clean , blue water and big palm trees leaning towards the Sea.  I was lying under one of them, just listening to the gentle sound of breaking waves and realized how lucky I was to be there.

The next day I crossed the border into Belize.  I was going to discover a few more beautiful Mexican beaches, but I met Cecilia and Kristine from Sweden and I changed my plans.  I like this about traveling: I never know who I will meet and where I will be the next day.

Mexico summary

I imagined Mexico as a dry, cactus-filled country.  I saw something very different, because I traveled south of Mexico City.  It was very green, with quite comfortable transport and, as expected, friendly people.  They love the music and many shops play it loudly to get more customers.  It had the opposite effect on me.
Mexico, with GDP per capita of $6000, is a lot richer than countries in Central America.  It also turned out to be more expensive than I thought.  Getting from place to place eat´s a big portion of the budget mainly because of large distances.  There are many ruins in Mexico, especially Maya but also other pre-hispanic cultures.  Visiting them can be costly but no trip to Mexico is complete without it.
The cities and towns are colorful and often noisy.  The Pacific coast is one of the best places in the World for surfing big waves.  The Carribean, on the other side, is filled with all-inclusive resorts like Cancun.  It looks more like Usa than Mexico.
Overall, Mexico is a safe country where traveling is very easy.   photos