Where do I even begin?
Almost a month ago today, on the 10th of April, I woke up bright and early to the sound of unfamiliar birds chirping outside, a stuffy warmth inside the room and the contrasting site of grafitti’d walls, brightly coloured buildings and, in the distance, green jungle beyond my balcony.
I’d left a cold and rainy Luton, got a taxi-train-coach-tube-airplane-taxi and finally, after 21 hours (!) arrived in Cancun, Mexico, the night before. After a quick greeting to some of my tour buddies who had already arrived and an even quicker shower, I luckily fell asleep without any issue and woke up feeling energized for day one of my Mexican adventure.
To say I was excited was an understatement. It would be easy to say the door-to-door 21 hour journey was the longest part, but in fact I’d waited years for this chance. So it wasn’t really until I woke up on that morning and looked outside the window that it really hit me.
After heading downstairs to meet my tour buddies – Rachel, Tommy, Ronan, Khaleda and couple Dom and Matt, as well as our lovely tour guide, Delai, we threw our bags into the back of our official travel van for the next nine days and headed out into Cancun to grab some breakfast and snacks on the road. After settling into our seats and putting on some music (as well as being ever so thankful for the air conditioning in the van), we were on our way.
DAY ONE | CHICHEN ITZA AND MERIDA
As if welcoming us to the beautiful country of Mexico, our first proper outing was a visit to the world famous Chichen Itza – and what a welcome! Chichen Itza actually refers to the whole archeological site, which was once a village built by the Mayan’s. The most famous point of the site is El Castillo, the stone pyramid in the centre of the site. On the walk there, it seemed small until we were up close and then, suddenly, it looked ever so beautiful. I found it particularly hard to believe that I was standing somewhere which was known around the world and that so many people associate with Mexico.
We walked around the ruins and also visited the ballcourt and a cenote here. I was fascinated to learn that the winners of the games played in the ballcourts were then actually killed/sacrificed, so that they could meet their Gods to ask for water and then enjoy the pleasures of paradise which, to them, was sitting beneath a tree and drinking chocolate. There were also many bones found at the pit of the cenote – many belonging to children – where families sacrificed their children for the same purpose.
We also went on to visit a nearby cenote which we would swim in. I really enjoyed this and it was a welcome escape from the heat. It sounds stupid, as I knew Mexico would be hot, but at some points it was ridiculous! Even the water in our water bottles had gone hot! Anyway, in we went and had a relaxing and refreshing swim, before drying off and heading to our next destination: Merida.
Merida was a beautiful city. The hotel we stayed in was absolutely beautiful with a courtyard and fountain both in the square outside of the hotel and a smaller version inside the hotel with rooms surrounding it, and a small pool on the roof. We didn’t have time for a dip, but we definitely took an hour or so to chill out by the pool and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Inside the hotel, I felt more like we were in New Orleans with the theme of it all: mellow yellow walls, thick white pillars and black iron tables and chairs. You can see some beautiful photos here
– the whole hotel was really sweet. We checked in then later headed out for dinner at a nearby restaurant, taking a slow walk around the streets of the Merida in the process. We stopped for a quick drink afterwards but by then I was this close to konking out with jet lag so most of us headed off to bed.
Sidenote – I’ve never had jet lag before so at least I think that’s what it was – but it was so weird to feel fine one moment then all of a sudden just crash. Despite being out for dinner (and having a delicious pizza with avocado, black olives and cheese!!), I just couldn’t keep my eyes open!
Still, I slept super soundly that night, feeling content about our first full day of tour.