Category Archives: Mexico

Borders, bribes and bloody hurricanes!

It’s been a proper season for getting caught in storms, mudslides closing the only road to my destination and border guards getting right up my nose!

Let me dial it back a few days to a calm trip down from Cancun to the Cayes is Belize. The weather was looking good, Hurricane Paula had closed the bars overnight but now things were back to normal. A small set of rainstorms off of Panama looked problematic but only the weather channel seemed mildly concerned about another tropical cyclone.

The buses to Belize are currently not allowed to come into Chetumal ADO station (Oct 2010) so to pick one up you must take a taxi to the new market. This is due to the taxi union complaining about not getting enough fares out of the connecting passengers, all normal there then.

I usually have a local guy, George from Get Transfers in Corozal just over the border, pick me up and run me to the small airport for my short flight to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The Tropic Air flight only takes twenty minutes and it is such great fun flying so low that it is worth the $47.50 USD for that alone.

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Look at them now – How iconic hippie hangouts have changed

The sixties and seventies were arguably the golden age of travel for backpacking vagabonds, hippies and soul searchers. I can remember stories about the overland trail to Kathmandu that fascinated me with their richness and mystery. Istanbul was spoken of in hushed tones by the knowledgeable and the Magic Bus seemed truly ……well magic.

As a teenager I thumbed through an old travel agents guide, ABC I think it was called, that resembled the CIA fact book that we see online now. I had planned my round the world trip several times over and was already, in my imagination, sipping tea in some far flung destination watching the day unfold over my copy of Le Monde.

The Far East was truly the ends of the Earth; India, as a Brit, seemed more accessible but remained undeniably enticing. I was still too young to travel and soon the world would move to make some of these romantically ideal places off limits and change the game and the innocence we once had.
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Mexico – Isla Mujeres where are all the tourists

It’s been less than a year since my last trip to Mexico, back in January the crowds were thronging the beaches and the bars were resonating with the raucous screams of tourists fuelled with cheap tequila. Souvenir shops were doing a brisk trade and the fake Cuban cigar sellers were in great spirits, it took me over an hour just to get through immigration and another forty-five minutes to reclaim my bags. What a palaver!

Fast forward to November this year and the picture is very different, I managed to walk from the plane and pass through immigration without a beat. The luggage hall was deserted and the customs check was a breeze. Traffic in Cancun seemed about normal and the transfer to the ferry for Isla Mujeres took the usual amount of time.

welcome to paradise

Arriving at the port it was noticeable that the quayside bars, where a welcoming drink would be …well, welcome, were closed. I trundled my bags through the side streets of Isla Mujeres passing shop owners and waiters bidding me “welcome to the island” and “please enjoy your stay” a far cry from the usual hustle and the smiles were genuine. It reminded me of Jordan, where the irrepressible good nature of the locals makes you feel at ease. Mexico, or at least this part of the Yucatan, is still hurting from the Swine Flu and whether it is more or less risky here may seem irrelevant to some tourists, they have already made their choice.
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