My Trip To Mexico Part 2: Night Buses and Cenotes
My 20-day solo trip to Mexico was perhaps the most memorable experience in my life.
It was full of events, new people, new places and cultural shocks.
This post is the second part of my story about this trip. You can check the first part here.
Rich Gringo from Miami
I had an already booked bus further from Chichen Itza to Merida, so I had about 5 hours there. Tooo much…
I was disappointed with Chichen Itza.
First, the price doubled a couple of days before my arrival, and I had to pay about $30 which is a lot for Mexico and many other countries too.
Second, it was full of tourists, and I hate such crowded and super-touristic places.
Third, there were dozens of annoying street vendors offering their useless souvenirs, and I was an especially good target because, after an hour of walking around the pyramids, I was already bored looking for things to do, and I had a ‘Miami’ T-shirt on so they thought I’m a rich ‘gringo‘ from Miami.
Apart from pyramids, there also were two cenotes in Chichen Itza. But both were just dirty holes that you couldn’t even enter. I don’t recommend you going to Chichen Itza, go to Palenque or other pyramids instead. They’re much more worth visiting.
So, while I was waiting for the bus to Merida, I connected to wifi and saw a message from my German friend who was with me on my first Erasmus in Spain. She said she was also in Chichen Itza the same day and now she’s in Merida. I asked, where she was staying and it turned out to be the same hostel as me 😀
It’s nice meeting people you know in absolutely random places you’d never expect to see them.
Chilling and Exploring Cenotes
I arrived in Merida. My plan was to travel further the next evening, but I finally liked the atmosphere in the city and in the hostel so much that I stayed there for two more days.
My hostel in Merida
The city was very cute, and there were a couple of nice places around that I could visit. And I did visit some cenotes with my German friend.
We went to the station of colectivos (small buses), and there were people selling cenote tours in the place where we were going. We picked the one that suited us and the guide was actually a brother of the guy who sold us the tour.
On a cenote tour
The price per person was just 100 pesos (about $5-6) with the bus to the place and a 3-hour motorbike tour with a cart in front of it where we were sitting.
We really liked the tour. We could swim in the cenotes and jump to some of them.
The rest of the time in Merida, we were leisurely walking around the town, sipping beers next to our swimming pool (in the hostel where a night stay cost just $8!) and making our own tacos.
The highlight of the stay was attending a cemetery tour. It was more a tour for locals, carried out in Spanish (a bit harder one than we could fully understand).
One of the girls in the hostel was British, and she was working for a Colombian magazine for expats writing about drug wars in Mexico and Colombia. And, walking through obscure streets of Merida listening to all the kidnapping and shooting stories from her was scary… but fun 😀
The cemetery was really impressive.
People build more expensive houses for dead relatives than from themselves…
Well, you should know the attitude of Mexicans to death and how important it is in their beliefs and religion (the Day of the Dead is probably the most famous Mexican holiday).
Political Talks in a Half-Ruined Kitchen
My next stop was Campeche. I chose simply the cheapest hostel, cause I just needed a one-night stay.
I arrived there. It was probably the worst one from my trip but thanks to the good people I liked staying there.
I met a British guy with who we were talking about politics and social issues most of the time, a not very well-educated French guy who was just silent during our talks but was a fun guy anyway, another French who was an amateur boxer, and also one of those active guys who show up at every demonstration, and a Mexican guy who was staying in a hostel because he had a fight with his wife, so he needed a shelter for a couple of days.
I realized that there were no day-time busses to my next stop, Palenque, so I need to take a night bus.
It was leaving at 1 at night, so obviously I didn’t pay for the second night. But I needed to stay somewhere…
So, I stayed in my hostel, talking and hanging out with the people I mentioned above. When I mentioned that I need to take a bus at night, the Mexican guy told me that he can lift me up. At that moment, we already had some drinks so I didn’t really like that idea.
People dancing on the street in Campeche
We went to a bar, had some more drinks. They worked pretty strong on the first French guy so we had to carry him home. The Mexican guy was still trying to take me to the bus station, and we even got into his car.
But even before he started the engine he realized he was too drunk to drive (of course, he wasn’t worried about the police), and we got off.
So, the receptionist called me a taxi and I got to the bus station without any problem.
The Beach Movie in Real Life
The bus took me to Palenque. I was sleeping during the entire trip and fortunately woke up at my stop.
When getting off, I saw that the guys I met in Merida were on the same bus. I was going from Campeche to Palenque, but they were going from Merida to San Cristobal de las Casas (where I was going to be in the evening).
I had to get off at about 7 am, and I was still sleepy. Next to the bus station, people selling tours already started offering me some. And, I actually needed one to take me to several nice places on the way to San Cristobal.
I was not awake enough to take the right decision, so I took the first tour they offered me.
Actually, it wasn’t that bad but maybe I’d find a better deal.
The tour took the entire day. While the town of Palenque had nothing to see, there were very beautiful Mayan ruins next to it (which was the first stop of the tour). And I liked them WAY more than Chichen Itza.
There were much fewer people and vendors, the entrance cost 5 times less, and the pyramids were surrounded by a very nice tropical forest. It was amazing!
The next stop was a nice waterfall. We stopped there for just about 40 minutes, and it was enough. It was a nice place, but not worth staying for more than an hour.
While waiting for our driver next to the bus, I got to know an Italian girl and a German guy. We all were going to the San Cristobal (it was like a make-your-own tour, as there were different buses and different people in the buses on the way).
The last stop before the final destination was Agua Azul. A series of cascades with beautiful light blue water.
With my new friends, I went to the top of the cascades and we decided to take a swim.
Being in such a paradise with two other people I didn’t know before felt like we’re the main characters of the Beach movie with Leonardo di Caprio (I’m Leo, of course 😀 ).
After spending some time there, we got back to our bus, and after driving for a while, we had to get off to change to another bus.
The German guy had a big bag which needed to be put on the top of the bus. One of the drivers put it on the top of one of the busses, then they started calling our names from the list, and were very lost not sure what bus we should sit in.
Finally, the Italian girl and I sat down on one bus, the German guy was in another one. There was very little space inside, so we were sitting very close side by side, and my bag was under my feet so that my knees were next to my chin.
And, that’s the way we were traveling for 4 more hours…
The interesting thing was that our line of 6 or 7 busses was accompanied by police cars in the front and in the back because it was dark and the area wasn’t very safe.
Finally arriving at San Cristobal de las Casas almost at night, we went to my hostel (the Italian girl didn’t have anything booked, so she just joined me).
There, a friendly hippie Peruvian guy met us and gave us a room with just 3 beds (after 36 beds in a hostel room in London, this was a real surprise).
After smoking some weed with the receptionist and some Mexican guys who were staying there, we went to sleep.
There, I stayed about 3 more days, chilling in the hostel surrounded by very interesting and unusual people (and lots of hippies among them 😀 ), exploring the town with locals who looked like they’ve never even heard of Spanish invasion in Mexico.
I really started feeling like home in this hostel, even more home then the apartments where I currently live. We were sitting on the roof, having dinner together, having some chelas (beers), and just enjoying the atmosphere of this laid-back little town which became my favorite place in Mexico.
I also bought a hammock and put it into my backpack on the freed-up place from the jacket I lost somewhere on the way. 😀
Back to the Road
Well, I had just 20 days in Mexico, so staying in one town for 3 days was a luxury. To see some more places, I needed to take night buses and not stay in each place for more than one day. Moreover, I wanted to spend some time with my friends in Puebla and Mexico City.
Next stop for me was Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, the state where my previous town was located.
I thought, if it’s a capital, it should be also worth visiting… It wasn’t! There was nothing to do and see there.
My plan was to find some tour buses to the Canon de Sumidero, one of the main highlights of the region.
The canyon was located very close to Tuxtla, so I thought it would be easy to get there. In fact, it was easier to get there from San Cristobal.
Somehow, asking many people, I managed to find a bus going to Chiapa de Corzo, a nice town next to the canyon.
From the main square in the town, I went directly to the place, where they were selling tickets for the speedboats to explore the canyon.
And it was great! The canyon was so magnificent! And also, there were some animals along it. We saw some birds, monkeys and two crocodiles. We approached one of them, and he rushed into the water with the speed Usain Bolt just wishes to have and scared us all to death! And let our guides have some fun…
After the tour, I spent some time in the town. It was very nice, but also very small, so later I needed to take a bus back to Tuxtla to spend a couple more hours at the bus station waiting for my night bus to Oaxaca.
Mezcal and Change of Plans
Same as for the previous places, I haven’t prepared for visiting Oaxaca. It seemed to me a place that not many people know and maybe not very interesting to visit. But I was wrong!
I think, during the entire trip I haven’t seen so many tourists apart from Quintana Roo as in Oaxaca. And it had many reasons. The city was very nice and there were some places next to Oaxaca that are definitely worth visiting.
First, I needed to find out what to do there and also check in the Aeromexico office if I could change my flight ticket back to Amsterdam and fly directly from Mexico City, skipping the Cancun-Mexico part of the flight.
In the tourist center, they recommended me some places, but in the office of my airline, they told me it wouldn’t be possible, and I’d need to go back to Cancun to fly to Mexico City and then Amsterdam…
I needed to visit Puebla and Mexico City anyway, so I decided to take a flight from there to Cancun.
But, as I was looking for the flights in the last minute, the prices have increased, so I booked a flight from Puebla to Cancun because it was cheaper.
Ok, I left this for later, cause I needed to explore the place! I was looking for busses to go to my first stop, Mitla. I didn’t find any, but I found taxis that were taking there (1-hour ride) for just 30 Pesos ($1,7)!!!
So, I spent some time in Mitla, visited the archeological zone and a mezcaleria where they were showing how they make mezcal and were selling bottles of different kinds of it. I didn’t have space for a bottle in my bag, but I tried some samples ;).
After that, I took a bus to Hierva el Agua, a gorgeous natural lake on the mountain and some waterfalls nearby! The place was amazing! I had about 3 hours there, and I was just enjoying the views that were so different from what I saw on my trip to Mexico before.
I spent about 4 hours on getting to Mitla, then Hierva el Agua and then back, so it was already late evening in Oaxaca when I came back.
I turned on Couchsurfing Hangouts and met a German girl who was a journalist working for a German newspaper and she told me about living in Tijuana and seeing people climbing over the wall to the US just from her house backyard. We went to a bar where a French couple was playing live music.
Then we also met a Mexican guy who was working on cruise ships and just came back from 8 months in the sea. He took us to a local bar (the one with live music was pretty touristic) with pictures on the walls showing the entire history and legends of Mexico.
A bit later, his friends joined us, but I already needed to go to the bus station to take my second night bus in a row, so we didn’t spend much time together.
I arrived at the bus station but I realized that I bought a bus ticket departing from a different place, so a guy working there told me to take a taxi to another bus station on the way of the bus not to miss it. Fortunately, we managed and I took the bus.
Finally, Meeting Friends
I arrived at Puebla early in the morning, took another taxi to my hostel, left my bag, and went to explore the city. It was pretty cute, but not the best from what I’ve already seen in Mexico.
After some time, my Mexican friend we worked with in the summer camp in the US came and showed me around.
We also went to Cholula, an old town next to Puebla which is more interesting to visit for its architecture, museums and a pyramid.
In the night, we finally went out for a party in Cholula (I really needed it, was hard to live 2 weeks without parties 😀 ).
The club looked different than I expected, it was more similar to European ones but of lower quality. I liked the music but … one of the speakers was randomly turning on and off, the confetti they threw in the air looked like pieces of toilet paper, it was very crowded and almost nobody was dancing…
After about two hours there, we wanted to go to another place, but all the places weren’t letting people in anymore (at 3 am!). I found out that there was some kind of law that they are just not allowed to let people in after 3. Maybe to fight alcoholism, not sure.
In the taxi back home, we immediately fell asleep, and the Uber driver took a two times longer way to our home using the situation.
Next day, I was going to Mexico city. I was staying with another Mexican friend who was on exchange in Poznan a year before. On the day of my arrival, he was planning to meet his friends on a kind of reunion.
It was like a party of rich Mexicans, but they didn’t behave arrogantly as I thought they would, they seemed like normal guys, simply dressed a bit better, more educated and having well-paying jobs or small or medium businesses.
After having a night out, a 4-hour bus, then 1-hour metro and all of it after two night buses, I was pretty tired around 10 pm, so I decided to leave although I really liked it there.
The next day, we walked around the city with my friend, visited the main attractions, and tried some local foods in the markets (I love Mexican markets!). I was also planning to visit the states of Guanajuato and Hidalgo, but 20 days of the trip made me so tired, so I just decided to chill in the capital.
I texted the people from my hostel in San Cristobal (a Mexican guy and the Italian girl), and my other Mexican friend I knew from my first student exchange in Spain. We all met and decided to go to some bar. It was Monday, so there wasn’t much to do, however, we had a good time.
Long Way Back Home
My 20-day trip was coming to an end, and because I needed to take a flight back to Cancun, and then Mexico City, and I was flying from Puebla, my way back home was preeeety long…
I had to wake up at 5 in the morning, take an Uber through the whole Mexico city, to meet my BlaBlaCar driver to Puebla, where I needed to order another Uber to the airport to take a flight to Cancun, where I spent half a day more (I could go to the beach, but I decided just to stay at the airport and work a little), take a flight back to Mexico City, change to another flight to Amsterdam, then the next morning take a bus to Eindhoven (a nice town by the way!), then another bus to the airport to take a flight to Wroclaw, then a bus to the city center to take a train to Poznan…
That’s how it had to be…
Surprisingly, everything was going according to my plans, all the flights were on time, I didn’t miss any ride or flight, and I already arrived at the Eindhoven airport almost 3 hours before the flight, passed the security check and sat down somewhere around my gate (at that time, I didn’t know, which one exactly is mine).
I saw a notification that this was a ‘queit airport’ which meant that they don’t give any announcements. A bit weird and interesting at the same time.
I kept working until the last moment, and I saw ‘The Last Call’ message next to my flight. So, I hurried up to my gate but I was late… Although my plane was still there, the boarding was complete and I couldn’t get in…
So, I had to come back to the information desk and try to change my flight to something else. Because I had a flight, changing to something else would cost me money, but less than buying a new ticket.
However, buying a ticket at the last moment was very expensive, and I decided to look for other ways to get home. I finally decided on a bus. Of course, there were no direct buses going there, and I had to make two changes, in Dusseldorf and in Berlin.
I finally arrived home after almost 4 days of traveling, and about 15 means of transport.
Of course, this wasn’t a reason for me not to go to a party, as it was Friday! 😀
This was a story from my solo trip to Mexico. I will keep posting useful tips and city guides for you to organize your better and cheaper, and enjoy it more without unnecessary problems. Follow me on social media not to miss next stories from my trips!