Too often lumped in with North America, Mexico is a country that stands out on its own.

Solo trip to Mexico - 3/7/11 to 3/31/11

Jacob G. Norlund

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  • Added on: February 23rd, 2011
Hello,

I recently booked a trip to Mexico. I'll be arriving and departing from Cancun on March 7th and March 31st respectively. I don't plan on spending any time in Cancun, but instead going to Valladolid to go to the cenotes and 'Ek Balam ruins (and maybe a few other sites in Yucatan as well), and then going to Merida to meet up with my friend, who lives in Cardenas, and then from Cardenas to meet up with my other friend, who lives in Comalcalco. Then about a week to 10 days will have passed, and I'm wondering what to do with the rest of my time.

My plan is: Cancun -> Valladolid -> Merida -> Villahermosa / Cardenas / Comalcalco -> Oaxaca (my friend says it's a beautiful city) -> Puerto Escondido (want to see the Pacific coast) -> San Cristobal de Casas / Aguas Azules -> Palenque -> Chetumal / Corozal, Belize (want to get at least 2 countries in) -> Cancun.

1. Does this sound manageable for the time gone? I'll be using public transportation exclusively.
2. Any recommendations? Alternatives?
3. Are the cenotes fun to visit alone?

Thank you in advance.
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Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: February 24th, 2011
Jacob G. Norlund wrote:Hello,

I recently booked a trip to Mexico. I'll be arriving and departing from Cancun on March 7th and March 31st respectively. I don't plan on spending any time in Cancun, but instead going to Valladolid to go to the cenotes and 'Ek Balam ruins (and maybe a few other sites in Yucatan as well), and then going to Merida to meet up with my friend, who lives in Cardenas, and then from Cardenas to meet up with my other friend, who lives in Comalcalco. Then about a week to 10 days will have passed, and I'm wondering what to do with the rest of my time.

My plan is: Cancun -> Valladolid -> Merida -> Villahermosa / Cardenas / Comalcalco -> Oaxaca (my friend says it's a beautiful city) -> Puerto Escondido (want to see the Pacific coast) -> San Cristobal de Casas / Aguas Azules -> Palenque -> Chetumal / Corozal, Belize (want to get at least 2 countries in) -> Cancun.

1. Does this sound manageable for the time gone? I'll be using public transportation exclusively.
2. Any recommendations? Alternatives?
3. Are the cenotes fun to visit alone?

Thank you in advance.


That's an awful lot for 24 days. The extreme points of your loop - Cancun and Puerto Escondido - are at least 32 hours apart by bus. (I've done the trip between them in two stages, with an overnight in San Cristobal.) I'd recommend dropping Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido from the itinerary, as much as it pains me to say. (I spent a few months in Puerto Escondido, and love the place.) I'd also drop Belize, and add Guatemala as an excursion from Chiapas (easy from San Cristobal or Palenque, and much more rewarding than ducking across the border to Corozal, which would be a colossal boondoggle.)

Consider that Villahermosa (not a particularly rewarding city) is only about two hours from Palenque, but probably 10-12 from Oaxaca City (itself another 6-9 from Puerto Escondido). Palenque is 5-6 hours from San Cristobal. From SC, you can take a shuttle to Huehuetenango, in Guatemala. Or, you can buy a tour (not an obnoxious one - a minibus with river ferry) from Palenque to Flores, near Tikal in norther Guatemala. Flores is about 15 hours by buses from Cancun, via Belize. (You'll get three countries this way.)

Really, with what you have planned, the Oaxaca destinations are outliers - too far out for the time you have, in my opinion. If you trim Oaxaca, you can add Guatemala on a more compact loop back up to Cancun in time for your flight out. If you really want to see the Pacific, look into Puerto Arista, in Chiapas. I haven't been, but have heard it's pleasant.

Cenotes are very cool, but I don't know about visiting one alone. Would you be happy hanging out in a cave by yourself? There are lots of opportunities to visit one in a small group from hostels and guesthouses in Merida or Valladolid or Tulum.

You still in northern Minnesota?

Jacob G. Norlund

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  • Added on: March 4th, 2011
Thank you for your advice. I'll certainly take it into consideration. I'll be in Mexico, perhaps for the only time, and want to see a big part of the country, but annoyances with packing, carrying suitcases, etc. (caused by moving almost every day) definitely is a negative factor.

And yes, I still live outside of Duluth. The total plane fare is going to be $451 R/T from Duluth to Cancun and back (via MSP) - not that good of a deal, but not that bad either.
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vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 19th, 2011
It's probably too late but I want to throw in a vote for SC and Puerto Arista. I live in SC most of the time and I love it. P. Arista is a great trip from there. I spent a week there last year and it was amazing. It's off the gringo tourist track though so you'll want to know some spanish. It's also probably not the place to go if you have to be busy all the time as it's a very small, very chill beach town.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

busman7

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  • Added on: September 2nd, 2011
DUH :crazy:
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  • Added on: September 2nd, 2011
What Felix said.

Oaxaca is very nice, and Monte Alban is fantastic, but.. you have a limited timeframe and may not want to spend two whole days of travelling to go to and fro. I must say that if you go to Guatemala and fly to Tikal, it would probably be more rewarding time-wise for a long trip.
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busman7

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  • Added on: September 3rd, 2011
Thread is from Feb & he traveled in March.
"Being normal? Ugh. I can't imagine how awful that must be" unknown

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: September 4th, 2011
busman7 wrote:Thread is from Feb & he traveled in March.


You do realize there is a reason threads are archived here? In the future, there are other people who will travel to this area, and will be searching the boards for advice on their destinations.

busman7

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  • Added on: September 4th, 2011
Felix the Hat wrote:
busman7 wrote:Thread is from Feb & he traveled in March.


You do realize there is a reason threads are archived here? In the future, there are other people who will travel to this area, and will be searching the boards for advice on their destinations.


I also realize that this thread was dug out of the archives by a spammer who posted the same question about a Vietnam/Cambodia visa on at least 3 different threads & this one a Mexican thread. Strange you didn't answer that question if you wanted to be so helpful! :?
"Being normal? Ugh. I can't imagine how awful that must be" unknown

Jacob G. Norlund

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  • Added on: January 24th, 2012
It's been almost a year since I left, and was it an adventure. I did not do half of what I planned, partly because of some mishaps at the beginning of the trip. I discovered that I had forgotten my laptop charger at home (when at the Duluth airport), but because my mother (the one who dropped me off) was phone-less at the time, I was unable to have her bring it to me. To make matters worse, I lost my ATM card and had to use my credit card - well, my mom's credit card (I used to be a "registered user" on it, but I disposed of my credit card because of another person's abuse of it), paying it off and making cash withdrawals from ATM machines as I went, with all the usual disadvantages of cash advances. And then transferring money from my bank account to pay off the credit card was a hassle, largely because my mother did not have a phone and so could not authorize the transfers (although they went through eventually, thank God!) And then, of course, the awful diarrheal infections, which probably could have been warded off if I took just a few more precautions (although having recently come off chemotherapy at the time I was at added risk).

I landed in Cancun, and took the next bus to Valladolid from the bus station. I spent about three days in there, one of which I went to 'Ek Balam, which I was a little underwhelmed with (although perhaps because of the heat and not having a tour guide, which is actually quite indispensable when you are viewing ruins from a culture you know little about). I went there in a colectivo which stopped at an ejido (kind of like a collective farm). In the colectivo, I met a nice man who spoke little Spanish and learned a few words in Mayan from him. The admission prices had changed from my (bought a few days before) Lonely Planet guidebook, and the only way back to my "hostal" was a private taxi, for which I was 25 pesos short! Luckily, he drove me first to the hostal and then to an ATM so I could pay him the balance, and did not even charge extra for the hassle (although I gave him 150 and let him keep 25 for the inconvenience I caused him).

After about three days in Valladolid, I proceeded on to Merida, where I stayed for an amazing eight days. I transferred from a nice youth hostel (INOUT) which was made not-so-nice by my upset stomach to the air-conditioned, en-suite bathroom-having Hotel Maria del Carmen, which was a wonderful relief. While there I booked tours (per the suggestions here) through agencies (of which there are many in Merida...until I read this thread, I never knew that they would deal with a single traveller) to the Uxmal ruins, and then another full-day excursion to some cenotes. My fellow travelers and guides were interesting characters. On the first excursion (to the Uxmal ruins), I had a guide, very chubby and dark, who looked like a swarthy "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, right out of the Sopranos. I was accompanied by a British tourist and an exuberant young (married?) upper-class couple from Mexico City, both of which held Ph.D.'s. On the second trip I had two Japanese tourists who met up with each other and increasingly inebriated Italians, one of which spoke perfect English with an American accent. My guide on that excursion was from Morelos and once worked at the Sears in the Mall of America (and visited Duluth)! He asked me if I wanted to meet up later to go to a "table dance" (what Mexicans call a "strip bar"), and I politely declined. How small of a world it is. Merida was an amazing city. It wasn't at all what I expected.

On the evening of March 17th, I boarded a bus bound for Comalcalco, Tabasco, and arrived in the morning (Friday), not getting much sleep despite taking two Ambien. We arrived in the morning and I went to my beautiful friend (who had gotten even more beautiful since the last time I saw her) and her family's house before leaving on a road trip around Chiapas in her elderly dad's Pontiac G3 (my sister had a G6 at the time). We went to the Lagos de Montebello, to San Cristobal de las Casas (which was an incredible city), to Tuxtla Gutierrez, to the Cascadas de Chiflon (gorgeous waterfalls), on a boat trip through the Sumidero Canyon, etc. When I offered to pay for something, the family usually refused my offer. I spent the week at my friend in Cardenas's house, where his mother, whom he had apparently praised me to, could not stop talking about a "novia mexicana". I then went to Palenque with my friend from Comalcalco and a few of her friends, before leaving her house in desperation for my friend in Cardenas's, which was air-conditioned.

Then, on the last day, I took a bus to Cancun, where I slept a night at an awful hotel in the Zona Hotelera. Apparently, they have a good rating, but my room was laughably bad - malfunctioning air conditioner, TV with one channel, bedbugs, etc. - but with an incredible view. When I woke up and took the taxi to the Cancun airport the next day, I was refreshed and reinvigorated.

And then I came home, only to find that my car was impounded and a bunch of other negative things that absolutely destroyed my spirit.
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