19th-21st October 2015 (current aim is to write at least something per place we stay so these might be a bit irregular)
After 10.5 hours on a plane, far too much time trying to find the bus stop/our hostel in pouring tropical rain, we made it! It was a bit of a washout of an arrival, by the time we got into our (surprisingly private and spacious) hostel room we were absolutely soaked. And people told me we’d miss the English weather…
We’ve spent the first day in Cancun. It’s an interesting place, definitely a city of two halves. To the west you have the hotel zone, a 14 mile spit of beaches, all inclusive hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants etc. Over where we are in Cancun centro, things are much more residential and it’s much more catered towards locals than tourists. In a lot of ways that’s great for us – we’ve had amazing and cheap food, which we’ve learnt comes in insane portions, and are only a quick bus away from the beaches of the hotel area. People here speak very little English though, so we’ve had to up our Spanish game/do a lot of pointing at menus and prices.
We did spend a little time in the hotel zone, though since we expected the rain to continue we were neither adequately dressed nor did we bring suncream. Although we did manage to find ourselves on an amazing bit of pristine white beach practically all to ourselves which was great for a while, we did end up getting very hot (and I getting very sunburnt). We might go back here when we’re back in Cancun for the beaches as they’re meant to be some of the best in Mexico.
Downtown took a bit of walking around to understand. There’s not tons there, partially some restaurants catering to travellers, partially just day to day stuff for residents. We did learn some useful things though:
1. Mexican portions, for both food and drink, are massive. Order what you think is scrambled eggs, you also get rice, beans, tortillas, nachos, salsas, all included. Order an apple juice and you get a litre. This is fab but obviously takes a bit of getting used to and also led to Rav getting the hugest portion of churros I’ve ever seen… Food on the whole is delicious, and mainly tacos.
2. £3 hostel life is pretty basic. Yes, our room was big and to ourselves, but it was also a bit grotty and had loads of rubbish lying outside the windows meaning that when it rained all night it caused all sorts of loud splashing and clattering. Plus we weren’t keen on using the shower. There were large ants in it.
3. Wandering off the main roads leads to good things. There are a couple of biggish streets in the centre which seem to have most of the restaurants on. However, turning off of these we found ourselves in a square with plenty of festivities going on – a singer, lots of street food stalls, a salsa dancing lesson, and rides and mini cars for children to play on. It seemed to be the thing for local kids to do in the evening, and later on in the night for teenagers to go on awkward looking dates. Great people watching and very tasty food.
It was a short stop in Cancun, but we’ll be back around there at least briefly in the next couple of weeks. Next stop, Valladolid.