A Travellerspoint blog

Back home

semi-overcast 15 °C

Back home a while now actually. Persuaded to write a postscript by Liza, and by going back to work and discovering Paul has also been reading the blog. Thanks Paul.

Let’s get the shit out of the way. My cards got taken for £2800. All of which is being given back to me by Barclaycard and Barclays. Who have been outstanding. Things you never ever thought you’d hear yourself say.

For future reference for anyone who might get their cards ripped off. The stolen cards were used immediately. Within a small amount of hours of being stolen. These people know what they are doing. BC maxed out. Barclays visa debited once, for £800, then I presume maybe tried again and refused. Nationwide visa, who have been TERRIBLE at contact, probably brilliant at stopping immediate use. Lost nothing off them. Lost nothing off anyone. Thank you Barclays.

Holiday? Outstanding. Three countries, two (Belize and Guatemala) exceeding every expectation. Two desert islands. Four Mayan ruins. One excellent suntan. Crocodiles. Whale sharks. Nurse sharks. Sting Rays. Spider and howler monkeys. Helpful friendly people. Beautiful towns and cities (hello Antigua, Guatemala, hello San Cristóbal, Mexico). I love travelling. Liza loves travelling. Bollocks to getting old. Though we are.

Thanks to everyone and anyone who read this. It really is appreciated. I hope you enjoyed (minimal feedback suggests you did).

Would we do it again? In an instant.

You should too.

Posted by Planetgeli 10:13 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Whale sharks

Liza’s turn...

sunny 30 °C

Decidedly out of my depth in more ways than one, here’s Liza to tell you about her day.


Have just returned from a whale shark swim and am a bit lost for words for a few reasons. The trip was amazing, and happily I chose a tour company that did all the right things.....not letting us use sunblock before the swim ( the fish are surface feeders and can’t cope with it), not mooring too close to the shark and only allowing us to swim in pairs and at a reasonable distance. Wish I had an underwater camera to capture the magic of these creatures but am hoping somebody else on the trip will forward me theirs. I swam three times and it was breathtaking. Although enormous the shark are fast and it was an effort to swim alongside but I managed. Meanwhile the crew were preparing some amazingly fresh and tasty ceviche with guacamole for us to stuff ourselves with afterwards. Then we went to another site where we were free to snorkel on our own in safer water. Saw turtles, nurse shark, manta ray and all manner of other sea creatures. All stunning. Also bumped into, literally, the Dutch family that are on the same trail as us. Funny having a chat and catching up whilst bobbing about in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The day ended with a quick trip to Yum Balam Reserve, a kind of lagoon area a bit like Bacalar in that the water was more than several shades of blue. Went for a gentle stroll amongst flamingoes and pelicans.
All left me somewhat speechless but I also have to say I am feeling a tad ambivalent about it all too. There were far, far too many boats all in the same area and , although the majority behaved responsibly, there were sadly a few that were way too fast and way too close for comfort. I also saw a few dorsal fins that were ragged, possibly from boat engines.
I guess it’s part of the same old conundrum Geoff and I often talk about and wrestle with . Although we love to travel and see the world, and especially nature, we cannot help but be aware of the impact this has on the environment. ‘nuff said, off to watch a sunset.

Posted by Planetgeli 13:57 Archived in Mexico Tagged whale_sharks Comments (1)

First time for everything

Bad day at the office...

sunny 33 °C

I’ve mentioned the Dutch family we met in Guatemala who are following a similar route to us. Lovely people, single mum, daughter and son. They’d had only one day in Palenque, then on to Mérida before coming here to Holbox. We had two days in Palenque, missed out Mérida all but for the overnight bus stop, then straight to here, meaning we got here one day before them. Lo and behold, we bumped into them in a restaurant last night. Was nice, but a bit of bad news as the son had been robbed on the overnight bus while asleep. Credit cards and driving license. They left his passport alone. What can you do but commiserate?

Well, something else you can do is paranoidly check your own cards the next morning.

Gone. Driving license gone. Passports untouched.

Same same as they say in Thailand.

So here’s a few big thanks on a horrible day. To Jody for cancelling my Barclaycard (none, and I mean none of the international help numbers worked, and we tried four different phones, the owner of this hotel being brilliant). And I never thought I’d say this but thanks to Facebook messenger, which is how I cancelled my Barclays debit card, as Barclays were set up to do this through FB messenger. Frankly amazed at this. And a big thanks to my sister Christine who I also got in touch with through FB messenger and she held on for nearly an hour waiting for Nationwide to answer her call. So not much thanks to Nationwide. And no thanks to booking.com who I contacted several times just in case I’d left the cards at the last hotel. They never got back to me. But they’re very quick to take money off you.

Shit day. Hopefully alright in the end. Thanks to those kind souls mentioned above.

Nothing much else to report except the worst beer in the world ever. Sol do tins here with either lemon or lime flavour in them. Tbh they’re a bit weird, a bit too over-flavoured. But that is nothing compared to the Sol clemata I tried. I thought the picture on the can looked like a tomato. But then thought no. You don’t get tomato flavour beer. And you don’t. For it turned out to be tomato and onion flavoured beer. Over-flavoured. For real. It was over 90 degrees and I was parched. I drank it. With a coke chaser so not to throw up.

A sickening 24 hours. Never been successfully robbed. Never drank tomato and onion flavour beer.

First time for everything. And hopefully the last.

A quick PS as I may not have explained that well. I was robbed on the same overnight bus as the Dutch lad, just one day earlier. The bus is Palenque to Mérida and is apparently famous for it. My card wallet, not money was robbed. My card wallet was in my bag between my feet (my money was in a money belt around my waist). In some respects, this is my own fault. I know from experience not to put bags on bus floors. Stupidly I’d thought I was safe as I’d checked around. We had a nice girl in front of us (though next to a tall bloke she wasn’t with who got on late and immediately fell asleep...probably) and a severely disabled Mexican guy with his carer next to us, and a nice Italian couple behind us who we’d sat opposite in the waiting room. This all made me feel safe, plus I never went to sleep for quite some time on the bus. Bastards obviously operate at 2,3,4 in the morning. What’s done is done.


Posted by Planetgeli 18:13 Archived in Mexico Tagged robbed Comments (2)

A bar, afar, Alma

This may make you feel sick...

sunny 33 °C

Arriving at ferry terminals, even small ones, is often not the best impression of a place. Holbox was no different. We’d paid a lot of money to stay here for seven nights, upfront (or so we thought, more of that in a minute) and so it had to be good. The island is 25 miles long (though mostly uninhabited) and about half a mile wide. That half mile wide walk to our hotel wasn’t pleasant. It was noisy with golf carts and motorbikes. Dusty. Busy. Shit.

We eventually found our hotel down a dusty lane, about five minutes walk from the sea, which we hadn’t seen yet save for the ferry side. And the ferry side hadn’t been great. Nothing like Caye Caulker, which had been ridiculously blue the whole way (though with no beaches). Our room was nice though. And being down a side road made it a quiet road. The owner seemed nice too. But then he asked for payment. In cash. We thought we’d paid through credit card via booking.com. We hadn’t. And he wanted cash, almost certainly to avoid the taxman. We had no problem with the morals of this, it’s his choice, not ours. But we had a big problem with the cash. We’d turned up with about £200 in pesos as Liza had read the island has one cash machine and it sometimes breaks down. £200 wasn’t even enough for the hotel bill. Owner was laid back about this. “Later”. Yeah, right.

We went straight to the cash machine. Broken. Straight back to him. “No problem. Tomorrow.” Yeah, right.

Tomorrow came. Straight to the cash machine. Still broken. Sod it. Beach.

And it looks like this.


Which isn’t bad is it?

After several hours of basically bathing in hot water we headed slowly back into town in the 90 degree heat. And lo and behold, there was a queue for the cash machine. So we joined it, in about eighth place. Six people walked off with money. Then a couple in front of us tried, failed and it took ten minutes for the machine to spit their card back out. They tried again. Exactly the same process. Everyone walked off, dispirited. There is a dollar only cash machine here too. But nobody accepts dollars apart from the money changers. Who charge 16%. And probably paid for the dollar machine to be installed.

We hung around with another English couple who were desperate. They had no money at all. Another guy walked up and said he’d try. Two minutes later, out of nowhere, he walked back with £200. The English couple did the same. And then so did we. Dodgy hotel bill paid. But we have less than £100 now to last six more days. So that machine has to work one more time for us.

On a roll, the day only got better. Liza had looked up a bar called Alma’s, the place to be to see the sunset apparently. We thought we’d give it a go. It was about a mile walk down the beach so we set off early, stopping regularly for my legs. At one point we stopped and I walked into the sea. The first 100m were milky white and ankle deep. Then you hit a ridiculously blue bit. Knee deep. And the hottest sea you ever could be in. It was wonderful. This island is paradise-like. It will, unfortunately, get spoiled. When they put another cash machine in.

And on. To the bar. Which was on top of a sea front hotel, apparently completely unconnected. The hotel, by the way, was $200 a night (ours is $80 btw, something we never usually pay). And the bar, by the way, was a swimming pool on the roof of the hotel. With hammocks in it. And glass sided rooms with cushions to luxuriate on. I had a beer, Liza had a gin and tonic. It’s a good job we’re not rich. We’d only waste it sipping alcohol in infinity pools on hotel roofs watching sunsets on the Caribbean. Completely waste it.

It looked a bit like this.


And home we walked, along the beach, watching the sky do ridiculous things while a girl danced to Indian music in an Indian way.

And now we have to go through the whole thing again tomorrow.


Posted by Planetgeli 07:35 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach hammocks holbox cash_machines Comments (1)

Palenque to Holbox Island

Just the 18 hours...

sunny 35 °C

We never did get that pizza. After a hot, virtually cloudless day exploring the Mayan ruins we came back to our hotel to hang around for the night bus, planning on eating again at Pizza-not-so-Express. Except today, Monday, like a lot of things in Palenque it never opened. The heavens, however, did. This does appear to be a pattern in Mexico and Guatemala. Hot cloudless days followed by some of the most intense rainstorms you’ve ever witnessed. And this one came with full electricity. One minute we were sat in shelter from the hot sun, the next Liza’s face lit up (again) and one of the loudest thunderclaps either of us had ever heard made us jump out of our skins. And the rain started. This isn’t monsoon country. But it was monsoon rain, in all but name. And still no pizza.

Instead we went across the road, dancing in the rain, to experience another of Mexico’s little idiosyncrasies. The wait for the meal. It does seem nothing can be done in a hurry here. Maybe that’s why the speed humps are everywhere. You are never more than 100m away from a speed bump in any town. But you are always about an hour away from any meal. For the record, we haven’t become fans of Mexican food (spiced up guacamole aside). Liza had some of the untastiest crepes you could wish for. I ordered something random, that sounded Mexican but turned out to be a croissant filled with cheese and lettuce (and the cheese, manchego, isn’t nice here). Oh, it came with chips. Croissant and chips. Gourmet at its finest.

I’d also mentioned in the last blog, written just three hours before that gourmet meal, that Palenque had failed to live up to its reputation for mosquitoes. Ho Ho Ho. Got bitten to shit in that next three hours. Which made the next eighteen hours just that bit itchier.

18 hours? Yep. Thank goodness for Guatemala having better chemists than the UK. Overnight bus made more bearable for it. That eight hours turned into nine, or least because we had to do the first 26km down the road with no road again. The buses here are tremendous, ADO having put a lot of money into the transport infrastructure. Completely not matched by the Mexican government putting anything into some of the roads. It seems there are two types of roads in Yucatán. No road. Or the road so straight you can see for miles down it (and with no traffic to block the view either). Arriving in Mérida a at 5.30pm we were soon to witness the latter, five and a half hours of bleached white road any Roman Centurion would have been proud, or bored, to march down. It’s not like there’s anything to the sides to view either. It’s nearly all ten foot trees hiding miles of expanse of millions of other ten foot trees with no contours to follow. The Mexicans do prosaic for the sake of prosaic rather well. Any time we entered a town, Mérida, Valladolid, wherever, we always seemed to be travelling down Calle 27.

So, finally, at 12.25pm, we arrived at Chiquilá ferry port for the Holbox ferry. Holbox, pronounced Holebosch, and meaning black hole in Mayan (so Liza tells me) is, allegedly, the latest place to be. It is for us anyway. We are here for all of our last week, intending to veg out on white sand beaches with stupidly milky blue waters of the Caribbean. At the moment (atm) we have one small problem that we can’t pay our hotel bill because the only Peso dispensing ATM (see what I did there?) on the whole island is out of order. This doesn’t appear to bother our hotel owner so I’m not going to let it bother me. We are completely knackered from all the last 18 hours travel and need to eat, drink and sleep. Which is what I’m going to do now.


Posted by Planetgeli 15:32 Archived in Mexico Tagged holbox Comments (1)

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