Browsing: La Ruta Maya

Our 2011-2012 trip to Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.

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Of a Flight Back Home

The trip back home was tiring. It always is. I sometimes dream of flying door-to-door but it’s not going to happen as long as we live in Ottawa. Our airport sucks: it is barely bigger than a Wal-Mart and it has very few direct international flights. We always have to transfer in the U.S. or in Toronto.

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Welcome Winter

We are heading home. The trip is over. Winter is starting… for us. Am I sad to leave? Always. A little bit. But to be honest, I don’t mind it that much.

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Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen is a circus.

Walk in the main street and dodge restaurants, tours and hotels offers. Decline to hold the baby tiger or the little iguana for the picture. Walk straight, ignore people, because even a polite “no gracias” won’t be enough.

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Reverse Culture Shock in Isla Cozumel

For our last few days, we had the chance to book a nice hotel in Isla Cozumel, Mexico biggest island. We knew it was going to be a touristic place: the Cancún-Playa Del Carmen-Cozumel is a hot spot for North Americans, especially during the winter.

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Beach Bumming in Tulum

For our last few days in Mexico, we decided to be beach-bum. An easy decision to make considering how great the coastline is in Quintana Roo, and how cold it will be when we go back to Canada.

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Valladolid, Cenote and More Ruinas

In a way, Valladolid reminded me of Arequipa. A city stuck between tradition and modernity, a noble and proud place with a rich history. Sun-drenched colourful walls, women wearing the traditional Yucatán dress, a zócalo center to the life of the people… in many aspects, Valladolid is your traditional Mexican city.

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In The Chicken Bus

Take a chicken bus, one of these old U.S. school buses painted blue, purple, red or any bright colour. Listen to reggae music blasting through the loudspeakers—by the end of the trip, you will know the lyrics to every Bob Marley songs, resistance is futile. Observe the people as the hail the bus on the side of the road or as they get off in the middle of nowhere. That’s Belize for you.

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Caye Calker

Sometimes, going back to places you love isn’t such a good idea. It’s like seeing an old crush again—you know you probably changed, that he probably changed, and that nothing good can come out of it.

Yet I was looking forward to our trip to Caye Calker, one of the small islands off the shore of Belize City.

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Belize City

Belize City, like a lot of cities in Central America, doesn’t have a good reputation. It is much less laid-back than the rest of the country and few find it charming.

Yet it changed.

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Dangriga

The ride turned out to be surprisingly pleasant. Sure, my legs are always too long to fit comfortably in buses originally designed to shuttle North American kids to and back from school, but the road was good and the scenery quite relaxing. Reggae music blasted through the loudspeakers for the entire 2.5 hour long trip but this too was relaxing.

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Back in Belize, Placencia

Our first stop in Belize is Placencia, a small town somewhat popular with British, Canadian and American tourists. It’s quiet, picturesque and the pace of life is Caribbean-slow. Rows and rows of colourful wooden houses, more or less damaged by the humidity or the rain, kids in oh-so-British school uniforms and cluster of tourists at the bars.

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The Boat Ride From Hell

I’m usually very comfortable on boats. I’d take a boat ride over a bus ride anytime and I’m not scared of water. So I was feeling pretty good about our 2.5 hour long trip to Belize.
That said, the boat did look small.
We all climbed aboard and off we went. I quickly felt like we were a cork jerked around in the huge waves. A tiny boat in deep open water.

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Puerto Cortes

Puerto Cortes, despite its evocative name, is a fairly uninspiring place for travelers. Not much to do, not much to see. There is less traffic there than in La Ceiba or San Pedro and it has a bit of a small town feel (at least on a Sunday during daytime). But the cranes that are part of the skyline and the number of bars give it away: Puerto Cortes is a port, an industrial one, from where half of the exported Honduran products are shipped.

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La Ceiba

Taking a shower in Central America is often a small adventure. Some have good water pressure and some don’t, some have hot water and some only have one tap—a sure sign that hot water isn’t on the menu. My favourite are the “widowmaker” showers.

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Big Bang or Of a Boat Accident

I swear I wasn’t driving.

But I doubt the Princess IV will do the trip between La Ceiba and Utila any time soon.

After a few days of watching the sunset, swimming with the fishes and eating baleadas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we took the 2:00 p.m. boat back to La Ceiba, on the mainland.

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Utila and the Bay of Islands

While it’s not the paradise I had expected, the sea is great and the water is very clear. You can spot all kinds of creatures, including huge crabs right by the sidewalk at night. The sunsets are amazing. The guesthouse where we are staying has a small pier with a bench and a couple of hammocks and I could spend my days there. I like the weather: it’s very hot but still breezy. Like in most islands, the dress code is lax and I just bum around in a light dress, sweat tricking from my forehand, my hair messy and tangled because of the humidity.

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San Pedro Sula

This morning, while having breakfast in Copán, I read La Prensa. There was a quick survey on page four: “Do you think Honduras is the crime country of the world?” 75% of the readers answered “yes.” The following page detailed all the murders that had taken place in San Pedro Sula over the weekend.
I put my coffee down. Okay, good to know that.

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Copán Ruinas

The biggest attraction in Copán is the Maya archeological site nearby. While Tulum mostly draws people because of its amazing location by the sea and Tikal is loved because it’s set in the jungle, Copán is somewhat more mysterious. Historian compare Tikal to New York and Copán to Paris: the first one has the buildings, the second focuses on the arts.

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Copán, Honduras

Hard to believe we are right at the border with Guatemala, only about 100 kilometres from Guatemala City. Hard to believe it took us half a day to drive these 100 kilometres actually. This is how it goes in Central America: distances are fairly short—at least they look short on the map—but roads are bad and getting from point A to point B is never that easy.

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¡Hola Honduras!

For the past few days, we’ve been discussing the best way to get to Honduras from Guatemala. We don’t know the country well even though we passed through it in 2001 and briefly took refuge there in 2003 because of the elections in Guatemala. Time to visit again and explore a bit more—we still have some time, 3 ½ weeks exactly.

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Panajachel

Ten years ago, Panajachel was a chaotic village. The doorway to the Lago de Atitlan, it’s an obligatory stop. It was touristy, borderline tacky and slightly stressful.
Well, it hasn’t changed for the better.

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