• We are 16 kilometres from the frontiera with Belize. Sixteen pequeños kilometros, but we decided to stay in Chetumal for the night—no point in rushing to Belize City and arriving after dark. In 2001, that’s what we had done and it hadn’t been a very smart move.

    This morning, at 10 a.m., we showed up at the bus terminal in Tulum, hoping to catch the 10:20 a.m. to Chetumal. Unfortunately, that bus was full and we had to wait for the half-empty 12:15. The ride was smooth if loud thanks to the movies dubbed in Spanish that played for the entire trip, and we arrived on time (!) and got to Chetumal at 4 p.m.

    We found the hotel we stayed in in 2003 (another missed bus connection): Hotel Ucum. Come, go ahead, joke and laugh—I did. Dirty French mind. The hotel is nothing luxurious: a $20 room with a private bathroom. But after Tulum, it feels like we are back to civilization. I mean, there is a mirror in the bathroom! Warm water!

    We walked the long main street in Chetumal looking for food. Since we are now out of the traditional tourist path, there weren’t many options. In fact, there only seemed to be two kinds of stores: zapaterias (shoe stores) and clothes. Chetumal’s gotta be the shoe capital of Mexico!

    A few cultural observations:

    • I feel like a giant. Mexicans, Mayans especially, are fairly short by North American standards and at 5’7 (1.70 metres) I’m a head or two taller than most people, men included.
    • When you see a lot of policia, should you be worried? It’s the chicken and egg question. Is the police there because the place is unsafe or is the place safe because the police are there? For instance, in Tulum, federal and municipal police drove around town constantly, hands on their machine guns. For some reason, it didn’t make me feel particularly safe.
    • I always find it funny to see “winter coats” on display in stores. I mean, yes, technically it is winter. But thick jackets seem like a bit too much when it’s 20°C outside! That said, I learned to wear jeans and a sweater on the bus, it gets chilly with the air con.
    • Mexicans seem obsessed with cleaning products. In supermarkets, two to three aisles are dedicated to every kind of cleaning product you can imagine.


Chetumal Bus Station
Hotel Ucum
By The Water

Get the latest story, cultural shock and travel pictures right in your inbox

I don't spam, promise.

I literally don't have the time to write ten stories a day.

Visited 1 times, 1 visit(s) today


  1. Jeruen December 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I honestly didn’t see the funny aspect of it until you mentioned something about a dirty mind, but yes, now that you mention it… 😛 I see a theme here, you seem to be following the sea, just heading south, since every entry seems to have a picture with an ocean in it!

    1. Zhu December 22, 2011 at 11:17 pm

      Heading to the jungle now!

  2. ristinw December 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Congratulation you have received a blogger award! 😀 Your blog deserves it! I know you are traveling right now, so you may not have the time to follow the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award! No problem, just keep writing your journal! 😀

    1. Zhu December 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      Thank you for the award! I’ll check it out. I don’t have a lot of time for Internet while traveling, so apologies if I’m slow to pick it up.

  3. expatraveler December 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Although I have no desire to rough it like that, the pics look so beautiful and warm! Something I’m definitely missing!

    1. Zhu December 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

      Rough but rewarding 😉

  4. shionge December 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hey do you feel in any way intimated? Heard so much about the safety there though.

    1. Zhu December 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      I´m not overly concerned. We use commonsense… it is our 3 time in the area and I do speak enough Spanish to get by.

  5. Gerri January 24, 2012 at 1:02 am

    I love your stories and know you are enjoying yourself. My husband and I loved Chetumal. You two remind me of us and must be following in our footsteps.

    1. Zhu January 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      That’s funny! Chetumal is a bit our of the way, most people just use it as a border crossing town but it’s actually pretty nice.

  6. Pingback: Mexico-Belize Border Crossing – Chetumal to Orange Walk

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *