March 4th, 2016
Departed Colindas Cabanas by foot
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi to Chetumal, Mexico
Taxi to Bus Station
Shuttle Bus to Cancun, Mexico
Taxi to Ferry Dock
Ferry to Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Accommodation: Playa Arena Villas, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
At Playa Arena Villas from March 4th to March 8th, 2016
If I were to come to Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker again, I might do it differently. However, this trip was all about experiencing a few different places and different modes of travel when in Mexico and Belize! What you need to do down here is roll with the punches and in fact you need to know what your options are, but not necessarily need to book all things in advance.
5:15 am came fast and we got up, made some breakfast, showered, dressed and packed our toiletries and headed down the beach on our way to the Back Bridge dock. The walk was about 15 minutes and lovely and quiet at that time of day with only a few security guards and dogs along the way. In town it was a little busier with workers heading off to work and fellow water taxi passengers heading to the dock. Water taxi departed promptly at 7. Although our end goal on the water taxi was Chetumal, Mexico, we had to disembark at San Pedro, Ambergris Caye to do the customs and immigration process. All kind of interesting. You get off the boat, leave the terminal, go to the ticket booth where he verifies your tickets and records your passport info…then you get in another line to pass customs and then another line to get your immigration stamp. Then you go back to the boat which in fact is a different boat altogether. A surprise, because your bags were left on board, but they switched them over while you are going through the process. Back on the new boat you take what they call the 90 minute ride to Chetumal – which both times took about 110 minutes 🙂 At some point we realized we (me) had made a slight time zone error when booking our bus tickets. I had booked a 10:30 bus out of Chetumal to Cancun, when in fact there is an hour time difference. So we didn’t actually arrive until after the departure time. We weren’t overly worried as we knew that there was a 12:30 bus and the cost wasn’t prohibitive even if we couldn’t exchange tickets. HOWEVER, on the boat we found out that for $35 US each they would have a shuttle take us directly to our destination in Cancun. Our destination being the Ultramar Ferry terminal to Isla Mujeres. Awesome…a little more money…..far less hassle and a bit faster than the bus…….Our comfortable shuttle wasn’t quite as comfie as described, but good enough….other passengers aboard going to Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. Another shuttle going to Tulum left at the same time. Tulum about 2+ hours from Chetumal the two driver’s um…seemed to be racing each other taking turns passing. I was sitting right behind the driver…and honestly…..as you may recall, I don’t do ‘passenger’ well…..I couldn’t look….and even said “OH F” a couple of times when I looked up and saw we were in the oncoming lane with traffic heading toward us. The oncoming traffic veers onto the paved shoulder to avoid the collission 🙂 All the while the driver is laughing as he sees the look of fear in the passengers eyes (or so I imagined :)…….
It was Friday and tons of traffic along the way……we found out that in fact the driver would only let us off at bus stations…..the gal on the boat just made things up to get us on the shutttle…..soo…..finally we got to Cancun bus station….hopped in a taxi….and were at the Ferry terminal and bought our ferry ticket just in time to get the next Ferry….strangely, as I was getting on the Ferry I saw someone I knew from Ottawa. I had heard she had moved to Isla Mujeres a while back…very strange that she should be on the same Ferry I was taking across to Isla Mujeres. We chatted a bit and it seems she’s really enjoying her new life as a real estate agent on the island. Kudos to someone who takes the bull by the horn and lives her dream! Maybe I will be next 🙂
As an OCD planner (who is willing to play it by ear once arrived), I knew that our hotel was a short walk (which I had done on Streetview), so as always I headed off like I knew what I was doing for the 6 or 7 minute walk to our hotel o the lovely Playa Norte. We knew we had a main floor room, which we didn’t want and unfortunately the fellow on the desk didn’t speak english and my spanish wasn’t good enough to find out if there was a room on the 2nd floor available. The reason this is important is that since we don’t use AC we like to be on top so we can leave our windows and patio doors open.
OK…hotel is only about 2 years or less old. Awesome location but much more sterile than we usually go into. It was one of the few affordable hotels in the location we wanted. The last 4 days on the beach was important. We also had to give up our usual ‘view’ rooms. Truth is, you can see the ocean from our patio, but there are too many palm trees and it’s blocked! You can hear it though!!
Honestly, after being on uber laid back Caye Caulker Johnny and I were both suffering a bit from Mexican culture shock. The north end of Isla Mujeres where we were staying is the ‘downtown’ alive with restaurants, vendors, hotels, cars, golf carts, people everywhere. On top of the disappointing ‘sterile’ room (which really is a perfectly nice room)….we were feeling jolted into a reality we weren’t quite prepared for. We went out and walked through the main area of restaurants and found a little Mexican place. The food was ‘ok’ not great….we were tired though, after our full day of travel, ate our dinner and headed back to the room for an early night.
A bit short on photos this day 🙂