Hitchhiking Tales – From Cancun to Chetumal

I´m traveling vía hitchhiking. The usual response from everyone? A frightened look, thinking I´m crazy and saying I´m being stupid and reckless.

My response? You should try it, it is not that bad.

Of course it is dangerous. You are walking through a desserted highway all by yourself, waiting for some stranger to pick you up. We were taught when we were kids to never speak to strangers and to never ever get in a car with someone you don´t know so I kind of get the point some people make when having this argument.

The argument keeps going.

Why do you do it? Is your safety worth those $20 dollars you are saving? Aren´t you scared?

But then the fun questions start:

How did manage to get someone to pick you up? Was it fun? How were the people that picked you up? Do you think I could do the same? Is it safe for me to do it?

I could write about responding all those questions but I have a better deal, let me tell you the first chapter:

Hitchhiking tales – From Cancun to Chetumal

The plan was getting to Caye Caulker in Belize from Cancun but it was really expensive. 50 US dollars a one way trip. So I searched on the internet and saw that it was just 15 US dollars to get there from Belize city. So now the real challenge was to try and not spend too much money getting there. So I decided to hitchihike.

Getting from the airport to playa del Carmen was very easy. One employee from the airport was finishing his shift and I just had to walk for 10 minutes until he saw me and let me hop in. He asked me not to take any pictures because he was driving the company car and didn´t want to get in trouble. I didn´t even had to hold any sign, just hold my finger up.

From Playa del Carmen to Tulum I had a lot of luck. I stayed in a hostel the night of the 23rd and the morning after got up very quickly. I made my sign, a very humble sign, and hoped for the best. It took no more than 5 minutes for a contruction worker to stop by, give me a look and approve me and them “Im going to Tulum, hop in”

This is Juan. He is 20 years old. He has one 2 year old daughter and left home at 12. He is originally from Campeche and is living in Tulum right now. He earns no more than 400 US dolars a month but has already managed to buy a small land to build a house in the poor part of Tulum. It took him 5 seconds to establish I was to be trusted and could ride with him.

After saying goodbye to Juan I was very positive, I already covered around 120 kilometers in two days and it was no more than 10 am. I think I can cover the remaining 210 km to Bacalar and sleep there. Little did I know.

I started walking south from Tulum. I really don´t like to stay in one place just holding my finger up. I prefer to keep walking to my destination in case no one picks me up I´m gonna be closer by the end of the day and set up camp wherever the night hits me. I walked like 4 hours with the sun in my face and 20 kil0s on my shoulders. Not a single car in the horizon, and the few that passed didn´t even looked at me.

I was beginning to get scared. See the highway completely empty?

I was already starting to give up. I was out of water and had already ate my road snacks, I try to bring tuna (canned protein), chocolate (some calories) and chips (because I´m fat). So as I was starting to look for a shade Carlos went by. He looked at me and I saw his face, a tip for hitchhiking is to always try to make eye contact, and I noticed he wanted to stop. He passed me and I could see him getting away, it is very easy because the highway is pretty much a straight line. He stopped, made a U turn and came back after 500 meters. Opened the door and asked me where was I going. At this point I just wanted to get out of there so I said anywhere south.

Well, I am going to Chetumal, is it good for you?

Hell yeah, Chetumal is 30 kilometers south of Bacalar, that better than what I was aiming for!

Carlos is a 62 year old man from México city. He went to the same hihg school I did but 33 years before me! Talk about coincidences.

He lost everything, his wife and kids, money, house and dignity when he got jobless. We spent 240 kilometers discussing life, experiences, choices and how he got back on his feet (He now has a good position in the government. He told me two phrases I´m never going to forget: He who can control himself, controls the world and We humans are so worried about the past of the future that we forget to enjoy the present.

Im telling you Steemians, whenever you have the chance to speak with a person twice your age, do it, and do it for a long time. Some of the best conversations of my life are with these people.

Anyway, I got to Chetumal and decided that, if I could find a hostel under 10 dolars I would stay there, otherwise I would search for a camping spot. I found it, slept one night and then continued hitchhiking my way to where I am since yesterday, Cay Caulker, an island near Belize city.

But I will tell you about it on my next post about hitchiking.

I hope you enjoyed it, if you have any recommendations about these tales please tell me! Maybe it is too long, it might need more pictures, perhaps it is too boring… Whatever it is, tell me!

Tulum Ruins – The Mayan Walled City in Mexico

This is it, the first post of a long list I have for you, I am really happy that you decided to join me in this adventure.

Some of the buildings from this Mayan city beling to the postclasic era (1250 – 1550 AD) but there are some elements that indicate that it was founded in the VI century but it was not an important place at the moment. Tulum among other cities became one of the main Mayan cities from the XIII to the XIV century.

It has a strategical location because it is between Cochuah and Cozumel (main cities back then) and because it is on the highest point in the region allowing it to be the best defended city against enemies from both land and sea, its location also allowed it to become the only road for every comercial trade in the Mayan peninsula and also to exploit all the maritim resources.

It is believed that it was one of the most independent, comercially and politically speaking, Mayan city until the Spanish arrived in the XVI century which is when the it got practically a ghost city.

How to get here?

It is  130 kilometers south from Cancun so all you need to do is take an ADO bus either from Cancun or Playa del Carmen and then walk 1 kilometer from the highway to the ruin.

The entry fee is $70 pesos (4 US) for both mexicans and foreigners and all you need to do is buy a ticket.

It is open from 8 am to 5 pm so you have all day to explore it! Avoid going on Sundays because it can get pretty crowded because there is no entry fee for mexicans every sunday.

Architecture

One of its most emblematic architechtonical pieces is the wall built all around the city (except for the part that is protected by a 50 meter cliff facing the ocean), it is believed that this wall was built for defensive purposes but also to establish the manpower and economical position of the city.

Most of the main buildings in Tulum is protected by the descending God, the deity in charge of protecting the city, represented with a statue on the entrance of the building: The God of corn and it is believed it could have had a link with the birth of the Mayans and after their death, their rebirth as corn plants.

Fun Facts:

When the Spanish Juan de Grijalva got to the shores of this city in 1857, his crew stated that it was as big as the city of Seville in Spain, one of the most important and biggest Spanish cities.

After it was abandoned, it got re-discovered in 1841 by John Stephens, guided by the son of a pirate.

During the indigenous rebellion, also known as Guerra de Castas in 1847, the walled city became a sanctuary for Mayan rebels, particularly for María Iucab, an important priestess and also the political leader of this movement.

Tips for visiting TULUM.

By ALL means, find a hostel before going to the ruins, there is one right where the ADO bus drops you off, it very nice and it´s only $200 pesos and they will even let you borrow a Bike so you can visit the ruins and the town which is around 2 kilometers from the ruins.

I didn´t stay there so I had to carry my 15 kilo b ackpack and my 7 kilo frontpack.

Bring water, a lot of water, i didn´t and had to ask a Chilean couple to save my life. They did 😀

Wear snickers or running shoes for the ruins and bring your sandals in your backpack for the beach.

Get there early and then head to the beach, around 1 kilometer south of the ruins and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mayan Riviera.

If you are on a budget, do not hire a guide, there is a lot of guided tours and you are going to find one guy speaking English in every main building, just drop by and listen.

Thanks for reading the long post! Here is some animals from Tulum in return 🙂

Getting vaccinated for my World Trip

1 day before starting to travel through South America, South East Asia and Southern Africa… That requires a lot of vaccines…


Here I am, scared as pfff

In reality the only vaccine that is mandatory to travel around the world is the Yellow Fever one and you need a special certificate from the World Health Organization (WHO) that aknowledges that you are vaccinated against it to enter some countries, especially in central and south America. But that doesn´t mean that is the only vaccines you should take to have a not so risky trip.

The possibility of getting sick or catching a virus while traveling is very high and as a traveler we should be as prepared as we can to avoid unnecesary risks and also have a contingency plan for every problem you might encounter, including getting sick. It doesn´t mean that you have to have a response to every posible scenario but at least you have to know the consecuences and symptons of every disease you might catch in every country.

In general, and as Im going to travel for at least one year I got vaccinated against these:

  • Yellow Fever
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Tetanus
  • Rabies
  • Dengue

My doctor didn´t advised me to get the Malaria pre-treatment but gave me the pills in case I get contagied, they are 12 pills and are extremely expensive but hey, rather that than having Malaria in Peru.

My advice is, if you are traveling to various countries and are going on a few months trip, specially if you plan staying in hostels and meeting a lot of people, you should consult a profesional and get vaccinated, even if you are not planning on being on risky situations or going camping, it is better to prevent than to be sorry. Make sure the vaccines are issued by an organization linked with the WHO.

And as a last recommendation, make SURE that you had breakfast and have your defenses high; Some of these vaccines have contraindications and you might get dizzy, headache and nausea as a side effect, especially if you get them all at the same time. I didn´t had breakfast and went to get my blood tested earlier and now I feel kind of, just kind of dying hehe.

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