DAY 1

Oct 20 2018

OMG we woke up late this morning and had 10 minutes to get ready and leave Monica’s house to catch the bus!!! But we made it! Check in was a bit of a wait which was annoying as we only had to drop our bags off because we had already checked in. We got Starbucks for breakfast once we were through security and got on the plane. Tarra and I sat separately. I watched one movie - Little Italy and then slept for about 1-2 hours.

When we got off the plane the border control was hectic! I think about 3 plane loads of people had arrived at the same time and the queue was massive and very unorganized! I think we waited about an hour and a half to get through 😡 our bags were on the floor near the conveyer belt. Then we had the issue of whether we taxi or uber to the hostel... it didn’t look like there any Uber’s so we caught a taxi. The driver was friendly enough but the local driving was crazy, it reminded me of being in Thailand. I had to close my eyes as there were some close encounters!

We checked in to the hostel and was pleased with ourselves for booking a private room with 2 separate beds! For dinner we went next door to a Mexican Restaurant. I had a chicken dish but I didn’t enjoy it that much.

I slept ok but kept waking up every now and then due to cars honking and general noise in the hostel.

DAY 2

Oct 21 2018

Today we had a little sleep in and then headed down for free breakfast at the hostel. We got one piece of bread that we toasted, a bowl of fruit (watermelon & cantelope) and a taco 🌮 of course lol!

After a shower 🚿 we headed to meet a free walking tour of the city. We met the tour at Zocalo where the main city’s meeting place is. The locals use it as their meeting point like how Melbournians use Flinders Street Station steps! Our tour guide, Mar, was friendly and very informative about her city. We visited a Cathedral, ruins, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo Nacional de Arte, Plaza Garibaldi and a few other places. Some fun facts I learnt include:
1. Mexico City is sinking at about 6cm every year, even more is some parts of the city because it was built over a lake and the soil is not stable. The footpaths and roads in the city are uneven and the buildings are on a lean/ slant. The city must put a lot of continuous improvements to make the buildings stay standing!

2. The latest James Bond movie, Spectre was filmed in the city and portrayed that The Day of the Dead 💀 is a parade but this is not the case for the locals. Our tour guide said that the Disney movie Coco is more of a true representation of what The Day of the Dead is about. You put a picture of your loved one who has passed away out in your home together with some of their favorite things to bring back their soul. Anyway, after the James Bond movie was released, the major of the city was concerned that the following year a lot of tourists would come to the city expecting to see the parade which didn’t exist! So, he started a parade and it was a hit with the locals and tourists, and this coming weekend will be the third The Day of the Dead parade! I thought that was a cool fun fact!

3. When a girl turns 15 (I think), her family holds a huge coming of age party for her and it’s as big as some weddings! Our tour guide said when it came time for her party, she didn’t want to have one, but her family convinced her because she was the only girl and her uncles and aunts helped to pay. But it started to get out of hand as her dad wanted to invite his bosses and work colleagues when Mar just wanted close family and friends so she called it off! Her family were not too happy with her but she said the the money saved paid for 2 vacations!

At the end of the tour, Tarra and I went to Sears rooftop cafe which had a great view of Palacio de Bellas Artes for lunch.

We then went back to the art gallery to look around for a while before heading back to the hostel.

For dinner we went to a taco restaurant and was seated at the bar area where we had a great view of tacos bring made 😋

DAY 3

Oct 22 2018

Today we did a tour to Teotihuacan, the tallest pyramids in Mexico, only 50 km away of Mexico City. Teotihuacan was built by one of the most fascinating civilizations of the ancient era. The two main temples are the Sun and the Moon. The tour guide, Miguel was great and told us lots of information about the history of the pyramids. The tour company was the same one we went on the free walking tour with the previous day. We paid $450 pesos which works out to about $AUD 32 I think. We got a $250 peso discount for doing the free walking tour - crazy!

We caught a public bus from our meeting point at Bella Artes and then another bus/coach to the ruins. Thank god we were with someone who knew where they were going because it would have been hectic trying to navigate ourselves.

When we got to the ruins, we could see blue skies and it was warmer than being in Mexico City. We climbed the moon temple first which had huge, steep steps and then the sun temple which was higher! My legs got a work out!!!

We met a couple from Manchester, England who had been traveling in Mexico for the past 2 weeks or so and they gave us some tips which was good! They had been snorkeling through caves near Playa Del Carmen which sounds cool.

After walking around looking at various ruins for a while, we headed back to Mexico via bus and then the subway. Again, luckily we had Miguel there to show us where to go! We headed back to our hostel for a rest, it had been a long day being out in the sun and probably not drinking enough water either!

For dinner we went to the same restaurant as yesterday, I ordered guacamole and a taco. We went on a hunt for ice cream but ended up getting a McFlurry from Macca’s lol.

DAY 4

Oct 23 2018

We checked out of our hostel at 11am and caught an Uber to Ibis Styles Hotel on Zona Rosa where we were meeting the tour group at 6pm that evening. Luckily they had a room available so we crashed in bed and chilled for a little while before heading out for lunch (pizza). We explored the area a little and went to The Angel of Independence and the Chapultepec Park. It was a bit crazy which market stall sellers shouting and trying to get us to buy stuff!

After walking around for a while we headed back to the hotel for a rest (I had a short nap) before we had to meet our tour group. We headed to the lobby at 6 (I pretty much rolled out of bed and went down)! Our guide Karlina, got us to introduce ourselves and would you know of, the whole group bar 1 girl from Sweden is bloody Aussie! There a few older ladies and the rest are in their 20s and 30s. Karlina went through the WHOLE tour day by day which was a bit overwhelming! She came around and checked our passport and travel insurance numbers and then we were free to go. Tarra and I got chatting with two girls from Sydney - Alex and Hayley and we ended up going to dinner with them to a Mexican restaurant Karlina recommended. The waiters English was not very good so we had a fun time trying to order our food 🤪

After dinner we went to El Moro Churreria and I had mini churros with chocolate dipping sauce 😋😋😋

Then it was back to the hotel with very full bellies!

DAY 5

Oct 24 2018

Today we had another full day in Mexico City. We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel, they had a great selection of options, I had corn flakes and a croissant with ham and cheese 😋

We had an orientation tour with the tour group after breakfast. We went via the subway to Zocalo which means the city centre and Karlina gave us some history of Mexico City. We went in to the National Palace where the President works and walked around the different rooms and along the balcony which had murals/ paintings by famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Deigo Rivera. We walked around a museum in the parliament buildings before heading out. We had a look inside the cathedral at Zócalo before catching he train back to the hotel. The subway is a little crazy, people squish in to the carriage and then when the doors open, they all come rushing out! Luckily it wasn’t that bad for any of the train trips we took!

Back at the hotel we booked a time slot and tickets to the Frida Kahlo Museum for 2:30pm and headed out for lunch with Hayley & Alex. I had enchiladas (I think - I’m writing this a couple of days in the future!). We then had to navigate ourselves to the Museum, we caught 2 trains as per Karlina’s advice and got out of the station and we were like ‘where now?!’ We had to walk about 20 minutes to the museum with the help of google maps! The museum was ok, it had both Frida and Deigo’s paintings, examples of their living rooms - kitchen, bedroom etc. Frida had a tragic early life, she was diagnosed with Polio at the age of 6 and was in a bus accident at the age of 18 when a steel rod went in to her body and caused spinal issues. She was bed ridden and took up painting to keep her days busy.

After the museum we navigated ourselves back to the hotel and said bye to Hayley and Alex and went to our rooms to rest for a little. For dinner, Tarra and I were not that hungry and thought we’d have a rest from Mexican food as our tummies were a little quezy. I ended up having a bagel with cream cheese from Starbucks lol. Then of course we went back to El Moro for churros, this time I had an ice cream sandwich 😋

DAY 6

Oct 25 2018

In the morning we went down to the lobby for breakfast (free!) and then went back up to the room and rested til pretty much 11 noon when our checkout was! Tarra didn’t have a good night sleep and was feeling unwell and I hadn’t had a good sleep either so it was nice to chillax before catching a 2.5 hour bus to our next city, Puebla.

We left the hotel at 2pm and caught local taxis to the bus station. Three people went per 🚕. The ride to the bus station took a while as Mexico City is sooo busy and they all drive like lunatics, I had to close my eyes a few times! The ADO bus was comfortable and I watched a couple of Netflix shows - The OC to kill the time. We arrived in Puebla and caught taxis again to our accommodation. As we arrived I looked at the lobby of the hotel and was pleasantly surprised, it was quite fancy! We all checked in to our rooms (we had single beds this time, YAY!) and then we headed out for dinner as a group. I ordered 2 tacos 🌮 the first one was pork and tasted disgusting 🤢 and the second one (which came out 30 mins later!) was as chicken and was much tastier! 😋

The city was really pretty at night and I had already decided Puebla was my favourite city on the tour so far lol! Mexico City was just to busy, noisy and just to big!

DAY 7

Oct 26 2018

We met some of the other girls on the tour for breakfast at a nearby restaurant before doing a group orientation walking tour with Karla. Puebla was so pretty and colourful compared to Mexico City and was certainly less crowded!!! We walked through the streets and markets which were setting up for the day and also visited a church which was trying to be the 8th man made wonder of that world with ornate gold covered designs inside. It was nice but to of the top for my likings! The walk ended back at the hotel where we grouped together with Alex, Hayley and Sue and headed back on to the streets to explore and find lunch. We ate at a really yummy Mexican restaurant where I had a traditional Pueblan dish, Mole Poblano with chocolate and chili sauce with chicken and rice. The dish was nice but I wasn’t really a fan of the sauce. I also had a margarita of course!

After our bellies were full, we wondered back through the markets we saw setting up in the morning and this time they were a lot busier and fully open. I bought a few things - a magnet and a ceramic 💀 for Shaz at Nova. Oh and I also bought a certain letter 8 for my house (thinking of putting it on the letter box). Puebla is famous for its ceramics.

After a bit of shopping we all headed to a museum Karla told us about that had a rooftop cafe with good views of the town and church tops. It was a nice cafe garden and we chilled out there for at least two hours talking and drinking iced coffees/chocolate/beer. It was so nice to take it easy and relax!

We headed back to the hotel stopping for churros of course and had a little rest before meeting the girls for dinner. I had a burger 🍔 just to be safe as I didn’t want to fill my tummy with to much Mexican food which it wasn’t used to! After dinner we went to the restaurants rooftop and met Kate and Bec for a drink. It started to rain and get cold so the workers brought out blankets for us 😍

As we had to be ready to leave by 7am the next morning, we didn’t have a late night and headed back to the hotel for showers and to sleep! 💤

DAY 8

Oct 27 2018

This morning we caught the ADO bus to Oaxaca (pronounced Wahaka). It was about a 5 hour bus ride and I got to see some Mexican countryside. Fields of marigold flowers and mountain ranges. When we arrived in Oaxaca we caught taxis to our hotel which wasn’t to far away. Our rooms were not ready so we stored our bags and went for an orientation walk around the town. I think I liked the streets and architecture even more in Oaxaca than Puebla! There were colourful buildings and cute streets! We walked through markets full of fruit, meats and grasshoppers! We all ate lunch in the food market, I shared a pizza on a crispy base with Sue, an English/Swedish girl on the tour 😂

We also visited a chocolate shop with a demonstration on how they make chocolate for customers - you can chose the ingredients and quantities you want in your chocolate and they make it fresh for you in store right in front of you! I bought some chocolate you mix with hot milk or hot water (the traditional way) for dad.

After walking around the town we went back to our hotel and got the keys to our rooms. We chilled there for a while and then headed out with Alex, Hayley and Sue to explore the markets again and we happened upon the day of the dead celebrations where fireworks and fire crackers were being set in a really crowded space! It was hectic with so many people around. One guy was swinging a chair around above his head with fire works being set of from it and a dog was going crazy running around his legs. I was shitting myself and quickly backed away as we were really close. Tarra didn’t and a bit of fireworks hit her ankle, burnt a hole through her sock and burnt a bit of her skin 😧 it was a crazy experience which you would never see in Australia!

We were all feeling tired and wanted to get away from the crowds, so headed back towards the hotel and had pizza for dinner at a nearby restaurant. We met Bec and Kate there too.

DAY 9

Oct 28 2018

Today we did a full day tour with our tour guide Balam (which means Jaguar)! He was really nice and really informative. The first stop was at an old tree which is in the record books for having a large base. Here is some info from Wikipedia...

El Árbol del Tule (Spanish for The Tree of Tule) is a tree located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, approximately 9 km (6 mi) east of the city of Oaxaca on the road to Mitla. It is a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or ahuehuete (meaning "old man of the water" in Nahuatl). It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. In 2001, it was placed on a UNESCO tentative list of World Heritage Sites.[1]

The best part was that we had a little boy maybe 8-10 years guide us around the tree pointing out funny shapes in the trunk and branches like J-Lo’s butt and Donald Trump’s hair! He was so cute! Apparently when kids do well in school they can do these tours to earn a bit of pocket money.

The next stop offer seeing the tree was Hierve el Agua where we saw a petrified waterfall and beautiful hot print pools. Here’s a bit of info from Wikipedia again 😉

Hierve el Agua (Spanish for "the water boils") is a set of natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that resemble cascades of water. The site is located about 70 km east of Oaxaca city, past Mitla,[1] in the municipality of San Lorenzo Albarradas, with a narrow, winding unpaved road leading to the site.[2] The site consists of two rock shelves or cliffs which rise between fifty and ninety metres from the valley below, from which extend nearly white rock formations which look like waterfalls. These formations are created by fresh water springs, whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals. As the water scurries over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited, much in the same manner that stalactites are formed in caves. One of the cliffs, called the "cascada chica" (small waterfall) or the Amphitheatre, contains two large artificial pools for swimming as well as a number of small natural pools.[3][4] One of the artificial pools is very near the edge of the cliff.[1]

We did a hike around with Balam and a local guide and the views were stunning!!! We took a lot of steps down and then climbed a rock face to get back up to the top. I’m glad we didn’t have to climb the steps back up as that looked much harder!

Then it was time for a buffet lunch and boy was it delicious! There was a wide selection of food - Mexican, curries, grasshoppers and grilled cactus! I tried a little of the cactus and it was nice - kinda like capsicum.

After we filled our bellies we headed to Mitla.

Mitla is the second most important archeological site in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and the most important of the Zapotec culture.[1][citation needed] The site is located 44 km from the city of Oaxaca.[2] in the upper end of the Tlacolula Valley, one of the three that form the Central Valleys Region of the state.[3] The archeological site is within the modern municipality of San Pablo Villa de Mitla.[4] While Monte Albán was most important as the political center, Mitla was the main religious center.[3] The name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl name Mictlán, which was the place of the dead or underworld. Its Zapotec name is Lyobaa, which means “place of rest.” The name Mictlán was Hispanicized to Mitla by the Spanish.[5] However, what makes Mitla unique among Mesoamerican sites is the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes and even entire walls. These mosaics are made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces which have been fitted together without the use of mortar. No other site in Mexico has this.

We walked around the ruins and went in to a tomb which was cool. Balam told us lots of interesting facts about the buildings, but I can’t remember them all!

Our next stop was to a local textile house where a family operate their business. The Mum showed us how they colour the wool with flowers and insects, pretty amazing! We saw how they weave their rugs and other products and then browse through their products. There were 3 small girls ages 10-3 years. The little 3 yo was super cute. She got jealous of her older sister selling something to us so Del, one of the ladies on the trip bought a small weaved piece of material that she had made (😱) and then she had a large smile on her face!!!

The last stop was at a Mezcal factory where we saw how they make drink and then we had about 13 tastings! I liked the flavoured ones.

Finally it was time to head back to the hotel where i crashed on the bed. I wasn’t hungry for dinner because of the large lunch I had so I watched a couple of Netflix shows before hitting the sack!

DAY 10

Oct 29 2018

Today Tarra and I took it easy before we had an overnight bus to catch to the next town, San Cristobal. We walked back through the markets and had brunch, explored the local streets and then headed back to the hotel with with a pit stop to get a cheesecake from a local street stall that Karla recommended. It was so yummy!

We chilled at the hotel until it was time to catch taxis to the bus depot to catch the 12 hour overnight bus... I slept a little on and off but it wasn’t the best experience. But I must say the bus wasn’t that bad. The seats reclined and it was probably more comfortable than a plane.

DAY 11

Oct 30 2018

We arrived in San Cristobal early morning around 8am and thank god we were able to check in to our hotel early as everyone was nackered and I was in dire need of a shower 🚿! We had about 2 hours to have a rest in our rooms before meeting the group for breakfast which was really more lunch at 11am in the morning! We went to a restaurant opposite our hotel (super handy) and I had Mexican scrambled eggs with fried banana on the side (yuck!). There was a buffet of different Mexican sauces so I added some hot sauce with my eggs and had it with freshly made tortillas... sooo delicious!

Then we went on a walking tour of the city with Karla and walked through the markets before a short bus trip to visit a church ⛪ and another local textile shop which is run by a group of women. Karla mentioned that she liked to support this textile shop because it was run by women and they get the profits of the products they sell as opposed to the men!

After the tour we had a rest at the hotel (napped!) before we got massages 💆 yay!!! It was a Mayan Massage for about an hour and it was really nice! I wished they did more massaging on my neck and shoulders instead of my legs and arms!

For dinner we met Karla and most of the group at a restaurant near the hotel. I had a curry 🍛 something different to Mexican for a change!

DAY 12

Oct 31 2018

This morning we had breakfast at the restaurant opposite from our hotel where we had brunch/lunch the previous day before doing a boat tour where we saw spider monkeys 🕷 🐒 they were so cute and were posing and swinging on trees right in front of us, it was amazing!!! We also saw a crocodile 😬It was hot on the boat and the guide only spoke Spanish so we had no idea what he was saying but Liz and Anna helped a little to interpret for us. We saw lots of rubbish floating in the water which was disgusting apparently it comes from Guatemala as the river connects all the way.

After the boat cruise we went back to San Cristobal and went for lunch before heading to the markets which we had walked through on the orientation tour with Karla. I bought a handbag 👜

For dinner we went to the wine bar with Liz, Anna and Del and later Kate and Bec joined us. I had 3 wines and we shared tapas, it was a fun night sharing stories and laughing! I think we were home by 8:45 as we had a very early start the next morning, we had to be ready by 4am to leave for our next destination, Palenque 😩

DAY 13

Nov 01 2018

It was an early start this morning - 3:30am to be ready to leave by 4am! It didn’t help that we we were woken up at 2:30am to loud talking outside our room 😡

We needed to leave early to avoid hold ups on the road to Palenque, I think possibly hold ups by police wanting money from tourists/ just wanting to cause problems...

The road to our first stop for breakfast was soooo bumpy, I think there was about 400 speed humps! It was not a pleasant drive at all! The bus driver kept having to slow down and then would speed up only to slow down again for the next speed hump. I started to feel quite sick with the jolting movement. We stopped for a buffet breakfast at a roadside restaurant which was not a restaurant at all but some kind of big shelter with lots of tables and chairs. Lots of tour busses were pulling up there so it must be the one stop between towns! I only had hot cakes and tea because of my upset tummy, I didn’t want to risk having any heavier Mexican food.

After breakfast we headed to a waterfall and some of the group had a swim in the water. It was very humid and sticky so I just put my feet in to try and stay cool. Then we got back in the bus and headed to another waterfall. Some of the group went swimming again but I stuck with the oldies and Bec and we just walked around the waterfall on a short trail. Again it was very humid and uncomfortable, I couldn’t wait to get back on the bus!

I can’t remember if it was going between waterfalls or before or after visiting both that we had a slight incident 😬 our van was cut off by a large truck which was cutting a corner and our driver had to swerve off the road to avoid crashing! Apparently the truck was really close to us but I didn’t see because I was on the other side of the van. We got bogged and the driver said not to move as the van might tip over as we were now in a ditch. I was a bit scarred because I was on the side of the van leaning in to the ditch 😬😬😬 the driver got out to assess and got us all out of the van safely. We walked up the road a bit and then he was able to get the van out of the ditch and we were back on the road no more than 10 minutes later... it’s not until later that it hit me how worse the situation could have been! The small ditch could have been a steep cliff!!!

When we arrived in Palenque, it was very humid, all I wanted to do was get in the shower and cool off! Tarra and I had a short nap before we went out to meet Hayley and Alex for a drink, I also got some dessert 😋

We only had one night in Palenque as there is not much in the town.

DAY 14

Nov 02 2018

After breakfast we left humid Palenque and headed to Mérida. Along the way we stopped at the Palenque archeological ruins where we had a local tour guide walk us through the ruins and tell us stories of how people lived all those years ago. The ruins were in the jungle and a lot of the buildings are still covered by overgrown trees and vegetation yet to be cleared. I really enjoyed walking through the ruins and hearing all info from our guide. It was very humid there but not as much as in Palenque. There were a lot of venders trying to sell souvenirs and just junk really which kinda ruins the atmosphere.

We got in to Mérida late afternoon, settled in to our hotel rooms and then went out as a group for an orientation tour of the city. There was a light projection going on in the Zocalo (City Centre) on a church building that we stayed and watched for a while before heading for dinner at a pizza place near our hotel.

DAY 15

Nov 03 2018

Today the group did a tour to a couple of Cenotes and went snorkeling. It had been a while since I’d been snorkeling when I was on the Pacific cruise with Loz, Nel and Ruks but I picked it up quickly. It was really fun and refreshing to be in the natural water when it was muggy outside. After visiting the second Cenote we had a Mayan lunch of tacos which was delicious. Again, I was a little worried about the cooking and hoped I wouldn’t get sick as the food was prepared in outside kitchens and the rooms didn’t look that clean. When I went to get changed out of my bathers, there was a pig 🐖 lying in mid with a chicken sitting on top of it 😂 and lots of dogs running around. After the yummy lunch we headed back to Mérida with a stop at Costco to see a Cenote that is in the parking lot! There are over 2000 Cenotes in Mexico, pretty amazing! Imagine having one in your back yard!!!

When we got back to Mérida it was early arvo and the power had been out at the hotel. We chilled in our rooms for a little and then met up with Del, Anna, Liz, Colleen, Cheryl, Kate, Bec, Hayley and Alex for a wine and nibbles near the pool. It was raining so we found a dry spot on the second floor and grabbed tables and chairs from around the hotel to set up our little spot! We headed back to the pizza spot we ate at last night for dinner, with Alex and Hayley and then had ice cream for dessert 😋

DAY 16

Nov 04 2018

Today was a free day for us to explore Mérida. Tarra and I had a little sleep in and then headed to the Zocalo to see the Sunday markets. It was bloody hot and humid again so I stopped off at a cafe for a iced chocolate to cool me down! We also enjoyed the aircon in the cafe for a while before heading outside again! The markets were ok, just a lot of nick nacks and clothes. There was a food section but we had just eaten breakfast so we gave that a miss. I bought a dress for Julia’s little girl, Olivia. I paid about $15 AUD and after I had a proper look at it back at the hotel, it was a bit dirty and poorly made 😒 I’ll have to try and wash it before I give it to Jules...

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped off at a cute boutique near the hotel and I bought a pair of earrings and a camping mug with a Mexican designed skull on it to go with the Canadian bear one I already have! We bumped in to Karla, Alex and Hayley there who were also buying up big lol!

That afternoon we relaxed in and by the pool, enjoying the cool water! Kate and Bec were there and Kate was feeling a little better after a couple of days with an upset tummy. For dinner, Kate, Hayley, Alex, Hayley, Tarra and I went out for our last dinner in Mérida. We went to a restaurant attached to a hotel and it was really nice. I had a salad in the hopes of trying to eat semi healthy! We couldn’t go to our local pizza shop because they’re closed on Sunday’s 😂

That evening we packed in preparation to leave by 9am that morning to go to Playa Del Carmen - our last day of the tour 😪

DAY 17

Nov 05 2018

We left Mérida and headed to our last stop on the tour, Playa Del Carmen. On our way we stopped at Chichen Itza (Chicken Pizza)! The site is listed as one of the new 7 wonders of the world and the group booked a local guide to show us around the site. It was hot and sticky again and lots of tourists around! I liked the ruins at Palenque much better. There were so many people selling souvenirs etc and calling out at us to buy their stuff.

The tour was for about 1.5 hours, then we headed to a local Mayan house for lunch. Karla, our tour guide, is very much in support of responsible traveling and supporting the local tourism industry. Karla said that her friend started selling food in a small food kart on the street and now Intrepid tours stop at the family’s house for lunch which supports the family to help improve their home. All the food and meat is grown on the property (except maybe the rice) and the food was so delicious! After lunch, Karla showed us outside where the food is cooked - their underground oven where the meat is slow cooked for 16 hours and the hot plate where they make the tortillas.

Then it was time to get back on the bus and head to our hotel in Playa. It was so hot on the bus, I’m not sure if the aircon was on... I was glad to get in to the hotel where there was aircon! Playa was not how I expected it to be, still very unkept in some parts, I was expecting a luxurious, fancy atmosphere... when we checked in to our rooms, we didn’t have toilet paper and towels... the rooms were very basic but there was aircon so I was happy!

We met the group for our last orientation tour of the city, Karla’s home! But she grew up in Puebla. We walked down to the beach and then along the main shopping strip. A few of us headed back to the hotel to relax and I had a shower to cool off before we met the group for one last group dinner 😓 we went to a restaurant along the beach which was really nice and then had a drink at a hostel bar Karla recommended. Karla gave a lovely speech at dinner and said our group is one of the best she’s had and Liz also gave a speech on behalf of the group which was lovely. And because we couldn’t get enough of each other, we planned to all meet up for breakfast the next morning as a final farewell!!!

DAY 18

Nov 06 2018

Most of the group met up for breakfast even though the tour had officially ended. Karla took us to a restaurant on the beach (different to where we had dinner) which was nice of her as she was technically not working anymore! Her boyfriend and puppy dog came along too and we all had a lovely last meal together enjoying the beach views!

Tarra and I had some time to kill before our bus to Tulum left at 3:45pm so we went back to the hotel after some teary farewells at breakfast, checked out of the hotel and went to Starbucks to get some aircon and WiFi to plan what we were going to to in Tulum. We then met Alex, Hayley, Bec and Kate back at the hotel as we’d planned to meet for lunch but we all decided to chill by the pool instead because we were still full from breakfast. We stayed there until it was time to leave to catch the bus. Bec and Kate left to go to their all inclusive hotel and Alex and Hayley helped us carry our bags to the bus station which was very nice!

We caught the bus to Tulum which took about 1 hr and found our way to our hotel down some dodgy dirt streets under construction 🚧! The hotel was quite nice, we had a private room (thought we’d upgrade from the shared dorm hostel we’d originally booked) we had a king size bed too! We chilled with the aircon for a while before heading out to find something for dinner. The guy at reception suggested a few places but we ended up at a burger place close to the hotel 🙊 they were nice burgers actually!

DAY 19

Nov 07 2018

We had a little sleep in this morning and enjoyed having breakfast in bed! So fancy of us! The hotel brought us fresh fruit, yogurt and granola and some packet muffins and left it outside. After breakfast we got ready and headed to the main strip to explore the shops. Tulum was less hectic than Playa and less tourists too! We grabbed another bite to eat at a restaurant that looked busy so we assumed it was good. We ordered chocolate milkshakes and shared Pollo (Chicken) nachos which were not that great. But we also got complimentary guacamole Ana’s nachos which was delish and a random bowl of steamed veggies which was strange 🤔

After lunch we continued walking along the strip and having a look at a couple of Cenote tour options. We came across a small shop and inquired on what their options were and the lady called a guy named Roly to give us a quote. I spoke to him on the phone and he rattled off what he could do for us. The deal sounded good and much cheaper than what we’d been quoted at other places - nearly 2000 peso which was approx $99US! Only thing was that we had to get ourselves to the Cenotes. I took Roly’s phone number down and decided we’d contact him via WhatsApp later once we had WiFi. The lady at the shop kindly helped us with directions on how to catch a Collectivo, a local shuttle van that runs between Playa - Tulum. We’d read about them online as an easy and cheap way to get around so we decided we’d give it a go and travel like the locals do! We jumped on one after a little hesitation on whether there was space for us in the van and headed to Akumal Beach to swim with sea turtles! It took about 15-20 mins and we were there for only 35 pesos each, bargain! 150 pesos is equivalent to $10 Aussie dollars. We jumped out of the van and walked towards the beach and along the way snorkeling guide booths were trying to sell us tickets. We thought we could just hire snorkels and go out in the water but turns out you need to be with a guide as the area is protected by the government in order to preserve the turtles 🐢 habitat. So we ended up going with a guy for 550 pesos which I think is about $35 Aussie. The guy who sold us the tickets passed us on to his colleague who walked us down to the beach and then he handed us over to the actual guy who would take us out in to the water! Apparently they all rotate roles to keep the job interesting! Tarra and I were the only ones in this particular tour but there were other groups out in the water too. We had to wear life jackets to keep us afloat as they don’t want people diving under to touch or chase the turtles or step on the reef. 5 minutes in and we saw our first sea turtle which was soooo amazing! He/she was sooo big and there were fish hanging on his back eating from his shell. We also saw a stingray and another turtle close to each other, I didn’t know what to look at, I kept having to look at the turtle and then swim around to look at the stingray! We also saw a turtle come up to the water surface to take a few breaths which was cool to see!!!!

After we snorkeled around a bit more it was time to get out and sunbake (in the shade)! It was nice just to chill out and relax on the beach. It wasn’t to crowded which was good. I had a little nap lol and then we headed back to Tulum on the Collectivo (we are pros now)! The van dropped us of and we found a restaurant to have a margarita at and also connect to some WiFi to check in with Hayley and Alex who were also in Tulum as part of their next Intrepid tour. I also touched base with Roly and booked in a tour of the Cenotes at Casa Tortuga for 9:30am the next morning. We ended up having Thai for dinner which was yummy and headed back to the hotel for the night. Alex and Hayley touched base and said they were planning to hit up a beach club the next day in the arvo and asked if we wanted to join them, we said, why not, yes!

DAY 20

Nov 08 2018

Today we caught the Collectivo to Casa Tortuga for 25 pesos and after a little confusion of where to go, we found the main reception, paid our money and headed to where the guides were. We waited for about 15 minutes unsure what the hold up was and met a couple of American girls who were waiting too! It ended up just being the four of us in the tour which was good. Our guide, a young good lookin Mexican took us to the first Cenote where I got the courage to jump in rather than going down the ladder! The guy kept joking that there were sharks 🦈 or crocodiles in the water but did point out bats 🦇 😬 they were small and hiding in caves but a few were flying around. I think we went to 3 Cenotes in total and then one open one. We saw stalactites and stalagmites which was cool and went through a cave. The natural water was so nice to swim in! The 2 American girls were fun and they ended up sending us a couple of photos that the guide took of us.

After the Cenotes we caught a Collectivo back to Tulum and then tried to catch another one to the beach to meet Alex and Hayley but one never came so we ended up catching a taxi there. It was great to see the girls and hear what they had been up to since we left each other in Playa. They said their new tour group was not as fun as ours was! Tarra and I ordered some food and drinks and then lounged on the beach for pretty much the whole afternoon and into the evening. I met up with Darren, a guy I worked with at Nova who was a couple of beach clubs down from where were! We’d noticed each other were in Mexico from seeing each other’s insta posts and were going to be in Tulum at the same time! It worked out well. Then Tarra and I met Alex and Hayley back at their hotel and we found somewhere close by for dinner. They didn’t want to go to dinner with their new tour group! We found a fun restaurant and I ordered tacos and a margarita. The girls walked us to the top of the street to grab an ice cream at a 7-11 and we said our final final goodbyes 😪

DAY 21

Nov 09 2018

Today we decided to take it easy and chill. We had a little sleep in, had breakfast is bed and then headed up to the Main Street to get our bus ticket back to Playa for the next day. We found a cafe for lunch and an ice coffee, it was to hot to have a hot coffee in Mexico! We looked at a few souvenir shops and I bought a wooden spoon rest ceramic dish and Tarra bought a plate. They were not from Puebla which is know for its ceramics, but still made in Mexico at least!

We then headed back to the hotel and I spoke to Loz for a little. Tess has been to the vet due a UTI, poor baby but she was feeling much better. I think I had a short nap 😴 and then we headed out again for dinner. We found a restaurant that had swings at a table and Tarra and I shared a pizza and fajitas. It was a Italian/Mexican restaurant lol. We had an ice cream for dessert and with full bellies, headed back to the hotel for our last night in Tulum.

DAY 22

Nov 10 2018

Today we took our time getting ready, had breakfast in bed again and then checked out. We headed to the ADO bus station and caught a bus back to Playa. It was so humid and hot, we were sweating by the time we walked to our hotel. We were to early to check in so we left our bags and went to find somewhere to have lunch.

We walked up the Main Street, to see what deals we could get to Cozumel the next day. There were so many people trying to sell tours, it was crazy! We ended booking with one of the guys on the street and then headed back to our hotel to check in. By this time we were really hot and sweaty and when we walked in to our room, it was even more hot inside WTF!!! There was no curtains on the windows so then sun was streaming right in and the aircon took ages to cool the room. We both had basically cold showers to cool down and then we lied on the bed. We basically chilled in the room until the evening and then decided we should go out for dinner. Mel had recommended a place called El Fogon for their tacos so we went there and it was delicious! So yummy!

Afterwards we went to Oxxo (convenience store) to get ice creams and then headed black to the hotel.

DAY 23

Nov 11 2018
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