• Home
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Print
  • Art
  • Photos
  • Live
  • Features
  • About
  • Sale
  • Instagram
  •  

    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Mexico Part 1

    Thursday, September 28, 2017
    Caye Caulker, Belize to Tulum, Mexico

    Purple daze and orange haze in Caye Caulker, Belize.
    Purple daze and orange haze in Caye Caulker, Belize.

    I woke up at the crack of dawn–also known as 5:45 am–to catch the 7:00 am boat to Chetumal, Mexico. The first leg of the trip was a 30-minute jaunt to the town of San Pedro on Anbergris Caye. The boat was only maybe 25% full, a third of which were young kids on their way to school. After we docked at San Pedro, we had to go through an immigration checkpoint to get our passports stamped out of Belize, and pay a $20 exit fee–all of which took about 30 to 45 minutes.

    Belizean Flava on Playa Asuncion in Caye Caulker, Belize.
    Belizean Flava on Playa Asuncion in Caye Caulker, Belize.

    As we re-boarded the boat, a bunch of other foreigners who had been staying on Ambergris Caye joined us, which pretty much filled up the boat most of the way. The journey to Chetumal, Mexico took close to two hours. Thankfully, it was smooth sailing all the way–so much so that I was even able to lay down and take a nap with the wind from the open door pleasantly whipping all over me.

    As we got off the boat at the Chetumal, Mexico docks, we had to put all of our carry-on luggage in a line out on the ground. Then a military or police officer dressed head-to-toe in camo instructed a drug sniffing dog to walk back and forth by all of it several times. With that out of the way, we had to fill out customs forms, pay a $35 entry fee and get our passports stamped into Mexico. The immigration agent at the window was really friendly and helpful, which is unusual. Next, we had to have our backpacks checked by another agent. When it was my turn, the agent didn’t even look in mine. She just told me to press a button underneath a traffic light. I’m not sure what that was all about.

    Exiting Belize at the immigration office in San Pedro.
    Exiting Belize at the immigration office in San Pedro.

    Next, I bought a ticket for a shuttle van bound for Tulum, a small town about 150 miles north. While I was waiting for the van, I went into a little convenience store, where a super nice old lady sold me a couple of small sandwiches and showed me how to heat them up on a little press skillet. It was funny the way she kept telling me how delicious they are when they’re hot. A little bit later, I saw a shuttle van close by and went to get on it, but some white guy closed the door. A few minutes later, I opened it up to get in, but he told me it was his van. Oops. I assumed they were tourists and that this was the shuttle van to Tulum. Ha-ha. I guess I should have checked first.

    Looking out the back of the boat from San Pedro, Belize to Chetumal, Mexico.
    Looking out the back of the boat from San Pedro, Belize to Chetumal, Mexico.

    When the right van did arrive a while later, I rushed down to it to make sure I got the seat with actual leg room right behind the driver. The road from Chetumal to Tulum was really smooth, straight and flat. The driver had a really good, conservative and respectful driving style. I wanted to give him a medal for not actually driving like a bat out of hell, which is usually the case with these shuttle van drivers. Once again, I caught a bit of shut eye, waking up when we passed under black clouds emitting a torrential downpour. A short while later, it was sunny again.

    After a total of four hours, we pulled into the town of Tulum, where the driver dropped me off at the Weary Traveller–another funky, sprawling compound for backpackers. I rented a bed in an anti-septic scented dorm room for just $10 per night, which is a pretty good deal considering breakfast consisting of an omelet, pancakes, cereal, and toast is included. Oh, and there are free water refills, too, which is always appreciated.

    A drug-sniffing dog at the immigration office on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.
    A drug-sniffing dog at the immigration office on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.

    “Mexico is a federal republic in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost two million square kilometers (over 760,000 square miles), and boasting an estimated population of over 120 million, Mexico is the eleventh most populous country–and the most populous Spanish-speaking country–in the world. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and a special federal entity that is also its capital and most populous city.

    Minimalism on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.
    Minimalism on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.

    “Pre-Columbian Mexico was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Aztec, Maya, Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan and Zapotec before first contact with Europeans. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its base in Mexico-Tenochtitlan, which was administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain. Three centuries later, this territory became Mexico following recognition in 1821 after the colony’s Mexican War of Independence.

    “The tumultuous post-independence period was characterized by economic instability and many political changes. The Mexican–American War (1846–48) led to the territorial cession of the extensive northern territories to the United States. The Pastry War, the Franco-Mexican War, a civil war, two empires and a domestic dictatorship occurred through the 19th century. The dictatorship was overthrown in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country’s current political system.

    The immigration office on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.
    The immigration office on the docks in Chetumal, Mexico.

    “In 2016, Mexico was the eighth most visited country in the world, with 35 million international arrivals. The most notable attractions are the Mesoamerican ruins, cultural festivals, colonial cities, nature reserves and the beach resorts. The nation’s wide range of climates, from temperate to tropical, and unique culture–a fusion of the European and the Mesoamerican–make Mexico an attractive destination.

    Welcome to Chetumal, Mexico.
    Welcome to Chetumal, Mexico.

    “The 2010 census by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography cited Roman Catholicism as Mexico’s main religion, claiming 83% of the population, while 10% belong to other Christian denominations, including Evangelicals, Pentecostals, other Protestant or Reformed, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”–Wikipedia

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

    Leave a Reply

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