When the alarm roused me awake, I definitely hadn’t had enough sleep, but today I was heading off to Mexico for my first solo trip for 4 years! It is crazy to think it has been so long since the days when I headed off all alone to volunteer and adventure and meet a whole host of new friends from a multitude of different nationalities. I suppose I never actively stopped, just met so many ‘travel buddies’ a solo trip just never came up. However, when originally planning the trip I had planned to meet a friend in Mexico who was studying abroad there but our timings never matched up and I had to decide whether to go solo or not at all. I have to say having the comfort of a fellow traveller for so long did make me question, did I want to head off alone again but of course the answer was yes and it is a challenge I am so glad I accepted.
I headed to the airport with Carolyn where she dropped me and I checked my bag, after emptying some of the contents, not only does United make you pay $25 extra each way for a bag but they weigh it to the exact kilo Easyjet style. The security line was small and I was soon enough getting in the Mexican spirit with a breakfast burrito at Woody Creek Bakery and Café. It was HUGE and I didn’t manage to eat it all but I made a good attempt and hung out near the gate to wait on my flight to board. Board it did and 4 hours later we arrived into sunny Mexico! There was no visa or anything just a quick stamp before collecting my luggage and heading out to find transport. Unfortunately, my original transport that the hotel had offered had been cancelled last minute. The hotel assured me I could get a shared taxi however, so I asked around to find out this was not the case. Refusing to be ripped off I headed outside where a lady from the same official taxi company explained I could have a shared one but I would have to wait 45 minutes where a direct one would be much quicker and not much more. I ended up shelling out $75 (way more than the $25 I had been quoted by the hotel) to then be led over to the super long queue anyway, apparently the wait time was the same regardless!!
After finally getting a taxi, it was a short 40 minute ride from the airport in Cancun to my accommodation in Playa del Carmen. The night dive I was supposed to be doing had been cancelled due to a lack of interest (always the way when diving solo, they only run dives if there is enough people to justify it) so I settled into Elefante Blanco, a small studio apartment which would be my base for the next 5 days. The apartment was perfect and the owner gave me a full tour, showing me the cute roof terrace and explaining where everything was in relation to us.
After settling in, I headed out to explore the local area. My first stop was 5th Avenue where I had been told to go for ‘tourist stuff’. I had planned to spend my non-diving day visiting Chichen Itza, a huge Mayan ruin and one of the 7 modern wonders of the world so checked out a few tour options before opting for Coco Bongo Tours which sold me a full day tour to the site, plus a ceynote, old colonial town and lunch for $35! I managed to fit in a quick ice-cream at Bertoni’s Gelato Café (which was divine) before making my way to the supermarket to stock up on the essentials for the room. I decided to go for Aki, a recommendation from the hotel, but got distracted by some taco stands en-route. I had only eaten an ice-cream since breakfast so decided to try and order some. The vendor was really friendly and despite a mutual lack of common language I somehow ended up sitting at the side of the street with 2 fantastic beef and onion tacos with spicy sauce. I got chatting to a guy from a local hostel who explained you eat as many as you want and then at the end honestly tell the till lady what you had before paying. An interesting system that shows the honesty of the local people, you would never get away with that in the UK! I picked up some water, wine and cup noodles from the supermarket before heading back to chill out for the evening, blog and watch some tv. Absolute chilled bliss.