Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Mexico is the country I never knew I wanted to visit. For some reason when I thought Mexico, I thought dismal border towns and overcrowded smog cities. I never realized that Mexico has a rich (and of course, savage) colonial history, an ancient (and equally savage) native history, and untolds amount of natural beauty. From wide clean beaches to jungle-shrouded pyramids, Mexico is the "world next door" that I never bothered to investigate.

My illuminating trip through Mexico started with a long bus ride down to Monterey, the scary (to me) industrial town that served as my introduction to the country and language. Next on to Vera Cruz, a nicer beach town on the Gulf-side of the country. Then Merida, a fantastic colonial town in the heart of the Yucatan, then Chichen Itza's towering pyramids, and finally to Tulum's wonderful beaches. My time in Mexico was so much better than I ever conceived, I will doubtless go back to see more.

The bus ride from Texas to Veracruz was long and uneventful. However, what little excitement it had was magnified by it being my first days in a new country speaking a different language. My first stop was in Monterey, a big industrial city in which I saw little more than a grungy marketplace (similar to the marketplace found in many large cities, Mexican or otherwise). A little uncomfortable with my surroundings, I opted for the safety and familiarity (though little comfort) of the bus off to Poza Rico -- another town in which I saw virtually nothing. Finally, the last leg brought me to Veracruz, where the fun started for real.
Veracruz is where the fun really started. I got my first glimpse of the gulf waters and first beer on the beach. I managed to avoid the ubiquitous "name on a grain of sand" vendors, but here I started to meet some of the locals and try some food. I stayed in Veracruz for a couple nights before heading off to the Yucatan.
After Veracruz I went to Merida, an absolutely fantastic city. I arrived in the early afternoon, where I went straight to my hostel to arrange for cheap lodging. With that out of the way, I was free to wander the pastel-colored streets and alleys in a city full of hard right-angles. In addition, in Merida I met my first group of traveling companions. During the day went to the Tres Conotes and Chichen Itza, the most famous of the Mayan ruins, and out drinking and dancing at night. Alas, after several days, my wanderlust drew me on further through the tropics to even more remote locales.
The morning after visiting the Tres Conotes, I was again to be found at the bus station at an absurd hour. Two hours later I stepped off a bus in the midst of the ancient Mayan city, Chichen Itza.

Guarding the entrance to the ruined city is an impressive and entirely modern tourist facility, as well as a traditional Mayan marketplace. Skipping past the marketplace and heading to the complex, I was happy to find that by chance Sunday is entirely free. This was especially good to hear seeing as how I didn't know there was an access fee anyway, and the fee is a surpisingly steep $85 pesos (almost $10US -- hey, it's a third of my daily budget). Pleased by the serendipitious timing, I walked past the spinning gates and onto the trail to the city proper.

My first stop, as is probably typical for most everyone, is the center temple itself. Housed on top of the structure's ten terraces tall, and accessed by ninety-six extremely steep steps, the ceremonial chambers offer cool respit... [more]
Tulum is simply a paradise that I will long miss. On the day I arrived I rescheduled my tickets to give me more time, and I was correct in guessing that I'd wish for more. In the collective cabana of the Santa Fe campground I met wonderful people and had fantastic experiences, from sleeping my first night in a hammock to finding joy in underground lakes. My time in Tulum was so wonderful I fear I'll never return, as there is no way my now-heightened expectations could ever be met once again.

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -