So other than my drunken post at the beginning of the trip, I have been a bit lax on the blog front. Apologies! I just got into Merida and realized I forgot my map, so went wandering in search of internet. I found this lovely umm…cafe a few blocks from the bus station. It is actually an old garage of some sort but it is air conditioned so one must not look a gift internet cafe in the structural structural stability, or something…
Playa del Carmen was a bit wild to be sure- when I rolled into the Rio Playa hostel, I saw there was a bar on the roof and a club next door, so I knew in advance sleep was going to be scarce. But when in Rome, get smashed on tequila, right? It was actually a gentle introduction to a grand trip as I was able to ease my way into the culture as opposed to jump in with both feet and my nose plugged. I did encounter my first scam as soon as I made it through the resort taxi gauntlet at the airport. Some fellow with greased back hair and a quick smile claimed to be a ticket agent from ADO bus lines. Is lack of official shirt or anything other than a clipboard made me suspicious so I eventually found the proper ticket window and was on my way.
I just arrived in Merida, but yesterday I left Playa for Vallidolid halfway between here and Playa del Carmen. My plan was to get as close to the Chichen Itza ruins as I could so I could then arrive early in the morning and avoid the tour bus hordes. The hostel sites did not show any availability for the night so I thought I would wing it and see what I could find when I got there. I found a small hostel a few blocks from the bus station but the gates were locked and it was a bit dark. I went up to the door and to older men playing dice were sitting nearby and said it was open. I spotted a young woman in the window with a laptop and assumed she was a traveller. I knocked for a while until an older lady opened the door- she spoke absolutely no English and I had crappy Spanish so she quickly got cranky with me as I tried to indicate what I wanted. Finally, a price was established and she led me very slowly up the steps. The other girl was actually her granddaughter and there were no other travellers to be seen. She led me to a room with a king bed and pointed to where the bathroom was. Sweeeet. The room looked like it used to have multiple beds but the place had been downsized. For less than what I paid for a dorm in Playa, I got a place to myself. I got up at the crack of dawn so as not to further annoy the señora and had some real Huevos Rancheros before catching a bus. I made it to Chichen Itza by 9.
The place was incredible and no matter what they say about it being a tourist trap, it was totally worth it. When I rolled in none of the vendors had set up yet and there was no one in line. By the time I left there were literally hundreds of people in the entrance hall and you couldnt walk 10 meters without someone trying to sell you something, so I think my plan worked. If you want to avoid the vendors, I would suggest the Tulum ruins as even if it is smaller, it is by the sea and much quieter than its inland cousin.
Now to find a hostel!