1. You don't need much to be happy
Being on the road with the vanagon also means a lot of organisation. The following question is quite important when driving: "Where do we stay overnight? And what alternatives are there on the way if we don't get this far?" You might have a breakdown on the way, be stopped at the border for a longer period of time or simply get stuck in a traffic jam. However, the uncertain quality of the roads is usually the biggest uncertainty issue. No less important: "Where can we get gasoline, refill our water tank, withdraw cash, ...?" Fortunately, for most of these questions there is an app called iOverlander. As soon as everything is organized, it will be much easier. With the van you have everything you need to spend a few wonderful days in the perfect place. Life is simple, you cook yourself, but you don't need more than the place to sleep, bath and shower. But you live with the rhythm of the sun, spend the whole day outdoors, just enjoy the view, read, discuss about God and the world, play Frisbee or get some cuddles with the dogs of the lovable hosts - what more do you want?
2. Getting up early is worth it
I am a great fan of sunrises - they always remind me of no matter where I am and where I am going, the sun rises every morning and a new day begins with new possibilities.
In addition, it is a big advantage especially for tourist attractions, if you get up early. So we saw three very different Mayan sites without having to share them with hundreds of other tourists.
The ruins of Tulum are probably known to anyone who has ever held a travel brochure of this particular area. The "Castillo" is enthroned on the cliff, high above the bright beach and the crystal clear water of the Caribbean sea. We explored the ruins at around 6am while it was still dark. We had the park whole for ourself. Later on we will only get to the postcard worthy photo with the use of our elbows.
Palenque, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, is completely different. It's a former Mayametropolis in the middle of the jungle, which belongs to the UNESCO world cultural heritage and was built from around 500 AD. Beside the palace and several temples, only a tiny part of the city has been excavated, the rest is still overgrown by the jungle, so it is almost unimaginable for us how big the city must have been.
The ruins of Tikal in Guatemala are also in the middle of the jungle. The up to 50m high stepped temples are very impressive. While walking through the rainforest we almost miss them - they are so densely overgrown. We were really surprised when we climbed one of the temples and realized high above the treetops that there are several other buildings around us. Before the great influx of tourists, we enjoyed the peace and quiet and the view over the forest rising to the horizon in the morning light. The silence is only disturbed by the roar of the Howler Monkeys - a sound that reminds us more of a dinosaur than the acrobatic monkeys we had seen in the trees.
3. El Taco Loco
For me, local cuisine is essential when travelling. When I travel, I always look to the good food in advance. A place that can't score points is certainly not on the first place on my list of desired destinations. We enjoyed the best tacos by far in Chetumal - at least those of us who asked the waiter "que recomiendas?".
Luckily, we have already picked out the Marisquerìa El Taco Loco, because we would have missed it from outside. Because it is rather inconspicuously located in a former garage. As the name suggests, this restaurant specializes in seafood and the selection of different tacos Pescado (fish) and Camaròn (shrimp), as well as other classic fillings is enormous. The slightly hot taco Filete de Pescado al Pil Pil are amazing, the fish as fresh as if it had just been caught. The tortillas are also prepared on site, which makes a huge difference in taste. Even these tacos would be a reason to visit Mexico again.
This article was written by Madlen after 4 weeks of accompanying us through Mexico and Guatemala.
To be continued.