Colombia and the Caribien coast

My flight to Colombia had a stop in Panama City and then went on to Cartagena in Colombia. I landed in Cartagena at 22.30, found a cash machine, withdrew 700.000 Colombian Pesos ~ 1.500 DKK, and took a cab to the city. The cab driver was nice and it was a short drive to the walled city where my hotel “Casa Carmen” was how ever he managed to offer me marijuana, cocaine and “mariposas de la noche”.

The hotel was calm and there was an airconditioner in the room which was highly necessary since the weather was 31 degrees and with a high humidity. I slept good and went out to get some breakfast at a fancy looking café. I took a stroll around the old city in the boiling heat. The old city of Cartagena is contained by a wall and a massive fort which back in the days was used to protect the city from pirates roaming around in the Caribbean as well as the English empire. Just outside on both sides on the land side new parts of the city is built resembling Miami with big resorts on the beach. The new parts are horrendous but the old part is beautiful with old colonial buildings in various colours.

After walking for a couple of hours I sat down for lunch in a small street in the Getsemani area. Being a costal city Cartagena is known for it’s seafood and ceviches. I had a delicious ceviche with fish, shrimps and octopus. At night I met two Venezuelan guys and a Canadian, we walked around and hung out at plaza trinidad, where all the young people gather and drink beers and eat street food at night. Afterwards I visited “Café Havana” a local place with live Cuban music and dancing.

Next day was slow I slept long and hard, I got breakfast and went to Boca Grande which is the beach side / Miami side. I needed to buy a Colombian SIM card for my phone after I got a healthy lunch, I had a salad, and then relaxed at the beach. Compared to the beaches I just visited in Mexico the beaches in Cartagena didn’t have anything to offer, and the amount of people selling souvenirs and massages along with cocaine, marijuana and prostitutes was overwhelming. I even got woken up in my sleep at the beach by a women grabbing my shoulders in an attempt to sell me a massage – fucking annoying.

Back at the hotel I relaxed a bit before heading out for dinner. Camilo my Colombian friend I met in Mexico, recommended me a place “Mulata” and I had a large seafood dinner with lobster, shrimps and fish and a great pale ale from “3 Cordilleras” a brewery in Medellín. I looked for a good cocktail bar and found “El Baron” a nicely decorated bar with great cocktails. In the bar I met a couple of Americans from California, we went on a little bar crawl before I needed to pull the plug since I had an early bus to Santa Marta.

Cartagena was not the start on Colombia I had expected, it was really touristy and pretty uninteresting aside from the old city part. Furthermore the great amount of drugs and prostitutes didn’t add to it’s appealing side. But I was prepared since I knew it was one of the most visited cities in Colombia. When I left the city for the bus terminal we passed neighbourhoods where people were living in the worst conditions, really dirty areas with trash everywhere and in sheds built from whatever was around.

Cartagena is troubled with the massive amount of drug and sextourism, and you could see the opportunity some of the young girls felt to make money when you drove through the rough neighbourhoods. Combined with the fugitives from Venezuela which is in a state of civil war at the moment, you would see underage girls selling them self in the streets of Cartagena, a really sad sight.

After a 5 hour bus drive along the beautiful coastline I arrived in Santa Marta. My taxi driver was dressed as a racing driver and speeded the little Kia to my hostel “The Dreamer”. The hostel was a good place for relaxation during the day, they had a big pool and the weather was amazing. During the nights a lot of partying was going on. I stayed for 5 days and did a day trip to Tayrona National Park and one day to a nearby beach “Playa Blanca”. Tayrona was beautiful, we walked 3-4 hours in the jungle and along completely untouched beaches in boiling heat, my stomach was acting up though so after the walk I went back to relax.

The days in Santa Marta just went by and was a really nice break for me on my trip. After some days I felt recharged and ready to go on more adventures. A big loss though was that the ocean devoured my beloved camouflage coloured Quicksilver cap, I quickly got a new one, but we’ve had so many good experiences together.

When time came to say goodbye to Santa Marta, I took a cab to Minca in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Minca is a small city in the mountains surrounded by jungle. My hostel was “Casa Loma” which was located at the end of 300 steep steps up the mountain from Minca. I was traveling with Maya an American therapist from Hawaii who was going to do witch doctor rituals in the Amazon. A ritual where you cleanse yourself from dark energy by burning frog poison into your body resulting in fever strokes and vomiting, interesting but not exactly my understanding of vacation.

Casa Loma had the most amazing view over the mountains and the valley and was a really chill place, people slept in hammocks or small cottages. I met a boat crew from Norway who’ve sailed from Norway and picked up Italians and Argentinians along the way, a pretty long journey but all good people. I had a little one man cottage in the back of the valley one night, and a hammock the other. During night you could hear the jungle roaring really loud. We had a good trek to a local waterfall and just chilled and enjoyed the sunset and the lovely three meal course they did at nice at the casa.

My last day at the Caribbean coast was in Taganga beach a small beach town close to Santa Marta. Not really an interesting place, so I spent the day at the beach and reading a danish book which was at the hostel “Villa Mary” – “Morten Albæk, det gennemsnitlige menneske”. The hostel was owned by an Italian guy, he housed two parrots which was absolutely out of their minds, they kept attacking my bags and clothes, foul beasts. The next day I had a flight from Santa Marta to Medellín, which I really excited about visiting.

Gustav out!

Lago Atitlán & Chichicastenango

Driving in the shuttlebus in hot weather up and down the mountain and tight turns did not help on my hangover from my last night in Antigua. Going anywhere in Guatemala is very time consuming because of the mountainous landscape, so it took a good 4 hours for the shuttle to reach Panajachel. From Pana the only way to get to San Pedro which would be my destination for the day, was to take one of the lanchas (small but long boats). The waves on the lake was present so it was a good 45 min bumpy ride before we got there.

Lago atitlan is a giant lake which is actually the crater of a super volcano that exploded around 85.000 years ago. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, small towns occupy the lakeside and grows op the mountainsides. San Pedro is one of the bigger towns, and has the reputation to be the “party place”. I stayed a “Mr. Mullets hostel” which I had been recommended. I had a private room which had the scarcest decor I have seen in a long time, a bed, a plastic chair, and a mirror which wasn’t even put up on the wall. I arrived with some other guys and we had lunch at a taco place near the hostel, it was alright but I longed for the Mexican ones. The bar and common area were equipped with dart and a pool table so we hung out there for a while. At night we went to a place called “Sublime” which was a big bar with a disco, a campfire by the water and a lounge area. All tired from the day before we sat by the fire till one of the other guys fell asleep and went back.

In the morning I met Kendra and Eli two Americans I met in Mexico, we all went to San Marcos another town on the other side of the lake. San Marcos is full of hippies, and has that reputation around the lake. We had a look around and saw various curious specimens, on our way to a natural reserve where there was 7 m jump into the lake. Afterwards we headed for town for some lunch. We an old man who offered us a smiling walking tour “when you smile people smile back, you spread happiness and love”, I thought he might need to cut back on the weed for while. On the boat ride the day before I lost my beloved Fjällräven fleece and the nights at the lake was “cold”, so I walked around on the steep roads of the town to find a new sweater. Among all the colourful Mayan clothing I found a shop selling false sport brand clothing, so I got myself a fake Adidas sweater.

At night I had Indian food with Kendra and Eli and then headed for a hip hop night at “Zoola” hostal. At lago atitlan the bars close at 23.00 and there can’t be any music or noise after that. Luckily I had a bottle of tequila and cigars, so we hung out at the harbour until 3.30 in the morning. The next day I felt a list slow and moved towards the hammock after breakfast, I was moving to another place at Santa Cruz the “Free Cerveza” hostal. I eventually managed to drag myself down to the boat and then to the hostel.

The hostel was beautifully located with its own dock and location right by the lake, the accommodation was in tents, and the toilets was a hole in the ground. Between 17-19 there was free beers if you signed up for the three meal course at 20. I relaxed all day in the sun with a book, and enjoyed a swim and the beautiful view, I had an easy night. The next day I went for a walk up the mountain when I reached the end of the road, I found a infrequently used path and headed on. I climbed several meters more up on the path and almost fell a couple of times. I realised that no one would ever find me if I took a tumble down the mountain so I eventually decided to go back to town and get a nice local lunch with an AMAZING view!

On the next day I packed my things and went to Chichicastenango which is one of the biggest artisanal markets in Central America. I went with four Dutch girls and considered myself a lucky guy. We shopped a few things at the market and looked around for several hours, everything was up for bargaining. In the afternoon we parted ways as they went back to the lake and myself to Antigua.

Thanks to Jantien for some of the pictures.

I had three relaxing days in Antigua at the Maya Papaya hostel which I stayed previously. I hung out in the sun, read books, wrote on posts for the blog. And went out for some sights I hadn’t seen on my previous visit. At this point on my travels I felt the wear and tear of all the places, experiences and people I had met, I felt fed up. I was supposed to go see “Tikal” and “Semuc Champey” which was on the way north to Tikal, it would be a 11 hour drive and then another 11 hours from there to Tikal for then to go back to Guatemala City. At this point I didn’t give a damn about the temple in Tikal or the waterfall in Semuc, so I decided to book the ticket for Cartagena, Colombia instead. Arriving late at the airport because the collective had to go around town to pick up people for a hour (passing my hostel three times) I hurried in to check in my bag and was met with a blank response of the airline not allowing me to get in to Colombia without an exit ticket. I had no WiFi, and no time, eventually I found some WiFi and tried to book a cheap bus to Peru but the website kept failing.. in the end I had to book a flight and got one for Bogotá to Cancun. Stressed but past security I was ready for my next adventures in Colombia!

Bye and thanks for now beautiful Guatemala!

Antigua, Guatemala

First day, long day with travel from Holbox to Antigua.

Arriving in Guatemala I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I have heard so much from a lot of people about Guatemala. Guatemala City for one is a dangerous place with gangs ruling different zones of the city, and Guatemala being a strong candidate among the countries with the highest murders eat per capita. However it was a pleasure, nice and helpful people everywhere. The taxi driver who drove me and two Swedish girls to Antigua was the sweetest man.

I arrived in Antigua after an hour drive through the beautiful landscape up and down through the mountains. The first thing to catch my eye was the local busses, colourfully decorated old American school busses driving dangerously fast and literally stuffed with people some even hanging out the doors and sitting on the roof – on the freeway!

Arriving in the beautiful colonial city with cobblestoned streets at my hostel “Matiox” (Meaning thanks in Mayan). When I said I had an reservation the receptionist looked at me with a weird face. Looking at my booking I discovered I booked the same dates but in March, the hostel was full so I had to find another place which led me to “Maya Papaya” maybe the best hostel I’ve stayed at, the owner and the staff was wonderful, and beautiful Melany made the best mojitos I’ve had so far!

So to be sure I got rid of the bedbugs I asked the hostel owner for some help. I took all my clothes, bags and practically everything that could go in the washer and dryer to a laundry service. That meant I was now wearing bathing shorts, a t-shirt and slippers. So the first mission was to shop for some clothes, after looking through several Mayan clothing shops with colourful clothes to say the least, I found a surfer shop owned by an Australian. I bought a really l pair of bathing shorts and a cap, and had a good long chat about Guatemala with him. I bought a Gallo t-shirt (the Guatemalan Carlsberg) from a local shop, and I was set and looking unusually colourful and touristy.

I had a crêpe at “Luna de Miel” with guacamole, pesto and chicken a pretty good meal although not typically Guatemalan. Back at the hostel I had a couple of beers in the bar with Christopher the owner of the hostel a Guatemalan born in Switzerland, and a Canadian girl who recently moved to Antigua. I’ve had a loong day so I went to bed early.

The next morning I was up early having breakfast, the choice at the hostel was either scrambled eggs with mashed brown beans, salsa and a banana bread cookie or fruits, yoghurt and cereals and of course good Guatemalan coffee – I chose the first one. I walked around the city and went to the local market, a maze of different shops with second hand clothes and shoes, fruits and vegetables, electronics, machetes, meat and souvenirs along with an artisanal market with Mayan handicrafts. I had lunch at Café Frida, named after the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and located at the picturesque arch of Antigua, I had nachos supreme and a Gallo. At night I went out with the Canadian girl and a German girl, a tough night with beers and mezcal at the hipsterish “Café No Sé”, giant fishbowl cocktails at The rooftop bar “Lava” and finally beer pong at the “Lucky Rabbit”. In the end I had to follow the Canadian girl back to her place on the outskirts of town after she hit the cobblestone a couple of times. I hurried back to the hostel a bit paranoid of being alone in the street at 2 in the morning.

The next day feeling yesterday’s losses of beer pong I went out with a couple of American guys to eat and afterwards to see some sights around town. After a while I broke op with them to get some coffee and relax a bit. I booked a hike up the volcano Acatenango the next morning, and went to get some hot clothes for the hike. At night I cooked a good tomato sauce with pasta and Parmesan, and as expected the Americans were amazed of my cooking skills …. Americans.

Acatenango is an almost 4000 meters high volcano that has been sleeping for the last 26 years. It is one of the multiple volcanoes surrounding Antigua. From Acatenango you get a great view to the active volcano Fuego and Pacaya and the volcano Agua which is the closest to Antigua. I felt a little feverish in the morning and was in doubt whether to skip it or see if I got better. We were five people in the group a Danish girl, two Peruvians, a French guy and me, plus our local Guatemalan mountain guide. At the foot of the volcano we were met by local children who made walking sticks and each one was trying to convince us why their stick was better. The first 30 mins off the climb was hard, like really hard and I thought 5 hours like this would be my end for sure. Luckily the path changed to the better, and we passed a jungle like forest with lianas before hitting the base camp at 3500 meters 3,5 hours later. Exhausted but amazed of the view from the base amp we relaxed for an hour before climbing to the summit to see the sunset. It was another 1,5 hours to the top, and I could really feel the thin air, at times I felt like passing out. Eventually we made it to the top, a moonlike place and extremely cold and windy, clouds had gathered so we were unable to see a thing, and headed back to the camp. The descent to base camp was like skiing in the ashes, and the temperature dropped dramatically after the sundown. Back at the camp we got a big fire going and the guide made us some spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce, no culinary experience but at that point it didn’t matter much. We hung around the fire for a while drinking beers and hot cocoa before going to bed in the tents that was already put up for us.

At 4.30 the guide woke us, and we ventured up to the summit again to see the sunrise. After 200 meters I went back, my legs was not up for it. I pulled out my sleeping mat and my sleeping bag next to the fire and slept for a while, watched the stars and the sunrise. In the distance I could see the lava running down Pacaya and Fuego smoking an immensely beautiful sight. The others came back and we had breakfast cereals with powder milk and a yoghurt, before heading down. The descent was much faster but still really hard on the already strained legs. Happy to be alive and to have made it we had a beer and listened to reggaeton while waiting for the bus back.

Back in Antigua extremely dirty with layers of ash everywhere and totally exhausted I had a shower at Maya Papaya before I went out to find a new home (the hostel was full). I went past the Spanish school “Antigueña Academy” whom I had been mailing with prior, at the office the guy greeted me and said my family would pick me up in 10 mins, I was confused. The school offers home stays with local families in Antigua and I had been asking about the prices and conditions, but he’d taken that as a yes apparently. I was picked up and walked to a house in the outskirts of town to a family of 6 plus two other Spanish students. My room was like a small cell, no windows, mouldy smell and a terrible bed, trying not to be a better off European I said nothing and just ate some lunch which the lovely lady made for me before taking a big nap. When I woke up I decided to go down to the specify center to meet up with Tim my German friend who arrived in Antigua.

The next five days I did Spanish school from 8 to 13 in a beautiful garden “El Jardín” with my professor Judith One on one. It was pretty intensive since she didn’t speak any English, but quite good learning wise. I went to see a local Coffee plantation one day “Finca Philadelfia”, a old farm going back to 1850. On the coffee tour I met a Canadian girl which I had dinner with and a couple of drinks afterwards. The school also did excursions during the week we went to a little town (pueblo) “San Antonio agua caliente” where we visited a Mayans who showed how they weave by hand, cook over fire, and how they dress for weddings – apparently I was the bride!?

Before leaving Antigua in the last day I cooked some food and invited one of the Canadians over and then we went out. We visited a hidden bar “Sake bar”, yes like the Japanese sake, in a backyard with live music playing the most horrendous covers of eg. Pink Floyd, I ordered everyone a round of sake with did not help on my hangover the next day.

Antigua is amazing!

Isla Holbox

My journey to Isla Holbox was one of those days where everything went wrong. Bedbugs in the morning in Playa del Carmen, very little sleep and still hungover, trying to take care of all my things I missed the busses to Holbox and had to wait until 18.30 and the shuttle driver missed the ferry in Chiquila, so I was at the hostel at 22.00. Going to bed in my private room to have some sort of luxury I thought that tomorrow could only get better and luckily it did 🙂

Holbox is the a small but rather long island in the northern part of yucatan. It is an eco island and there is very few cars, instead the usual means of transportation is by golf carts. The island hasn’t allowed any big resort chains or similar to enter the island, which leaves it a little pearl compared to some of the other islands around yucatan.

I woke up well rested and headed down for breakfast. Who ever thought the bees were extinct haven’t been to Holbox, especially the small packages with maple syrup was massively swarmed by bees. Besides the bees the breakfast was great and the location in the sun next to the pool was perfect. I had decided to spend some days in Holbox just relaxing, and the weather was perfect for that. I had a Cohiba and a beer in the hammock, and read for a few hours, then I took a stroll by the beach and went along the beach to a beach called “Punta Coco”, a beautiful and untouched beach perfect to see the sunset from.

The next day my friend Dan, a crazy New Zealand guy, whom I was supposed to meet up with in Playa came to Holbox. We chilled for a couple of days and went to a isolated beach far from the town “Punto Mosquito” with a German girl. The walk was long, like really long, and we chose to walk during the midday sun. When we got there we really weren’t impressed, it was isolated but not anything special compared to the other beaches around and also the fact that it took us 2,5 hours to to get there. The beach was untouched and a lot of the walks had to be done by the water.

The days at Holbox was mostly just relaxing, going to the beach, eating tacos and guacamole, drinking margaritas and beers. The hostel “Che” did differ not themes at night, pizza night, Argentinian BBQ and paella night which was ridiculously cheap and some of them all you can eat in combination with the happy hour afterwards it was always a good party starter. On the last night on Holbox, I was out till late considering I had an early morning ferry at 6.30, and from Chiquila a shuttle to Cancun airport for my flight to Gautemala City. I decided to spare myself the hassle of a 20 hour bus ride down through yucatan, through Belize into Guatemala.

I woke up after 2-3 hours of sleep, packed my stuff and found another bedbug in my bed.. Fuck. My thoughts started circling about maybe just changing the flight to go back to Denmark, I ended up not deciding anything since my state of no sleep and a hangover might not be the best time deciding anything after all. In the airport I instead used the opportunity to try out my new shiny vip lounge pass for a bit of comfort.

Next up Guatemala, Hasta luego Mexico!

Isla Cozumel & Playa del Carmen

Coming from the hip party hostel in Tulum, the Amigos hostel on Cozumel was the direct opposite, very calm, people going to bad at 21 and so forth, but a nice place nonetheless. This was also the place were I met the most annoying person ever – a 50 year old extremely high pitched Canadian woman who was hitting on all the young boys in a totally creepy way, I managed to fend her off.

Back to the hostel, Amigos hostel is run by an American woman who have been living in Mexico for the last 30 years. It is meticulously kept and at arrival you get a shitload of information. The place had a nice garden with a big pool and an outdoor kitchen, pool tables and dart.

Cozumel is well known for its perfect diving conditions with great reefs, shipwrecks and underwater life. My host helped me arrange a scuba diving license course at the local company Deep Blue. The nemt Day i was greeted by a Japanese woman, Chiacki, who was my instructor. We gathered all the equipment and went for the water. I swallowed a lot of water because my mask was constantly flooded, maybe thanks to my moustache, and because of this I was really uncomfortable under the water breathing. I did all the exercises of the first dive, but I decided to stop my diving career for now – since it was a lot of money for the certificate $420 USD, and since I didn’t really enjoy it. But I will for sure try it again – but on a choice between moustache or diving, moustache wins.

The day after I decided to rent a scooter and take it for a spin around the island. The island of cozumel is only about 17 km wide, and around 40 km long, but 95% of the island is jungle. I found a surf shop “Cozumel Surfing with Nacho” and booked a private lesson. The waves was good but the beach was covered with plastic and I was told that it was cleared only 3 days before, a really sad sight indeed. We started out with some basic practice on the beach and then went into the waves, and on the second try I was up – a natural talent 😉

After surfing for 1,5 hours I was starving, and my hopes of getting a break from all the tourists on the other side of the island was in vain. The bars along the coast was filled with middle aged people, sunburned with sombreros and Cuban cigars drinking margaritas, a terrible sight. Back in the city of San Miguel (the only city on Cozumel) I went to the area where the locals go and got tacos for $12 MX a piece (~ 4 kr).

On my last day I went on a snorkelling trip on a boat to see three of the best reefs around Cozumel “Palancar”, “Colombia” and “El Cielo”. A beautiful trip and the weather was clear skies and sunny. We didn’t see a lot, but saw a pack of barracudas, some stingrays and a lot of starfish along with the clearest blue water – a great way to end my days on Cozumel.

My initial plan was to leave for Guatemala after Cozumel, but I changed my mind and decided to meet up with a friend in Playa del Carmen which is located just at the mainland across from Cozumel. Unfortunately he got sick, but I was already on my way with the ferry.

Playa del Carmen is a horrible place with a lot of party people and way too many tourists and drugs. The hostel seemed nice, and I was in a room with 7 other people. Being the ladies man that I am I went out eating with three other girls and after that we had som drinks and a game of beer pong on the roof terrace of our hostel. We went out with a bunch of Mexican guys to a night club, the streets were filled with people. On the scale of drugs this place now offered ecstasy, speed, cocaine and weed, a step up or down from Tulum I don’t know, anyway I stayed with coronas, mezcal and margaritas.

I woke up at 6 in the morning still a bit drunk and felt something on my stomach.. bedbugs. The hostel staff was of course very sorry, but as they were full they couldn’t offer me another bed. I slept for a couple of hours on the couch in the lobby threw all my clothes in the dryer at high temp. So this has been my nightmare when staying at hostels for the last 10 years, since encountering them in a very lousy hostel in San Francisco. It is hard when you are traveling and only has the stuff in your bags, and all of it might have been infested by these creeps. I spent most of the day taking care of my stuff and waiting for a bus out of this place – next stop Holbox.

Tulúm

So having heard so much good about Tulum from other travellers I had to go check it out. The city is located just few kilometres from the ocean, and the beach is also a nature park. Our hostel was a step up from the dirty place in Bacalar but really quiet and empty. I went for a walk in the city and bought a snorkel and a mask, the town is very touristy and placed along a highway, but filled with good restaurants and bars. At night I went to another hostel “The weary traveler” were they had free caipirinhas between 19-20. I met a guy from New Zealand which I met earlier in Mérida. One night there was a flamenco show really weird.

Nightlife in Tulum is on, there is a lot of people and a lot of bars and discos. If you are a high roller you will go to some of the beach discos where entry price is $50-100 USD, we chose the more regular bars. Weed and cocaine however was not in short supply, everywhere you were approached by dealers. Our bar “Bateys” were a busy place with live music and an old VW Beetle inside, which housed a sugarcane grinder. The sugarcane juice (jugo de cañas) were used in the cocktails along with fruits of the season.

Beach days were unavoidable, with some of the best beaches in the world right in front of the Caribbean. We spent two days at the beach and at night we went out. We moved to the “The weary traveler” hostel and had some nice days with our new found friends at the hostel.

One night we went out to see a Mexican wrestling show, that turned out to be quite a show. There was a poster on every street light in Tulum advertising for the wrestling show at 17. We went there at 17, but the show was not ready and we were told that it would begin at 19, but that we could buy the tickets in advance and save 50%. At 19 we went back but nothing was ready, were told that the promoter of the two wrestlers had taken the money and left, so now the two wrestlers were stuck in Tulum without money to go back. At 20.30 we went back again and the show was on, but not on a stage just on the floor on a mat and only for 25 mins it was however quite an experience 🙂

My last day in Tulum I was a little hungover from the night before and after trying to rent a car where the rental company tried to hustle people, I gave up and went back to relax at the hostel. At night I took a free yoga class at the hostel and a salsa lesson.

I left Tulum in a rented car from another place, a VW Gol which looked exactly like a polo. I went to the famous Tulum ruins, which besides the tourist crowds were quite beautiful. Next I headed north to the cave system “Dos ojos” to a cenote called “Sac Actun” also known as the pet cemetery because of the multiple findings of animal bones in the cave. I had a guided tour around the cave in the water with goggles and snorkel, a real treat located 7 km in the jungle.

Next stop “Akumal”, a small beach town between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Akumal is known for its sea turtles which vacate the area, and the possibility to snorkel the reef and see all sorts of underwater life. I saw two turtles and a pretty big stingray which scared the shit out of me, along which a ton of fish in varies colours.

Last stop Playa del Carmen, a party town with lots of fancy hotels. I dropped off the car and went to the harbour to take the ferry to Cozumel, which proved to be the most shaky boat trip in my life, but I enjoyed the trip.

Gustav out.

Valladolid and Bacalar

We came early to our hostel in Valladolid which is only 1,5 hours from Mérida. A lovely little town with not much to do besides Mayan ruins and cenotes. Our hostel “The Candelaria” was amazing, quiet and with a nice garden outback with kitchen, hammocks and areas to chill. We went around town got lunch at the local market (tacos for 10 pesos ~ 3kr) and bought groceries to cook tacos and guacamole. A Dutch girl joined us and we had a nice Mexican dinner in the garden at the hostel and some beers.

Next day we went to “Chichén Itza” one of the seven world wonders, a large Mayan ruins complex, with a ton of tourists and merchandise shops. Impressed but kind of fed up with the tourists and Mayan temples, we went for a swim in a cenotes in town. I did a backward head jump from 5m and halfway landed on my belly for everyone’s pleasure – that’s what you get for being a ‘show off’!

Some of our fellow travellers from Mérida joined us the next day, and the others went to see another Mayan ruin, I decided to stay in town and chill for a bit, which included some hours in the hammock with a book. Later in the afternoon I biked a cenote “Oxmann” with a Dutch girl from the hostel, a nice place, after a swim we managed to get a few minutes of afternoon sun before going back to town. Back home we cooked a big dinner with empanadas and salad.

We left for Bacalar after a ride to two other cenotes “X’keken” and “Samula”. The bus ride was 3,5 hours with the bus, and we came late to our hostel “Green Monkey Hostal”. Everything by lake Bacalar is pretty chill, everyone is lying in the sun, hammocks, kayaking in the lake and so on. Lake Bacalar is called the lakes of 7 colours, because of its cenotes and varying bottom.

The picture in at the top, is the sunrise from our palapa at the hostel, simply stunning.

There wasn’t much to do here, and you weren’t supposed to, so we ended up chilling there for two days. We did go out in the kayak for a couple of hours.

Gustav out.

Viva Mexico, Mérida and around

On the 17th I had my flight from Havana to Cancùn in Mexico. I was picked up by a 1951 Chevrolet Deluxe a good way to leave Cuba.

The flight was only 1 hour and 15 minutes. And I was delighted to be at a place a bit more similar to home. I decided to go directly to Mérida right away, I took a bus and just made it in time to get some food at a McDonald’s before leaving. The bus was perfect, great seats, A/C and movies, which was perfect for the 4 hour ride.

I got to the hostel and was invited to participate in a salsa class, and after that food with 4 others. The next day I wandered around town, a beautiful town, with lots of small Mayan shops, but not really a lot to do. I had lunch a nice taco place “Wayan’e”, cheap and good. Back at the hostel I relaxed for a while and was joined by a German guy, we hung out at the pool and I had a Cuban cigar and a beer, and then a nap. In the evening we went out for dinner at “La Negrita” and then for some salsa at a local bar with live reggaeton music.. I am starting to like it 🙂

We rented a car next day and went for a couple of cenotes outside of town. Cenotes are sinkholes with ground water, really clear and quite warm. Next we went to see the Mayan ruins in Uxmal an amazing sight with not many tourist and great weather. After three nights of sightseeing and salsa dancing and a few mezcals (Tequila made from pure agave), I was tired and ready to move on. Me and my German friend Tim, went on the bus to Valladolid the next day. Gustav out

La Habana Pt. II

So I was excited to get back to Havana after 10 days of getting used to the Cuban way of life. My hosts in Cienfuegos booked a hostal in Havana for me along with a taxi collectivo to get me there. This time I got a “regular” car, and old beat up Peugeot 205. The ride was pleasant and contained multiple greatest hits of reggaeton at a very high volume.

I got to the hostal and was shown to my room, which was a shared one with 11 other in bunkbeds. “I am getting to old for this shit” was the first thing that popped into my mind. So leaving my back there I went to find other options.

I found Casa Cassandra, with to individual rooms at a lovely Cuban family. The dad an old boxer, greeted me with rum, an started pulling out barbells. We had to do a workout, after an exercise more rum. I went out to have a look around, and met another traveler we went for a few beers and some food. On my way back to the casa these young Cubans stopped me and wanted me to listen to some Cuban songs. One guy played guitar and sang at a club downtown. They offered me Cuban wine which tasted absolutely horrible, I offered cohiba cigarillos and the guy started playing the solo from Eagles hotel California which turned into a beautiful duet with me an him singing.

I woke up for breakfast and found a hamburger with fries, fruit, coffee and juice – with a bit agitated stomach I went on a free walking trip in old Havana and after that to see the Museo de la revolucion, a fine experience but with strong socialistic messages, and a lot of pictures of El Commandate y Jefe Fidel, Cheguevarra and Raul. I went for a quick lunch and continued to the cerveza fabrica at plaza vieja, there I met two travellers and we had a few. I went back for a nap, and out for some good food for dinner. I found the Lamparilla Tapas Y Cerveza and had a salad and tacos accompanied by an enormous Daiquiri.

I had a good sleep and a nice breakfast this time with fruit and bread, I got some cigars which my host got from a guy who works in the government run tobacco factory who makes Cohiba, Montecristo eg. I bought a box with 25 Cohiba Esplendidos (Fidel’s preferred) for 100 CUC and realised that the ones I got in Viñales was really not a very good deal. Especially when I found out that the esplendidos I bought is 575 CUC if bought from the government.

I went for a stroll along the Malecón and then the weather turned, I visited the Havana Club rum museum for a decent tour and tourist invaded “La bodeguita del medio” where Hemingway used to go get his mojito before going to “Tapas Y Cerveza” for some diner.

When I got back I had a whisky and a cigar with Carmelo my host and had a good chat in Spanish.

Next up is Mexico and hopefully I will be able to post a bit more and add photos – Hola!

Cienfuegos, La Perla del sur

On the 12th I took a taxi from Trinidad to Cienfuegos. He recommended that we’d take a trip through the mountains and “El Nicho” a beautiful waterfall in the mountains. In a 20 year old daewoo we went trough the mountains, on terrible roads. My driver showed me different plantations along the way, the radio was playing Phil Collins and the like. I had a swim in one of the waterfalls pools before continuing our trip to Cienfuegos. 3 hours with a private driver 55 CUC not so bad.

Cienfuegos is by the Cubans called the pearl of the south, and is a beautiful old colonial city, with strong French architectural influence. I stayed for two nights with this lovely couple, and shared a room with three other travellers.

The first night I went to a local Cuban bar and to Terry’s for some Cuban live music and dancing. I was asked out by a Cuban and she totally ran me over with her dancing moves.

Next day was beach day and the weather was lovely. I went with my roommates to Playa Rancho Luna a beautiful beach with palm trees, and clear water. Got me a good sunburn on the back and went back for dinner. At night we went to a local cabaret at “Costasur”, after the cabaret ended it turned into a party for the guests. A beer was 1.25 and a bottle of rum was 3.75 CUC.

Next day I had my ride back to Havana, before moving on to Mexico.