Saturday, 18 February 2017

Cancun - Days 155 to 158

Cancun today, its beaches and lagoon
After our second visit of 3 nights our views of Cancun have not changed that much. The good news first, we had a much nicer room in the hotel, it didn't smell of damp and had a window, however being on the third floor the wifi didn't work!

It's a very tidy, safe city and apparently generates a significant wealth for Mexico generally and the majority of GDP for the Quintana Roo state in which it is situated, but it is not a city for us and we are both glad to be leaving. 

Cancun 1975
It caters for rich, mainly US tourists who have money to spend and like days on the white sand beaches looking out at the beautiful turquoise sea of the Gulf of Mexico, cruising around in their luxury yacht, jet skis and numerous other beach activities, taking the odd fully organised tour and being pandered to in luxury hotels. The beaches are indeed very beautiful, but they are often all but impossible to get to being commandeered by hotels, so the backdrop to these beautiful beaches are concrete high rise blocks with lots of little windows looking out.

The main beach area is a strip of land that juts out into the sea with a lagoon in the centre. Notices warn of crocodiles in the lagoon and it is surrounded by mangrove trees making it difficult to see and get to and an ideal hiding place for crocodiles!

We walked 11km out and round maybe a quarter of the rectangle of land into the centre of the hotel area and although the land is only a few hundred meters wide we barely saw the sea on one side or the lagoon on the other. High rise hotels stopped any view of the sea and mangrove trees any view of the lagoon. 
You have been warned!
As we neared a row of shops we were approached by numerous vendors who assumed we had money to burn and wanted us to book very expensive trips, buy souvenirs or clothes. For example, one lady told us she could organise a very good commission fee trip to the Isla Mujeres, an island just off the coast. She could do a special price just for us of US$100 each. The boat from the local dock is US$15 each return, so that is some profit margin! Jackie looked at a dress that they quoted at 1000 pesos, she had previously turned down a similar one in Merida at 300 pesos.

And they weren't joking. Obviously don't eat turtles though
So we then decided to stop for a drink at a bar on the beach. Yes, we knew it would be expensive, but 115 pesos for 2 pineapple juices that we knew only costs 18 pesos in a local Mexican bar by our hotel is just taking advantage of tourists. Lots of people however love the place and we could hear some Americans on the table behind us describing it as paradise. Well, it's lovely to look out over the sea, relax and be able to talk freely in English and eat familiar food from home so I suppose it depends on what you think of as paradise. We don't all like the same things and that's a good thing. Writing this on the bus we have passed signs for dolphin world, crocodile world, monkey world, the cirque du Soleil, celebrity chef restaurants, snorkelling, caving, underground rivers.......if money was no object!

Some of the remaining mangroves in the lagoon
Anyway, enough of my moaning, we did have a nice day at the local Eco park where we saw lots of very cute Coatis, turtles and even a couple of crocodiles taking in the sun. It's a quite large park used mainly by Mexicans for exercise and leisure and there is a small museum on site that is quite interesting if you can understand Spanish.

Fabulously white sandy beaches and turquoise sea...
Interestingly, Cancun is less than 50 years old. It was identified in 1967 as a good place for a beach resort and building started from zero in 1970, but really took off from about 1975 with the opening of the international airport. Prior to that date there were few people in this crocodile and mosquito infested swamp, but it has since been transformed into a city of 500,000 inhabitants and a world famous reputation. Almost everyone has heard of Cancun and with part of the second largest coral reef just off shore diving and snorkelling trips are very popular (and expensive). We decided to leave snorkelling until we get into Belize where the reef continues on south.

But here's the view looking inland!
What we did do was to walk to the Symbol of Cancun, which was the very first building put up in Cancun in 1970. It's a wooden airport control tower and stands in the city at  what used to be the temporary runway. It is now on a roundabout on a main road and the airport is now some distance away, but the building was left. Actually it's a replica using a few of the original timbers as the original was all but destroyed by hurricane Wilma which swept through here in 1988. It was only rebuilt in 2010 after funding was raised. Anyway, Jackie thoroughly enjoyed the walk there as you might imagine!

Cancun's oldest building, the wooden control tower built in 1970
So if you like the beach and a family friendly resort this is the place but if you want somewhere with a soul there are many other better choices. For us, we're glad to be on the bus heading for our next and last destination in Mexico, Tulum. It's another seaside resort but has lots of Mayan history, so hopefully its soul will not have been overwhelmed with large hotel developments.

No, we don't know either!

A Mayan house replica in the park

The crocodile and turtle water hole

Two coatis munching on food someone had left

One was a bit inquisitive and came over to say hello

They were having some sort of a meeting!

We think this one was feeling a bit left out

But this one really wanted to say hello!

I'm not sure what this was, but he was very pretty!

Again, no idea

More old and new photos. This was Avenida Uxmal in 1971...

Avenida Uxmal today

A outdoor music and dancing show in the city square

In the same square kids can rent cars to drive around in. Very small children get to ride in a remote controlled one with parents controlling forward and back movement, kids only controlling steering. I wanted to have a go, but unfortunately they said no!

A Kapok tree in town with its fruit opening out its cotton

This drink is called a Michelada and seems to be all the rage here. We decided to try one, it's a litre glass filled with beer, your choice of fruit juice, we chose Mango, chilli and some other stuff. The red round the rim are flakes of chilli. It was....very strange, not particularly spicy hot, just odd tasting! We thought we might get used to it as we drank, but no, we left about a quarter of it and were very pleased we only ordered one! We left and went to a fish restaurant had an excellent mixed seafood (king prawns, fish fillet, squid and octopus all fried in large quantities of garlic - fabulous!) All washed down with just beer - no more Micheladas for us!

So that's it from Cancun!


  1. We'll, now we know..... crossed off our itinerary for Ian's round the world trip for his 60th. Lol. Xxxx