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Discovering Mexico: the Yucatan Peninsula

Ernest, the little Russian blue rabbit, is making a nest under the stairs and happily distracting me with his desire for multiple litters. I open the mail that has accumulated in layers during my trip to the American continent.

A reader with a mischievous name throws me off guard with her first lines: ” GOOD. I have decided to love you.

The day starts well and I note on a loose leaf the first ideas to answer her and help her – maybe – in her project of a long escape at the end of the world. To go far away, alone or not, but far away, to dissolve one’s habits, the constraints, to rush into everything that passes, everything that luck brings to the bold.

A great inspiration to chase away the tensions of the day before. Articles with the titles ” Why I left my permanent job at 30 ” or ” Generation Y’s expectations at work ” are still open on my browser.

My life has changed a lot in two years, I’ve even become a stepmother of two wonderful grandchildren with whom I Skype and explain the strange notion of jet lag in a concrete way, or to whom I send immortalvideos of breakfast stealing animals. I haven’t told you about them yet, out of respect for them and their mom.

Traveling is still a natural need, a place to explore and let go, despite unexpected attachments. My man smiles to see me hurriedly packing my suitcase the night before a departure, while noting plane and train schedules in case I get confused. One day, I took a flight and didn’t realize its real destination until I was on the plane… A prompter like in the theater wouldn’t be out of place.

Departure to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula

In Mexico, I left with a merry band of writing and image lovers. Two projects in mind: trying to capture the wild beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula and composing interesting visuals for the launch of my partner’s online store .

Shall I take you along? We’re going to set foot in clear waters, surrounded by proud temples, with stopovers on wild shores, in small colonial cities with colorful alleys. We’ll eat bitter corn cakes with our fingers, allow ourselves to dive into the luxury of haciendas run by passionate people, and let ourselves float on a boat making its way through the reeds of a nature reserve.

Many of you have sent me little words about the itinerary I took during my travels. But I hope you won’t let yourselves be locked into a predefined route. Here is my one week itinerary between Cancun and Merida – between the coasts of Yucatan and the interior of Quintana Roo – an itinerary that I will expand on during my next trips to these two very rich regions.

8 days discovering the Yucatan and the Quintana Roo

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The addresses listed here have all been tested by me and my opinion is obviously my own. Do not hesitate to complete the article with your advice.

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Day 1: Departure from Paris with XL Airways which offers direct flights to Yucatan. 11 hours of flight during which I could eat the best of the Lebanese gastronomy, while my neighbors tried the Italian and Thai flavors… I am incorruptible, except when I am caught with food. While I thought I was dozing for a few hours on my neighbor’s shoulder, we were given special glasses resembling a virtual reality helmet: the cinema can be enjoyed without the hubbub of the passengers and the noise of the engines. I’m bluffed and I go through the last missed movies in theaters this year.

Arrived late in Cancun, we observe the lights which filter in the bus. We put our things near the sea, in the immense hotel Secrets The Vine.

Day 2: The time difference allows me to wake up spontaneously for the sunrise on the ocean. A juice of cactus in hand, we wonder which strategy to adopt in front of this Dantesque buffet. The karma wants us good this morning…

From Cancun, we take a bus which leads us to the limits of the natural reserve of Sian Ka’an (” which comes down from the Sky ” in Maya language). The reserve is so vast! We explore it by walking and by small boats which venture through the mangroves.

For the visit of the natural reserve of Sian Ka’an, I advise you the guides working for the association ” Community Tours “.

Exhilarated by the sun, we put down our suitcases in the hotel Ocean Maya Royale situated in Playa del Carmen, in which we ricochet – lost – in a maze of housing estates without soul and in the disappointing gastronomy, a comble when we think of the range of the Mexican flavors.

Day 3: We take a bus in direction of the archaeological city of Coba, situated in 1h40 of Playa del Carmen.

The pre-Columbian site of Coba presents really a singular atmosphere, the vegetation seeming to protect the vestiges under vegetable shades. The visit of this immense Mayan site can be done on foot but also by rickshaw with stops in front of the various temples.

I recommend you to choose your guide well to understand the history of the place and to focus your eyes on the most emblematic architectural elements of this pre-Hispanic civilization: ours was so stressed that it became communicative and I preferred to venture alone to soak up the place.

Afterwards, we spiced up the program with a zip line descent with Alltournative Tours, punctuated by a traditional Mayan meal and a demonstration of Mayan rituals in the middle of nature.

That night, we stopped at the Dreams Tulum hotel, with the ideal location because it is situated just next to the archaeological site of Tulum. The rooms are particularly comfortable and luminous and the gourmets are likely to be conquered! Special mention for the very fresh and tasty breakfast, in which you can compose your exotic smoothies and vegetable juices at the minute while happily dipping into the piles of cinnamon French toast and pancakes just out of the pan. The daring will swap their breakfast for a new one.idental for Mexican flavors.

Day 4 : We take a bus from Tulum to the Rio Secreto, a partially immersed cave of fresh and translucent water in which we venture in floating suit, equipped with a headlamp, by following the layout of different cenotes. The experience lasts a little less than two hours and is of great beauty.

We go out of the soft half-light to discover the city of Playa del Carmen. Stopover intended for the shopping, I did not think of being conquered by this city-mushroom that I thought very fake. And yet, the city abounds in grandiose street art and turns out very photogenic.

We fill ourselves in the restaurant “Kool Fish” situated near the 5th Avenue. Rush on the tacos, the burgers seasoned with thick spoons of guacamole, the fried scampis with the addictive pico de gallo and the generous burritos, in front of a black beach of deckchairs.

Day 5: We leave early to take advantage of the archaeological site of Tulum before the influx of the tourist buses. Supervised by Israel, a passionate French-speaking guide operating for ” Altanueva Cancun “, we discover one of the most beautiful Mayan sites of the Yucatan peninsula. The archaeological discovery continues with the site of Ek Balam, less known and thus much quieter.

We stroll for a long time in the small colonial city of Izamal, the hypnotic city with yellow walls where time seems to be spurned.

Colors in the eyes, a new surprise awaits us at the hacienda Temozon, where each room has its name and is a jewel of interior design. This hacienda dating from the 17th century is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen, full of historical charm and refinement. The gastronomy is just like the place: a magic trick.

Day 6: Difficult to tear oneself away from this so romantic hotel….

We take the road towards the archaeological site of Uxmal – about which I will speak to you more at length in an article centered on the archaeological abundance of the peninsula of Yucatan.

A nice break at the hacienda Ochil to eat and explore this old refurbished farm, surrounded by cactus and twisted trees.

We discover the city of Mérida, which will become our point of reference for the last days of our trip, while putting down our bags in the hacienda Misné held by a personnel literally with the small care.

Day 7: We venture in the food markets of Mérida, ideal occasion to be initiated in the Mexican gastronomy in company of a young chef. We make a well furnished basket, by making long stopovers in this very alive and photogenic market.

We put finally the hand to the paste by cooking in the small house of our guide and we finish the evening by attending a training of Mexican lucha, of which the wrestlers overplay the fights by dressing up with masks which reinforce their legend. In spite of the theatrical staging, it is impossible not to be riveted to these men who do not skimp on the intensity of the sequences and the strikes. We find here the exhilarating atmosphere of the fights of Bolivian cholitas.

Day 8: We leave the beautiful Merida in direction of the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, almost unavoidable stage in a

journey through the Yucatan peninsula.

Still a long walk in the small city of Valladolid, some portraits stolen at the corner of a street, the evidence of an imminent departure. We try to slow down the time and to fix well this crazy light which rocked our stay.

Hedonists, we soak our feet in an immense cenote, situated near the hacienda Selva Maya, before taking the road towards the airport of Cancun.

The return towards Paris is also made with a plane of the company XL Airways in which we all fall asleep very quickly like children spoiled by this so strong stay.

This long trip was planned, fantasized, but not like this! I abandoned my itinerary to create a random world tour, open to the encounters and opportunities that always emerge along the way. Send me a note, we’ll go drink a jerry can of tea… somewhere.


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