Ah, my first post after the unexpected nomination for the Belgian Blog Awards. Quite stressful I must say. Expectations are rising amongst my readers, the pressure is building, I can feel it. It’s even giving me a slight headache. But that might be the beer from last night talking, still. As you know, I took a short trip to Amsterdam yesterday, to interview a famous author in a fancy hotel. Funny story: on my way from the train station to this hotel it started raining and I didn’t bring an umbrella. So I ran into the first tourist shop I could find, bought the cheapest umbrella and headed outside. When I opened the umbrella, I noticed the big green marihuana leaves printed on it. I felt quite ashamed walking into a five star hotel like this, but it was still better than getting soaked, right?
Anyway, during the train ride back to my hometown Antwerp, I realized I hadn’t written anything about Mexico yet. Or at least not enough. I’ve been there two times: one time I backpacked from Mexico City to Havana, Cuba. And the other time I got invited to stay a week in a fancy hotel (without marihuana umbrella this time) at the Mayan Riviera, the famous coastline in the state of Quintana Roo, somewhere between Cancun and Belize. And I thought I’d tell you something about the latter.
Let me start by saying Cancun does not belong to the Riviera Maya. Come to think of it, Cancun could belong to the United States. With all the gigantic Las Vegaslike hotels, all of the American fastfood chains, the tourist party spots, … Honestly it’s terrible! Feel free to disagree, but in my humble opinion Cancun has nothing to do with Mexico anymore. There is a huge lack of authenticity, unless you call the incredibly high crime rates and drug problems typically Mexican (which I would never do, because that might sound a tad racist) When I was there the first time, after having travelled for a couple of weeks in Mexico, I was appalled, I fled the place and went to Cuba instead. But luckily there’s a fantastic alternative to Cancun, just a few kilometres south.
One of the highlights of the Riviera Maya is the town of Tulum and it’s Mayan temples in particular. Throughout Mexico you can find amazing temples and ancient pyramids by Mayan, Aztecs and Incas, but this is one of the only ones with a beach. And it’s just perfect (actually only the temples of Palenque are more impressive, the famous Chichen Itza doesn’t even come close)! But there is more. Have you ever heard of Playa del Carmen? Sure, it’s a little touristy, but it has so much more charm than Cancun. Or how bout the island of Cozumel, where you can take the most amazing diving trips (the Riviera Maya actually has the second or third largest living reef in the world). I also took a trip to the ‘biosphere reservation’ of Sian Ka’an. This is not only the coolest sentence in the world, but it’s also well worth a visit. You just jump in the water and the current will take you around. Sightseeing for lazy tourists, I love it!
So, to sum up: if you’ve booked a trip to Cancun, try to cancel the hotel reservation and head south instead. Tulum is a great place to stay and discover the beauty of the Mayan Riviera.