Mexico: country where English language is useless and wifi becomes a precious commodity (April 3rd – April 9th 2019)
One comes to the US to travel around Mexico. Not bad.
As I was leaving to the US I told myself that I´ll travel across the US and Mexico and Canada I will make another time. But as I was reading blogs and I remembered my classes about Mexican history and amazing historical places I couldn´t resist and I started with planning a Mexican road trip!
Most of the au pairs go to Mexican Cancún for a few days just to have fun but I can do that also on Ibiza or Pag. So I opened my friend an uncle Google and started with planning a possible way how to travel across Mexico and see as much as possible.
After few days of sitting behind the PC I´ve created a following plan:
April 3rd: WEDNESDAY
Flight from Boston to Mexico City
– Anthropology museum
– Palacio de Bellas Artes (free entrance)
– City park Bosque de Chapultepec
April 4th: THURSDAY
Trip to the Teotihuacán Municipality + visiting small city Coyoacán
April 5th: FRIDAY
– Templo Mayor
– Zócalo (Plaza de la Institucion)
– Catedral Metropolitana
– Palacio Nacional
– TRAVEL TO OAXACA
April 6th: SATURDAY
– Trip to Monte Albán
– Palace Mitla
– Hierve el Agua
April 7th: SUNDAY
– Tree Santa Mária del Tule
– FLIGHT TO CANCÚN AND TRAVEL TO CITY OF TULUM
April 8th: MONDAY
– Trip to Chichen Itza
– Beach Playa del Carmen
– Pyramids in Cobá and Muyil cities
April 9th: TUESDAY
– TRAVEL TO CANCÚN
– Swim in the ocean one more time 🙂
– FLIGHT TO BOSTON
It is not a bad plan what do you think? If you go to Mexico and have more time, you have to go to Underwater Museum in Cancún to see the underwater statues. Unfortunately I couldn´t fit it into the plan…
At the end I just needed to find a travel buddy! I posted this plan on few Facebook pages with my optimistic vision to get into budget of 620 EUR. You can see the quotation at the end of this article. It didn´t take long and Danča from Czech republic texted me and I can tell that she was the best travel buddy you can wish for!
Day 1: April 3rd 2019
After about 3hours of sleep at 2:50am the alarm clock was ringing and with Nikola we gave each other a look saying: “Are you sure we have to go?” Well, I don´t but we have to because she promised me that she´ll drive me to the airport. So we have to. At 4am I was already at the security checking and before 6am we took off to the Huston, TX where I had to change flights to the Mexico City. At 1:45pm we landed in Mexico City and I was hypnotizing my bag for throwing up because I felt all the vodkas I drank during the flight in my throat (they were for free!). Fortunately all of them stayed safe in my stomach and I had to look for Danča. I came to arrivals hall and I found out that I can´t connect to the wifi, my mobile datas didn´t work and I had no service. This will be fun, I told myself. Well it took me about 20minutes to connect to the wifi and another 20minutes to find Danča. The following 20minutes we spent by looking for a bus who´d take us to the center of Mexico City and tried to buy a bus tickets. The funniest moment happened during we were buying those tickets. None of us brought American dollars, we had only Mexican pesos. The only place where you can buy a bus tickets is an automat at the airport and there was written that it accepts only $. We were desperate and it took us so long until I remembered that in one blog I was reading that symbol for Mexican pesos is $ – just like for an American dollar! After about an hour since I landed we were finally in our bus on a way to the city center. We couldn´t wait for the moment after check in at the hostel and getting rid of our backpacks.
Two and a half hours later: drive to the city center lasted about 30minutes and searching for our hostel took us another 2hours. During those 2hours we walked around our hostel several times but we never noticed that it was there! It was on Républica de Guatemala and we thought that such a street doesn´t exist – but we found all the others republics – Républica de Argentína, Républica de Venezuela, Républica de Peru, Républica de Nicaragua, Républica de Honduraz… Locals tried to help us but nobody knew where Républica de Guatemala was. And even worse was a fact that they didn´t speak English! So, Républica de Guatemala is located straight next to a huge square – Zócalo. At Zócalo you will find museum Teplo Mayor, Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, Plaza de la Constitucion (that´s the square), Palacio Nacional and Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento.
And the best was that we could have seen Templo Mayor and cathedral from the hostel balcony! It was that close and we couldn´t find it! But at least we realized how desperate we are without a wifi. Before we successfully made a check in (because our room of course wasn´t ready yet) we got stuck in a hostel elevator because the hostel lost a power and had a late lunch after which my stomach let me know that he won´t get along with all the chilly food they have here. The rest of the day I spent by running to the bathroom every few minutes and I was cursing the day I decided for a Mexican road trip.
In the evening we had a cultural moment on Zócalo where locals were dancing for calling the rain (they told us that the rain never comes). Tired and exhausted we were falling asleep at the wall paint that we loved on a day light but looked creepy in the dark. It reminded me the demon from the horror movie The Nun. Falling asleep was pretty difficult tonight.
And how do we like Mexico City so far? Poor, smelly and dirty. I´m sorry.
Day 2: April 4th 2019
We slept pretty well and after the breakfast we went for a day trip to Teotihuacán and city of Coyoacán. You can book the trip to Teotihuacán everywhere around and it costs $550 (around 22 EUR). We decided to go on our own by local public transportation and for the whole trip including the entrance fee we paid $179 (around 7 EUR). Also you can book this tour through your hostel/hotel and you will leave your place at 8:30am and come back at 6pm. But I don´t think you need that much time to spend there and you might get bored and exhausted (from the sun). Our trip lasted 5hours. By local bus we went to the Central autobuses del Norte where we bought the return ticket for a bus that took us straight to the entrance of this archeological place. You can find here a famous Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and palace Quetzalpapálotl.
We climbed on the top of Pyramids (during the whole time I was telling myself that if my grandma could do it then I can do it as well – it is a big cardio), we bought some souvenirs (don´t forget to negotiate) and we left back to the Mexico City to find Coyoacán. It sounds quite easy but I forgot to download a metro map so we had to rely on the wifi which didn´t work (of course) so our only option was relying on my basic Spanish skills which actually helped us to make it there! We were really lucky when we met a young boy Julio who didn´t speak English but showed us a way to Coyoacán (he literally went there with us)!
And do you remember as I was writing about the Zócalo dance for the rain? Well it was delayed but it came! It was raining in Coyoacán but there was a functional wifi! We walked around the small square, had a great dinner (I don´t eat anything spicy anymore), had a drink and went home. Of course we got lost but we got lucky again when we met two young boys who went the same direction and they also spoke English! And we were finally hoping that our bad luck was already gone…
What we noticed today: Mexico City isn´t the best place I´ve been to but Mexicans are incredibly nice, willing and they try to help you no matter what. I´d put my hand into a fire that you won´t find an old grandma in Bratislava who would go across the road with you just to show you the aisle where you have to go to find your bus stop. And she didn´t understand a word we said!
Day 3: April 5th 2019
Today we wanted to see Palacio de Bellas Artes (but we didn´t make it because of the lack of time – we saw it only from the outside), Anthropology museum and make it to the bus station where our bus to Oaxaca was suppose to depart. Finally we weren´t that lost in a local metro and soon after 10am we entered the museum. We got a brochure and were quite happy thinking that we can make it. No, in 70 minutes you can´t make it. Mainly because we didn´t notice that the brochure had two sides and the museum has two floors. We made at least the first floor and it was amazing!
At 1:30pm our bus to Oaxaca from Terminal Oriente (San Lázaro) was leaving and there was a 7hours long panoramic drive ahead. Almost never ending. About an hour before Oaxaca, at the moment when I was sitting on a bus toilet, the lights turned off and the bus stopped. Toiler flusher didn´t work, water didn´t work, the lights were off and I told myself: awesome, this is something that can happen to me only. When I came back to Danča, she told me that our bus got broken and that we have to wait for another one which should come within an hour. When in 20minutes another came we were placed from our golden class into an ordinary village bus where we were shining as two suns and we felt as a local attraction. Suddenly, as we came to Oaxaca but not to the bus station yet, they told us to go out and we didn´t know what was going on (everybody in the bus was trying to talk over another one to be the one who will tell us what´s going on but still – in Spanish) and as we walked outside we found out that another bus came and we had to switch back to our comfortable golden class bus.
When we successfully came to the bus station in Oaxaca we were surprised as we could log into the wifi and we turned on the Google maps to upload a way to our hostel. Hostel was nice, clean, cozy and this time we didn´t sleep on a double bed but we had our own comfort on a single bed… everything was perfect until the moment when Danča went to the bathroom to take a shower and found cockroaches running around the bathroom! Yes, we had cockroaches here! They were in the bathroom, kitchen, front yard… fortunately they weren´t in our room because otherwise we´d probably runaway from here. But we didn´t feel that great as we were falling asleep. On the other side we could have wished that cockroaches were the worst what happened to us in Mexico…
Day 4: April 6th 2019
Today we were planning to go to Hierve el Aqua, Mitla, see the biggest tree in the world in Tule and if we still have some time left, make a trip to Monte Albán. The easiest way how to come to Hierve el Agua is by a taxi (collectives) that takes you for $2 to Mitla where you will switch to another collectives that will take you to the waterfall.
Now let me talk about collectives for a bit. It is an alternative public transportation in Mexico. It can be cars (taxis) or trucks. If it´s a car, I bet you that the driver won´t be happy unless he has a completely full car – six people in the car. Correct, there is a driver and 5 passengers. Three people in the front and three people in the back – see the pictures. He will honk at people everywhere just to make his car full. If it´s a truck – like the one that took us from Mitla to Hierve el Agua, we were waiting for about 20 minutes and then we got upset and wanted to take an expensive taxi to the waterfall. Why? There was me, my friend and three more people who were waiting over an hour already! The driver wanted to have at least 12 people and then he´d go. But as he saw us leaving his truck we just told him that we´re not going to wait anymore, he asked us to wait for 5 more minutes for a local bus that was supposed to come there. So we decided to wait. And here is why: if you take collectives you will pay $2 and if you take a taxi you will pay $14. Another problem happened when we tried to go back from Hierve el Agua. Tourists were everywhere but we weren´t able to get at least 10 people who would go to Mitla. After an hour of waiting we were asking locals if they can´t drive us there. At the end one super nice homosexual couple took us there and they were hilarious! And actually one of them spent his Erasmus program in Prague! Well we were lucky once again.
Let´s talk about the taxi drivers for a bit now. Difference between them and licensed taxi drivers that have transmitter in their car and license and you feel safe in the car because you´re not sharing the car with 5 other people is just the beginning. They also have a special way of driving. For example:
– Where is 80km/h (or 30km/h) their speed is 120km/h
– When we couldn´t pass the car ahead from the left, we passed it from the right (through the road shoulder)
– They can “create” a two line road from one line road
– They ignore all the traffic rules (no passing…)
– Simply said, if you´re sitting on the front seat in the middle you feel very safe 🙂
Now let´s talk about Hierve el Aqua. There is few small lakes which locals turned into a public pool and if you don´t care about it you can join them and go there too. Other than these small lakes there is one waterfall and rumors say that there is a way that leads inside the waterfall. That “road” looked pretty scary and if you don´t care about any injuries then you can go any try it. We didn´t do that… On a way back we stopped by in Mitla to see the palace and then we went to Tule to see the tree Santa María del Tule – the biggest tree in the world. It really worth to see it!
By the way, if you are in Mexico and need to go to the bathroom you will find it everywhere. It is called baňos and it is public bathrooms. You pay about $20 American cents and the quality is really good (sometimes I felt that it was even better than in Slovakia)!
Unfortunately we didn´t have time for Monte Albán today but we still had to make it to Oaxaca. As I was trying to negotiate the taxi price suddenly I saw one lady waving at me. She was waving and waving so we came to her. She asked us where were we going and she offered us a drive for free. With Danča we came to a conclusion that since she has a husband and a daughter, hopefully she is not dangerous and we went in. We were just hoping not to end up in a local black market and survive the evening…
And nothing happened to us! In the evening we enjoyed “tequila night” not knowing that the following day will turn out into a nightmare…
Day 5: April 7th 2019
The morning was perfect. The hostel owner swiped all the cockroaches out from the bathroom so we could take a shower, then she gave us breakfast, we packed our stuff and left to the local travel agency to book a trip to Monte Albán. However the time went once again against us – because we had to catch a flight to Mexico City and then switch flights to Cancún – we could have spent exactly just an hour at Monte Albán. It wasn´t a lot and we ended up by running down from the pyramid for 10minutes to the parking lot to catch a bus (and I didn´t mention that we had our backpacks on and it was a super hot day!). But we made it just in time! From Oaxaca we took a taxi to the airport but since we messed up with Google maps settings we accidentally came to the airport 2 hours earlier (we had settings for walking not driving distances). Nevermind, at least we will catch a flight. We were at the airport 4 hours before our flight and this airport was even smaller than the one in Bratislava we have. And at that time we didn´t know yet that our flight will be delayed for 90minutes…
And what happened next?
7:30-7:40pm We arrived to Mexico City. However the wifi here sucks, we couldn´t connect and make online check in for the following flight (we couldn´t do check in while we were in Oaxaca yet). So we had to run out of the airport, run back in and look for our travel agency through which we booked our flight.
7:50 pm Exhausted we found our travel agency. I had to pee. They told us that check in got closed 5 minutes ago so they can´t help us anymore. This was also the last flight to Cancún today.
7:50-9:50pm We were running around from one travel agency (the delayed one) to another one (the one we missed the flight with) and we were complaining that we want some kind of compensation. At the end we had to call kiwi.com – agency through which we booked the flight tickets and finally somebody told us what to do. I was so happy that I insured our flight tickets so they bought us another ones for the next day.
11pm We finally got an email about the new flight tickets. Our flight was during the lunchtime. In the very same moment I received another email about our today´s accommodation. We took our backpacks and went to another terminal where was supposed to be a car waiting for us and taking us to the hotel.
11-11:40pm We were waiting for another people and then the car took all of us to the hotel. We were thinking that we´ll spend night at the airport already…
11:40pm We arrived to the hotel. At the reception we found out that our reservation doesn´t exist. So I called to kiwi.com again. They apologized for that and asked us for a moment. They said they will check it out and then call us back. They sent us to 3+*** hotel. I was broke and Danča´s credit card didn´t work in Mexico. A price for a 2 single bed room for a night was $137 (American dollars)! Meanwhile we were talking to the receptionists, hotel manager, reservation department, kiwi.com…
2:00am We got a call from kiwi.com. The lady asked us where were we. I told her: we are on the street, where else do you think we´d be? She laughed. I didn´t know what was so funny about it. Between 10pm and 2am nobody couldn´t get us a room. They just sent us to the hotel where no reservation was made and we were basically left out on the street. The lady suggested that we should pay our night in this hotel (or whichever hotel…) and they will send us compensation within a week. Or we can wait and they will make us a new reservation in this hotel. I was like… no way. We wanted compensation and we will try to book a room here.
2:30am I had no idea how that happen but I successfully booked a room with my card. The payment went through but the price was different than the price the lady from kiwi.com told us. She forgot about the TAX. Do you know what was the funniest about it? The compensation price. Accommodation was supposed to be $107 American dollars, compensation $153 but we paid $137 and so the compensation was $16. That was like for a breakfast in Starbucks only 🙂
Deň 6: 8.4. 2019
Po doslova zopár hodinách spánku v XXL posteliach a vychutnávania si súkromnej kúpeľne nastal čas sa opäť vrátiť na letiko. Už sme sa smiali, že nám je to Mexico City proste súdené. Nanešťastie na dnes sme plánovali výlet do Chichen Itza, ktorý sme samozrejme nestíhali, a tak sme sa rozhodli zrušiť rezerváciu v Tulume a nocovať v Cancúne.
Prichádzame k odletovej hale, kde nás presúvajú k inému terminálu, kde čaká nesmierne veľa ľudí. Tak počúvajte túto srandu: predalo sa viac leteniek, ako bolo reálne miest v lietadle. Zo štyroch skupín A, B, C a D sa do lietadla dostali iba skupiny A a B. Naozaj netuším akým zázrakom, ale pánovi z nášho obľúbeného kiwi.com sa podarilo nás posunúť do skupiny B. Do lietadla sme sa teda zázračne dostali a krátko po 16ej sme pristávali v mexickom Miami – Cancúne. Slávnostný príchod sme oslávili margaritou a nakoľko sme boli ubytované približne päť minút od pláže, večer sme sa hodili do mora (toto už je Karibik bejbe!), kúpili s pivá a víno a užívali si nádherný posledný večer na pláži.
Jáj a zabudla som ešte jednu vec spomenúť. Ako sme si užívali tú margaritu, robili sme check in na naše lety na ďalší deň (konečne sme chytili normálnu wifi). Keď v tom som zistila, že mám dva lety: z Cancúnu do Baltimoru a z Baltimoru do Bostonu. Na tom by nebolo nič zvláštne, avšak v zápätí som zistila, že namiesto letu, ktorý mi letel 90 minút po príchode do Baltimoru, som si omylom zabookovala let, ktorý letel o 12 hodín neskôr, na ďalší deň ráno v čase, kedy som už mala byť doma nastúpená pracovať!! Tentokrát som letela rovnakou leteckou spoločnosťou (vďaka bohu), a tak som im ihneď telefonovala. Keď však po desiatich pokusoch som sa dookola dovolávala do odkazovej schránky, nádeje niečo ešte dnes vyriešiť som zahodila a rozhodli sme sa, že na ďalší deň odídeme na letisko skôr a hádam sa to nejako vyrieši.
Spoiler allert: nevyriešilo…
Day 7: April 9th 2019
A.K.A. a day, when everything got f***ed up (and mostly me).
After a morning short walk on the beach and shortly before a thunder (literally) we moved to the Cancún airport. I ran to my travel company and tried to explain them what I´ve done. They told me that the evening flight to Boston had been sold out and the only chance to get there was that after landing in Baltimore I will have to leave the airport, go through the immigration, get back to the airport to their company and find out if there wasn´t somebody who didn´t do the check in so I can take their spot. There wasn´t any other chance. And I had exactly 90 minutes to do this (if our flight wasn´t late).
Of course our flight was delayed. After landing in Baltimore I was literally running towards the immigration even faster than in Mitla from the pyramid to the parking lot, because we had to catch that bus. I came to a line, hardly breathing and the line was actually pretty short (but very slow) – the line for non US residents. I was trying to get to a turn faster so I was asking everyone if I can be privileged – they said no. Whatever. After a strict control I made my 3rd marathon when another security check stopped me. Then I made it to the arrival hall where I was trying to find my travel company. I was asking people if they let me go first but they said no again… It was fine because at least I had some time to catch my breath again. A breath for my first breakdown when I found out that all of the passengers made the check in and the plane was full. In this moment about five of my friend texted me that it´s okay and at least I can go and explore Baltimore. I hope these five friends are reading this blog right now and understand why I told them to go you-know-where.
I called Niki and I started crying to the phone that I was desperate and didn´t know what to do. When suddenly I got an idea that my flight maybe wasn´t the last one that went to Boston that evening! I dropped the call and ran to the departure board to find out that there were four more flights to Boston today! Three of them were from Westeast and one from JetBlue.
And then I got a second breakdown… Exhausted I was walking around the airport trying to find Westeast. I walked from one side to the other one and I was telling myself that I am probably blind because I couldn´t find it. And then I appeared at the last company where a lot of soldiers were staying. I came to one of them and desperately asked him: “Could you please help me?” And he asked me: “Yes madam, how can I help you?” I gave him a sad look and before I was able to tell him anything, I started crying. Fortunately he was a really nice guy and he listened my whole story and then he told me where can I find Westeast. He also told me that if I need, I can come back to him anytime.
Third and fourth time… I had a breakdown at Westeast and JetBlue when I told them my story again. We found out that two of the Westeast flight I wasn´t able to make but there was a flight at 10pm or with JetBlue at 8pm. Price for the flight tickets were the same – $193. I gave them my credit card but the transaction wasn´t completed. I found out that I was broke (I mean I forgot about this fact). I called Niki again and I was asking her if she can send me $200. She said that in few minutes the money should come.
Fifth time: I told myself that meanwhile I will go back to my previous travel company and ask them if they can give me some compensation. I told them my story again and I realized that I have to stop saying it because every time I get a breakdown after that…
Sixth time it was really unexpected. I came back to JetBlue and tried to buy a new flight ticket. It said: transaction cannot be approved. I logged into internet banking and I found out that I didn´t receive any money (on the following day we found out that my internet banking profile was set up wrong and so I NEVER received any money Niki has ever sent to me). About two hours later since I came to Baltimore I was still at the beginning. I also had to do one more thing: call my host mom and tell her what happened! She already knew that something was wrong because when I felt first troubles in Cancún I called her. I told her that I booked my flight tickets wrong but I still had a chance to make it home tonight. Now I had to update her that I was wrong…
Seventh time I was crying to my host mom in a phone. But then I realized that she hadn´t paid me for the past week yet so if she pays me now ($195,75), I can buy that flight ticket! She asked me if I was all right and if I really don´t want to stay overnight in Baltimore (she thought I was still with Danča but she forgot that Danča lives on the West coast and we split in Cancún). I was crying that no way and that I wanted to go home. About 2minutes later I got her salary and I bought a new flight ticket to Boston!
TIME TO SWITCH TO A TIME HARMONOGRAM
8:15pm We left to Boston. The pilot announced that the flight will last only an hour and we should be in Boston at 9pm. I texted Niki that she can get ready because I´m gonna be there soon.
9:15pm We landed in Boston. I turned off airplane mode and found a text message from Niki: my GPS doesn´t work, I don´t know how to make it to the airport.
9:15-10:40 Niki is stuck in North Quincy and trying to restart her phone to turn on GPS – unsuccessfully. However I was dressed up for a summer weather and sick (have I already mention that I got cold in Mexico?) and without any money, public transportation wasn´t an option for me. And it was so cold outside. On my credit card I didn´t have any money, so I took out my Slovak phone where Uber and Lyft are connected to my Slovak credit card. Unfortunately Lyft couldn´t find me a driver and Uber didn´t work. Great. I sat down on the floor thinking I will have another breakdown. Niki tried to help me as well but Lyft couldn´t find her a driver for me either and she doesn´t have Uber. However she had cash with her and she got a great idea. She told me to find out how much is the taxi ride to North Quincy and she´d pay once they will drop me off there.
10:40-11:00pm I found out that her idea is possible to make, got into a taxi and slowly but surely was driving back home.
11pm When we finally found Niki in North Quincy we found out that my driver can´t give me change. So we had to find a bank and I was thinking that this day will never end. If karma really exists, today she returned me at least 5 years of my life.
11:40pm Unbelievable happened – I CAME HOME! Let me tell you one thing: I was never more happy to be in that madhouse than today. Tired and exhausted I felt into my bed ready for another day 🙂
Do you think I need something for the end? Okay, here we go. If you´re going to Mexico, you will have to try these local meals and drinks:
– Food: out of burritos, tortillas and quesadillas try tlayudas, mole negro, baked grasshopper (yes, they really eat it), in Tulum and actually everywhere at the sea – seafood and on Yucatan historic restaurant called Yucateca.
– Drinks: again out of tequila and cerveza try mescal and pulque. I drank mescal once and when I finished it, I asked the bartender what it actually was. He brought a bottle and we found out that I just drank a liquor with a worm in it! Delicious!
And at the very end, the quotations:
– flight ticket Boston – Mexico City 81 EUR
– flight ticket Oaxaca – Cancún 154 EUR
– flight ticket Cancún – Boston 141 EUR
– bus Mexico – Oaxaca 45 EUR
– new flight ticket Baltimore – Boston 172 EUR
– travel insurance 15,40 EUR
– accommodation Mexico City 26 EUR
– accommodation Oaxaca 23 EUR
– accommodation Tulum – storno 11 EUR
– accommodation Cancún 13 EUR
– food 92 EUR
– transfers 28 EUR
– entrance fees 9 EUR
– souvenirs 14 EUR
TOGETHER (without my new flight ticket): 652, 40 EUR – I was pretty close from my guess 620 EUR!!!