From 1st of December 2015 to 9th of February 2016: 71 days of Mexico.
Beautiful country, cheap, not dangerous as I was told, and a little less dangerous than I myself expected. In terms of people I often felt I am in Romania. On average, people in Mexico are poor, but they would still help you however they can. The nature is also very nice, green forests covering tall, cold mountains, and not that far away some hot sandy beaches and quite affordable too. And do not forget that Mexico is a huge country. As small as it looks compared to USA, Mexico is really big – enough for the 119 million people.
As a person who doesn’t like the beach so much, I enjoyed quite a lot the peaceful city of Oaxaca (and the nice people I met there), and the more mountainous area of San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas). The beaches of Oaxaca are also very nice and not so full of tourists (at least not when I went there). At the other pole is the Yucatan peninsula. The whole area is a tourist trap. Thousands of tourists coming in every day, huge cruise ships unloading party people with enough money to spend. And as a consequence the prices are really high. Merida is probably the most paced down city in this part of Mexico. The more you head East, the more tourists you meet and the higher the prices are. From a 25pesos hammock on the beach in Oaxaca, I spend 100pesos here for the same type of ‘accommodation’ and I even used my own hammock. And that happened close to Chichen Itza.
On the road you can see a lot of bicycles, trikes, or carts, modified in all possible ways you can think of, to suit the needs of the person. You will see many motorbikes cut in two and used as engine to push a food-cart, or turn it into a tuk-tuk (no two villages have the same design for tuk-tuks). Many popular cars in Europe have different names in Mexico: Renault Clio is Nissan Platina, Dacia Logan is another Nissan, WV Golf exists along WV Gol, Bocho (the old beetle – produced till 2004), Pointer, Saveiro and others with strange names.
In terms of nature, Mexico has a lot to offer. You would see whole hills cultivated with corn and other fruits or vegetables, hills you wouldn’t normally climb. But the people are living in harmony with the nature – I didn’t see any cut forest like I often see in Europe, because they know the forest gives you water, and water is life. I’ve seen countless new trees for the first time, or bushes with colorful flowers or leaves, and plants often labeled as exotic. Floating in a lagoon, boating under mangroves with crocs, iguanas and crabs around, are maybe some of the best moments of the trip. The jungle is also a good place to see new species of plants and trees, but always look before you touch anything! Including walking. You might just step into a sinkhole (cenote) with no way to get back out. Speaking of which, they are so many that you probably need a few months and a small fortune to see them all. I only picked a few, maybe not among the most touristic ones, but probably not the best looking either. Cenote Dos Ojos (two eyes) was the most impressive one, and also the most expensive. I would pay the extra 250 pesos for a scuba diving tour in Cenote dos Ojos, rather than the 300 pesos extra to float on the ‘river’ in the lagoon.
Maybe not my most favorite part of Mexico, but definitely one of most touristic things to do there – the ancient ruins. Not all mayan or aztec, as you may hear. There are many ‘ancient’ populations spread all around Mexico, and their culture is still present among some of the local people. I could go on with this, but there’s a certain magic to the lifestyle of these people one has to discover on his own. Each site is special in its own way. Among those I’ve seen – Coba, Chichen Itza, Palenque, Cholula, Teotihuacan – each had a very different something to surprise you. Chichen Itza had the only unpleasant surprise – the whole site is packed with souvenir sellers.
The costs are generally low, so you feel you can afford pretty much everything. For sure the food is very cheap and readily available at every street corner up until late night. Tacos range from 6 to 15 pesos a piece (1USD=16pesos), and they’re delicious. No wonder so many Mexicans are ’round and fluffy’. I couldn’t get myself to like the corn tortillas, no matter how many times I tried. Sure, there is a lot of variety of food to try, most of it spicy and/or based on corn: quesadillas (my favorite), tamales, chiles en nogada, guacamole, carnitas, elotes (boiled corn with mayo, chilly pepper, cheese, and lemon), etc. The cheese is also delicious and each region of Mexico has its own style of making it.
My budget (in USD)
– $2365 used motorcycle and new gear ($1800 bike, $54 title transfer, $230 two months insurance!!, $180 a set of new tires, $100 helmet+ oil+tools+hi-temp glue+disk lock+elastic cords+can of spray)
– $1170 food, accommodation, fun, museums, souvenirs
– $335 gasoline for almost 4000miles
Without the bike expenses = $16.5/day or $21.15/day (with the gasoline included)
With the bike included in expenses = $54.5 / day
I spent a lot more than I expected, but mostly on museums, tickets to ruins, and some very cheap hostels. I cooked a lot but also tried local foods and delis.