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Bougainvillea in Tulum, Mexico
After sixteen days of travel to five cities, our last day in Mexico had arrived.  It was December 20.  We figured if the world was going to end on December 21, we would just as soon be back home with Paisley.  (And of course I'm just joking; we never for a minute expected the world to end, but it was fun that we were traveling during the peak of interest in the Maya world and right around such an anticipated date!)

We started with a wonderful breakfast in our favorite Tulum breakfast eatery, Azafran.  Despite some mosquitoes in the garden, we had a delicious meal, excellent service, and some of the best coffee that we had on our entire trip.  This is the only place we got whole-wheat bread in Mexico, and the freshly squeezed OJ was great too.  We can't recommend this place enough if you are in Tulum.  Barry ordered the same loaded omelet as before, and I tried the fruit crepes.  Delish!
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Barry's delicious omelet
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My fruit crepes
Here's a friendly fellow we met on our walk back to the hotel from breakfast, hanging out in front of his owner's home courtyard.
We'd be heading south on this road to Chetumal to catch the ferry back to San Pedro.  We got another beautiful day for travel.
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Waiting in the Tulum ADO station
As I may have mentioned in a previous post, while Mexican cities can have a ton of traffic at times, like this:
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Morning traffic in Merida
In contrast, the highways are typically practically deserted by US standards.  Most people seem to travel by bus.  Love the lack of traffic jams!  We had another great view from the front row in the ADO bus.
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Belize is "Belice" (pronounced Bell-ees-ay) in Spanish
But this day was not to be without drama and a bit of panic.  We had "open date" water taxi tickets back to Belize that we'd paid for as part of the round trip.  When we arrived at the San Pedro Water Jets terminal (via taxi from the Chetumal ADO bus station) at 2:15 for the 3 pm water taxi, we were informed that the boat was already full and that we should have made a reservation the day before.  Although there are two water taxi companies, and since we last visited Mexico, they have changed to an alternating day schedule, so there was no other boat to take back to San Pedro that day.  I strongly question the the alternating schedule since they could certainly fill both boats during high tourist season; though the schedule makes perfect sense during slow season.  This was not slow season.

We tried to explain that we had tried to get reservations for a particular return date when we bought our tickets but were told that we couldn't do that, and that we had a dog boarding in San Pedro whom we needed to pick up.  We were never advised back in San Pedro to confirm our return reservations a day ahead, probably because there were many fewer people traveling back in early December.  The attendant put us on the waiting list but said that they could not guarantee us seats as the boat was full.  She had a long list of travelers with confirmed reservations, but we could see that not all of them had been marked off as having checked in.  We had some hope since we weren't turned away immediately.

While we sat and waited, more and more confirmed passengers checked in.  Several other people without reservations came in trying to get on the boat, same as us.  One party of four was turned away because they were even lower down the "waiting" list than us.  A couple of other young men traveling alone were hanging around like we were, hoping for a spot to open up.  We had purposely spent most of our pesos other than those needed for the $300 MX (approximately $24 US) per-person exit fee.  If we'd had to stay in Chetumal, we'd have to find an ATM for more cash, get a hotel, contact Pampered Paws online (our cellphone did not work in Mexico), lose the money we'd prepaid for the tickets, and try to get tickets on the other boat the following day.  NOT something we wanted to contemplate.  Another far-fetched alternative would have been to take a bus or taxi to the Belize border, check out of Mexico and into Belize there, take another taxi to the Corozal airstrip, and try to catch the last flight of the day back to San Pedro on Tropic Air.  This possibility seemed fraught with problems because we were already tight on time, and there was no guarantee of any available seats on the plane without reservations, and no easy way to call without trying to locate and figure out a payphone.  Yes, I was inwardly panicking!

The clock kept ticking, and we kept watching the passenger list on the attendant's desk.  As it got closer and closer to 3pm, there were still a few people with reserved slots who had not checked in.  Finally, it became apparent that they weren't going to make it in time, so the attendant crossed out their names and put ours on the manifest in their places.  One other single man made it on the same way.  We breathed the hugest sighs of relief!

We still had to make it through Immigration, though this time the officer was very pleasant and friendly to us.  (This was the same man who'd been so rude when we'd come to Chetumal for the day and had been forced to pay the exit fee even though it is not required for visits of less than seven days.)
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Whew -- we're on! I'm making the long walk down the pier to the boat we thought we wouldn't get to take
There was a lengthy holdup on the dock as the Mexican police and drug-sniffing dogs went over everyone's bags and searched the boat.  This surprised us since there was no luggage check on the way out of Mexico last time. I'm not sure why they would care about drugs being taken out of the country!  When we were finally able to board, we were packed in like sardines, but we were so happy to be ON the boat we weren't complaining!

With the long delay to get everyone and their luggage onboard, the boat was over thirty minutes late leaving the dock.  When we arrived in San Pedro, we'd have to go through customs and immigration, then run (literally) over to Pampered Paws to pick Paisley up before they closed at 6 pm.  It was going to be a tight connection, to say the least.  

We were sweating it out on the boat as it seemed like the longest ride of our lives.  The minutes kept ticking by, and when we finally pulled into the dock in San Pedro, we had less than 45 minutes before Pampered Paws closed.  I immediately called Kathy there and told her that we would be cutting it very close but were on our way to pick up Paisley just as soon as we made it through the lines.  She assured me they would be waiting for us, but I didn't want anyone to have to work late, so we hustled as close as we could to the front of the line for immigration.  

If we'd been at the back of the line, I don't think we would have made it, but we were lucky enough to make it through pretty quickly, and the custom's official didn't choose us for a luggage search; probably because we were carrying such small bags compared to a lot of folks.  She was in a jovial mood, and that set us at ease.  

Fortunately, Pampered Paws is not too far from the Water Jets building, so we were able to make it with a few minutes to spare.  Paisley was beside herself with joy and jumped up and down at least a hundred times behind the glass door when she saw us.  She always has a great time at Pampered Paws, and we feel totally comfortable leaving her there when we travel.  And they're so nice about keeping her a little longer if we decide to extend our trip by a day or two, as we have done a couple of times now.  

All that was left to do now was to catch a taxi back to our condo, never a difficult thing to do in San Pedro.  We were so thankful that we made it home and did not have to scramble for another day in Chetumal.  And what do you know, the world didn't end the next day after all!
El Fin...thanks for (virtually) joining us on this long journey!
 
Today's travel would take us from Merida back to Tulum, in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico.  But first, breakfast!  We decided to try the restaurant at our hotel (the Hotel Maria del Carmen).  They had an absolutely huge buffet, but I didn't think I'd get my money's worth since I'd been eating light after my brush with Montezuma's Revenge, and my appetite still wasn't back to normal.  Barry also passed on the buffet since he said it looked very heavy.  So, he enjoyed hotcakes and fruit, and I had plain scrambled eggs, still babying my stomach a bit.
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I gave my beans to Barry :)
Thus fortified, we took one final walk up to the Paseo de Montejo.  Looks like a festival was coming up, as this electronic billboard was not there the first time we came through.
The Merida ADO station was busy this morning.
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We got to ride in the pink breast-cancer awareness bus for the first time
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Pretty nice seats -- right up front again.
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Vendors selling fruit along the busy streets
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Onward to Tulum
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Mexico, like Belize, has many roundabouts with statues in the center
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Tulum attracts a lot of young travelers compared to the other cities we visited in Mexico
Tulum was busier than when we were here before, with the end of the Mayan calendar just two days away.  We were awfully glad to have reservations at the Secret Garden Hotel.  

We walked right on over from the bus terminal and checked in.  The room we were in this time had a sink and dorm-size fridge.  It was nice to be able to keep our water bottles cold. Few hotels in Mexico have fridges in the room, at least the ones we stayed in, which tended to be older.  This was the one and only fridge of our entire trip.
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Cute sink in our bathroom
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Saying hi to one of the Secret Garden mascots
As usual, once we got settled in, we took off walking around town.  
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This completed mural was being painted when we were in town the first time
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Downtown Tulum
Barry finally managed to catch a photo of this man who bikes around the neighborhoods near the hotel, constantly squeaking a little horn to advertise his sweet breads, even after dark.  He's like the Mexican version of the Good Humour man!
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Squeaka - squeaka!
We decided to walk back to El Camello for a seafood dinner since it was so reasonably priced.  But wow, was it packed!  We had to wait for a table outside.  This place attracts a lot of locals as well as tourists.
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A full house
Once we finally got our table, they brought us a HUGE plate of chips and some of the complimentary smoked fish dip.  Barry ordered the same grilled fish as on our first visit, but I was brave and decided to try the garlic-butter pulpo (octopus).  It was really tasty but far too much for me to eat, especially after my stomach shrunk up with my limited appetite over the past few days.  I felt bad that I had to leave so much behind.
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Barry's fish, accompanied by a cold Sol and the fresh salsas he adores
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It was great to finally be eating normal food again, but...
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...who could eat all this?! And if you're wondering -- no, I did not risk eating the salad this time!
Amazingly, after that huge dinner, Barry just couldn't leave Tulum without one last visit to the gelateria!  Needless to say, I couldn't even think about ordering any.
Stay tuned for the very last post in this interminably long series -- our return to Belize!
 
Since Barry was able to sleep through the marching-band practice outside our hotel window the night before, he awoke early the next morning with plenty of energy.   While I caught up on lost sleep, he walked over to the Campeche waterfront on the Golfo de Mexico and took a long walk, along with some nice morning photos.
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Good to know
Finally I managed to get up, and we walked to Luz de Luna for breakfast.  Much to our disappointment, the very sweet proprietor told us they weren't serving this morning because they didn't have a cook or server!  Maybe they were sick?  So, we had to go with Plan B, wandering around until we found a place to eat.  We ended up back at the place we'd had lunch on our first time in town, Chef Color.  I was hungry after my brush with Montezuma, but figured plain hotcakes would be easiest on my stomach of the breakfast choices.  Barry ordered fruit cup, chaya bread, and Huevos Rancheros.  Wouldn't want him to go hungry!
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Chaya bread -- like zucchini bread
After breakfast, we wandered around and took in the excellent Jorge Marin sculpture exhibit that had arrived in Campeche since our previous visit.  The sculptures were SO cool, and the pedestrian streets of charming Campeche a perfect venue.  Looks like it's going to be there through March, so if you hurry, you might still be able to check it out in person.  But if you can't get there, Barry got some pretty nice photos!
After checking out of the hotel, we made the long walk to the bus station; I was feeling a lot better fortified with my hotcakes.
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Passing through the Campeche wall -- the pinata was new since our last time through
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The Campeche ADO station is large and modern
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And all decked out for Christmas
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we had front-row seats for the remainder of bus rides on our trip.  The views were great.  No bulls on the road today, though!  We were going through a more modern part of Mexico now.
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Off we go to Merida
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Did not expect these modern streetlights in Mexico!
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Fancy inspection station when entering Yucatan state
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Entering Merida...notice the dark clouds ahead
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Leaving bus station
We had no hotel reservations and could not stay at the bed and breakfast we'd stayed at on the way through Merida before, as Larry has a three-night minimum.  In this case, we just wanted to be close to the bus station since we'd only be here one night and had to catch another bus in the morning.  We had scoped out a few places on our first time in town, and I'd checked them on Tripadvisor.  We decided to try the Hotel Maria del Carmen.
The staff was very nice, the rate reasonable, and the room was well-appointed, but we ended up with another noisy street-side location.  After our experience the night before, I should have tried to specify a room off the street, but I'm always just so happy to get a room, any room, when I don't have reservations, that I don't tend to be too picky.  The bathroom was not as nice as the room; it was dark, the sink leaked like crazy, and it badly needed updating.  But for one night, we could live with it.
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Hotel from the road -- our room was one that faced the street
When we left the hotel to walk around downtown, we discovered that it had just rained (remember those dark clouds in the earlier photo?)  This was the first rain we had seen since entering Mexico two weeks earlier, and it only lasted five minutes!

That night we ate at a downtown restaurant we hadn't tried before but that had received good reviews on Tripadvisor, El Chile Habanero.  The restaurant was clean and neat as a pin, air-conditioned, and had a window into the kitchen, so we could see how clean it was behind the scenes as well.  Very impressive!

We had read rave reviews for the chef's special Aphrodite Chicken, so Barry ordered that and loved it.  It was packed with fresh fruit, and the colors were amazing!  I was sticking to a bland-food diet for one more day since I'd been sick the morning before, so I contented myself with a plate of mostly white food, while eyeing Barry's plate enviously.  Someday we'll go back and I will have the Aphrodite Chicken myself!
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My plate of mostly white food (I gave the beans to Barry)
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Barry's Aphrodite Chicken -- the orange fruit is papaya
Stay tuned as we head back to Tulum -- our last stop before the final leg home to Belize!
 
This was not the best morning of the trip.  In fact, it was the worst, for me anyway.

I woke up feeling a little nauseous.  Barry thought maybe it was because I didn't sleep well, but I wasn't so sure.  I had only had one cervasa at the pizza place the night before, so it certainly wasn't a hangover.  And Barry had had the same pizza and felt fine, so it wasn't the pizza. 

When we were waiting on our breakfast to be served at the Hotel Xibalba in Palenque, I started feeling worse.  After a couple of bites of plain toast, I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep it down.  I bolted to our room and to the bathroom, where I lost my previous night's dinner along with the small amount of breakfast I'd eaten.  (I hope that's not too much information!)  We had to catch a bus leaving in less than an hour, and it was hard to even imagine traveling as all I wanted to do was lie down and rest.  Somehow I got myself together, got back down to the table, and paid for our breakfast.  We checked out and made it onto the bus just in the nick of time.  I was still feeling a bit queasy and weak, but better than before my run for the porcelain god.

After analyzing what we'd both eaten over the past couple of days, Barry suggested that it might have been the salad I'd eaten at Entropia in San Cristobal de las Casas the night before last.  That's something he didn't eat, and you know what they say about raw foods and Montezuma's Revenge.  I figured the law of averages had finally caught up to me.

Fortunately, I was feeling better from then on out, just a little weak.  I had no appetite and ate nothing at all until dinnertime that day.  But, back to the story.

Today we our bus took us from Palenque back to Campeche, Mexico.  When planning this trip in Belize, we certainly didn't expect to return to Campeche.  It was initially just a convenient stop on the outbound portion of our trip, but turned out to be one of our favorite places we visited.  

Fortunately, this bus ride was not full of sick, coughing people, and we had great seats right in the front row passenger side, giving us a wide-angle view out the huge front windshield.  Since we'd booked all our tickets at one time in San Cristobal, we actually got these same seats (3 and 4) for the entire rest of our trip -- what a score.  We could see so much more than out the side windows.  And there were some interesting things to see!
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Juggler just outside Palenque
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Our bus driver reading while he drove (eeek!)
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Uh-oh...traffic jam ahead!
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Experiences like this remind you you're not in the USA!
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Slower traffic keep right...
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Car in front of us being searched at traffic stop
We were happy to see this sign after all that travel excitement.
Because I was still feeling pretty weak, we decided to take a cab from the bus station this time, since it was a long slog to the hotel -- we'd planned to stay at the Hotel Castelmar, where we'd stayed before.  


We were able to get a room, but as a walk-in, the room we were given wasn't nearly as nice as the large, inside courtyard room we had the first time around.  That room was quiet, with two beds and plenty of room.  This room was on the streetside and was very small with only one bed.  When the attendant left, we realized that it was going to be really, really noisy as the windows were ancient and didn't filter out much sound, and there was a lot of traffic on the busy street below.

We thought about asking for a different room, but we'd already put stuff everywhere and rumpled the bedspread, and I just didn't feel comfortable complaining, especially in a foreign language that I barely spoke.  Times like this are when you really miss being able to speak your native language.  Barry was in a grumpy mood because of the noise but somehow managed to take a nap -- I think he was just exhausted.  

We headed to our favorite Campeche restaurant for dinner that night, Luz de Luna.  I didn't risk having anything more interesting or spicy than chicken-vegetable soup with my stomach issue, but Barry had chicken fajitas, served with all the sauces he loves.
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Chicken fajitas, Luz de Luna style
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My chicken soup -- just what the doctor ordered
I felt good enough to walk around that evening, and we were delighted to find this 2013 calandario at a small shop.  We'd been looking for a calendar during our entire trip, but all we'd managed to find were Mayan calendars or a couple of others that were too large to easily carry along in our limited luggage.  This smaller one was perfect and would serve as a reminder of our wonderful trip.  Inexpensive too!
It was a happening night in the city, and we happened upon a concert in the park area not too far from our hotel.  There were lots of people watching, singing, and dancing around.  Very festive!
We also saw that a new Jorge Marin art exhibit had hit the pedestrian streets since we were in town before, but figured we'd get more photos in the morning with better light.
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The beautiful streets of Campeche's Centro Historico
When we got back to our room, we took our showers and hit the hay early.  Almost right as my head hit the pillow, I started hearing a marching band practicing.  It sounded like they were right outside our window.  Even with earplugs, the rhythmic banging of the drums was really loud, and I couldn't believe that Barry had managed to fall asleep, but somehow he had. The practice seemed to last for hours, as every time they would stop for awhile, and I'd think surely it was over, after a five or ten minute break, it would start back up again, as loud as ever.  I'm not sure, but it seemed to go on until nearly midnight.  

After many nights of firecrackers around the December 12 Virgen de Guadelupe celebrations, we'd expected some quieter nights at this stage of the trip, but we'd have to wait a little longer.  Mexico is definitely a night-time kind of place and can be a bit of an adjustment for early-to-bed folks like ourselves.  

Stay tuned as tomorrow we head back to Merida, but not without one last look at Campeche's attractive waterfront and artistry!  
 
We had not made any hotel reservations for the return trip from San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico to Belize as we thought we'd see how things went with the buses and which cities we liked best in order to determine how best to travel home.  Originally we'd planned to arrive back in San Pedro on Tuesday, December 18th, but that would have meant a couple of very long bus legs.  Since we were able to extend Paisley's stay at Pampered Paws for two days (thanks Kathy!), we decided to return on the 20th instead.  This gave us the chance to spend one more night in each of the cities we'd visited on the way to San Cristobal and avoided any 8+ hour bus rides.  We had determined that 5+ hours was plenty to be sitting in a bus.

Before we embarked on our journey home, we knew we should get a hotel reservation in Tulum.  It's the most touristy place we'd be staying, and since the end of the Mayan calendar was fast approaching on December 21, we figured it would be a zoo on December 19.  Fortunately, we were able to book the last available room at Secret Garden Hotel, the place we'd stayed at the beginning of our trip.  Relief!  We did not pre-book any other hotels for our return journey as we  thought we'd be okay walking in off the street in the less touristy cities, and that did prove to be the case.  

The day before departure, we bought all our bus tickets for the return leg of the trip from San Cristobal to Palenque to Campeche to Merida to Tulum at the ADO satellite station in San Cristobal, conveniently located quite close to the Hotel Diego de Mazariegos, where we'd spent the last three nights.  The clerk spoke no English, but since I'd transformed into my Mexican persona of Emilia (according to Barry), it was no problema, and it was nice to have it all taken care of at one time.
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Emilia comprar boletos de autobus (Emily buying bus tickets)
We had a beautiful last morning in San Cristobal to walk to the bus station.  Just look at that sky!  Note that Barry was carrying our new duffel bag on his front side -- we couldn't have done without it as our luggage seemed to have magically expanded to fit its every nook and cranny.
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One last photo op by the pretty Carolina blue and white church
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Bus station
This leg of the trip proved to be the bus ride from hell.  In addition to the queasy-making mountain roads on the way downhill to Palenque, we were subjected to the gentleman in front of us seemingly coughing up a lung for the entire trip as well as other sickies all around us sneezing and coughing.  We actually resorted to hiding under our jackets to breathe as we so didn't want to catch a cold on the trip.  Traveling while sick is miserable, as I am sure the man in front of us could attest. It was a very, very long five and a half hours.  Fortunately, there were some nice mountain and valley views, when we dared to take a quick peek out from under our germ-blocking tents!
For some reason, we stopped at an OCC bus terminal in the town of Ocosingo for half an hour.  Normal stops are only about ten minutes, and there are typically only one or two stops on a five-hour bus ride, so this really prolonged the trip.  We were surprised by this as we didn't stop here at all on our way to San Cristobal from Palenque just a few days earlier.  Of all bus stations we'd seen on the entire trip, this one had the least to recommend it -- no nice food vendors, no colorful decor, and no free restrooms.
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Even the sign was boring
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Well, the tree behind the station was nice!
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Our bus
I suspect it goes without saying that we were really, really glad to arrive in Palenque and get out from under our "breathing" jackets!  

They had made a lot of progress on the road paving work around the Maya head statue since our last time in town.
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Much less dusty!
We were able to get a room for the night at the same place we'd stayed before, the Hotel Xibalba.  However, the front desk clerk was the same lady I'd basically accused of trying to double charge us last time, and I'm pretty sure she gave me a dirty look, though I was as polite as could be and used my best Spanish (which is probably laughable by her standards).  She assigned us a smaller, less nice room than the first time, with only one double bed, but there was no way I was going to complain.  We found out the next morning that our rate didn't include continental breakfast this time either, but at least the rate was the same $44 US as the first time.  It was getting into high season, so I had thought it might be higher.

We didn't take photos that night as we ate at the same place as before -- the Pizzaria Palenque.  We ordered the same pizza as our first visit -- why mess with a good thing?  This time we splurged on a large instead of a medium as we were really hungry. 

Stay tuned as we continue traveling home through Mexico to Belize.  I'm reposting this map of our travel journey since it's the same route in reverse this time.  Tomorrow we head back to the charming city on the Golfo de Mexico, Campeche.
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Our route home from San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico to San Pedro, Belize
 
Before we head back to Belize, this seemed as good a spot as any to share the photos of birds we saw in various spots in Mexico.  Although this was not a trip where we focused on birding, as some of our mainland Belize trips have been, we did bring our binoculars (of course!) and managed to see some beautiful birds.  Several species we'd already seen in Belize (or in the US), but we managed to snag a few new ones for our life lists.
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This may be the first time we've been able to see the red throat of the Plain Chackalaca
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Male Golden-Fronted Woodpecker peering out from among berries
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Well-camoflaged Ruddy Turnstone
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Blue-Crowned Mot Mot -- seen in Palenque site
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We were surprised to see Wood Thrushes in Palenque -- used to have them in our wooded yard in North Carolina!
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Ovenbird -- also sighted in Palenque (and we'd seen them in NC)
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Male Yellow-Throated Euphonia in Palenque site
The following birds were all seen in the beautiful Orquideas Moxviquil botanical garden, which we previously blogged about.  This was a real haven for hummingbirds, thrushes, and flycatchers especially.
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White-Eared Hummingbird (new for our life lists)
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Clay-Colored Robin
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Rufous-Collared Robin (new for our life lists)
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Male Magnificent Hummingbird (new for our life lists) -- a real beauty who lived up to his name
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Female Magnificent Hummingbird -- the white marking behind her eye makes it appear that she has a huge eye, but it is really just feathers!
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Female Magnificent Hummingbird
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Female Magnificent Hummingbird
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Buff-Breasted Flycatcher (new for our life lists)
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Our old favorites, Olive-Throated Parakeets
Stay tuned for our trip back home to Belize!
 
Although we tend to turn in pretty early (especially by Mexican standards!) we actually did venture out after dark in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico.  It's a very lively city at night, and the lights for the holiday season made it especially festive.  This building with its colored lights, rotating through a rainbow of colors, was one our favorites.
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Do you prefer it in red?
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Or blue?
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Or perhaps green?
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Or basic white?
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Or maybe bright pink?!
The colored lights seemed to show up best on the blue background.
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"Feliz Ano Nuevo" (Happy New Year)
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Tis the season
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This church looked pretty lit up at night
One of the highlights of our time in San Cristobal, and indeed on our entire sixteen-day Mexico trip, was happening upon a paper lantern ceremony purely by chance.  I'd seen pictures and video of such ceremonies in Thailand, but never dreamed of seeing one in person in Mexico.  It was a small gathering and not very organized as the lanterns were sent up at all different times, but it was still beautiful and magical.  I can only imagine what a very large lantern ceremony would be like (for example, see these amazing images).  Our pictures are not very good quality, but hopefully you will get the idea.  It was much better in person with everyone cheering and pointing.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
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People working together to get the lanterns launched
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Up they go
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Fire in the sky
Next up -- the beautiful birds we saw on our trip.
 
One notable architectural feature of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico is the many beautiful churches that grace the city.  Barry made it a personal goal to photograph each one of them within walking distance of our hotel.  Here are the results of his efforts.
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This one was especially beautiful to me
The church above had a very pretty adjoining garden:
The next church required quite a climb of switchbacked steps to reach.  My quads were still sore from Palenque, so I only made it to the top once.  I think Barry made the climb at least three times!
As a "Carolina girl", I'm always partial to the colors on the church below!
Moving in for a closer look -- so pretty.
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A pretty church against a stunningly cobalt sky
This one had so much intricate work on its face:
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There are many more people dressed in traditional Mexican garb in San Cristobal than other cities we visited in Mexico.
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Church playing peek-a-boo from among the markets and shops
The church below was all decorated for the celebration of the La Virgen de Guadalupe on December 12.  This is the only church we went inside.  When we were there, some sort of ceremony was about to begin, but Barry was able to get a few photos before it started.
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This church also required a climb to reach, though not as steep as the one with all the switchbacks
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Elaborately decorated sanctuary
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This neon sign was a bit over the top for me!
A carnaval with rides and food booths lined the street leading up to the church but was never open when we walked by.  I think it's a night-time thing and only temporary as part of the December 12 celebrations.  I expect the flags serve double-duty as decorations for both La Virgen de Guadalupe celebrations and Christmas.
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View from the top
Stay tuned for San Cristobal at night!
 
The fruit and vegetable markets in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico were a feast for the senses!  Although we do get some excellent fresh produce in San Pedro, the markets here have limited offerings compared to the bounty available right across the border in Mexico.  We wished we could have taken advantage of the many wonderful-looking, healthy foods for sale, but without a kitchen or any form of refrigeration, we savored the colorful produce bounty with our eyes instead of our palates.  Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our walks through the markets, dreaming of what we could create with these beautiful, nutrition-packed local foods.  Hope you'll enjoy feasting with your eyes as well!
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Fresh tortillas!
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A rainbow of purple, pink, and black beans
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Guacamole for everyone! Mmmmmmm...
Stay tuned for more from San Cristobal before we head back to Belize!
 
There are several areas in which vendors ply their colorful wares in on the street or in booths in the charming city of San Cristobal, Chipas, Mexico.  Today's post features photos from the "merchandise" markets (mostly textiles) from our December trip.  The fruit and vegetable markets will be featured in Part 2.  

I very much enjoyed strolling around these colorful markets and bought a few items at excellent prices.  Even Barry seemed to enjoy himself, and he usually hates shopping.  Bargaining is expected, though if the first price offered was very low, I usually just went ahead and paid it.  These people surely don't live easy lives, and I feel guilty if the price is too low.  These markets are just another reason to love Mexico!

Some vendors simply set up along the streetside...
while others have simple stands to display their wares.  I bought a small zippered change purse here, and just look at this lady's smile.  Priceless!
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Here is where I bought my pretty shawl/scarf for a great price -- no need to bargain
Here's a view of just a small portion of one of the larger markets.  I could wander around here for hours!  One thing that amazed us most is that these vendors have to set up and tear down their displays every night, hauling the clothing and other merchandise home in large bundles both ways.  It's a hard life, and that's one of the reasons I didn't want to haggle too much.  
I wish we'd had room to bring back more -- with prices so good, I would have loved to pack a bag full of these cute blouses!
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I just love all the color
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Love these bedspreads (tablecloths?) Whatever they are, the colors are gorgeous!
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Busy marketplace -- not only for tourists but locals too, especially with Christmas right around the corner
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Love these!
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And these -- look at the peacocks!
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Something for the kiddies -- and to keep all the Mexican dentists in business!
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Another purchase -- the turquoise scarf for less than $5 US
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And a fresh-squeezed OJ for Barry for 10 pesos (80 cents!)
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Birds and peacocks are a recurring theme - beautiful!
On our last night in San Cristobal, we finally decided we had bought enough small items over the course of our trip that we really needed a duffel bag since we were only traveling with smallish backpacks, and they were already very full when we left Belize.  So we bought this one, and we did have to bargain hard for it.  Compared to the other items we purchased for a lot less, we probably overpaid for this at approximately $16 US, but it was a godsend for the rest of our trip.  I guess zippers drive the price up!
Stay tuned for Part 2 as we explore the fruit and veggie markets of San Cristobal!