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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

From San Pedro, Belize

 to Chetumal, Playa del Carmen & Valladolid, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Currency Conversion Site 

We are nearing the end of our 105 Day Adventure through the rugged Mexican Pacific Coast, Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan. While we aren't tired of traveling at this point, the unrelenting rainy weather pattern and the unbearable humidity is taking its toll on us. We don't mind dreary weather if we are at home cooking a pot roast and baking bread. But uninterrupted rain while traveling brings challenges to daily living.

 

Saying goodbye to Ambergris Caye, Belize, we got up early to catch the 8:45 a.m. water taxi to Chetumal, Mexico. We were instructed the day before - when we paid $60BZD per person for our tickets and registered on the manifest - that we needed to arrive before 8 a.m.

Passports and customs forms in hand we wait along with other travelers to board the boat.

 

Map of our water trip from San Pedro to Chetumal

It was fairly organized that morning and immigration officers were waiting for us on the dock. We each paid $7.50BZD exit fee and got our passports stamped for leaving Belize.

 

Passengers waiting to board

Sometimes days of travel are really days of sporadic wating. This was one of those times.

 

Arriving at Chetumal, Mexico

The ride itself took about an hour and a half, and for the first time in our recent water taxi transport, we weren't crammed in elbow-to-elbow.

Upon arrival in Chetumal harbor, the military were waiting for us. Everyone's bags were taken off the boat by employees of the water taxi and lined up in neat rows on the dock. Military dogs sniffed every bag for drugs and explosives and I was hoping our travel food wouldn't kick off a hungry dog's curiosity.

It would be embarrassing to be arrested for transporting raisins. I couldn't tell if I was sweating due to the humidity or to my anxiety.

The German shepherds must have eaten recently or weren't interested in our dried fruit so we proceeded on to the customs/immigration area to get stamped into Mexico. We asked for 180 day visas and received them.

 

This map shows our overland route from Chetumal, to Playa del Carmen, and then on to Valladolid.

As we mentioned before in our piece about San Pedro in Belize, that Chetumal, Mexico is the place where many expats living in Belize go to shop. Prices and selections are better here than what is available on Ambergris Caye.

Taxi drivers were waiting on the dock to take people to the bus station, and most of our fellow travelers were going to this location. For 60 Pesos for 4 people, passengers packed into the taxis and headed on to the station

We, however, wanted to exchange BZDs into Mexican Pesos at a cambio house and headed on into town first. It's easier to change money at a border location than further inland.

Town was a five minute walk from where we were dropped off, and the cambio house was located on the right side of the large government building. We parked ourselves in the shade, and while I watched over our gear, Billy went off to exchange money.

After turning our funds into Mexican Pesos we then flagged down a street-side taxi and for half the asking price of the taxis at the dock, we were taken to the bus station.

 

Our cabana in Playa del Carmen

Without realizing it, by crossing into Mexico from Belize, we were in a different time zone and had "lost" an hour. Our cell phones read 11 am, but in Mexico it was already 5 past noon. We purchased the last 2 tickets (230Pesos each) on the first class bus to Playa del Carmen and we saw many of the same passengers from the water taxi waiting.

It was a smooth 4.5 hours to Playa, and soon it began to drizzle. Dark, dreary, rainy weather met us when we reached town at 5 p.m., and it was much later than we normally plan our arrivals.

For the first night we stayed at a reasonably priced, but inconvenient hotel in a loud location and the next morning, we found the above cabana.

 

Our front door. The hammock, umbrella, table and chairs are in a common area.

Hotel Casa Tucan was running a special and for 450 Pesos a night (normally 550), the room offered a queen sized bed and a side twin, a refrigerator, wifi and a view of the swimming pool below. Billy bargained with the manager and we were able to get the room for 400P per night. So all in all, we saved 150 Pesos per night.

There were more tropical birds calling here than we have ever heard in our entire lives. They call or sing from sunup until sundown.

Even though we had a refrigerator, we still needed to go out for some meals and it had been pouring rain since we arrived. Getting rain-drenched each day when we went out for meals and with little blue sky to go to the beach, After 4 nights of this, we decided to move on.

 

Pastel painted archways typical of Valladolid

Not feeling that we had really seen Playa del Carmen but tired of running through sheets of rain, we caught the 8:45 a.m. bus to Valladolid at the ADO bus station. Ninety-eight Pesos each bought us tickets for the second class bus and we arrived in Valladolid at about noon.

Unfortunately for us, it is raining here as well.

Valladolid (pronouned Va-yah-do-LEED) is the Yucatans's third largest city and is known for its quiet streets and sun-splashed pastel colored buildings. We were looking for the "sun-splashed" part.

 

Our hotel swimming pool

I had a couple of addresses to check out for hotels and our best option was full. Another place had a great price but the beds were just too soft. On to one more and it was rather dumpy. I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks. Where was my "just right?"

We ended up spending  the odd price of 413 Pesos a night for a centrally located hotel with a swimming pool and wifi included in the price.  

Since it was cold and dank, there was no possibility of using the swimming pool, but it was a nice thought. Most hotels of any comfort ran between 400 and 700 Pesos a night.

 

Map of Valladolid

We got ourselves settled into our hotel room and went out to scout the town. The heaviest rains had settled on a continuous drizzle so that was an improvement over Playa. Maybe things were looking up.

 

The Plaza in Valladolid and a patch of blue sky!

Taking advantage of the tiny break in the weather we headed on out to the Plaza. Here we found the regional Maya lined up with their wares for sale and behind them they had hand painted signs that read:

We want justice

We are not meat for anyone

We are not hook or bait

We are the real economy

The last thing we wanted was to get involved in an angry political discourse with the local natives. The effect of the signs was to chase me away from looking at what they were selling. And some of what they offered looked like fine work.

I don't imagine the rainy weather was helping sales either.

 

Sun-drenched pastel walls as promised

Well we did catch a bit of sunshine here in Valladolid. The city was very clean, and the sidewalks were amazingly unobstructed. Anyone who has done some time touring Latin America knows how crowded, blocked and cluttered sidewalks can be. But as you can see here, there are long stretches of unimpeded walkways.

But no street vendors!

 

The Marketplace in Valladolid

There wasn't much street food in Valladolid and that surprised us. We were used to being able to go out to the street and grab a meal from a local vendor's stall but we didn't see anything like that here.

The fresh food market still enabled us to get some snacks and fruit for in between meals.

 

Sitting on Chac-mool at the Zaci Cenote

Cenotes (pronounced: seh-NO-tays) are underground pools of water with undetermined depth. They were considered sacred by the Maya, and on occasion, human sacrifices were thrown into the cenote to please the gods.

Mayans believed these pools led to another world.

The Chac-mool is a figure you will often see in this area of the Yucatan. He is the bearer of the gifts that are thrown into the cenote, often human hearts.

It costs 25 Pesos per person to walk down to see the Cenote in person and to take a photo.

 

An iguana sunning himself on a rock near the Cenote

I'm sure this iguana was loving the few rays of sunshine available during this weeks' long storm. We were appreciating being dried out too!

 

Taking a relaxing break from the humidity

Found a bench in the shade. All we're missing is an ice cream cone!

 

View from the government building

At the Plaza, there is a government building that gives a good view of the activities below. We walked up the steps and saw some beautiful murals of Maya history.

 

Colorful mural of the Maya history

Here you see in picture form the history and symbolism of the Maya traditions, including the Zaci Cenote in the middle right. The familiar pyramids are in the background.

Maya were astoundingly accurate mathematicians and astronomers.

 

Clean and quaint

Valladolid was clean and well-kept. With the sun coming out even for only a few hours while we were there, it was easy to see how enchanting to the camera's eye this city could be.

 

Another small park

You can see how clean this town is. Refreshingly so. Notice the white chair-type benches in the center of this photo. These are concrete chairs where, when you sit down, you face each other. Each of you has another view, plus you are directly facing each other.

We have seen these winding chair benches before in other cities of the Yucatan. They seem rather romantic.

 

Free concert and dancing!

After a week of continuous rain and traveling hundreds of miles through dark weather, it was wonderful to get outside a bit. We found this free concert under the arches at the plaza and decided to see what it was about.

A keyboard player, a couple of drummers, a wind section and a singer. A complete band!

 

Let's dance!

Well there were others who felt the same way. Let's get out of the house for a change! Let's go dancing.

Chairs lined both sides of the hallway that served as the dance floor. And there you were dancing to your heart's content. Lovers, friends, family members and hopefuls all tried their dancing style.

That's what one has to love about the Latin culture.

Dancing, music and getting together socially is a cherished value.

 

We finish up our 105 Day Adventure by moving on to the Colonial city of Merida, Mexico.

And you don't want to miss that!

For more information, stories and photos of Mexico, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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