Playa del Carmen, Mexico (map)
Many friends and family have asked us why we didn’t sign up for the reality TV show The Amazing Race. I always respond that it would not be a good idea since I don’t like being rushed and have trouble reading maps. Well, who knew the start to our RTW would result in an Amazing Race type scenario.
We had a great Friday evening with friends enjoying the last of the luxury of our All-inclusive stay in Cancun when we realized we should probably have left already to head to Playa del Carmen. Our Ado bus was set to depart at 11:40 PM and travel overnight to Belize City. After our poor taxi driver literally raced us to the bus terminal we ran in to discover that the bus we needed was actually at another bus station 5 minutes away. The thought of spending the night in a bus terminal had us anxious enough as it was, but the fact that we were already late for catching the bus in the wrong terminal had us racing in panic to the correct one! Thankfully, they must have called for us because we arrived to the correct bus terminal to find the bus waiting for us.
Our overnight was fairly uneventful and the border crossing went smoothly (besides being awakened at 4 AM to a freezing cold bus). I will say that we were the first people off the bus at the Mexico border and the lady quickly stamped us through when we told her we were not returning to Mexico. After about 30 minutes back on the bus waiting for the rest of the passengers to go through the same process we found out that the scam we had been warned about had started a few people after us in line. Basically, it is somewhat common for the Mexico border control people to inform you that there is a $200 or more peso fee to leave the country. Sadly, most people end up forking up the money because they get pressured to pay, however, this fee is a total scam.
We arrived in Belize City bright and early on Saturday morning ~6:30 AM. We actually had no idea that Belize is on Mountain time so that was confusing for awhile. The bus station is right in the middle of downtown and being Saturday there was a large Market of some sorts taking place right outside. We knew the water taxi terminal was not too far, so we ventured off to find our way on foot. Luckily, the people of Belize are very kind and speak English. We made our way in about 15 minutes and only got panhandled once…for Dustin’s breakfast box of Froot Loops. I guess it could be considered payment for pointing us in the right direction.
We hopped on the Water Taxi after having a great breakfast and made it to Caye Caulker at 10:30 AM….12 hours after departing Playa del Carmen!