Mexico & Central America Wrap Up

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We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our trip Around This World than Mexico and Central America. Over the course of four months and four days, we encountered countless beautiful beaches, lush jungles, rumbling volcanoes, vibrant cities, charming towns, friendly people, and delicious food. Except for our initial flight to Cancun, all travel was completed overland with buses and boats, covering some 4,650 miles through six countries. Believe it or not, there are still quite a few places we skipped and hope to visit sometime in the future, such as the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Corn Islands in Nicaragua, and the San Blas Islands of Panama – not to mention two entire countries we skipped – Belize and El Salvador.

People often ask us questions like “What is your favorite country?” or “What was your favorite sight?” or “Where would you visit again?” These are incredibly hard questions to answer – every place really is different and there have been highlights and extraordinary things we’ll always remember from every place we’ve visited. That said, we’ve decided to look back on this first segment of our trip and round up our favorite places, activities, sights, foods and experiences.

Favorite Accommodations

Heather in the rooftop pool at La Posada del Belssy, Copan Ruinas, HondurasHeather in the rooftop pool at La Posada del Belssy, Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Heather in the rooftop pool at La Posada del Belssy, Copan Ruinas, Honduras04-Jul-2010 18:11
 
  1. Yellow House Hostel, Antigua, Guatemala ($21/night)

    This cozy hostel is super-clean, with really friendly staff, and includes an awesome breakfast. We enjoyed our room with private balcony overlooking a couple of the surrounding volcanoes.

  2. La Posada del Belssy, Copan Ruinas, Honduras ($15/night)

    We would have happily paid double the rate they were charging for this comfortable, spotless hotel with private bath, cable TV, and rooftop swimming pool.

  3. Alton’s, Utila, Honduras ($7/night)

    Waterfront accommodation was included while I was learning to dive here. While it was fairly basic, we liked it so much we decided to stay longer.

  4. Los Amigos Hostel, Flores, Guatemala ($10/night)

    It was boiling hot in Flores, but our private treehouse at this funky backpackers hangout provided good ventilation. The hostel bar was also a fun place to cool off with a beer and meet other travelers.

  5. Posada del Cafeto, Xalapa, Mexico ($27/night)

    While on the pricier end of this list, we enjoyed this boutique hotel in beautiful Xalapa. The rooms had lots of little details not normally found in this price range, along with a decent included breakfast.

Favorite Natural Wonders

Heather taking a dip in the pools at Semuc Champey, GuatemalaHeather taking a dip in the pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Heather taking a dip in the pools at Semuc Champey, Guatemala07-Jun-2010 18:10
 
  1. Semuc Champey, Guatemala (post)

    This place turned out to be more of an adventure than we expected, between crawling through dark water-filled caves, to swinging off a gigantic rope swing, and jumping over small waterfalls into crystal-clear pools.

  2. Cenote X’Keken, Valladolid, Mexico

    We explored a number of cenotes (undeground sinkholes) in the Yucatan. This was definitely our favorite – a brilliant ray of light shined down through a tiny opening at the top, illuminating a beautiful blue pool of water and jagged stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

  3. Sumidero Canyon, Mexico

    This 1km deep canyon stretching 35-km through the state of Chiapas is simply stunning, with sheer vertical cliffs rising from the river running along bottom. In addition to the impressive landscape, wildlife abounds in the canyon – all of which can be observed screaming down the river on a speedboat.

Favorite Beaches

Driftwood on Isla Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro, PanamaDriftwood on Isla Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Driftwood on Isla Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro, Panama20-Aug-2010 12:57
 
  1. Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro, Panama

    An uninhabited Caribbean island with perfect white sandy beaches? Hello!

  2. Cancun, Mexico

    A “conventional” pick, yes, but it’s true – Cancun has a gorgeous beach. It doesn’t hurt that you can order cocktails while sitting under a palapa, either.

Favorite Museums

MUMMY  MUSEUM! Erik did not want to go, but in the end, it was fascinating for us both.MUMMY MUSEUM! Erik did not want to go, but in the end, it was fascinating for us both.
MUMMY MUSEUM! Erik did not want to go, but in the end, it was fascinating for us both.20-May-2010 16:23
 
  1. Mummy Museum (Museo de las Momias), Guanajuato, Mexico

    Heather insisted on visiting this macabre museum, which featured corpses exhumed from the local graveyard which have become naturally mummified, due to minerals in the surrounding soil.

  2. Anthropology Museum, Xalapa, Mexico

    A fascinating museum focusing on the Olmec civilization that thrived in this area some 3,000 years ago, predating the Mayans and Aztecs.

Favorite Tour Guide

Luis was such a great tour guide - if you ever go to Tikal, look for this guy!Luis was such a great tour guide – if you ever go to Tikal, look for this guy!
Luis was such a great tour guide – if you ever go to Tikal, look for this guy!05-Jun-2010 12:49
 
  1. Luis, Tikal Ruins, Guatemala

    This tour rocked – over the course of nearly six hours, Luis really brought Tikal to life for us, explaining both the structures and Mayan customs as well as pointing out the surrounding wildlife.

  2. Zazil, Uxmal, Mexico

    We were horrified when Zazil accidentally had her fingers slammed in the tour van’s sliding door, and thought for sure the tour would be canceled. Miraculously, she stuck her hand in a bag of ice and continued on throughout the day with a smile.

Favorite Churches

Mexico City's Cathedral, as seen from the ZocaloMexico City’s Cathedral, as seen from the Zocalo
Mexico City's Cathedral, as seen from the Zocalo23-May-2010 20:04
 
  1. Mexico City Cathedral, Mexico

    The largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas, it is nothing short of breathtaking. Our favorite part was climbing to the top of the bell towers and walking along the roof, looking down to the Zocalo below.

  2. La Recoleccion, Antigua, Guatemala

    Antigua was the capital of Guatemala (which at the time comprised most of Central America) for nearly 200 years, before a serious earthquake in the late 1700s destroyed most of its buildings, including this massive church and former convent. The scale is impressive and the chaotic, disheveled nature of its collapsed columns and walls lend a somber feeling to the place.

Favorite Ruins

Steep wooden ladders up the side of a Temple at Tikal, GuatemalaSteep wooden ladders up the side of a Temple at Tikal, Guatemala
Steep wooden ladders up the side of a Temple at Tikal, Guatemala05-Jun-2010 11:54
 
  1. Tikal, Guatemala (post)

    The largest, and in our opinion, most impressive Mayan ruins, featuring towering pyramids, temples, palaces, and other complexes surrounded by thick jungle.

  2. Teotihuacan, Mexico

    Another huge archeological site – this one from the Aztecs. Here we climbed The Pyramid of the Sun, which is the third largest in the world (after Cheop’s in Egypt and the unexcavated Pyramid of Cholula, Mexico which we also saw)

Favorite Activities

Our scooter on Cozumel's barren eastern side, Cozumel Island, MexicoOur scooter on Cozumel’s barren eastern side, Cozumel Island, Mexico
Our scooter on Cozumel's barren eastern side, Cozumel Island, Mexico30-Apr-2010 17:56
 
  1. Touring Cozumel Island with a Scooter, Mexico

    There’s nothing like the freedom of wind rushing past your smiling face, skipping from place to place around a tropical paradise. It really was the perfect way to explore this beautiful island.

  2. Agua Caliente, Thermal Springs, Honduras

    We were expecting some basic hot springs by the side of the road, but ended up spending the morning at a beautiful spa fed by refreshing natural sources.

Favorite Adventure Activities

Erik diving off Utila, Bay Islands, HondurasErik diving off Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
Erik diving off Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras14-Jul-2010 03:12
 
  1. Learning to Dive, Utila, Honduras (post)

    An activity I’ve always wanted to do, which will be something I can enjoy time and time again on this trip and in the future.

  2. Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro, Nicaragua (post)

    Truly a unique activity – sliding down an active volcano at breakneck speeds on a small wooden board.

  3. Whitewater Rafting, Costa Rica (post)

    We were tired and achy by the end of the day, but glad we took on this difficult challenge.

Favorite Animal Encounters

Heather holding three types of Macaws, Copan Ruinas, HondurasHeather holding three types of Macaws, Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Heather holding three types of Macaws, Copan Ruinas, Honduras05-Jul-2010 16:15
 
  1. Turtles Nesting, Tortuguero, Costa Rica (post)

    We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have been able to so closely observe this rare and amazing act.

  2. Holding Macaws, Copan Ruinas, Honduras

    After our tour of this tropical bird sanctuary, we jumped on the opportunity to hold three different types of colorful Macaws.

Favorite Cuisine

Delicious Chilaquiles in San Cristobal de las Casas, MexicoDelicious Chilaquiles in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
Delicious Chilaquiles in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico30-May-2010 09:34
 
  1. Mexico

    Hands down our favorite country for food – delicious moles, spicy tacos, monstrous torta sandwiches, and so much more…

  2. Guatemala

    Our Spanish host mother’s delicious frijoles volteados (refried beans) probably added a few pounds to our mid-sections, but we’re not complaining!

Favorite Countries

Mexican "Hat Dance", Tequila, MexicoMexican “Hat Dance”, Tequila, Mexico
Mexican "Hat Dance", Tequila, Mexico16-May-2010 16:21
 
  1. Mexico

    Beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, old colonial towns, bustling cities, friendly people, and delicious food. We spent more than 6 weeks in this country and still don’t feel like we made a dent!

  2. Guatemala

    We had heard great things about Guatemala and luckily were not disappointed. In addition to great natural beauty, and rich cultural traditions, the relaxed pace of life in Lake Atitlan made us fall in love with this country.

Favorite Cities/Towns

Guanajuato, MexicoGuanajuato, Mexico
Guanajuato, Mexico19-May-2010 20:21
 
  1. Guanajuato, Mexico

    A beautiful old mining town, this city was picturesque and relaxing, while still offering plenty of the amenities you would find in a big city. It’s unique in the fact that it’s literally built on the sides of the surrounding mountains, with steep alleyways, tunnels, and colorful houses dotting the horizon.

  2. Mexico City, Mexico

    While it’s an absolutely massive, heaving metropolis (the largest in the Americas), we were very impressed by this world-class city. We had a blast exploring the many great museums, tranquil parks, and abundant restaurants and only wish we had alloted additional time to see even more.

  3. Antigua, Guatemala

    It’s no wonder this is the “most visited city in Central America”. While undoubtedly touristy and nowhere near off the beaten path, we’ll always treasure the nearly 2 weeks we spent in this picturesque colonial city, where we did an immersion Spanish program and explored the local area.

4 thoughts on “Mexico & Central America Wrap Up

  1. Igor Lebovic

    Awesome post. I can imagine a lot of people linking to this page as the ultimate Mexico/Central America travel guide. In fact, I am doing it right now (even if just from Facebook…)

    Reply
  2. Arun

    The picture of Semuc Champey looks too good to be true and so is having a rooftop pool at a $15 per night hotel. All those pictures make me wish I was in South America right now.

    Reply
    1. Erik Post author

      Hi Arun – glad you liked the photos! You have a great blog and awesome photos – we are reading and learning from your posts. Thanks!

      Reply

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