From the -40 temperatures of freezing Canada in January to the tropical summer heat waves of Mexico, there couldn’t have been a much more extreme variation in climate. I’d given up summer holidays for skiing trips, but was talked into this by my niece Kerry, who had chosen Cancun as her wedding venue.
It had been some time since I’d set foot into a place like this, and stupidly went into it completely unprepared for the mosquitoes which just love to have me for dinner. I ended up in the site clinic on two occasions for injections to take down the huge swellings from over-reactive bites… the little b******s! I did find the heat and humidity very oppressive, and one night went onto the beach to try and cool down in the permanent breeze sweeping along the shoreline. I made the mistake of lying on a sun bed and nodding off… my how the mozzies loved it!
Nearby to the all inclusive complex of the Bahia Principe was the tourist attraction of Xelha (Shellha). We did some superb snorkelling here in the clear turquoise waters, and most of the family went swimming here with dolphins. I opted out of the dolphin experience and I still wonder why I made that decision as I still regret it.
Another fantastic day out was spent in the massive park known as Xcaret (Ishcaret). As well as loads of wildlife, here we found old Mayan ruins, and a fascinating recreation of an old Mexican cemetery with hundreds of elaborately decorated tombs. The highlight of this trip though was the ancient Mayan ceremony we stumbled across; drawn to the sound of drums and the heady smell of incense we arrive just in time to see the show. A colourful spectacle in the heart of the forest creating an unforgettable atmosphere.
Me and some of the guys took a short trip out one day to a place a few miles out to a place called Hidden Worlds. These subterranean caverns run for miles beneath the jungle, partially, or in some place parts completely under water. You need to strap on a scuba tank to explore them fully, but you can get far enough into them with just a snorkel. We were taken there on the back of a makeshift open truck, bouncing about inside a wooden crate, trying not to be thrown overboard while fighting off the constant bombardment of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.
I have to admit to feeling pretty apprehensive about swimming and pulling myself through narrow passageways in the pitch blackness, but with the help of our guide and waterproof torches my fears were soon left behind. It was like visiting an alien landscape, with some stunning rock formations cut by water through the earth over thousands of years. The most amazing thing was that there fish in these caves, living off the occasional bit of lichen which dropped into the water. These tiny, blind creatures would carefully swim up to us if we stayed still in the water, investigating us as we alerted them to our presence with gentle ripples in the water.
Mexico may be a great place for a beach holiday if that’s what you’re into, but I’d recommend taking a look around as there are some great places to explore away from the holiday complexes.