Mexico, before the Wall

Decision Making Process

(i.e. the “why, how, when, what, where“)

Why?
Earlier this year the RIPs and a couple of our Very Close Friends (let’s call them the VCFs) decided to try a dreamy trip together, the four of us. The ideal plan we came up with was a 2 weeks trip where the first week would be “traveling and seeing stuff” and the second one relaxing at the sea/ocean.

When?
The best time of the year to ask for 2 weeks of vacation all together would be mid of November.

Where?
Candidate destinations were:

  • India & Maldives
  • Africa & Madacascar
  • Mexico & Galapagos

We ended up choosing Mexico and … well, still Mexico. Galapagos turned out to be a little bit hard to reach.

What?
We spent an evening brainstorming the four of us together and came up with “what to do in Mexico”, trying to filter places that appeared to be touristic traps. We ended up selecting places in the Yucatan peninsula (Tulum, Chichen Itza, Palenque, Campeche, Merida, few Cenotes) and another cluster of things in Chiapas (Sumidero, San Cristobal, Agua Azul).

That’s for the first week. To make things simple, the second week would be “close enough” that we’d reach relax destination without too much hassles. Candidates were Mexico’s islands like Holbox, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

Final decision would be made once the first week had been finalized.

How
Do it yourself? Go with a tour operator? Just get a guide? A driver? Here RIPs approach differed from VCFs. We are more “wild” and proposed a DIY solution, while the VCFs voted for a more structured one. We ended up leaning toward structure: send our plan to several tour operators and see what they offered and then negotiate. After few bounces we picked a tour operator that offered a 7 days tour for 1160 USD per person, with a driver, a guide, 7 hotel nights and other fees like entrances to Maya ruins and cenotes.

This is the first time I travel this way. I accepted it because “do you really want to drive a car in Chiapas??“, which is actually a nice threat if you want to convince me 🙂

It’s easy to express judgement in retrospective, but beforehand we had no clue about what was waiting for us. I think if I’d do another Mexico trip in the same area I’d rent a car and handle hotels’ booking and attraction tickets on my own in Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Definitely not in Chiapas.

Once the first week had been finalized, we decided to spend the second one in Isla Mujeres due to simplicity: we’d take an internal flight from Tuxtla to Cancun, landing on Saturday late afternoon. We want to reach the destination hotel before night. Holbox is far and we don’t want to waste a night in Cancun (which btw should be avoided at any cost).

The Map

here’s the full itinerary on Google mymaps:

click on the image to go to the actual map

Trip overview

Overall, this trip was awesome. We’ve experienced a completely different world and relaxed a lot. Taking a bath in the ocean in December is something I’ve never done before and it’s great. Getting tanned while temperature at home is below zero feels really good.

The RIPs and VCFs double couple dynamic was close to perfection. We took decisions together, spent a lot of time together and played funny games on long distance commutes by car. The friendship is strong and well tested: I and Mr VCF work together at Hooli, while Miss RIP and Mrs VCF work together at another company. We live close each other and meet regularly the four of us for a Pizza at home, to play board games or to go on short trips.

3 comments

  1. Hi RIP,
    did a similar trip 12 years ago (the first part, no island).
    At the time tourist were allowed to climb the temple at Chichen Itza (little bit scary – and dangerous – to climb down, though…).
    Drove a rented car without problems (in Chiapas too, where you’ll be a little scared the first time you see these chains strained in front of you, then you get used to…). Only problem we had driving up to San Cristobal, the car overheated and wasn’t able to climb anymore…luckily we were pulled along by a truck full loaded with water carboys… 🙂

    1. You brave for driving in Chiapas!
      And lucky too, I know til few years ago (in the order of… 2-3) you could climb the ruins 🙁

      Personal curiosity: how was the interaction with the Truck driver who escorted you to San Cristobal? Did he try to sell all his water reserve to you? 😀

      1. No problem at all with the truck driver ! At the beginning we were a little bit scared cause the car was connected to the truck with an old rope and we were concerned about safety…
        Generally we have had a really good experience with the people and didn’t get bothered at all (perhaps only some tenacious sellers in the 2 pueblos S. Juan Chamula and Zinacantan). From this point of view I think we had a better experience than you (I also don’t like being bothered too much while hanging around), maybe less tourists around ? We were there in February 2005.

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