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Travel flashback - Cancun and Chichen Itza

One thing about Cancun is that the only Mexican restaurant we could seem to find in the "party area" had average Mexican food, which was a disappointment to say the least. But, one thing it did excel in - telling because of the most prominent nationality of visiting tourists - was American food. Served up in American size portions, but at Mexican prices. Perfect!

It seems somewhat shameful to confess that some of my favourite meals enjoyed were in the likes of Planet Hollywood, T.G.I Friday's, Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe but that should tell you that Cancun is not a real taste of Mexico. Honestly though, the ribs at that Planet Hollywood were the best I'd ever tasted, and to give you an idea of portion size: we ordered a piece of chocolate fudge cake to share - they sent over a cake. Like a genuine full-size cake. It cost $6 which, with the exchange rate, equalled roughly £3.20. For a whole cake!!

One thing I took away food-wise was from Pat O'Brien's, which still exists in the US but has since closed down in Cancun, is the dish Jambalaya. That's where I was first introduced to it and it's now one of my signature dishes. Love it or hate it, Cancun is also where I visited my first ever Walmart. Yep, Cancun is ridiculously Americanised, which is why we made sure we soaked up some Mayan culture whilst we were there. Near the Walmart though, which is downtown, is Market 23 which is more local. When we were there it was easier to haggle for a lower price than at the "party zone" market (Market 28), though things may have changed now.

When partying at SeƱor Frog's or Coco Bongo with the Americans gets too much - rowdy doesn't come close - then a visit to Chichen Itza is a must. FYI, I just *had* to go to Coco Bongo after seeing The Mask, which is also why I had to haggle at the market for a Loki mask - mine was much better than his wooden one though - but, back to Chichen Itza.

It's about 115 miles from Cancun to Chichen Itza but don't let that put you off as Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities. One thing you can't do any more, which I did, is climb to the top of El Castillo (middle right photo is the front and top left is the back). If I recall correctly, the back is mostly original stone, whereas the front has been repaired over the years so it didn't crumble away when people climbed up and down.

I'd say it's probably a good thing that you can no longer climb up, though the view from the top is incredible as all around Chichen Itza it's just miles and miles of jungle. When we visited we were told that an ambulance was always on site as people fall down El Castillo quite frequently and I get why. Not because I fell, but because whilst climbing up was relatively OK, descending was bloody terrifying. You don't realise climbing up just how steep it is and I remember that we ended up shuffling down on our bums, praying wildly that we didn't need that ambulance. Still, all in the spirit of adventure right?

Going to Cancun was a great holiday, though I was miffed that a heatwave was happening back in the UK - typical! Because it was hurricane season, our last four days involved heavy rain and a cancelled boat trip. But, that meant more shopping time, which is why I ended up paying for excess luggage at the airport... I suspect that's how my credit card got cloned. o_O A nice welcome home surprise!

I'd love to go back one day and explore more of the real Mexico. Has anyone else been to Mexico? If so, where should I go next time? x

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