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August 2016 Travels in Review

... at Playa del Carmen pier

… at Playa del Carmen pier

August 2016 Travels in Review

In August I started taking weekly 3-day trips to places within a few hours of Tulum. I revisited a couple favorite spots in Yucatan, including historic Valladolid city and beach-side Playa del Carmen.

I also explored some great destinations new to me, including Cozumel Island and, of all places, Cancun.

In addition, Alejandro & I made several fun road trips on his weekly day off, all of them to snorkel the reefs just off Yucatan’s Caribbean coast. We snorkeled at Puerto Morelos twice, Akumal twice and the little-known beach of Xpuha. We also visited Hard Rock Hotel just south of Playa del Carmen.

I began my weekly solo explorations because Alejandro’s job started requiring him to work 6 days a week and up to 10 or 11 hours per day. What?!!! That’s outrageous! I most certainly couldn’t just hang around twiddling my thumbs in Tulum under those conditions.

Lash & Alejandro at Grand Oasis ResortMy Solution: Travel half the week, spend Ale’s one day off together, and spent three days at home working online. For a short-term solution it’s working out pretty well. Now to just get him off the workaholic treadmill back to a reasonably balanced life. Hmph!

Toward that end, we have planned and booked our first 2-week trip together! Yippie! In mid-September we fly to central Mexico, visit his family and friends for one week then travel back overland to Tulum. He’s going to introduce me to some of his favorite places in Mexico.

So stay tuned for the latest information, travel tips and photos of many more fabulous places in Mexico!

Before I plunge into details of our August travel adventures, here are the new posts & photo galleries that I published in August on Lash World Tour. If you missed anything of interest, check them out now:

dancing at a Sunday rave party on Tulum Beach

dancing at a Sunday rave party on Tulum Beach

TRAVEL TIPS: Costs of Budget Travel in Mexico – 2016

Amazingly, I have now spent nearly 6 months in Yucatan, Mexico!

And all of that this year, after arriving in Mexico for the 1st time in January. I had noooo idea I would love it so much or spend so much time here.

I’ve explored most of Yucatan Peninsula, visiting historic Spanish towns, Mayan ruins, beaches, cenotes and other gorgeous natural places.

Here’s my report on budget travel costs in Mexico…If you’re thinking of heading here, check this out!

READ POST Costs of Budget Travel in Mexico – 2016

Playa Sardinera beach on north coast of Puerto Rico

Playa Sardinera beach on north coast of Puerto Rico

PHOTO GALLERY: Puerto Rico’s Stunning North Coast

Nature lovers won’t want to miss the diverse north coast of Puerto Rico…

Over 150 km of coastline consist of rocky cliffs, wild beaches, crashing waves, small offshore islands, tidal pools caught in rock outcroppings, inland seas and some great, calm swimming beaches.

In April I was lucky enough to explore PR’s north coast quite extensively over 3 days with a local PR friend, who took me around to see the stunning sights.

Here are 15 of my best photos from those explorations

SEE PHOTOSPuerto Rico’s Stunning North Coast

Candelaria Church - Valladolid

Candelaria Church – Valladolid

TRAVEL TIPS: 10 Best Things to do in Valladolid – Mexico 

Valladolid is a gorgeously-restored, historic, colonial Spanish town located smack in the middle of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A UNESCO World Heritage City since 1998, charming Valladolid is full of colorful pastel buildings, relaxing shady plazas, historic churches, delicious local food and some very interesting shops & attractions.

Valladolid is one of my favorite places in Yucatan. I’ve visited twice thus far and will be sure to visit again. I love wandering the gorgeous streets, taking photographs, visiting museums, shops and galleries, and cooling off in the refreshing cenotes.

Following are my recommendations for the best things to do when visiting Valladolid.

READ POST: 10 Best Things to do in Valladolid – Mexico

Lash in Sian Ka'an on bike trip with Alejandro July Travels in Review

My monthly re-cap of travels & adventures as well as a round-up of new posts & photos published on LashWorldTour in July.

If you’ve missed any of the fun come check it all out in compact form with heaps of photos…

READ POSTJuly Travel Review

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Following are detailed reports of all my solo travel explorations around Yucatan in August as well as joint travel ventures with Alejandro, as posted on my FB page:

Valladolid - MexicoValladolid

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Road trip to Valladolid!

Ok, in August I’m going to take weekly 2-3-day road trips. Yippie!

I am just getting much too restless living in one place for so long! And, unfortunately, Alejandro is now working 6 days/week & longer hours. Ayi yai yai!

I’m practically going bonkers here, folks. So to avoid going off the deep end, I’ll just take these little weekly excursions to subdue my wanderlust.

First week – now – I’m revisiting one of my favorite historic towns in Yucatan. Valladolid is filled with gorgeous pastel buildings, cute plazas & striking churches.

There’s also a cenote right in the center of town!

Plus a wonderful little guest house overlooking a gorgeous plaza. Inside are lush gardens, great sitting rooms, balconies hanging over the plaza and tasty breakfasts.

I’m here now! I was so excited to get on a bus this morning and return to this great little town, just 2 hours from Tulum. More photos coming tomorrow…

Light Show at San Bernadino Moastery - ValladolidTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Amazing video light show projected on walls of a 400-year-old monastery!

Check out this incredible free video show! It’s shown to the public every night in Valladolid at San Bernardino Monastery.

Amazingly creative & professional. The show was actually designed to fit the architecture of the building! 3-D also makes it look like walls are crumbling & other crazy effects. …

This was d 1st video light show I saw in Mexico. I’ve since seen others & they’re all equally amazing! Go Mexican artists !

Candelaria Hostel - Valladolid - Mexico

Candelaria Hostel – Valladolid – Mexico

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Check out my cool hostel in Valladolid!

Colorful outdoor kitchen, lush gardens, great sitting spaces & friendly staff

This hostel is actually one of d reasons I was excited to return to Valladolid! ….and that’s saying a lot since I generally avoid hostels!

Btw- it’s called Hostel Candelaria

Casa de los Venados - Valladolid - Mexico

Casa de los Venados – Valladolid – Mexico

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: OMG- Casa de los Venados !

Quite unbelievably, this is someone’s house! Full of Mexican folk art. ..3000 pieces, in fact.

Wow, it’s more like a fancy boutique hotel or museum!

Look at this house! Look at this art!

This is the best thing in all of Valladolid! So glad the info center told me about it. Last time I was here I didn’t know it existed.

has anyone else visited Casa de los Venados?

BAthroom Mirror - I Love YouTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Wow! Look what I found on my bathroom mirror when I returned from my solo trip to Valladolid…

Awww! How sweet is that?! (melt, melt)

Hmm, I guess he missed me!

Cancun

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

OMG – I took a day trip to… Cancun! What?!

Holy S**T, I never thought I would voluntarily visit Cancun, of all places in Mexico.

It happened as a diversion… For my weekly 3-day travels this week, I returned to Playa del Carmen. But I’ve visited so many times that I’ve run out of things to do there and felt bored.

Knowing Cancun was just 1 hour north, I thought, what the H**L, I’ll go check it out for the day…

Not surprisingly, it was pretty awful arriving into the city with big highways, an endless series of huge billboard ads and one shopping plaza after another….

But once I got out to the beach, I have to admit I was impressed –

Gorgeous beach and an even more beautiful Caribbean Sea! Much better than the beaches at Playa del Carmen, in fact.

Lash on Cancun BeachTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Cancun Beach is pretty amazing, I have to admit…

The beach is wide, deep and runs for 25 km / 15 miles along a narrow peninsula (essentially, a long sandbar).

The Caribbean Sea is simply gorgeous.

A small section of beach is backed by beautiful sand dunes.. instead of cement hotels.

…and this public beach area offers FREE palapas for shade, 1st come 1st serve.

There’s a lifeguard station as well… which is good because the sea can get really dangerous here!

The day I visited, red flags were flying everywhere. The sea was pounding and roaring. It even looked and sounded dangerous.

Regardless, lots and lots of people got into the sea! Hello?! So the guards were pretty busy watching out for everyone, calling in people who wandered out too far.

rock stars display at Hard Rock Hotel - CancunTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

I spent the afternoon at amazing Hard Rock Hotel Cancun!

Generally, casual visitors to Hard Rock here must buy a day pass, which costs a whopping $100 US. What?!

Ha ha…I got a great tip and managed to get in for free and stay several hours!

(ask to visit Hard Rock Shop. He he)

Wow, a huge collection of famous singers & bands’ paraphenelia, clothes and guitars.

Great architecture & interiors.

Amazing infinity pools overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Live rock band, poolside…

What more could you ask for a free afternoon hotel visit?!

So, Cancun’s not so bad, after all. :)

Miscellaneous Trips & Adventures With Alejandro

Traditional Mexican musicians on Puerto Morelos Beach - MexicoTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Traditional Mexican musicians serenade guests at Puerto Morelos beach

Recently we’ve made 2 day trips to Puerto Morelos, a fishing village turned tourist beach, about 1 hour south of Cancun.

We’re drawn there to snorkel the reef just offshore. Reef conditions there are much better than in Tulum, Playa del Carmen and points in that area.

At Puerto Morelos reef we’ve seen lots of great sea creatures and fishes on both trips. (sorry, no photos)

These roving traditional Mexican musicians are one charming feature of Puerto Morelos beach. I haven’t seen them at any other Yucatan beaches.

Their music is very pleasant and makes one feel distinctively IN Mexico!

motorbike repair during road tripTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Motorbike repair during road trip!

On our last day trip up to Puerto Morelos, we were surprised by a sudden & instant flat tire!

We count ourselves very, very lucky – First off, it was the back tire, not the front.
Secondly, we had just started driving again after a short break, soAle was driving very slowly and off the main highway. (Yikes – if we had been on the highway at full speed, we would’ve probably been in a very nasty spill!)

Third, this local mechanic shop was only a 5-minute walk from where we broke down. Easy, peasy to roll the bike over and get fixed up!

We were very happy to get repaired & back on the road in under 1 hour…

But, ha ha ha, check out this mechanic shop! Sand floor… debri…and the mechanic’s wife, child and mother were all hanging out at the shop with him!

I doubt you’d ever see this in the States! Ha hahaha!

Oh, btw – after they put the wheel back on, Alejandro noticed a motorbike part still laying on the ground & he asked about it…

oooooppps! They forgot to put in one important part! They had to take the wheel off and put it all back on again! Hahahahah!

tejons raiding trash at Akumal

tejons raiding trash at Akumal

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Badgers invading the trash!

We witnessed these cheeky tejones (badgers) raiding a hotel’s trash area during our recent road trip to Akumal Beach…

Aren’t they cute?!

A Lux - Playa del Carmen - MexicoTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

OMG! Check out this amazing underground cave restaurant/bar!!!

A Lux is an extensive underground cave system – right in the middle of Playa del Carmen city – that has been created into a crazy gourmet restaurant / cocktail bar.

The owners have done an astounding job creating a phenomenal atmosphere and out-of-this-world experience…

Extensive natural stalactites & stalagmites are illuminated with beautiful lighting. Fancy tables set with gold satin table-clothes and fine plate settings are scattered throughout dozens of caverns, rooms and platforms.

Meandering pathways lead guests through the labyrinth of caverns & hallways.

Mexico continues to boggle the mind!

Thanks Earl of Wandering Earl for turning me on to this fabulous restaurant in Playa!

Alejandro's Tour - jungle, centoes, ATV, ziplineTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Yippie! I finally got to join Alejandro’s tour in the jungle & cenotes !

…this is what he does for work every day, btw. Great job, eh?!

Zip Line – first off, we all cruised on a zipline over this gorgeous cenote. Alejandro got each guest fitted up to go…

ATVs on jungle trails – Then Ale taught us how to drive the ATVs…and we headed off on some very rough & rugged trails through dense jungle. I did my best to keep up with him, racing and roaring around the tracks… A blast!

Educational talk on Mexican flora, fauna, geography, topography – Ale taught everyone a lot about Mexico’s natural world. Then he guided us through a couple different cenotes & caves

Cool swim in this beautiful cenote – After more ATV action, we cooled off in this amazing cenote…

End result? Fun, adventure and education in the Mexican jungle! It’s really an excellent tour.

Thanks Ale for having me join your tour! I had a blast!

resort at Tulum Beach TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Here’s why I LOVE Tulum Beach Resorts…

All the resorts here are made of natural materials – wood, thatched roofs, stone…

and blend right into the lush tropical vegetation.

They use thatched palapas instead of plastic beach umbrellas…and wood or rattan tables, chairs, benches & day beds..instead of plastic.

Very groovy interiors – open-air balconies, bars & restaurants – unique designs & day beds on the sand…

Sooooo much better than the multi-storied, imposing cement mega-hotels at Playa del Carmen and Cancun just up the road!

Max break dancing at Batey - TulumTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Awesome 10-year-old break dancer!~

During our last evening out in Tulum, we got a bonus surprise –

The drummer son, Max, did a dance performance. WOW, that kid can really dance!!!

Sadly, I didn’t get any photos of his best moves. I’ll have to try again next time.

He was so good I encouraged him to join some dance contests. Hope he does it! He could be the next ‘Mexico’s Got Talent’ star… (if there is such a show)

Go Max!

Bacardi deal in Mexico

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: …and here’s yet another great reason to travel / live in Mexico…

Today I just nabbed this fab Bacardi promo at the supermarket:

1 Liter of Bacardi Superior + an extra 365 ml bottle tossed in – all for a whopping 104 ps / $5.75 US !!!

btw- this is a fairly common rum promo here.

But the regular price isn’t too much more anyhow. I think I normally have to pay 100-125 ps for the 1 Liter bottle alone. Oh, geez, an entire $5.50-6 US… Aya yai yai

Mexico is a rum / vodka / tequila drinkers’ heaven!

vivaaerobus screencaptureTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Wowie! I just booked our first flights together!

Yes indeed, we are heading to central Mexico and the Pacific coast in mid September for our first two week trip together.

I’ll be meeting some of his family (eek!) (ha ha, just kidding on the ‘eek’)…

and visiting many new places in Mexico, all with my adventurous, knowledgeable Mexican partner.

…three weeks to go ?! I can hardly wait that long… but I’m sure I’ll manage somehow.

LashWorldTour on ferrry to Cozumel-001Cozumel Island

TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Ferry to Cozumel Island

Cozumel lies just off the Caribbean coast of Yucatan at Playa del Carmen. You can actually see Cozumel from Playa’s beaches on clear days.

Huge passenger and vehicle ferries run multiple times per day between Cozumel & Playa. Many tourists visit Cozumel as a day trip from Playa. It’s just a 45 minute ride across the gleaming Caribbean.

I visited for 3 days on my third week of solo trips from Tulum in August…

Cozumel is most famous for scuba diving. In fact, it’s one of the most highly-regarded dive areas in the entire Caribbean!

That’s due to the excessively-deep Cozumel Trench running along the island’s western shore, where the sea plunges down 3000 feet / 1000 M. There’s fantastic wall diving, drift diving in swift currents and lots of sea life, including many sharks.

Sadly, I didn’t have the budget to enjoy Cozumel’s fabulous diving. But I did plenty of snorkeling and an all-day road trip by scooter around the island. Details coming up soon….!

east coast of Cozumel beachTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Scooter trip around Cozumel Island!

Katie, another American girl staying at my Cozumel hostel, & I rented a scooter and headed over to the island’s east coast to enjoy its wild & completely undeveloped beaches…

We were amazed at how completely UNdeveloped it is, how few people and cars were around, and how wild the beaches were. It’s particularly amazing considering how ULTRA-developed the west coast of Cozumel is – just 10 miles away. Nutty!

We saw natural rock bridges, huge turtle tracks on the sand, scrubby marshlands and miles & miles of wild, powdery sand beaches. More photos coming soon…

Turtle Tracks on Cozumel Island beachTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Massive turtle tracks on a wild Cozumel beach!

At our very first beach, Katie and I came across these huge turtle tracks running up to the dunes and back down to the sea. Shallow pits where they had laid eggs were clear to see.

I was amazed at how massive the tracks were! They looked like some sort of heavy ATV bike tracks…

I also realized it’s the first time I’ve actually ever seen turtle TRACKS. That turtle must have come up just the night before we arrived because there was a heavy storm in the evening and rain all night… yet the tracks were still visible that morning! Maybe the turtle was even there that morning, just a couple hours before our arrival?

Has anyone else here ever seen turtle tracks on a beach? If so, where?

natural rock bridge at Cozumel IslandTRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:

Cool natural rock bridge just offshore of Cozumel’s east coast…

This was another great discovery during our scooter trip around Cozumel Island.

Check out the cool wood chair someone made, too!

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Summary

So that covers all our travel adventures in August. In September I will continue my weekly 3-day jaunts in Yucatan. First destination: Isla Mujeres.

Then Alejandro & I will be taking our 2-week road trip in central Mexico from Sept. 16-Oct. 3rd. Our very first vacation together!

Stay tuned on LashWorldTour for more photos, travel tips and information about new destinations in Mexico!

Meanwhile, you might also like to check out: 

34 Reasons I Love Yucatan, Mexico

Photos of Diverse Yucatan Peninsula

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