February 05, 2006 GMT

The flight to Cancun was long but without major incidents. 9 1/2 hours from Santiago to Dallas, and 3 hours later a 2 1/2-hour flight from Dallas to Cancun. Loads of Yanquis, but all friendly people (how can this be in Bush-country?? ;-))

Cancun itself is all-right. Well actually I like it. It's clean, safe, warm, has the carribean beaches - but no historical buildings at all. You got all facilities, free open-air life concerts at weekends, cheap and small open-air restaurants run and visited by locals, various interesting restaurants, great ice-cream, equally great tropical fruit juices and loads of very modernly equipped internet cafés.

Luckily most of the gringos stay outside, in the vast hotel zone (where you actually find some nice hotels - "Riu Palace" is my favourite, although far beyond my budget). The hurricane Wilma had heavily struck the entire hotel zone, which is located directly at the seafront. It seem that at least some 90% of the hotels is closed for renovation, some have lost nearly all their windows. In comparison to that, Cancun itself and villages like Puerto Morelos remained pretty unharmed.

Almost all the infrastructure including the towns like Cancun and Playa del Carmen as well as the hotel zones are little more than 20 years old. The entire area had been planned and realized (quite succesfully) as a huge holiday resort by the Mexican government. So Cancun itself is a planned city with loads of green spaces and wide avenues. I like that. The mexican drivers (at least those in Cancun) are the best drivers of all Latin American countries I know up to now. They are quite calm and considerate towards pedestrians. I think the Cancun state ("Quintana Roo") is one of the best places to live in Mexico or even in Latin America. That's probably why there are so many huge expensive cars (mainly those f***ing SUVs), even Porsche, Mercedes and BMW. Probably a great place to retire - so buy your real estate now!! ;-))

On the other side I was not too lucky with my motorcycle, especially with respect to timing. Generally customs here is straightforward, efficient and 100% corruption-free. However, you should not arrive on a Friday afternoon, and even less if the following Monday is a public holiday. So on Tuesday I got my papers and had been told that the responsible customs office is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Well, so I had to wait until Wed to get my bike and it'll be Thursday (tomorrow), almost one week after my arrival (!!), when I finally get on da road again. Getting the bike out of the customs area was no problem and cheaper than in Santiago. I put the bike together, connected the battery and started it. It came on the second try and ran smoothly. That's how it has to be!!

Since I had some time to spend, I did a bus trip to the famous archeological site of Chichen Itza, some 2 hours from Cancun. Of course it was one of those typical tourist tours which always approve my decision to do the trip by motorbike. However it was not too bad and we had quite a qualified guide who told us a lot of stuff that I have already forgotten. Similarly to what had happened to me at Iguazu, the main attraction - the huge pyramid - was inaccessible.

We were offered an additional stop at a beautiful underground pond (so-called "cenote") which was really as beautiful as praised by the driver, and an "authentic maya community" which turned out to be a typical bullshit tourist market. I am already fed up with maya calendars... Why can't they think of anything else and maybe more useful to sell?

I already applied my "Alemania" stickers as well. What's that?? Well, according to a recommendation of some German bikers I met in Chile - and according to my own conclusions - it's better not to be taken for a "Yanqui" (citizen of the US) here, especially with the current US government. Germany has a very good reputation here - and it's not unusual, that you get much better (e.g. hotel) prices than a "Yanqui". And - by the way - a little pride of your country is nothing bad - although rather unusual in Germany (the "3rd-Reich-complex"). So I got a couple of black-red-yellow "Alemania" stickers manufactured in Santiago which I now placed on strategical parts of the bike. This does also answer the most common question you are usually being asked in latin america: "Where are you from?" :-)

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at February 05, 2006 01:54 AM GMT

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