it's always a surprise when you don't expect anything and you find the opposite and Chetumal should have been just a stop to catch the early bus to cross the border the morning after... The history of this town says that after the conquest it wasn't really settled untill 1898 when it was founded to stop the illegal trade in arms and lumber but I wouldn't exclude that some smuggling is still going on as the average life level seems to be of general welfare, which stuck me after having seen, in the rest of the Mexico I visited, the rich structures built for tourists near the much more simply and at the eyes of an European poor villages... But I think the charm of this town on me was also due to its non touristic life as I arrived from not off the beaten path places while here the market (in the pic) didn't sell souvernirs but everyday stuff and I felt like one of the very few tourists there and the town seemed to me more real...
for the VT addicted an internet access is at the end of Efrain Aguilar (a few steets, on the right side, after the Mayan Museum giving it the back) and if you go after 22.00, an hour of connection costs you 9 pesos...
Road trip to Chetumal
We went on a three-day road trip to Chetumal. A group trip was being arranged by someone in our community in Progreso, and by the time we left, there were 23 people from Progreso on the bus to Chetumal.
Chetumal is in the southeast corner of the Yucatan peninsula. It is in the state of Quintana Roo (same state that Cancun is in); in fact Chetumal is the capital. The city is a coastal town of 250,000 people on the border with the neighbouring country of Belize. In fact Mexicans travel to Chetumal to visit the duty-free zone. Chetumal itself seems to have limitless retail which seems to be open til late at night.
Chetumal seems different than the other cities we have seen in the Yucatan. The people are more mixed – Caribbean, Lebanese and Asian. Even the city downtown felt different. We did not see a central plaza like normal, and there were no colonial buildings.
The people that arranged our bus tour had never arranged a tour before. As a result, there were a few snafus. For instance, they thought the bus would have washrooms -- but it didn't. It is a long way from Progreso -- normally a five hour drive -- it took us seven. Four potty-stops. It also means that we only had a day and a half in Chetumal. We had enough time to gamble and shop in the duty-free zone, to wander the streets of Chetumal, to visit the Mayan Culture Museum and to stop by Bacalar on the way home.
Unfortunately, due to our short visit, we missed out on the Mayan sites in southern Quintana Roo.
For us, Chetumal was just a town where we were going to change busses.
After 3 long days and nights of travelling by bus, we arived early in the morning in Chetumal: tired and most of all very smelly!!! Since we weren't going to stay there, there was no way for us to fresh up a little bit. So, inventive as we are, we walked about 20 minutes away from the bus station to the Caribbean Sea. It was the first time I saw it and gosh, it was great! We took off our cloths and put bathing suits on and went swimming in nice, warm, clear blue water. It beats taking a shower!!!
All clean and fresh, we went to the town to get something to eat. I can't really remember where exactly it was - close to the bus station anyways - but there are plenty of tiny 'restaurants' there where you can eat great tacos and tortillas.
From Chetumal, we took a bus to Belize City and from there a speed boat to Caye Caulker, but you can read all about that in the chapter on Caye Caulker.