Who on earth would wait up until 3am to catch a bus for what is only a two and a half our journey?
That would be us… and a handful of other crazy backpackers.
So why the ungodly hour?
Well that is the only time of the day a bus runs from Valladolid to Chiquila from where runs a 6:30am ferry to Isla Holbox, our next destination on this Mexican journey.
It was a quality 2nd class bus for this short trip, made to feel a lot longer through a combination of fatigue with an inability to sleep (even a few minutes would have been nice) due to the ridiculously cold air conditioning.
This bus was a beauty however. Where you would normally have vents that you could at least close or re-direct, this simply had holes where such features should have been. Gaping maws breathing chills upon us (and we later discovered, dripping water all over us).
I managed the situation better than others by sticking my head beneath my sleeping bag which I’d cannily brought on board…
Eventually our bus arrived in Chiquila, where we’d purchase tickets for the 6:30am ferry across to the island.
Two rival operators hounded us for their business, but not really too fussed, we just followed the crowd and grabbed ourselves 2 open ended return fares.
It was a pretty nice journey, shared with a couple of travellers we’d met first way back in San Cristobal, and a German couple we’d met whilst waiting at the bus station.
There was an open aired top deck on the ferry as well, which gave us a great vantage point from which to watch the colourful, if somewhat cloudy, sunrise.
On arrival, the island felt sleepy. Fair enough, the sun had just shown its face, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and therefore wandered off to our hostel (it seemed as though most of the travellers on the boat were headed there).
There were a lot of decent sized puddles that required dodging along the way, but we eventually got there after a 10-15 minute walk, only to find the hostel closed and reception not open until 9am!
After a quick wander along the nearby beach, we returned where Sarah, along with most of the others who had arrived with us, took advantage of some hammocks for a bit of a kip…
Whilst this went down, I took the time to explore a little of our lodgings to be for the coming days, and enjoy some of the colourful touches they’ve added.
Eventually Tribu Hostels reception opened, and although it was still too early for us to check-in, we were at least able to leave our bags somewhere and grab some breakfast on the islands main plaza.
Did I mention it was quiet?
We strolled around, checking out the nearby beach a little more thoroughly and wondering where all the people were…
It was in complete contrast, as the whole time we were there (okay, so we only stayed the 2 nights), our hostel was constantly full and a hive of activity.
We didn’t mind that much, it actually reminded us of our time in Mexico’s north where we could wander about with nary a tourist in sight.
It did however make two tasks more difficult, limiting our eating options, and with so few people around, very few tour operators were open, meaning one of our key goals whilst here, going on a snorkeling trip, was not possible.
Still, the place was pretty cute, with unpaved sandy streets and like the majority of the recent few weeks, presented sun filled mornings, before some afternoon showers.
On one of these beach strolls, we caught site of an event that really touched us.
The beaches are quite compact, meaning a lot of it is suitable for riding bicycles, and along one such path, we spied a local on a tricycle (this one was reversed, with the single wheel at the rear and a platform on the front) with his dog comfortably sat on the front parcel area.
It surprised us a little that the dog wasn’t happily running alongside, but hey, it was hot so perhaps he was a little lazy.
Finding a sheltered portion of the beach, we noticed the local man pull over, then with some care, lift his canine companion into the water.
As we watched the animal spring to life it hit us.
The poor animal had no use of its back legs, but down in the shallow water, he was able to bound around, even playing fetch like any other dog!
It was a beautiful thing to be a witness to…
There were some lovely sections of beach, but also reminders of how fickle the weather can be in this part of the world.
Firstly, reminders of past hurricanes were in abundance, with many ruined or damaged buildings along the waterfront.
Then there was the weather we lived through in our short, two day time there.
Blisteringly hot sun, followed by torrential rains…
I’m painting this place as a real Jekyll and Hyde case, but to be honest, it was in reality, pretty nice.
What more could we really expect in any case, visiting during the low season (which is also the wet season)?
And the charm was well and truly turned back on for our final evening, with a stunning sunset for us to sign of with (it was so nice, it brought 90% of our hostel out to the beach to see it). Believe it or not, this was the same day, a mere 3 hours apart, in the final two photos!
Holbox pulled out one final treat for us that final night.
With the sky moonless, it was the perfect time for a late night wade in the ocean, and this wasn’t due to it being an overly hot climate.
Run your hands through the water and watch them glow!
Bio-luminescent plankton, and what a treat to be able to swim amongst it (sorry, no photos from this event, although I did try).
The following morning, it was an early rise, as we had a boat to catch, with more adventures ahead on the mainland.
* The ferry to and from the island runs fairly regularly, however the buses to and from Chiquila are infrequent (1 per day in each direction for Valladolid. A slightly more regular timetable services Cancun)