Twenty years ago we went to Mexico, – during my working life, so a fairly short and efficient three weeks trip only. We spent a few days in Mexico City, that vast urban sprawl with a whole range of fabulous and varied attractions, after which we rented a car and drove south, to Puebla and Oaxaca to Chiapas. And saw quite a few Maya ruins, including Palenque. But because of time limitations we didn’t get to Yucatan, the vast peninsula that protrudes west into the Gulf of Mexican to the north and Caribbean Sea to the south. Beach paradise, fringed by the second-largest reef in the world, and covered in thick jungle where more and more Mayan ruins are being discovered and cleared. Also: Tourist destination par excellence.

And that last bit concerns me a little. It is time to return to Mexico, and to Yucatan in particular, but the five star hotels and the discotheques, in Cancun and what has become known as the Costa Maya, the smell of sunscreen, the whole tourism business, that unnerves me: I am not looking forward to that. And February/March is high season…

Anyhow, we are going to try to find the undiscovered parts of Yucatan, the smaller archaeological sites that have not yet been included on the bus tours, the cenotes – crystal blue sinkholes – without the zip lines and multi-colour light shows, located slightly further away from the main roads. Maybe a slightly more upmarket no-kids-allowed hacienda for a few days, or an early morning visit to one of the bird reserves, beating the crowds. Or are we just kidding ourselves? Are we just voluntarily going to subject ourselves to that most horrible of experiences, caught in the holiday traps of prime mass-tourism? The very thing we try to avoid at all times?

Actually, Yucatan is quite big. We will be renting a car again, so we maybe able to escape the worst areas. With so many Mayan sites, there must be a few quieter ones around. With over 1100 km of coastline, there ought to be space for our beach towels, too. And if all fails, we are at least looking forward to meeting up with old friends, again, which no doubt is sufficient compensations for the potential vacation misery we have called over ourselves.

the plan, counter-clockwise through Yucatan

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