Lagoon life in Bacalar

Strolling along the wooden pier out onto the edge of the vast lagoon, I could see the lush green jungle on the other side several miles away. I sat down under the hut which was crafted from palm tree leaves and gazed into the seven coloured lagoon. The varying shades of blue were separated into distinct sections, with harsh lines from one color to the next. The sky was bright blue with white fluffy clouds. Sunlight was beating down lighting up not only the crystal blue lagoon but the deep green grass and forest.

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Walking around the small, beautiful and quiet Mexican village of Bacalar had taken its tool. I was hot, my skin sticky and my mosquito bites starting to itch. It was time to cool off. I leapt in the lagoon, submerging myself in the warm, clear water. Rinsing off the suncream and sweat in this astounding scenic place was perfect. I lay on my back floating taking in my surroundings.

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Next it was time to get a closer look under the water. Grabbing my snorkel mask I explored the transparent blue lagoon. Not only could I see the lake bed clearly but I could feel it on my feet. The muddy white sand squished between my toes, relieving my itchy mosquito bites.

The hostel was in the perfect location, on the lagoon and five minutes from Bacalar square. Not only this but it was the place to stay with a buzzing social atmosphere. Backpackers flooded in from all corners of the world. While this place is not a common stop off on many people’s journey it attracted travelers nonetheless. The Green Monkey hostel was like no other I have stayed. You could choose to sleep in a hammock, a tent or a dorm room. I chose the latter, on arrival I realised that my dorm room was in fact an old converted yellow school bus.

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It crammed six small bunk beds in, with no ladders.

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I must admit it was rather claustrophobic and uncomfortably hot. However, the place itself made up for the accommodation.

I woke early to go and see sun rise. Very excited I jumped out of bed (no choice due to the lack of ladder from the top bunk where I was) and walked down the wooden platform to the lagoon. It was a cloudy dusk, mist covered the lagoon and sky. I could see the outline of boats in the near distance and heard dogs barking on the pier next to ours. It was so peaceful and calm.  I jumped in the fresh lagoon, letting the water cool me down. The sunrise was not as colourful as I hoped due to the clouds. I could see the sun hiding behind the fog.

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I thought I should go for a run before the harsh sun rose any further. It turns out I have got rather unfit, not making it very far, I jogged around the beautiful town square, peered at some old ruins and watched a group participate in a very slow exercise class. It seemed to be a strange kind of Thai chi. On returning to the hostel it was time for another jump in the lake and a quiet lie down on the floating platform before breakfast.

I spent most of the day in hammock reading, relaxing and chatting to others. The food I’m Balacar was fantastic and very cheap. I had many empenyadas, which are greasy pastries filled with cheese, chicken or anything of your choice. They are mouth watering, crunchy, buttery parcels of joy. Mexican ice-cream is also a must. The tropical fruit favours are unique and most delicious.

While bathing in the lagoon in the afternoon, a grey cloud seemed to slowly approach in the distance. After ten minutes a storm was upon us. Rain came smashing down, hitting my skin with quiet some force. I gathered my book, towel and clothes and ran into the kitchen for some shelter. I watched the rain hammer down on the land, listening to the pitter patter on the roof. After two minutes I concluded that to stay inside and watch it was no fun, I ran out through the rain feeling it hit and bounce off my skin. Carefully pacing down the the wooden walkway I reached the end and jumped in the lagoon. It was warm. The rain cool against my face. As the rain landed on the water it made small, white indents on the surface, making a unique pattern across the lagoon. At this moment, the sounds were wonderfully onomatopoeic, the scene stunningly dramatic and the feeling refreshingly cool.

Drying off I returned to my novel, before setting off for furthermore food. This time cheese panini and a papaya milkshake.

Bacalar is a great place to stop for a couple of nights and do nothing but relax, enjoy the views and eat lots of good, cheap food – beuno, benito, barrato (cheap and cheerful).

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Travelers tips:
-Food – make sure to compare the restaurants first as some are better than others. There is a great place for empenyadas, sopas (better than tacos), tosdadas, tacos etc. Very cheap and tastey (empenyadas $5 pesos / £0.25 each). From hostel get to the main square, pass the craft shops with dream catchers hanging up and head straight to the road. You will see a fruit shop and next to it is the restaurant.

– The green tent monkey hostel is in the perfect location, people are fun but the beds are slightly claustrophobic and not the cleanest. So just make sure to be prepared for this. Maybe plan a late night, so you don’t have to spend too much time in the beds.

– Take a taxi from the Bacalar ADO bus stop to the hostel for $30 pesos. Then if you want to go to Belize or Guatemala buses leave from the hostel every day at 8.30am $720 pesos (long bus ride so while it sounds like a lot it is reasonable. You will also need to take $350 pesos for the Belize border crossing or $25 us dollars).

-If you are passing Bacalar I would definitely recommend stopping for two nights.

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