Getting from Merida to Cancun via Autobus

Alas, the day finally came for us to say goodbye to our friends at the hostel, and leave this incredible city of Merida, which we’ve really been enjoying. Our next stop will be Cancun, where we’ll be spending a few days before flying off to Guatemala.

We bought our tickets yesterday, walking to the Ado bus terminal, which is only a few blocks away, so we wouldn’t have to stand in line today. While we were out, we stopped at a farmacia to pick up some medicine for Montezuma’s Revenge, which we’ve had a case of the past couple of days (especially Dennis). We suspect that it came from that chocolate drink at Choco-Story; but its flavor was divine enough to get sick over. Anyway, the medicine was quite inexpensive and worked wonders rather quickly, and all is better now.

After sitting at the breakfast table in the hostel, and talking with our host Francesca (she took a Polaroid of us, pretending to dive into the pool, to place on the bulletin board alongside photos of other volunteers), we gave her a hug, saddled up, and headed to the station.

Arriving with plenty of time to spare, we settled in to wait for our bus. There was a wi-fi signal, so at about ten minutes before loading time, Dennis decided he wanted to check his email, so he reached for his phone and … it wasn’t there. With quickly mounting horror, he realized that he remembered placing it on the table in the hostel, and did not recall picking it up.

Immediately, we texted Francesca; fortunately, she had her own phone next to her, and responded immediately. Yes, the phone was there, and she could be at the station in five minutes. The reason she could make it so fast was that she had a scooter. Which had been stolen only three days before, but fortunately for us, was recovered. She made it in time, and though she was not able to get into the ticketed waiting area where we were, and we could not go back out in the lobby without waiting in line to get back in, she did manage a hand-off to Kimberly, just as Dennis was gathering up our bags and heading out to the bus, which was already boarding, with the intention of trying to stall the driver. It was a very, very close call, which turned out well only because luck was on our side in several ways.

Luck was not so much on our side on the ride itself, however. Oh, the seats were comfy enough. And we had what should have been excellent positions for viewing the scenery as it approached us — having been able to select our seats when we bought our tickets, we picked the two right up front, on the opposite side of the driver, figuring we’d have a clear view out the front window. But the driver had a huge sunscreen pulled down, which almost totally blocked our view, as we were seated at a higher level. Maybe we would have been better off being seated farther back — although what we would have seen, most of the time, was a road under construction. Many, many miles (oops, kilometers) of it. It was also just about impossible to catch a nap on the way, as there were TV screens that, during the entire journey, blared out music videos as well as a screening of the animated Adams Family movie.

In Valladolid, the bus made a pit stopped for a quick service. A snack seller boarded and offered goodies for sell to hungry passengers — this is common practice on buses in Mexico. The windows got cleaned and the driver stretched his legs.

One interesting thing about the ride is that we passed through several checkpoints, manned by La Guardia Nacional units. Of course, we did enter another state — Merida is in Yucatan, while Cancun is in Quintana Roo. Even so, that seems extreme to us, since you don’t pass armed checkpoints between states in the U.S. — merely agricultural inspection stations, but so far no state has deemed protecting its vegetables important enough to bring out the firepower. And there were a couple of other checkpoints in addition to the one at the state border.

Arriving at the bus terminal in downtown Cancun, we tried to contact an Uber to take us to our AirBnB. But we were unable to make the request work on the app. As we later learned, this is because services like Uber and Lyft have pretty much been banned in Cancun — though they reputedly still sneak under the radar. There’s no way, however, that you’ll get one at the Cancun airport or bus terminal (which is true in many other cities, as well). They’ve had a big conflict with the local taxi drivers’ union that even escalated into fisticuffs. So we decided to start walking, with the possible option of catching a bus somewhere along the way.

We didn’t. We walked the entire distance. The whole two and a half miles. Loaded down with all our gear. We passed boot camp.


What we found upon arrival was a cozy (tiny but comfortable) studio apartment in back of a house. There were bunk beds, each big enough for two people, with comfortable mattresses and pillows. A shower with plenty of hot water. A kitchenette with a fridge, gas stove and microwave, plus adequate dishes and utensils. A jug of drinking water. And, oh joy and bliss, a good air conditioner. As a bonus, there was a hammock in the courtyard. (This courtyard is shared by the family who live in the house and rent out the unit. They have two little boys who play in the courtyard sometimes and are quite friendly; on one occasion they were eating peanuts in the shell, and offered us one.)

Being rather exhausted from our hike, we scrapped our original plan of going grocery shopping, and just scraped together what we already had on hand for dinner.

Dec. 6, 2021 – Yucatan, Mexico

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