Pirates and colours in Neverland. Holbox

16 Jan

On a tranquil afternoon at the Stayinn Barefoot in Mexico City I was having a nice chat to Diego, one of the guys who runs the hostel; I told him about my passion for the islands in general and gave him more details about a place I would consider as the “ideal” one to visit.

Based on my description, he told me that I could certainly find in Mexico that place I had imagined in my mind. He introduced me an island, a hidden gem in the Yucatan peninsula called Holbox ( you pronounce it Holbosch). Honestly I had not even heard of it once, but I was intrigued instantly.

I was lucky enough to be able to go there at the end of my three months trip, at the beginning of January with Sandrine, my lovely dutch friend who lives in London. She came to Mexico to visit me for about a week; we were very enthusiastic about going to this mysterious place together.

Holbox is an old fishing village founded at the end of 1800 by descendants of pirates who had “ended up” on that island in search of a refuge. Pirates are smart, I always thought it.

Nowadays you can reach it by taking a bus or a taxi from Cancun to a town called Chiquilà, it takes about 2 hours and a half; then enjoy a pleasant 20 minutes ferry to the island of Holbox.

Me and Sandrine got carried away from Holbox energy immediately. Upon arrival you will have at first sight an idea of the general environment of the island, noticing a very primordial harbour with a big sign on its office: “I don’t ask you to clean my island, but please don’t compromise it”.

There’s the strong interest to save this place from the massive and invasive tourism, and I wish it will last for long time.

Holbox is actually a very wild and preserved place also for being part of a protected area called Yum Balam.

Its nature is nearly untouched, you can randomly bump into birds, pelicans, whale sharks, dolphins, raccoons and often in a weird animal I had never seen before; I am talking about a marine mollusc called Chiton, commonly known as “cucaracha de mar”, sea cockroach. They are not as disgusting as they may sound, but their dorsal shells are quite big, which they need as a protection. While walking throug the white sands, you will find a lot of them. It’s nature, and it is so good to be surrounded by!

I loved Holbox for its singularity and beauty but most of all the absence of any type of exploitation.

During my Mexican trip I had experienced this wildness only in another hidden gem on the Oaxaca coast: Mazunte, but I have to admit that the charme of the island usually beats the one of the mainland to me.

There is no big store in Holbox, there are just few groceries and  artesany shops, not a tall building, a single paved road nor a car.

Walking is ideal, but there are electric golf cars you can rent for about 10 euros per hour. There are a few old and abandoned ones in the street that can be transformed in a perfect photo shoot set. Me and Sandrine had a lot of fun doing it.

The culinary choice of the island is quite varied, with mostly seafood and italian restaurants. You can even find fancy ones, but always harmonious with the environment.

You may have understood how I loved this place.

But I could not continue delighting you with stories about Holbox without naming one of the top 3 hostels I visited in Mexico: the Tribu: It is situated less than 10 minutes walking from the harbor, it is a quite new hostel but it is already considered a symbol of the island.

We arrived to the Tribu at sunset time. I couldn’t imagine a more colorful building than that one, with such a good vibe that captivates you at the very first step into the hostel.

We were welcomed from a lovable English guy called Robin, a real vagabond; he lived in many places in the world and speaks many languages.

And Anna, a beautiful and patient italian girl who returned to Holbox to work after have firstly arrived as a guest.

For a couple of seconds I envied her and wished I could do the same one day. Returning to paradise and work there for a while, enjoying that beautiful location, nature, colours and good vibe…

We checked in and Robin took us upstairs, leaving us fresh towels and fragrant linen. They smelled of home’s laundry, at Tribu they don’t use drying machine but they hang them in a terrace absorbing all the fresh air from the island.

At Tribu you can stay in its spacious, cheerful and clean dorms or opt for a comfortable private room you can access through a likewise colorful turrett.

Our dorm was nice: we met Brad, a funny Australian guy and a charming mexican called Andres, which by coincidence resulted to be friends of some friends from D.F., it is such a small world!

We had a chat with them and went down to the cozy garden, surrounded by palms, canoes, colored beach-chairs and fantastic hammocks you won’t ever wish to leave. Everything was nearly perfect, mosquitos are probably the only annoying part of this amazing corner of the world.

And when you will be relaxed enough after the hammock you can choose if going to an incredibly equipped kitchen and cook a meal or simply have a tea/coffee and delight it in its cozy balcony (tribu family is often there chatting, eating, laughing and chilling ); but you can also go for a more romantic or peaceful time on the marvelous Tribu rooftop terrace with it magical views especially at sunset time.

Everything and everybody seems to smile at you when you are at Tribu hostel. You will even love to lay in the bathroom for its bright colors and funny drawings. The entire hostel decoration is consistent with the natural habitat and any detail is conceived and set with passion and taste.

There is no time in which Tribu’s fantastic staff does not put an effort in making any day or night a memorable one. Movie nights, jam sessions, salsa lessons, yoga, quiz night, barbecue and many more activities. You can’t get bored there!

During the day you can walk 3 minutes to the beach, or just chill at the hostel in the shadow and exchange your book with another at the reception; you can take a kitesurf lessons (Holbox is very popular for this sport too) , or just rent a bike and ride through the islands. It is long 40 kilometres and 1.5 wide, but 34 out of them are still intact and wild.

On our last day we rent a golf car with Brad and Jenny, a funny finnish girl with always a smile on her face; we broght few Coronas, Sol and XX beers and on the way we cought up with Sheridan and Helen, a nice couple from London who accepted our invitation to come with us to see the sunset.

I drove that funny car all the way to Punta Coco, about 10 minutes away. I am not sure of his name but afterwards also a funny american guy joined us with his bike, he brought a kind of bizarre swords and started to play with Brad and Sandrine.

It was a lovely afternoon. And one of the best sunsets of my trip. There was a red-hot sun, nice company, a sweet dog and a beautiful sea in front of us. What else you desire?

And then is when you think of how beautiful life is and how lucky you are to be able to enjoy it.

There are few spots to go at night when in Holbox, but at 11 pm Tribu bar opens its doors not only to guests but also to general public.

It gets quite crowded and you can sip a nice cocktails while chilling on one of the swings alongside the bar.

I had a quick chat with a nice guy working at the bar, Pietro, from Italy: he just arrived to Holbox for the season.

Depending on the night, the vibe goes on until late, we had a beer there and then went to a mezcaleria nearby the hostel.

It was a nice night mostly seeing  Robin swallowing a mezcal worm. Sandrine looked incredulous, she did not know that if the worm comes out from the bottle, you have to drink it. Plus, they say that the worm contains a strong essence of this popular Mexican drink.

It was a pleasant night. I knew I would have left that place the day after unwillingly.

Those were moments I would never want to stop and certainly Holbox and Tribu are in my top 3 places of my entire 3 months travelling.

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