Chetumal: Another World Just Over the Border – Part Two

Last Thursday, I went to Chetumal, Mexico for the day with a mission:  buy new contact lenses.  (See:   Chetumal – Part One  )  As I mentioned in the previous post, Chetumal is no tourist mecca, but it is a fantastic, whirlwind day visit from San Pedro, Belize.

Okay…so I walked the main boulevard, Avenue of Heroes.  And now I am off to the mall.

You can flag down a taxi pretty much anywhere.  If you do it at the water taxi terminal, it will cost you more.  But if you walk a few blocks to the main street, it is significantly cheaper.   The taxis are small, white and green cars with the classic “taxi” sign on the roof.  If it takes you more than 2 minutes to get one, you are extremely unlucky.  AND THEY ARE CHEAP!  and apparently, have no love for money (very unlike the taxis in San Pedro).   In my past experiences and on this trip, they will not take tips…they REJECT my money.  From the town to the mall…a good 10 minute drive…they charge only $12-20 pesos (less than $2 USD!).

GET THIS:  on this trip, the taxi driver told me that the Chetumal taxi association told him to treat people from “Belice” nice!  And not take our tips.  Too good to be true.

Once in the taxi, ask for Liverpool or Chedraui (pronouced SHED-ROOOW-EE) and you will arrive at the mall.  A REAL MALL.  Almost like I’m in my native land, New Jersey, again.

With a real movie theater.  Many of the movies are in English with Spanish subtitles (but not all).

And lots of stores that kids/teens would go nuts for…jewelry, clothes, shoes, knick knacks and ARCADES!

I wanted to buy 100 of these peacock feather headbands ( for about $5usd each)…super cute…but then…I didn’t.  I remembered that I am 38 years old.

Here is the hidden gem at the mall.  You would never know that it is there.  All the way back…by Liverpool and the money exchange…the very last door is (what sets this mall apart from all others) a casino/bar IN THE MALL.  Totally unmarked for some reason…filled with tons of super modern slot machines…and selling $1USD Coronas and Modelos at 10am, this place is an OASIS.  A revelation!  A holiday gift from above.

There is no sign.  You would never know that it’s there.  And you are not even allowed to take a picture of the exterior!  Check out the guard who is coming to wrestle the camera from my hands.  WHY is this place so secret???

I promised myself that I would not eat McDonald’s at the food court AGAIN (for some reason it tastes extra delicious in Chetumal) so after a few beers at the casino, I went to Chedraui, the Lebanese-owned Walmart of Mexico, for a few basic items.

Did you know that you can buy bus tickets here?  Much better to wait at the mall than at the bus station.  (It’s just a 10 minutes/$15 peso ride away!)

And you’ve got to love a store that makes a giant display out of Boone’s pineapple wine.

And here are just random pictures…I heart you Chedraui.

But I will never get used to the uncovered meat in the middle of the aisle on display…

Shark heads?

I bought a bunch of tequila, soap, hair conditioner, gum, candies, razors, coffee mugs and cat food for CHEAP!  And let’s just say that customs was extremely kind to me on my return to Belize.  ‘Nuff said.

McDonald’s was calling me but I had received a tip about an excellent seafood taco place halfway between the mall and the water taxi terminal.  Taco Loco.  Sounds touristy but remember!  there is no “touristy” in Chetumal.  The taxi driver knew exactly where it was and dropped me off in a non-descript neighborhood.

Everyone has one of these trash container/baskets in front of their house.  Excellent way to keep the dogs away.
There was only one empty table and delivery mopeds were coming and going constantly.  A good sign.  And the place was filled with Mexicans…not a gringo in sight.

This is the “open” dining room, right next to it is an enclosed air conditioned dining area that seemed to be packed with Chetumal’s businessmen…the wheelers and dealers eat at Taco Loco.

Founded in 1979, this tacqueria is the real deal (Chetumal was founded just 5 years before).  The menu is in Spanish, your waiter speaks no English at all…you might want to brush up on the key words before you arrive.  Let me help…

I ordered four tacos…some chicharron en salsa roja (I love pork rinds), caracol a la diabla (the name Snails from the Devil hooked me) and camaron a la mantequilla.  With 2 Sol beers over the next hour (I couldn’t drink them fast enough, the food is SPICY!), my bill came to less than $7 USD.  Gotta love Chetumal.  And the snails were particularly tasty.

A 10 minute taxi ride back to the 3.30pm boat and I was on my way to San Pedro.  If you are coming just for the day, there is no exit fee BUT if you stay for more than four days, you will be charged $262 pesos.  Make sure you check with the water taxi folks about how to pay that…from what I can tell, it’s not an easy process.

Viva la Chetumal!

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