Chetumal is a noted city in Mexico and is the capital of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. It was established as a Mexican town in 1898. It sits on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula and is bordered on the south by Belize. Trade between Chetumal and Belize has been fairly prolific since earlier times and into the present day. There is a Free Zone between Chetumal and Belize that represents a very busy shopping district where merchants display a large variety of goods. Chetumal is an important port on Chetumal Bay, a sheltered inlet of the Caribbean Sea. It sits at the mouth of the Rio Hondo River. International items of trade come into the port and are then dispersed through Mexico and south into Belize, either by roadway or by merchant marine ships moving along the coastline.
This is an active region for tropical storms and hurricanes. The city was destroyed in 1955 from a category 5 hurricane. In the mid 1970’s, the community began building with more concrete block and using less wood. Again in 2007, another category 5 hurricane hit the city. Changing building materials helped the local structures to better weather the storm, yet the town is still recovering from that 2007 hurricane.
The population was a mere 5000 people in 1955, while today it is close to 140,000. There is a bus terminal with buses to and from other cities scheduled. There is a small airport where flights to and from Mexico City are available daily, Sunday through Friday. The town has eight different hotels and hostels, with the Holiday Inn Chetumal being the most luxurious one. There are a total of five hotels and three hostels existing in the center of town. There are two hotels with swimming pools, several with lounges and several with restaurants. The hostels serve continental breakfasts or permit the use of the kitchen.
Fish and other types of seafood are served in several of the four restaurants in Chetumal. Rice and beans, mixed with chicken and beef is common local cuisine. Mahahuana Restaurant is a favorite among tourists. They serve spicy beef and pork steaks, as well as tacos. They are noted for their friendly atmosphere. Sergios Pizza is another favorite restaurant. In addition to authentic Italian pizza, they serve a variety of pastas and Italian wines.
There are several museums, historical monuments, beautiful homes, and casinos in Belize to experience. The natural landscape is quite beautiful and hiking, picnicking, and shopping are options for entertainment. Shopping in the Free Zone is a true local experience. Cultural festivals take place several times each year. Besides a local atmosphere, Chetumal projects the feel of a metropolis due to a large number of modern city buildings. There are cafes for nightlife drinking and other entertainment. The Rock Shot Café caters to Hollywood stars and offers all of the latest in music and dance. The Sky Bar is an open air cafe-bar and offers entertainment and dancing under the stars.
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