Merida to Bacalar & return to Cancun with Michael May 12 to May 31

Filed under: Mexico — Aaron and Amy at 9:13 am on Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Having left the periferico road of Merida at about 11:30 a.m., we traveled the free road and arrived in the outskirts of Cancun about five hours later. After negotiating some construction and detours, we eventually found the Mecaloco RV Park in the city of Puerto Juarez, just to the north of Cancun. As we started to unpack, the sunset illuminated the palm trees and a small ruin right in front of the RV. Right next door to the RV park is an archaeological site called El Meca. The archaeological site contains ruins outside of its protective walls, one of which being right in front of our camping spot in the RV park. It’s very strange to be so close to such a touristy place like Cancun, yet have archaeological ruins in and right next to our RV park! There were several other RV’s, but most of them were parked for storage. Aaron jumped right into his usual beach activity of finding locals to go diving with. He had not been diving in about a month and a half and wanted to be ready to take out his uncle Michael when he joined us in Mexico May 17th. After about an hour, Aaron secured a boat with local fisherman and returned to the RV for his dive gear. Amy took advantage of the time over the next several days to do some heavy-duty spring-cleaning inside the RV. After Aaron was done diving that first day, he came back to get Amy so that she could join him and his new friends as they prepared a wonderful fish dinner on the beach. Aaron continued to dive with the same guys for the next three days, having a great time under water and with the locals.
Finally the day had come for our Uncle Michael to join us in Mexico! We packed up the RV and drove to the airport south of Cancun. Pedro told us that we should be able to park in the cargo area, but we were not allowed. Having several hours before his arrival time, we drove around asking people where we should park, but they all said only in the designated parking lot. For fear of playing a real-life game of bumper cars, Amy asked Aaron to please not go in the lot with the RV, as it would be difficult to turn the corners. He ended up going into the lot, only turning the corners by running over curbs (thank God for high clearance!). A security guard finally directed us towards an empty string of handicap parking spaces and told us to park sideways. There were three cars in the parking lot that would make leaving impossible, but by some miracle they all left as we pulled into our handicap spots. The security guard placed three orange traffic cones in their place so no one else could park there until we left! Believe me, it was necessary! We killed our spare time in the shade on the grass with the dogs and two people from Scotland whose flight was delayed until midnight. We chatted about their trip to Belize and Mexico, our RV trip, and of course, President Bush. Finally Michael arrived and we were on our way south! As we drove south on highway 307, we missed an RV park that we had hoped to find. We came upon several adventure tour companies we were familiar with (Alltournative & Hidden Worlds) and asked if we could stay in their parking lot so that we could take a tour in the morning. Hidden Worlds (north of Tulum) allowed us to stay the night, so we set up camp and grilled some steaks for dinner. Unfortunately Michael’s first night experiencing Mexico by RV was spent sleeping in a parking lot, but we had so much fun the next day it was worth it! We stayed up late catching up on news and listening to Michael tell family stories. The next morning we joined an adventure tour that included a zip line, a crazy 4×4 truck for transportation (its engine wasn’t covered), swimming and snorkeling in two great cenotes! It was the three of us and one other couple from New York on the tour. Only the three of us did the zip line, which turned out to be not very impressive. (We did one two years ago with Alltournative that was much better. www.alltournative.com). But we all did it and got a great rush before heading to the cenotes! We were armed with life jackets, life vests (buoyancy helps), dive lights and of course snorkel gear. The first cenote was more of a float and swim around kind of place, in a cave with a large pool of crystal clear fresh water with stalactites and stalagmites all over the “ceiling” and “floor”. The second cenote was much different than anything we had been in before. This cenote consisted of tunnels going into the depths of the caves. The water was very shallow in some places and you usually had to maneuver around and over the stalactites and stalagmites. Our guide, who went by the name of Skinny Guy, was in the front. Following Skinny Guy was the couple from New York, and then Amy, Aaron and Michael took up the rear. Making sure to keep one another in site, we floated through the labyrinth in awe of the earth’s internal beauty. After our adventure tour was over we continued driving towards Tulum. We drove straight to the ruins and spent the last hour and a half they were open at the site. After looking for a beach restaurant to camp at for the night, we settled on El Mirador restaurant (“the lookout”). It is situated high on a cliff overlooking a beautiful beach, which happens to be the closest to the ruins of Tulum. We all decided to take a walk on the beach with the dogs as the sun set. There are several kinds of cabanas ranging in price and quality on the beach at Tulum. We walked passed a very nice hotel and restaurant and chose to have dinner there for the night. Aaron was very kind and made the long walk back to return the dogs to the RV and get more money while Michael and Amy warmed up the table with a few margaritas and pina coladas! That night we were able to fall asleep high upon the cliff with a nice breeze and the sounds of Caribbean waves!
The next morning after a swim in the ocean, we packed up to drive further south to the village of Majahual, looking for a secluded beach to spend a few days. We have several friends that have been to Majahual, but to our great surprise there were TWO large cruise ships anchored in the ocean! You can imagine our surprise, and the kinds of tourists we came upon! We ran into several groups that were on excursions from their cruise while in port. Sometimes there were 20-40 people on bicycles or ATV’s whizzing passed the RV! We visited a resort that offered diving courses, thinking it would be fun to do a certification class for a couple days. (Michael and Amy are “certified”, but it has been so long since they learned, they would start over from scratch with Aaron). Turns out all the dive instructors had gone home the day before because the dive season had ended. As we drove south along the rugged beach road, we found a few places that probably would have been suitable for camping, but we were not impressed with the beaches. Unfortunately, the majority of Mexicans have a different perspective regarding garbage, where it is thrown (especially along roads and beaches), and how long it remains there. It is a culture very different from most people that visit Mexico; therefore it can leave a very bad taste in some people’s mouths. Unfortunately for Michael, as we drove along the road south of Majahual, along the road and beach we witnessed the worst amount of garbage we had seen during our five months in Mexico. It is disheartening at best, and makes it difficult to find a great camping spot when we were trying to share the beautiful country that we had come to know and love with one of our relatives. We knew there was an ideal beach out there somewhere; we just didn’t know how far away it was! We drove through roads that became more and more narrow with the branches encroaching upon the RV so much so that Amy and Michael held the large ones away from the RV so that Aaron could pass safely! Questioning what we had gotten ourselves into, we finally came upon an area that had a locked gate and a large area suitable for the RV. After speaking with the caretaker, he instructed Aaron to drive in with a little speed to make sure we got over a soft section of sand. We got in just fine and settled the RV onto a beach that was kept meticulously clean by our host, Alejandro. Shortly after arriving, nothing could keep Aaron out of the water! He and Michael got the kayak off the RV and paddled out to the coral reef that was about 300 feet off shore. The next day we strung up our hammock and enjoyed the beautiful beach. Aaron found a local with a lancha (small boat) that would take us out diving and snorkeling. Unfortunately Michael wasn’t feeling well in the water, and there wasn’t much for Amy to see where they were snorkeling, so the two of them went back to the beach to hang out in the hammock in the shade. Aaron stayed out for several more hours, coming back with a small lobster and fish for dinner, as well as a large grouper for the boat captain! We each only had a bite of the lobster, but it was so sweet!!! Talk about fresh! Aaron and Michael went next door to a hotel to inquire about getting some water for the RV. The owner was very nice and said of course we could have some water. Aaron and Michael proceeded to dump five gallon buckets into a large funnel that was connected to a hose that ran into the RV water tanks! If Amy had been there, you better believe she would have taken a picture! That afternoon and evening the sand flies were so bad we were all eaten alive. Our normal bug repellant cream wasn’t working, and our bodies were covered in bites to prove it! They had somehow gotten into the RV and were biting us all afternoon and all nightlong.
Amy got up early the next morning to go sleep in the hammock to get away from the bugs, but there wasn’t a hammock in between the palm trees! A little perplexed, she sat in a chair for a while before she saw Alejandro. She asked him if he moved the hammock and he said no. She told him the hammock and dog bowl were on the beach the night before, but they were gone by 6:00 am the next morning. Alejandro said he didn’t know anything about it, but that sometimes guys walk or drive their boats along the beach looking for stuff left outside. Later that morning Amy noticed one of our coolers was missing as well (we had one for drinks and one for fish). We’re not sure why Alejandro didn’t warn us about leaving items on the beach, which causes us to question whether he had anything to do with it. While it is unfortunate that our favorite hammock and other items were stolen, they are all replaceable items. We have had people ask us for the last several months if it was really true that nothing bad had happened on our trip, or if we just weren’t telling people. Back then we were happy to declare that absolutely NOTHING bad had happened to us nor any of our possessions. While it is unfortunate that we lost these items, we want to remind everyone that we had lived and traveled in Mexico for almost six months before anything was stolen. Instead of you critics out there saying “Aha! I was right! Mexicans are all a bunch of poor thieves who can’t wait to rob you!” please consider this circumstance as one that defied your assumptions of theft for a long six months!
We all enjoyed lots of hammock time and were able to snorkel out to the reef several times at this ideal camping spot. We all enjoyed an excellent lunch next door at a cute little cabana resort called Xahuayxol (www.xahuayxol.com). The wife of a Mexican Senator runs it and there are nine cute little cabanas with private bathrooms and thatched roofs right on the beach. We all had seafood soup and rice with calamari at the cute little restaurant. During lunch Aaron came back from fishing very melancholy because he said he didn’t catch any fish. After lunch we went back to the RV and Aaron suggested Michael have a beer. Michael opened the beer cooler to find it full of lobster! He had fooled us! He caught one large and three medium lobsters, which we thoroughly enjoyed over the next several days! Thanks Aaron!
Our last day at the Majahual beach we took our time packing the RV while taking several swims in between packing to cool off from the intense sun! We set off for our next destination that is all the way south by the border of Mexico and Belize. A small village of about 7,000 people called Bacalar sits on a lagoon of the same name, Laguna de Bacalar. It is also called Lago de Siete Colores (Lake of Seven Colors) because there are so many different variations of the color blue. The lake bottom is mostly sand, so it reflects the light that comes through the crystal clear blue water. The first RV park we saw was right next to a cenote that is supposed to be excellent to swim in. Unfortunately the RV park didn’t look like much and was not on the lake, which is why we came. We drove on to what we believed to have been another RV park (at least it used to be) that was right on the beautiful lake. There was a little peninsula of land that stuck its neck out into the lake wide enough to hold several small palapas to provide shade. The tip of the peninsula had unusual rock formations in and on top of the water that looked like oversized cow paddies! It had been overcast during the days and raining at night for the last few days. When we arrived at Bacalar it was overcast as well, but it was still warm so the fresh water was very inviting! We swam for a bit then took a walk into town in order to find a restaurant for dinner. While walking we ran into a guy that was basically a local. Hans was from Holland but had lived in Bacalar for the past seven years (lived in Veracruz, Mexico before that). We chatted about the area and asked about restaurants and he gave us a few recommendations. He told us to walk down the road a bit and we could check out the first one; then told us he was going into town and asked if we would like a ride so he could show us the others. We looked at the first restaurant Aluces, which was a beautiful large palapa on the waterfront. It was built around a courtyard that allowed an old tree that was still growing towards the sky to lend its charm to the atmosphere. The music was what you would expect to hear playing walking into a spa, so relaxing! Having made a good made a great impression, we decided to take Hans up on his offer to check out the other restaurants. He gave us a quick tour of the small town, and then showed us the last restaurant that ended up being closed for the night. We thanked Hans for his time and information, and then decided to walk back to the first restaurant. We had an excellent dinner that started with appetizers smothered in a mouth watering chipotle sauce followed by many glasses of sangria and main courses that were equally tasty! There were white birds flying across the lake in the twilight while Aaron noticed a light placed on the little blue sailboat moored just off the small dock. Everything was so classy! After a smashing dinner, we walked back to the RV and fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof and very loud frogs serenading us! The next morning Amy got up early with the dogs and sat down by the peaceful water until the guys woke up. We all went for one more swim then went into town for lunch. We walked around the small town and actually found an internet café, so we poked our heads in for a bit. There is a fort in the village of Bacalar on the edge of the lake that was used to fend off pirates. We explored its balustrades and perused its museum, taking in the marvelous view of the beautiful blue colors of the lake. It was time to leave Bacalar and we were headed back in the direction of Tulum.
We wanted to drive down a peninsula towards a small town called Punta Allen, but we didn’t know if we would make it that day. We got to the Tulum area in the evening as it was raining and filled up with water from a local’s well. We looked for a boon docking site on a beach (no RV hookups) but hadn’t found anything by the time it was dark and raining heavily. We decided to drive back to the place we had stayed before, the Mirador Restaurant on the cliff. Michael had suggested that we look into some of the bungalows that were along the beach in Tulum for the last two nights of his trip. Having decided to take him up on his generous offer, we went into the village of Tulum during the day to do a little shopping. After exploring the town, we came back to check out several of the bungalows and determine if any of them had room for us to park the RV. During that process we had the opportunity to check out a property that was being renovated. A woman from New York leased the property from the Mexican government that had been abandoned for about twenty years before she started renovating it. We had run into her brother the day before, (he is a tour guide for the hotel) and he told us that the house had belonged to Pablo Escobar, the infamous Colombian drug lord that was captured in about 1986. The resort is called Amansala and has several separate buildings to it. One part of a building was completely finished, but construction was still under way on the other half of the property. Matt walked us through the house allowing us to see the renovation process, and then took us up onto the roof that delivered unbelievable views. We were able to see for many miles in every direction. To the south we were looking over the lagoons of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, to the west was jungle as far as the eye can see with a large hill shrouded in jungle that Matt said is supposed to be an unexcavated archaeological site; and finally to the north was the archaeological site of Tulum and more beaches. While it was very cool to be in the house of Pablo Escobar, the room they had available was not on the beach. We kept looking until we found the perfect resort, Ana Y Jose. We were able to squeeze the RV into the parking lot and they had two beautiful casitas right on the beach with hammocks out front! They had a lovely little pool in the middle of most of the rooms and right next to the restaurant. We didn’t check in until 7:00 p.m., so that night we had dinner at their excellent restaurant and afterwards had a marvelous walk on the beach. We all slept wonderfully as the waves lulled us to sleep in our casitas on the beach! The next morning Amy and Michael got the dogs and went on a long beach walk that turned out being about six miles long walking in the sand and waves! When we got back we were wiped, but then the three of us walked to another hotel’s restaurant for lunch. Aaron finally settled on a hammock for Michael that will hopefully fit in his backyard in Los Angeles. After Aaron worked on the RV solar system and we all got a little rest, we prepared for our dinner reservations at a little Italian restaurant on the beach. (Posada Margherita, also has cabanas on the beach. www.posadamargherita.com). The dinner was so good; it’s hard to describe it! As we were debating whether or not to ask the hostess if we would get any bread, a very large platter full of different kinds of Italian breads and cheeses made its way to our table! That alone made the restaurant worth it! Then dinner came! They make their own pasta every day, and we could tell! After finishing every morsel of pasta with shrimp and pine nuts (for Michael & Amy) and red snapper (for Aaron) and two bottles of the perfect wine, we had one hell of a finale as a last dinner with Michael! We decided to go to a hotel/beach bar that evening, but the loud club music and rain urged us to call a taxi after a couple drinks.
The next morning we all took a very short walk with the dogs, then had breakfast at our hotel with plenty of time to get Michael to the airport for his 4:00 p.m. flight. We all had such a great time together and are so appreciative that our adventurous Unkie Mikey (as Aaron has called him since he was little) chose to spend his vacation experiencing our Mexican RV’ing life! Thank you so much Michael! . . . for joining us in Mexico, dealing with the small space of the RV like it was nothing, for all the wonderful dinners and of course; Ana y Jose! It was a very memorable holiday and we hope you truly enjoyed it! Please don’t be afraid to join us again in a Central American country. You are always welcome in our home, no matter what country it may be in!
We are currently in Puerto Juarez (outside Cancun) at the same RV park we stayed in before Michael came (Mecoloco). We are taking advantage of the facilities that an RV park and city have to offer while we desperately try to get our generator working. We will probably leave the Cancun area early June, returning to the village of Bacalar near the Belizean border. We will stay with some people we met in Bacalar, Jimmie and his wife Jackie, then cross into Belize. If there are any problems at the border (paperwork, dogs, etc.), it will be nice to have such a close contact to turn around and come back to. If there aren’t any problems at the border we will continue south into Belize to the beach village of Placencia. We will probably spend a couple weeks to a month in Belize, and then return to Mexico to pick up our friends Brian and Shelly that are joining us in July. They fly into Cancun but we hope to spend a little time in Mexico, then cross the border into Belize and possibly Guatemala. We will keep in touch and will be checking our email and the chatterbox on our website’s home page as often as we can. Until then, hasta luego!

A couple announcements . . .
Congratulations to Amy’s sister Heidi and her husband Xingu for the arrival of their first child that was born on May 26th! Prior to his birth they were going to name him Xingu Alexander, but through a garbled satellite phone call Amy’s Mom told her they wanted to pick a new name; so we’re not sure what his name is yet! Both baby and mom are healthy and are now in the comfort of their home! Congratulations guys! We’re so excited for you and can’t wait to meet our little nephew! Know that we are thinking of all of you!

Happy Birthday Trisha Daley! She is a good friend of Amy’s from her hometown in Washington and is celebrating her birthday on May 31! Hope you have a great day!

Happy Birthday to Amy’s sister Taffy, who will be celebrating her birthday on June 5th . . . as well as her first wedding anniversary on June 18th! Congratulations Marc & Taffy! We love you guys!

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