What’s a few more days in San Cristobal de las Casas?

After our Sumidero Canyon excursion we decided to stay another day or two in San Cristobal. We really liked what we had seen of the town so far and wanted to do some more exploring. As much as we really liked the Rosco hostel and the atmosphere there, their private room (without the discount) is as expensive as a nice hotel room so we decided to find some more cost effective accommodations. After checking on some more local hotels, we found one that fit the bill. Clean, secure parking for Tigger and walking distance to the centro, for under $30/night. Done!

So we got our key and began unloading, and this is where our adventure began. Lori left the door to our room unlocked (at least she swears she did) and we went back down to get the rest of our stuff. You might imagine what happened next. We got back upstairs and yup, the door to our room was locked. No problem, the nice young man at the front desk got the spare key and tried to unlock the door – tried! All together he and some of the other staff tried for about a half an hour to get the door open. Seems the door wasn’t locked after all. The room was on the second floor with a balcony overlooking the street and luckily we left the balcony door open. After climbing up a ladder and in to our room, the young man checked on the door from the inside only to discover it truly was broken!

Needless to say we ended up with a different room. Now to get our stuff. He began tossing all our gear down to me over the balcony, one item at a time.

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Sumidero Canyon

Although we had planned on hitting the road within a few days, our friends Seb and Kim talked us into checking out Sumidero Canyon before we left. When I discovered that the Rosco hostel had a tour bus departing right from the hostel, well that sealed the deal and we decided to stay another night.

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Sumidero Canyon is located just north of a town called Chiapa de Corzo, about a 60 min ride west of San Cristobal. The decently twisty and scenic mountain road made me wish we had come on the bike instead of the bus, although for a whopping $3 each we got to sit back and play passenger for a change, ok so it was a change for me. Besides, we would have spent more on gas and the toll had we come on the bike.

The canyon dates back to about the same time as the Grand Canyon in the states, 35 million years ago – give or take a few thousand years. It was formed by cracks in the earth’s crust and erosion by the Grijalva River which continues to flow here now. The river actually begins all the way in Guatemala, flowing for a total of 766 km. Sumidero Canyon is home to only 13 of those kilometres. Although our tour boat didn’t make it that far upstream, at the north end of the canyon is the Chicoasén Dam which provides 30% of Mexico’s hydroelectric energy.

Stunningly sexy orange vest…check – safety first after all. Oh and by the way, the woman over my left shoulder…is actually standing up. Seriously. Continue reading

If you love topes, boy do I have a road for you

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This guy was right next to the hotel entrance in Palenque.

Cool looking entrance.

Hotels and restaurants lining this beautiful stone road in the zona touristica. On our (rain delay) day off here, we took a stroll away from the hotel zone and into town. Wow, as soon as we crossed the bridge it was like a different country. That elegant serpentine stone road gave way to potholes, loud music and all kinds of tienditas (little stores). It’s amazing the contrast between the two areas. I wish we had taken some pics there but of course our small camera is on the fritz and it was raining just a wee bit much for the big one.

At least we managed to get the bike packed before the skies and flood gates opened on us. Rain, and lots of it. Our rain delay the day before last prompted us to try and recall the last time we rode in the rain. None in January so far, December? Nope. November? Nope. October? Think again. We rode through a very light shower on our way to Mariposa in late September but the last time it really rained was back on Vancouver island, September 3 – and it wasn’t what I would call rain. That stuff closer resembled a monsoon! Rumour is Christian Slater and Morgan Freeman were trying to film the sequel to Hard Rain on Vancouver Island that day but had to call it off because it was raining too hard. Continue reading

Palenque Ruins

With bellies still full from the previous two days, we packed up and left Cancun heading south towards Chetumal, which is essentially right on the border with Belize.

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While making a stop at the Scotiabank in Playa Del Carmen (yes there are Scotiabank branches all over Mexico by the way), this little boy walked past and did a WHOA! when he saw our bike. He looked at his mom and then back at the bike, so of course we offered for him to sit on it which got him super excited. After spending a frustrating hour + trying to change some money over at the bank (things in Mexico have one speed – slow), it was nice to put a huge smile on a child’s face. It totally washed away any frustration we had.

We stopped short of Chetumal in Bacalar and found a decent hotel right in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. For 350 pesos and secure parking, it was almost everything we needed. Continue reading

Guatemala or…?

Our visit to Uxmal very much reinvigorated our spirits and recharged our Allspark. But where to next? That’s THE question we keep asking each other lately. How about south into Guatemala…via Merida (yes I know Merida is north of us O_o, and yes, we did just spend 10 days there)? Our logic (I use the term logic loosely) was to resupply in Merida and to research which border we wanted to cross.

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Apparently we missed this mall with an indoor ice skating rink during our first stay in Merida. Just goes to show you that no matter how long you visit a place for, you probably won’t see everything.

Juan the mall cop was keeping all the skaters in line.

A couple of days later, instead of heading south we found ourselves booking a hotel off the main strip in Cancun. Yeah, I don’t know what we’re doing either but it sure is fun! We figured since we were so close, why not stop there for a few days…or a week. It seemed fitting to keep the momentum of our lack of momentum going. Or something like that.

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Lori once again managed to find us a great deal online at the Holiday Inn Express, and although perhaps not exactly indicative of the typical North American standards for room quality of a HIE, the place was fantastic. What it lacked in room swanki-ness, it made up in amenities.

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A beautiful pool area and a fantastic multi course breakfast served up every day by Armando and his team. The hotel is also away from the main tourist strip, which means that it’s quiet and that we had to walk a few kilometres to get anywhere – something we were both excited about. No really! Riding around on the bike isn’t exactly a high intensity workout so we enjoy every possible opportunity to get some exercise.

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We found a little public beach just off a parking lot amongst some resorts.

Let’s be honest though, had the beach been in our backyard like some (or most) of the all-inclusive’s, we may have done zero walking.

The first night in town we found this awesome little hole in the wall that served up quesadillas and nothing but quesadillas, all kinds of quesadillas for 12 pesos each (about a $1).

Not a bad view from our room. Unfortunately that’s mostly all Lori saw for several days after getting sick. We ended up hanging around the hotel and the pool for several days while Lori recuperated. I suppose there are worse places to get sick.

We’ve read about people getting sick in Mexico from eating or drinking the wrong thing, but we were pretty much eating and drinking the same thing so we’re not sure what it was. I don’t think it was the quesadillas since I essentially lived off of them while Lori was sick and didn’t eat anything. It’s hard to pass up yummy dinner and a drink for $4.

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While hanging out in Cancun we found out that our friend Tina and her friend had escaped the bitter winter back home and were in nearby Playa Del Carmen on holidays. So we hopped on the bike and made the short trek to PDC to have some dinner together. Small world.

The last 2 nights in Cancun we decided to treat ourselves to some better food. Not only because we cheaped out most of the week but Lori was also feeling much better and since she hadn’t eaten in like days, we thought it would be a nice treat. We did our usual “let’s walk down the road and stop at the first place that has people eating and looks good” bit and came across the Surfin Burrito/Pizza shop. I had probably THE BEST chicken parmesan I’ve ever had from these guys. Short of having live chickens roaming around in the back, everything was made from scratch while we waited. The portion size was also quite generous and I was almost in tears having to leave what I couldn’t finish behind. But with no fridge at the hotel, such goes the travel life. We found ourselves back the following night and both ordered the Mahi Mahi fish & chips. Double WOW! Definitely a place to check out if you ever end up in Cancun. Best fish & chips since that place in Kaslo, B.C.

Considering we’re not huge fans of super busy touristy places, we had a great time here in Cancun (apart from Lori getting sick of course).

Uxmal Video

Our photo editing software seems to be acting up. GRRRRR! It has for some strange reason spontaneously deleted all the edits to all photos since we left Merida and we’re trying to get back up to speed. Yes we have backups of the photos but it seems to be a little more complicated than that.

In the meantime here’s a short little video I forgot to add to the previous post from Uxmal.

Uxmal Ruins

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We’ve gone from 1400km’s in 4 days to about 200km’s in nearly 3 weeks. Taking this “slow” thing to a new level, we put down another exhausting day riding a whopping 83km’s from Merida to Uxmal (pronounced oosh-mahl). Lori found another excellent deal online at a hotel only 2km’s away from the Uxmal ruins and out of uncertainty of where to go next, we checked in for few days.

I know what you’re thinking. A few days at this place? Yeah, that’s gotta be tough. Continue reading

Happy Holidays

We’ve mentioned a couple of times that we had hit a low spot on our travels. I’m not going to belabour the low points though because we’ve already kind of flogged that horse. We have been overwhelmed with the positive energy, comments and votes of confidence we have received from far and wide. Our intention in posting about the downside of our trip wasn’t to garner support or attention but to document both the ups and downs of our longterm travels. Life just isn’t perfect either at home or away. We want to remember this when we are old and sitting in our rocking chairs looking back on all we’ve experienced. We also want anyone who cares to know we are aware there isn’t a perfect life, or trip. I remember that before we started out we both read many trip reports and blogs. The one thing we didn’t see in most of them was anything negative. I’m sure that’s got something to do with people wanting to remember the good times and forget about the bad, but I believe the bad times make the good that much more special and we shouldn’t be afraid to experience them or talk about them. Suffice it to say since our first post about things not being wonderful we have truly fallen in love with Mexico, the culture, the people and all the things we first found uncomfortable. We will be very sad to leave. Continue reading

Not every road is paved with gold

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In the hope that some sun and beach time would lift our spirits we booked an ocean front condo in the Yucatán over Christmas and spent the next few days motoring east. Something we would later come to regret, not only because we blew through 8 states in such a short time, but also because we missed some of the spots we planned on seeing. Not to mention the small fortune we spent on tolls as we mainly stuck to the cuota covering over 1400 km’s over 4 days.

We came across a couple of noteworthy (token) runaway ramps along this very twisty stretch of highway in the mountains heading towards Córdoba. The first ramp was all downhill and had a couple hundred feet of gravel just before coming to an abrupt stop at the face of the mountain. Guaranteed to stop any vehicle from any speed I suppose. The second one had an even shorter gravel section resembling the end of a ski jump ramp aimed directly out over the edge of the mountain. Past the ramp was a several thousand foot drop to the bottom of the valley. I called them token ramps, because really, who’s going to use them? Continue reading

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Back when we visited the Geo Centre in St John’s, Newfoundland, we saw Flight of the Butterflies, a fantastic 3D movie about the Monarch butterflies and their migration from eastern Canada and the US all the way down to Mexico. Canadian zoologist and Scarborough (Ontario) resident Fred Urquhart, discovered that the Monarch butterflies migrate all the way down to Mexico for the winter by tagging them. Angagueo just happens to be located a short ride from the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve where the Monarchs migrate to. Coincidence? Naw. We made up our minds about coming here back in Newfoundland and it’s exactly where we headed next. Of course it wasn’t long before we had another gravitational incident with our bike. Continue reading