Palenque and its Mayan ruins was our next stop, we parked at Maya Bell resort and were very happy to have a swimming pool. It was getting hotter and hotter as we traveled through the jungle and we both do not do well in excessive heat. The pool offered us a way to cool down and get a little exercise, it is hard to go hiking or for a bike ride when it is that hot. The camp site was at the edge of the jungle and we had a family of monkeys hang out above us in the trees. It is amazing how loud a little howler monkey can howl at 4 am, but we soon got used to them. They are fun to have around and you can sit and watch them until you have a stiff neck.
We hiked up to the ruins shortly after 7 am and were dripping sweat by the time we got the entrance at 8 am. But wandering through these ancient ruins was amazing and we spent the morning exploring until the first tour bus arrived. It was a large French tour group and we tried to stay away from them as well as we could. There are underground walkways in one of the main buildings and as I wandered around I lost track of Günter. At one point I was trapped in a side room when that same tour group came through. Finally they moved on I continued in the other direction, as I rounded the corner I came upon a French straggler, he was relieving himself in the corner of this 2000 year old underground room.
I couldn’t believe it, he took off in a hurry when he saw me and I charged after him, I was so angry.( I have seen them do this back in France, against trees, in parks and against walls and buildings, like dogs. ) Finally I confronted him and told him he was a pig, I did so in front of his fellow travelers and then I put in a complaint with the tour guide.
We left after that and decided not to go to any more famous destination sites for a while.
The Yucatan is Labyrinths of limestone caves and other karst formations that punctuate the state, there are subterranean rivers and lakes everywhere. The lakes are called cenotes, most are hidden underground.
The Chicxulub crater is a prehistoric impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The crater is more than 180 kilometres (110 mi) in diameter and 20 km (12 mi) in depth, making the feature one of the largest confirmed impact structures on Earth; the impacting meteorite that formed the crater was at least 10 km (6 mi) in diameter. Of course this happened 65 million years ago. Along the former crater rim are Cenotes.
It has been estimated that there are approximately 30,000 cenotes or exposed access points to these cavern and cave systems and thousands of miles of underwater cave passageways have already been explored and exploration continues. Two of these cave systems have over 140 km of explored passages. Some cenotes contain spectacular cave formations, while others are important archaeological sites, and several were considered sacred by the Mayans. A few are open to the public for swimming and diving.
You can visit them, enter through a hole in the ground and climb down a ladder, down there you will marvel at the rock formations and crystal clear water, we dove in and went for a refreshing swim in two of the three cenotes we visited . We decided to go the same ones Sam and Erica had written about. It was the week before Easter called Semana santa or “Karwoche” in German. Together with Christmas, these holidays is the most popular vacation time for the Mexicans. So we drove to the little town of Cozuma, the drive was very interesting, we took back roads and came through little Mayan towns with their thatched huts made of sticks and mud. It would have been nice to stop and walk around and talk to the people but at 95° + F we just could not do it.
To get to the cenotes you take a horse drawn cart that runs on narrow gauge tracks. We shared the cost with a very nice couple from Mexico City and enjoyed their company. The cenotes are located on former sisal plantations and the tracks were leftover from the days when the cactus leaves were transported to the factories.
They were really beautiful, the entrances were small, as you climbed down the latter the narrow hole opened up and you were suddenly in a beautiful cave with a clear lake and sun beams coming down through other holes on the surface. Swimming down there was a real treat and I felt like staying forever, floating on my back and looking at the stalactites above me.
We moved on, went to Campeche, it was hot, checked Merida, even hotter, checked the weather in Tulum and it showed a balmy 86 ° F. Tulum it was, we got there and since it was Easter weekend we kept going south, it got dark so we stopped overnight at the beach.
It was quiet and peaceful, every evening we watched the moon come up and every morning we watched the sun rise. White sand and turquoise waters, a constant breeze to keep you cool and the bugs away, just what we were looking for. The excessive Saragossa seaweed this year made it hard to go swimming , but there was a little cove just north of us that was a great swimming place. The fishermen here will take you out in their boats and you can go bird watching, the flamingos were already gone, but the frigate birds are living there in large colonies. There are playful dolphins,to watch, sharks, turtles and manta rays. If you are lucky you might see a manatee. You can also hire a local fisherman to take you out to fish or snorkel near the reef out front.
I did not like to leave there, but there is always the new and different places beckoning and after we spent a few days in Cancun we left for Belize. In Cancun we brought our camper to the Dodge dealer for an oil change and check up. They did a great job and also cleaned it inside and out. Nice. The next day we brought it to a place that does underbody oil wash. That guy cleaned it inside and out again. Our Dodge has never been that clean.
After an overnight stop at a campground on lake Bacalar we are now in Chetumal and are pleasantly surprised at how nice it is. The campground Yax Ha is around 10 km north of town on the beach, lovely grounds, pool, wifi.
We broke out the bicycles and are ready to explore.