CAMPECHE - CALAKMUL - XCALACOCO
MON DEC 18
Mom, Dad, Karen headed back to Oregon on AA flight. I picked up Avis rental car at CUN. No problem, got Dodge Attitude, automatic, one grade car better than reserved. The insurance would have doubled the rental from $186 to $370, so just went with minimum Mexican liability already included in rate. That is the impotant part that keeps one from going directly to jail. Anyway, insurance does not cover local police bribes, which are the biggest risk. $30 of tolls on Cuota to Merida, road pretty empty, 300 km, took almost 4 hours, i.e arrivd about 3 pm at Hotel D´Champs, LP said they had internet, but no WEP key could be found. A large altar for Santa Barbara over the reception desk. Walked around town in evening, internet at Cafe Habana, check out some other hotels, farmacias tell me Tamiflu not available in Mexico, early to bed.
TUE DEC 19
8 AM watched soldiers raising flag in Gran Plaza. Huevos Motulenos ($6) in Cafe Habana (desde 1952), then upstairs for internet, bought 340 shares ECA, and Dell projector mount from Ebay. Visited the cathedral and the Blistering Christ, which had a line of people waiting.
Left hotel at 11 AM, within 2 blocks the local police pulled me over for making a right turn on a red light. They were correct, that is not allowed here, I remembered, too late. So we chatted a bit, they checked my license and papers, and said lets go to the station where I would pay the $20 fine. I said OK, I will follow you ! But, of course, turning down a side street less open to public view, they pulled over and asked if ¿¿¿ I REALLY wanted to go to the station ???
I enquired about paying an instant on the spot fine of $10, they said that was reasonable,gave me another reminder to always respect the red light, shook hands, and I was off to Campeche. This really made my day, no kidding. I was 10 years out of practice on this maneuver, but performed fine. The only thing missing is the crying girlfriend in the passenger seat. And I am VERY relieved to have once again confirmed the standard rule that ¨YOU WILL NEVER GO TO THE STATION¨ is still in place. I actually thought I might see the station for a minute or two. Later I wondered why this happened so quick, and looked at the rental car, sure enough, a big bumper sticker says AVIS. In Spanish AVIS translates as "FREE LUNCH HERE"
Topped up at Pemex, 27 liters of Magna for 185 pesos, So better than 25 mpg at 130 KM/h with AC blasting. Near the Highway 180 turn off for Uxmal, I faced another challenge: A matched pair of gleaming gasoline tankers were neck-and-neck racing in my direction taking both lanes. I politely decided to simply move to the very wide right shoulder like everybody else in front of me.
As always, Mexican road signs provide a constant stream of reminders:
RESPECT AND OBEY THE SIGNS
THE SIGNS ARE A SYMBOL OF SECURITY
AFTER AN ACCIDENT NOTHING IS THE SAME
VIBRATORS IN THE CITY
DON´T MISTREAT THE SIGNS
DON´T PUT ROCKS ON THE HIGHWAY
Arrived Campeche about 2 PM, drove around, found parking spot in front of Hotel Colonial, AC room with 2 big beds, $25. Impossibly small shower though ! Dropped off 5 kilos of laundry for $7 at Lavanderia Antigua,
Campeche is very nice, clean, colorful World Heritage Sight city. Traffic not bad, policemen in snappy uniforms with radios on almost every corner. Dinner at La Parroquia, Pulpo al Mojo de Ajo, Sopa con Ajo y Huevo, and GRANDE Marg and Bohemia. $21. Folkloric dancing at Baluarte near seafront at 8:30 pm
WED DEC 20
LP Walking tour of Campeche, Torta and lime juice in Mercado for breakfast $1.50. walked along top of 3 Baluartes, drive car up to Fuerte San Miguel, with fine museum and three jade masks from Calakmul Pick up laundry 3 PM, Drive south towards Champoton along coast, nice area and lots of Cocktelerias. Turn south to Escarcega, 5th ugliest toiwn in Mexico, Mom tells me. Pemex 20 liters, 140 pesos, Hotel Posada Escarcega $20 AC and good cable.
THU DEC 21
8 AM breakfast Huevos Mexicana at hotel, drive East towards to Calakmul. At turnoff from Highway 186, pay $4 for car and $4 per person to enter Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Exciting 60 km very narrow winding access road through beautiful mtropical forest, max speed 20 mph, Blue Morphos fluttering everywhere, birds flying out into roadway. Signs say no cutting of trees and Calakmul is a nuclear-free zone.
11 AM arrive Calakmul archeological site, $3 entry, 2 km walk via "Ruta Larga", visit Acropolis and Gran Plaza. Climb up Stuctura II for excellent view over the pristine jungle. Only 30 people visited the site today. It is fair to say Calakmul is the most pleasant site I have ever visited. The Gran Plaza is full of shade tres, not the manicured grass one finds at Tikal and Chichen. 1 PM depart back to road to Mex 186, blast through Xpujil to Chetumal, Pemex 200 pesos, Hotel Paradise Caribe $42, AC, WIFI
FRI DEC 22
Drive along Chetumal bayside road towards University of QR, beautiful garden areas and lots of modern monuments and parks. Huevos Mexicana and coffee in center, Chetumal Maya Culture Museum 10-12 noon $5, very interesting displays, especially of Xiballba. Back to check out of hotel, guest pass at new Sam's Club and buy (cheap !) Negra Modelo and ice.
1 PM start drive to Playa, arrive 4:30 PM, heavy traffic, Pemex 190 Pesos. Check in totally new Holiday Inn Express at Playa Del Carmen, three nights free using 30K points! Good internet connection ia ethernet in room. Back to Playa Sam's Club for whole Hawaiian pizza $9, eat in room. Drive down to 5th street area, walk along pedestrian mall. Found Jeff Griffin's friend Keith at Captain Dave's bar. Back at hotel, watch Carlito's way on Cable, couldn't sleep until 3 AM.
SAT DEC 23
Coffee in room, 11 AM drive north looking for Xcalacoco, went down a road marked Coco Palms, that seems to have been it. Veered left at end for Pinos restaurant, rented a palapa with nice large hammock for $10. The hammock guy had lived there for 26 years, and said Miguel of Xcalacoco sold out about 4 years before. Spent all day almost finishing Michener's the Drifters. The young hippies explored Mozambique and are in Marrakesh. References to Isla de Mocambique and Zambela Game preserve will have me studying that country.
5 PM Back to PDC, the Xcalacoco road was 7 km north of Juarez avenue. At Sam's, buy Sangrita de Viuda and another whole pizza (supremo). Enjoyed pizza back at rom, but annoyed to find that maid pocketed about $5 worth of peso coins I left on computer table. Reported to manager, but this is Mexico, after all.
SUN DEC 24
MON DEC 25
Fly to AUS AA 1688 14:15 also 07:10, 13:10