Back from a wonderful adventure in Cuba, we were excited to be back with our trusty Koru. He had a good and safe rest while in Cuba, and we were all ready to continue onward. Sarah’s father and step-mother were planning a trip to the Cancun area a week later, so we decided to take a lap around the northern end of the Yucatan to kill some time until they arrived. Our intended route would lead us on the famed Ruta de Flamingos, sending us along the seldom traveled Northern coast of the Yucatan.
Our first stop was the sleepy kite-surfing town of El Cuyo. After a slow drive up roads riddled with topes, we finally made it to the small pueblo. Sarah had spotted a small road leading east of Cuyo that landed us a very private beach side camp spot. The area is famous for it’s wind, so we strategically parked so the sand wouldn’t bury the van over night.
We decided to stroll down the beach towards the main town where we met a local kite-surfing coach named Beto who had just finished a class with his students. He was incredibly friendly and invited us to his house the next day. He also keened us in on a house down the way where some folks from Colorado were visiting. We casually introduced ourselves to a few folks from Steamboat and Vail! What a small world! After a few beers and talk of home and snowy activities, we casually made our way back to our spot while walking under some of the most vivid stars either if us had witnessed since leaving home.
The following day we spent some time running, doing yoga and eating a big breakfast. Once in the town, we hopped on the bikes and explored the area. We found out that later that night there would be a circus show. It was obvious to both of us that we would stay and witness this ‘magnificent’ event. After some delicious ceviche for lunch, we made our way to Beto’s house to hang out for the afternoon. He showed us the trick to harvesting coconuts with a machete, which we vowed to purchase as soon as we could. We feasted on coconut milk and flesh and discussed the tranquility of the area before getting ready to hit the circus.
The big event was comical if not fully entertaining. Obviously the only white people in the tent, we made our way to the top of the rickety and borderline dangerous bleacher setup to get to our seats. It appeared the entire town was out for the circus, with kids running around everywhere catalyzed by copious amounts of sugar.
The following day we continued on the Ruta de Flamingos where large lagoons flank the ocean. We’d never seen so many flamingos, and never in the wild. Watching them fly was a thing of great awe and comedy. Their awkwardly large bodies looked difficult to get air born, but once they were out of the water with the help of their running legs, it was incredible to see how large and majestic they are.
Our next stop was the lovely town of Buctzotz. We had met a very nice Mayan school teacher at a gas station who told us about the town. He was from there and informed us that they had delicious food, including the regional Cochinita Pibil only served on Sundays. For anyone who doesn’t know us, we LOVE good food and decided to head straight there, especially because the next day was Sunday! We drove around the town until we decided to ask a local where we could park for the night. The nice woman quickly told us to park in front of her house where the entire family greeted us warmly. They fed us and we shared beers together for hours into the night before we decided to explore the town with the uncle of the family.
This little town turned out to have quite the nightlife and we went to one of the clubs that reminded us more of Vegas than small-town Mexico. We decided to head back somewhat early so we would not miss the Conchinita Pibil the next morning, which is known to sell out quickly. All we can say, or at least for Matt, that this was the highlight of our food experience in Mexico.
Our next plan was to head back to the coast to make our way to the tourist destination of Progreso. It was a nice, yet seedy beach town with one of Mexico’s largest ports. We had some good street food, then crashed near the beach where we met some fellow overland travelers from Switzerland. They were incredibly friendly and even invited us to visit them in Belize at an airBnB they had reserved.
Kruisin through the large city of Merida we made our way to small town of Homun, where over 30 cenotes exist.
After a day of swimming and climbing around in the cenote with a local boy, we parked the van in the town square and proceeded to play a game of soccer with some local kids. They were thrilled to have us play, and they only left after their yelling parents told them it was time to go home a fifth time.
The following day we made our way to the famed yellow city Izamal. Literally every building in the city is painted yellow, which was a unique sight. They even had an archaeological site at the edge of town that was three pyramids built one on top of the other. The town was celebrating a festival too, so the town square was highly decorative with carnival rides and vendor booths of all sorts everywhere.
That night we managed to find a primitive camp spot just off of the minimally trafficked road where we had a wonderful nights sleep. We had plans to visit one of the Mayan ruins the next day but ended up postponing to save money and meet Sarah’s parents in time. We knew there would be many more archaeological sites to see in Belize and Guatemala, so we didn’t want to overdo it.
We finally made it to Puerto Morelos just south of Cancun where we had the pleasure of staying at an all inclusive resort for 2 nights.
It was amazing spending time with family and relaxing in luxury, which we knew was rare and we may never do again. We are grateful for our early Christmas/Birthday presents, and the time spent together was wonderful!
Feeling rested and ready to hit the road again, we headed back towards Cancun to see Corey and Jordan, Sarah’s friends from PA along with a fellow coworker of Corey’s who were there for a business conference. We all had dinner and chatted into the evening. The next day, we headed back down to Tulum and enjoyed yet another great evening together.
They headed off to visit the ruins of Chichen Itza while we decided to go on a snorkel/bouldering mission off the public beach of Santa Fe. We swam from the public beach to a little hidden beach below the ruins of Tulum with a dry bag full of climbing shoes, water and camera in tow. There was a small cliff where we could get our climbing fix without ropes and gear. We were very out of shape, so we got a good pump fast and enjoyed the private sands with large iguanas and sunny skies.
Thinking about our Swiss friends offer across the border, we made our way towards Chetumal, the last big city in Mexico that sits on the border with Belize. On the way, we found a great camping spot north of the town of Bacalar where the large fresh water lagoon is, so we posted up for a quick swim and shower before going to Chetumal.
We happened to be in Chetumal on Halloween, so we went out on a limb and dressed as normal people, going to the mall for dinner and a movie, very atypical for us. It turned out to be a great night, and although we were sad to leave Mexico, we were ready to push further south into Belize.
So onward we go, vowing to return to the wonderfully diverse and magical country of Mexico.
Hasta luego pais magico!