Campeche – Wednesday, September 7

Run for the Border

We put almost 500 km on the odometer getting to the border of Guatemala at El Ceibo, Mexico.  Which is not in our map book.

The Mexican highway department, in conjunction with Google Maps (GM), had one last surprise for us. We came to a road junction outside the last major town before the border.  The road to the right was signed “Camino Cerrado” (Road Closed). No probema, the other road, according to GM, would take us to the border.  It tooks us to a one-lane dirt road. At that point we were still some 50 km from the border.

We did a U-turn and returned to the junction.  As we were making the turn we noticed a couple of policemen frantically waving at us. As it turned out they were trying to warn us that the road was closed because a bridge was out. There was a way around the bridge.  We were given a state police escort to the road that took us past it. The road was probably the worst road we’ve driven in Mexico.  There were more potholes than road.

True to form, there wasn’t a single sign in town with directions to the detour or a warning about the bridge.

By the time we got to El Ceibo the aduana (customs) office was closed. A stop at customs is required to cancel our vehicle’s Temporary Import Permit so that we can have our $400 deposit refunded.  We also have to turn in our tourist cards.

Unable to park in the aduana parking lot we found a lot that advertised parking for MX$20 a day.  Our cost: MX$40.

In other news:

The camera shop in Mexico City where I left the Olympus body for repair finally came through and had it delivered yesterday.

Campeche, September 5

Change of Plan

It dawned on me yesterday that we’ve become quasi vampires.  Because of the heat and humidity – especially the humidity – we only venture out of our air-conditied hotel rooms in the early morning or the evening.  We’re seeing more of our hotel rooms than the country.

The climate of southern Mexico is too much for us.  We’re throwing in the sweat- soaked towel and heading to the mountains of Guatemala.

We had an oil change done at the Ford dealership in Campeche.  They charged us about 3x what we’re used to paying in Pacifica, Estados Unidos.  When we picked up the truck I mentioned that the oil change was expensive.  The reply was, “That’s Mexico.”


Campeche at Night

Campeche, Thursday, September 1

There are a couple of impressive buildings at Edzna. The most impressive was directly in front of the sun.  I did get a nice portrait of an iguana, however.

But there is good news to report: I’m getting my Olympus camera back from the shop in Mexico City.  To pay for the repair and shipping I had to go to a bank and deposit money in the shop’s account.  Why couldn’t I pay with a credit card or Paypal?  It’s Mexico.

The climate in Campeche is brutal.  According to AccuWeather the temperature is 90F but it feels like 107F!  I don’t understand how people can live in such a climate. We are happily ensconced in the deliciously air-conditioned Hotel Gamma. We have a good-sized balcony with a nice view of the ocean, but no patio furniture.  The hotel probably thinks nobody wants to sit outside. In our case they are absolutely right.


Photos from the Mayan ruins at Edzna

Calakmul, Wednesday, August 31

Downed TreeOur visit to the Mayan ruins at Calakmul hit a snag – actually a toppled tree across the road.  We tried to move it to no avail.  I got out the hatchet and started whacking.  Hopeless.

The morning wasn’t a total bust.  Calakmul is also a reserve, and a big one.  As we were driving toward the ruins I saw an animal in the road about 50 meters ahead.  At first I thought it was a dog because we had seen a dog in the road the day before. And the light was bad.  Chris handed me the binoculars and I got a good half-second look at a large jaguar strolling into the forest.

Other wildlife sightings were Agouti, Grey Fox, King Vulture, and Wild Turkey – lots of them. (None of the linked photos were taken by me.)

Hitchhiker
Hitchhiker

Another day of bad road. We put 336 km on the odometer, but it seemed like 336 miles.  Mexico seems to have abandoned the idea of road maintenance. The MO seems to be let the road deteriorate to the point where it’s no longer viable.  Then tear it up and start again.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

Got to the Mayan ruins at Edzna in the late afternoon.  Camped just outside the gate.

Bird of the Day: Great Curassow (life bird)

Calakmul, Tuesday, August 30

We bid a fond farewell to our well air-conditioned room and its resident gecko at Iguanas Cabañas this morning with our sights set on one of the more impressive Mayan ruins at Calakmul. Along the way we ate a late breakfast at a Burger King.

Our Mexican camping guidebook advised us that a visitors’ center – 20 km from the highway – would be finished in late 2009, and that driving to the ruins would then no longer be possible.  A shuttle bus would ferry visitors to the ruins.  What we found was a museum, but no shuttle bus.  The ruins were another 40 km up a narrow access road.

We arrived in the early afternoon so after we toured the museum we asked if we could camp in the parking lot.  Yes we could, and parking was free.

Went for a walk around 6.  Found a nice butterfly (or moth) to photograph.  Bugs found a nice meal.

Isla Aguada, Sunday, August 28

“A Three Hour Tour”

 After leaving Villahermosa yesterday, we took an unplanned detour to Pantanos de Centla, a vast swamp. We got to the end of the road and found a restaurant at a boat landing that offered tours of the mangrove swamp. Actually, the boat ride lasted only an hour and a half.  Our focus was on birds, and there were darn few of them.  We did get a life bird, a Green Kingfisher.  Also saw a flock of what looked like brown geese.

Back at the restaurant after the tour lunch was served.  The owner brought a huge fish, mojarra, to the table.  We could eat only half of it. It was tasty.

We spent the rest of the day sweating in front of our fans. Spent the night in the restaurant’s parking lot.

We’re currently in Isla Aguada, checked into a blissfully  air-conditioned room at Cabanas Iguana.

Bird of the Day: Green Kingfisher (life bird)


Photos from the mangrove swamp tour