The Mad Dash Through Chiapas and Yucatan


The past two weeks were inadvertently a mad rush. We didn’t even realize how fast we were going. It was only when I was trying to figure out the last time we did laundry that I noticed we have driven almost every day (and a long day) for the past two weeks (minus five days over two places).

To start off, Playa Zipolite where we rested for three days, was a cute little beach town, with huge surf and dangerous currents. We played safe and stuck to the shallows where we enjoyed getting pummeled by the waves, eventually losing my glasses (miraculously they were found). We also met up with Arzu, an old student of mine with whom we spent an afternoon hiking some beautiful coastal trails. One of which lead to what he called a jacuzzi, which turned out was a rock hole where 3 meter waves squeezed through a narrow opening to spin the water more like in a laundry machine than a jacuzzi. We watched the waves rush in, slowly moving farther up the rocks.  Ella spent this time madly chasing crabs until she almost slid into the opening where the waves pour in, but her bird like claws eventually gripped the rock.

Arzu, Rebecca and I watch the waves pour into the rock hole
Brett filling up on Pizza, the perfect Mexican dish

After this short rest we started the last leg of Mexico through Chiapas and Yucatan, which were not really on our radar before, especially since they took us away from the most direct route to the Guatemalan border. However, they both seemed to have a lot to offer and we didn’t want to miss it.  As we made our journey to the state capital of San Cristobal we ran into another blockade, this one man made and political in nature, likely to do with indigenous rights from what we have heard.  I really wish I knew Spanish, especially for times like these.  We stayed the night at a roadside hotel after a two hour detour trying to find a place for Astrid to park for the night, only to return back to where Brett first suggested staying.

The town of San Cristobal was an interesting place with small streets, one person sidewalks, colourful houses and cool markets. It also housed a number of museums we hoped to visit but could not find. But we did get a good tour of the town as we searched for them.   Mexican Independence Day was celebrated the two nights we were in town and we strolled the streets observing the festivities. This neat little place had a lot to offer and in a way I wish we stuck around longer to get to know it a bit better, but the rains drove us away towards the coast of Yucatan.

San Cristobal during Independence Day Celebrations
Eating and Dancing the morning after

On our way to Yucatan we stopped over at Palenke, according to our guide book the most beautiful ruins in Mexico. Having a slight indifference to seeing ruins, I cannot say these had a much different feel than others we have seen, but the jungle setting was pretty cool, especially the howler monkeys that screamed at night.   Although we didn’t really hear them as our turbo fans were running high to keep us cool.

I ride my stallion through the ruins

It was in Yucatan, the safest of the states, that for the first time at police check points we were being pulled over. At one we were thoroughly yet politely searched, having to empty our pockets, then observe as the officer examined our wallets and their contents, the dog food, shaving equipment and so on.   We were curious if they really thought we would be hiding the guns and the drugs in the front with us or maybe it was a good way to see how nervous we would get while waiting.

As we got to Yucatan’s Gulf coast it seemed quite barren and abandoned, this was at least partly due to past hurricanes.  When we got to Chelem we were getting ready to sleep in the parking lot of a restaurant on the beach when Lynn, a retired American living in Chelem invited us to stay with her where we would have a clean bed and a fresh shower in the morning. We took her up on the offer and enjoyed our evening on her porch rather then in our van before retiring to bed.  She now had beach front property as the first row of houses was lost to the hurricanes and the seas.

Chelem’s homes, some abandoned, others not.
Before Lynn invited us to stay at her place we found this restaurant with a view and a half and asked to sleep in our van which they had no problem with

The next day we continued our costal path around Yucatan, passing through Cancun where things got a lot grandiose. We drove through the resort strip, stopping at the public beach for a view of incredibly tourguioise water with beautiful imported sand.  We then moved on to a more humbler place with seaweed and decay like smells.  Needless, we frolicked in the waters before retiring to the van for a night of well salted popcorn and a movie.

Cancun’s Public Beach
Our beach


Popcorn to go with the salt

Currently in Tulum where we found a cute little camp spot amongst a small plantation of perfectly parallel palm trees we decided it was time for a well needed rest.  For the first time we took our laundry to the laundry mat as hand washed clothes only get so clean and with the humidity everything has been damp for a while. This will be a perfect time to clean out all the old sand that has accumulated in Astrid and replace it with some fresh stuff.

Camping in Tulum