In my last few days back home I got very little sleep. I was trying to catch up with things that I’d just not got round to during my time back home. I figured that 3 weeks would be plenty to get everything done, but I procrastinated plenty and was busy doing other things. A perfect example of that was that it took me the best part of two weeks to start working through the mountain of photos I took while in Cuba. I’d arrived back sure that I’d get on that quickly, but it took more than a week for me to even copy the pictures off my SD card.
Anyway, all that is me coming up with an excuse for failing to pack my GPS. I’d had it in the pile of things to pack, and then decided to try formatting and updating it to resolve an issue that I’ve had sometimes of it seemingly randomly freezing up which while never usually that frequent, was annoying whenever it happened. I did this while lying in bed with my laptop, and my GPS must have fallen down the side of the bed. There it lay until I was back in Cancun and my mum was looking for it as I couldn’t find it it in the bags I was searching through. My poor planning had also meant that a few items that I’d ordered hadn’t arrived on time. That included a PIXO C-USB, which will hopefully allow me to charge my camera batteries through USB and thus my new hub, a Topeak Ratchet Rocket RX to make it more comfortable to adjust my bolts and a new bottle cage to replace the bottom one which had a piece fall off. I’d also ordered a Luxos U light, only to then find out that it wouldn’t be compatible with my E-Werk, rather frustrating. This all lead to my parents getting the fun of working out the cheapest way to ship a GPS and the other small things to arrive for me by the time I get Belize City, hopefully.
With my flight getting it just before 10pm, it was a little late to head the 20km from the airport to the centre of Cancun as the next day I was heading out. This ended up with me deciding that sleeping in the airport was the best idea, so after I put my bike together I found my way to the check-in area for terminal 2. There were a few seats, but they’re all designed with armrests to make sure you don’t sleep there. I lined my bike against the wall, got out my towel and tried sleeping on the floor. If I’d had my camping gear and so my sleeping pad, which I’d left with Cesar, then it would have been a much nicer sleep, but as it was I got 3-4 hours and woke up every 30 minutes or so. I then got to sit round until 10:30am for Cesar to turn up and give me the things he’d been looking after for me. I then got on the road and sleepily made my way through the blazing sun and blustery headwind to Playa del Carmen to meet up with Jorge & Miguel, my friends there, for 3 days of relaxation and fun.
The next stop along the coast was back to Tulum to stay with Tim who had hosted myself, Peter and Andrea back in February. The road is long, flat and dull with expensive resorts every few kilometres and little more. I’d tried to stop at Xcaret, but even though I was there on a weekday the official who was meant to be there was apparently on holiday. It obviously took me sitting by the tour place for an hour to find this out, having been told to go and wait for the 1pm tour.
Being back in Tulum was enjoyable. I’d got to speak to Tim a bit back in February, but this time we got to talk even more. He was full of questions about what had passed since then, and had even read my blog and thought of questions based on it, wow! I spent a couple of days in Tulum catching up with things and doing some life planning, things like trying to work out routines that I can add to my life to make things more efficient. Obviously I’m not trying to lose the spontaneity that gives me such joy, just trying to add in some habits – like stretching – that will help me stay on top of things a bit more.
I left Tulum nice and early to maximise the amount of time I had riding out of the heat that I’m still not used to. I said my goodbyes to Tim, although our paths might cross in Belize, and then headed south on the long flat road to Chetumal. It would be about 250 km split across two days, but with no real goal for the day I was just going to ride until I stopped. There was basically nothing for the first 100km, so my water was running out when I made it to Carrillo. I saw a little health office at the entrance to town and stopped to ask for some water. I was met by a lovely man busy enjoying the football who was more than happy to fill my water and even gave me a bottle of coke when I left as well as agreeing to pose in his hammock.
Carrillo is most famous for the Cruz Parlante – the talking cross, a belief that during the war of the castes there was a cross that could speak and told the Mayans to keep fighting. Reading those two links will give you more of the background! I spent a good few hours sat round in town, including what would be my last siesta in Mexico, waiting for the midday heat to die down not leaving until sometime past 4, giving myself enough time to get to a town 50km down the road before the sun went down, or so the theory went.
About 10km south of town, I saw a touring cyclist coming up the other way and we pulled over into the shade. His name is Land and he’s from Northern California. He’s been riding for about 6 months and was on his way towards Tulum. When he gets there it’s back towards DF and then Northern California by June, which will involve a ride or two along the way – probably a bus from Mexico City to the border. He had been down to Guatemala and had ridden through Belize so let me know what to expect (weather that never cools down, repetitive roads, drinkable tap water and easy wild camping because of the low population density). Before I realised, it was almost 6 and I had to set out as it gets dark around 7. I was already certain I’d be riding in the dark, but it’d been lovely talking with Land.
In the small village of Andres Quintana Roo, I stopped and asked for a place to camp and where to buy food. The lady sold tamales, but I’m not a big fan so she told me about her son, Miguel, who owns a little shop right by the park. I went there, but the shutters were down so I went to the only other open store. They confirmed that the park was fine for camping, and I headed back there, only to see Miguel and his shop. It turned out that I just hadn’t shouted loudly enough. He lives in the house next to it and as it was late he only opens it when he hears people shouting for him. I told him I’d met his mum and that she’d mentioned camping in the park, where 10 kids were playing, and asked him what he thought. He said to follow him and let me throw my tent up where he keeps his hammock. He told me that he heads out at 4 but that I was more than welcome to stay until I was ready to go. We chatted for a bit before I passed out, thankful for the generosity of strangers.
Heading south I was passed by a few tour buses from resorts up by Cancun, which was confusing as there’s not really that much down that road. It crosses into Belize, goes to Chetumal, or heads back west past where Peter and I had been a couple of months earlier when we went to Calakmul. It turns out they go to Bacalar, home of an old fort and the Cenote Azul. The fort is very small, and everything of interest there is in the museum. The cenote, located just outside of town, is a delightful place to go and cool down. It’s about 100m deep in places, and is so refreshing. It’s free to go to, although there’s a restaurant touching it where you can rent snorkeling gear and eat what I can only imagine is expensive food (I had a can of beans and some biscuits left over from lunch). I spent a couple of hours there before finishing the ride to Chetumal.
I arrived at 7 and was met shortly after by my host Paco and his friend Nancy. They turned up on bikes and then gave me a little tour around Chetumal including a visit to his crêpe van where I got to try the delicious food on offer before heading back to his house to chat the night away.