Sunday, June 4, 2017

Chetumal to Palenque

May 27, 2017
After our overnight stop in Chetumal, we set out along Mex 186 heading for a couple of days in Palenque. The roads were pretty good at this point and there was nothing much to report but we realized that we had not filled up before leaving Chetumal and would be needing gas somewhere along this 485 km road.  At Calakmul (235 km out of Chetumal) we came across a large Pemex (more likely to take our Visa card) and it had an Italian Coffee Company on site - we love being in the state of Campeche because that seems to be the center of Italian Coffee Company and their coffee is so good - we also finally got to try that pretty looking desert Gelatina de Mosaica (a mosaic of different colored jello blocks in a white gelatin desert).  We really enjoyed that treat and since we were the only people in the coffee shop we struck up a conversation with the two ladies working there and they told us (and showed us) what the white part of the desert is made from - basically it is a mix of condensed milk, evaporated milk and canned cream (when I said tres leches they laughed with me) and plain gelatin.  Hmm maybe we will try our hand at making some of this when we are in our Airbnb in San Cristobal for 16 days - would be a fun anniversary treat ;)

The town of Calakmul even has a bicycle path to it's outlying village and this is the first time that we have seen any bicycle paths.  The road so far has been really good all the way and we think that it must have been a toll road at one point.

Long straight road through the jungle, between Chicana and Escarcaga
Somewhere along the way we took another stop and finally got to try Pozol de Cacao - this is a traditional drink made from corn dough, water and cacao, all natural ingredients that have been used since ancient times.

At one place we came across a reduced speed limit because of bats but we were still going too fast for me to get my camera set to take a photo :(

We got stopped by a federal police officer at a tope and warned to slow down at topes (speed bump).  This was our first traffic stop and we feel lucky that this was not for a fine or anything.  I did wonder if the fact that I was busy taking a photo when were were stopped had anything to do with our easy getaway but we are pretty sure that it was genuinely just a warning and we need to stop being so blase about topes and speed limits and remember that the laws of the road may not appear to be adhered to and that even though they do not apply to taxis, we are more likely to get pulled up (especially now that we have the TIP sticker on the windshield glaringly advertising our status as tourists).  On the edge of Escarcega we got stopped again at another tope, this time by municipal police.  They wanted to know where we were going, are we from Texas and what is our nationality - really they just wanted to tease us telling us that we are those loco United States crazies.  We all laughed and were waved on our way.

Also around Escarcega, we started noticing that we were now in cattle country but that a lot of the cattle were really skinny.  There were also a lot of magnificent coral trees all along our route - the colors were really vivid.

Getting deeper into cattle country, the ranches were mixed with palm plantations but they were not coconut palms, they looked like date palms but we have not seen any dates here yet, maybe they were oil palms.  The terrain started getting even more arid even though we were now only about 40 miles from the coast- there were trees that looked like asparagus ferns.  That was the only place that we have ever seen them and there were not an awful lot of them even there.  When we stopped to take a closer look, they looked like some type of bamboo growing in tight clumps.

In general, the roads were more eventful today because we saw an accident between a collectivo and a car (there were a lot of police and we had to stop for a while) and shortly after that we saw a truck that had broken a drive shaft (I bet a tope caused it!), repairs were being carried out in the driving lane on the road.

Between Buena Vista and Chable, it has been 102 degrees F for a couple of hours now and here we saw a group of water buffalo cooling themselves in ponds and canals.

On the way into Palenque we saw lots of stalls with those beautiful dresses and blouses that are so popular around here - the locals actually do wear these colorfully embroidered clothes, they are not just for tourists to buy.

Once again, I got nervous when we started driving through narrow little streets that looked very local on the way to our hotel and wondered what I had booked us into - maybe I should stop looking for the cheapest hotels?  It turned out that this little hotel is an old colonial family home - yes it is in a narrow little street but they even have a very safe parking area across the street - a lot behind a huge solid steel door which only the hotel receptionist has a remote for.  This was great because we didn't have to unload everything, just our little suitcases and computer bags.

The cost for the hotel ($29 USD a night) included continental breakfast which was coffee, juice, toast, a fruit plate and some dry muesli which we think was to be eaten with the fruit - the first day (Sunday) we were surprised with a lovely little pancake but not the second day.

Posada (Inn) Aguila Real in Palenque

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