28 Dec 2014

White Christmas Mexican Style

After Pelenque we visited another 3 Archaeological sites, Edzna, Uxmal and Chichenitza. Edzna was the least well know but in many ways was the best. Almost as big as the other two was completely empty and nothing was roped off (unlike the other two where everything was roped off) so we could climb the Pyramids as much as we wanted.

Our final Archeological site in Mexico was Tulum, but we decided to have a rest before tackling this so headed for the beach, but half way we ran into a massive storm and a lightening bolt literally hit a large road sign as we went under it I saw the lightening come straight for us and heard a terrific boom as the sign shook above us !!!. After 1 night just south of Tulum we made our way to the end of the Peninsular (a 25 mile track with more water than road that took over 2 hours) and ended up at a lovely little camp site on the beach with hot showers and all we could want so decided we would stay for Christmas. The owner had organized Christmas dinner on the eve of the 24th in one of the restaurants and we joined a Danish family, a Swedish family, a Dutch guy, and English guy, an Aztec (who did massage and made jewelry) plus 2 Americans, 1 Candian and had a great time. The Danes came up with  an excellent game involving small Christmas presents and dice and we all had a good time.

Christmas Day was cloudy and windy (still warm though and we didn't do a lot except prepare to leave. On Boxing Day we visited Tulum stopped for one night  at the top of Lake Bacalar and then to Yax Ha, a camp site on the coast very close to the Belize border, where we met up with Mike and Shannon on their motor bikes and Steve in his Unimog.


Uxmal Sound & Light
Cenote (natural water hole)
Platform to a abseil into the Cenote
You can just see the platform top right
The Ball Court at Chicheiniza, you can just see the hoop they have to put the ball through (without using their hands or forearms) the loosing side was beheaded.

The road to Punte Allen
Our Christmas camp site
A walk in the jungle
To the Black Lagoon
To get an appetite for our Christmas dinner


Yax Ha - yes it is our cruiser, still covered in white sand from the road to Punta Allen

A couple of Iguanas - top one about 18 inches, bottom at least 2 feet.

17 Dec 2014

Chris finally gets to be Intrepid

Chris decided that we would be intrepid and go to Monte Alban by public transport, which meant going via Oaxaca. We first took a bus into Oaxaca for 12 pesos (60p) each, and the driver said he would tell us when to get off for the bus to Monte Alban, which he did - 3 stops after we should have got off! There was little chance we would find the right bus now, so took a taxi to Monte Alban 100 pesos (£5). We spent about 3 hours in the ruins and then got a tourist bus back to Oaxaca for 25 pesos each (£1.25), so far so good!. Determined to get the bus back to El Tule we walked in circles for about 1.5 hours, directed first to one bus depot to another. Twice we stopped a taxi and they both wanted 150 pesos!! Eventually we spotted a 'colectivo' going to El Tule, these can be anything from a car to a minibus that do fixed routes and pick-up and drop off on the way (very much like the Grande Taxi in Morocco). There were already 2 people with shopping in the back, so Chris took the front seat, thinking she had the best deal! Wrong! 5 minutes later the taxi stopped and a rather large lady opened the front door and squashed in next to Chris! Half way back the large lady got out, only to be replaced by an even larger lady, with 2 shopping bags, 2 minutes later. So Chris finally got to be intrepid, 7 years after the Grande Taxi ride in Morocco that christened the blog (see panel to right).

The next day we finally dragged ourselves away and drove to the coast to Puerto Angel (Anhel), originally for 2 days, but turned into 4. We had been told of a web site called IOverlander set up a couple of years ago by an overlander who was a computer games designer, he detailed every location he stayed at and provided the ability to 'check in' to existing sites to confirm they are still open and comment on their experiance and also to enter new locations. The web site said that this was a nudist beach and a Hippy Paradise and we were not disappointed! When we arrived they were building a new road and the normal entrance was blocked, but a guy came up, introduced himself as a volunteer life guard and led us to the site, he told us the price was 100 pesos per night and asked if we wanted to buy any weed! We camped behind some cabanas on stilts right on the beach, next to a large crowd of young French girls who were constantly running into the sea naked. Not to be outdone a Mexican girl spent about 2 hours one morning doing Yoga in just a G string, before finally removing that and running into the sea (not that I was looking). Whilst there we met up with Mike and Shannon again (not Shona as I previously thought) plus another couple on a single motorcycle (Carl and Kathleen), who had previously spent 14 years traveling the world by boat.

After finally dragging ourselves away (or was it Chris dragging me away?) we had one more beach stop before heading into the Yucatan peninsular touring Mayan ruins. The beach was deserted and very windy so moved on the following day, camping outside a Hotel the following night and actually staying in a Hotel  (£17.50) the night after in order to visit San Crystobal and dropped our laundry into the launderette over the road. It dawned on us the following morning that it was Sunday and the launderette might not be open! It wasn't, but the Hotel Receptionist called her and she came and opened up for us.

As we approached the first of the Mayan sites the scenery changed to being very lush and green and except for some of the exotic trees looked very much like the UK, in fact the road leading up to Tonina looked just like Stowe Gardens!

Next we visited some rapids and a Waterfall, before a 2 night stop at Palenque, to give us a full day at this rather amazing location. The first night I was woken by what sounded like dinosaurs roaming through the camp site,, the noise was deafening and woke everyone in the camp site (except Chris). If I had not read on IOverlander that the place was frequented by Howler Monkeys it might have scared me to death! They make an amazing amount of noise for their size. This Archaeological sight was occupied by the Mayans from 300 to 900AD after which it was completely overgrown by the jungle for almost 1,000 years and whilst the temples, pyramids and palaces have been cleared there are many buildings buried in the jungle and the site covers many acres. We hired a guide for this one who was very interesting and informative and told us a lot about some of the other sites as well..

We are now on the beach again, but moving on tomorrow to continue our archaeological tour.

 Monte Alban
Camped behind a cabana on the beach at Puerto Angel
 The Beach

 Christmas at St Crystobal

The steps were very narrow and very steep
Chris struggled for a while
And was eventually helped down by the guard (someone had to take the photo!)
 The rapids

 The Waterfall
 Taken from behind the waterfall

This one still part overgrown

Chris of the jungle

We couldn't work out how he was keeping hold of these until we got past and realised they were in a large bucket between his knees.


6 Dec 2014

6 Months on the Road

184 days on the road, 22,000 miles, 25 degrees and sunny no rain for 26 days, it is a little cool at night but in a couple of days we will be back on the beach with 30+ days and warm nights.

The Tie Rod Ends arrived on Tuesday as predicted but too late to be fitted. Turned out 3 of the 4 needed changing so the garage changed all 4 (for £35.00!!) the following day, but finished too late for tracking so we had to stay until Thursday. Thursday was Thanksgiving in the USA and as there are a lot of Americans living in the area the restaurant had a Thanksgiving dinner and it would have been rude not to stay for that.The following day, after 10 days outside the restaurant we said our goodbyes and headed in land.

Our next stop was Aliende and headed for a lake just south to find somewhere to camp, the road we took ended up being barred by a gate, we asked the people there if we could camp and they indicated the field opposite. It was a large open field dotted with small trees, looking just like the Serengeti, we even had what sounded like a couple of hyenas yipping right under the tent!

We were told Aliende was nice and it was, but after spending over an hour trying to find somewhere to park we gave up and moved on as we had another long drive around Mexico City on the Arco Norte to Puebla.

Puebla is a large City and we had decided it was time for a Hotel, close enough to the center to have a walk round, but the traffic was a nightmare and the only Hotels we could find looked dismal so we headed back out again and found a very clean 4* Hotel (for £42.00) just outside the centre. That night we found it was the Publa Marathon in the City Centre the following day, but fortunately not past our Hotel, so next morning we headed out again.

After 3 long days on the road we arrived at the Overland Oasis, a small Camp site at Santa Maria del Tulle, just out side Oaxaca (pronounced (Wahaca). When we arrived there were 4 overlander vehicles and a pair of motorbikes. A couple hours later all, including the camp owners (Calvin and Leanne) walked into town for dinner. The campground is a former restaurant The camp owners are retired overlanders, but still use there vehicle (an old Greyhound bus) as bedroom/lounge, parked inside part of what used to be the restaurant, the remainder being their kitchen/dining room and seating area.

One by one they all left, First a young American couple on their way back to work. Then a young German couple who had to cut their journey short to fly home for medical reasons, leaving behind most of their belongings, including the vehicle they bought in Canada. Followed by a Romanian guy heading to Cancun to pick up his wife, who had been visiting their daughter in Canada. Next the bikers, Mike, Shona and Ducati (the Chihuahua), heading South (we will probably catch up with them on the beach in a few days). And finally Steve in his Unimog, also heading South, leaving us on our own, until Hans and Benta turned up that evening.

We had planned to stay for 2 days, but when Kelvin mentioned a guy down the road that had repaired roof tents we decided to get the zip replaced an our old roof tent cover as a spare. We also showed a problem with one of our chairs, initially he said he could not repair it, but when he brought the cover back he had had second thoughts and ultimately made an excellent job of it, but Kalvin and Leanne are excellent hosts and we have had no problem staying here a few more days.

Santa Maria del Tulle boasts the biggest tree in the world, not the tallest, but at 14m across it is enormous. amazingly (for Mexico) we also found a bike path (formerly a railway line) right into the centre of Oaxaca, so off came the bikes and we finally got to spend some time in the old part of a city.

As I write we have decided to stay another night (7) and visit Montealban, an ancient Zaptec city, but we will definitely be on the road again tomorrow, to the beach!

Saying Goodbye to Joseph at the restaurant at Ajijic
Overland Oasis
 Mike and Shona packing up to leave
And off they go
Leanne, Calvin and Steve.
And then there were none
One of the churches in the area
A Mexican on an elephant?
The largest tree in the world

Note the size of the man on the right!
The view of Santa Maria del Tulle from my bike ride in the hills (followed by a beer in the sun)