December 30, 2006 GMT
Campeche, Uxmal and Mérida

This is a typical group of gawkers, checking out the beemer. Notice no attention is on the suzuki...

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6/12/06 - We gratefully left the humid environs of Palenque and rode north on highway 186. We wanted to leave Palenque, the ruins are nice, but the rainy, humid, muddy jungle was not fun to live in and the bikes did not like the conditions either.
That morning I took Oliver, a backpacker from Germany, to go see the "cascadas" at Misol-Ha 20km south of Palenque. The weather was misty and cloudy, so we didn´t stay long. Took photos and left. The water was a dirty, uninviting brown from all the rain in the past 3 days. Normally, it´s supposed to be a great spot to go swimming.

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The rain put a downer on our moods for sure. We had rain in San Cristobal, Palenque and now our ride north to Campeche. We stopped along the way, when it started pouring, to put on our raingear. Some of the passing cars had their fun with us and honked as they passed.

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We left the jungle and the land turned into open famr land. We passed through small towns, slowing down for their "topes". I hit one unmarkes tope too hard and my top case came flying off. Luckily there was no one behind me, just a group of school kids waiting for a bus, they all laughed at the fancy gringo. We passed at least 4 small caravans of bikers and runners carrying torches and relics, wearing virgin of Guadelupe t-shirts. I stopped to take a photo of one runner and Nick got pissed off that I was being rude, so he kept going.

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I took the photo, got back on the bike, caught up with him and then blew passed him, a bit out of anger. I then did 90-100 mph for the next 30 miles or so, letting off some steam. I wasn´t in a good mood; the rain, cold and eventually the mud from all the road construction was starting to get to me. I saw a billboard for a BK in 60 KM and for the next hour I convinced myself I wanted a taste of home. The Bk was in Escarcingo, a small non-descript town 70 Km south of Campeche. I was surprised to see it in such a small town. I was embarassed to enter, but it was only the second time I contributed to the Americanization of Mexico. The first being the Starbucks I hit up in Aculpoco after 3 straight weeks of Nescafé.
We made it to Campeche by 6pm, riding the last 20Km in the dark, slamming into a few unannounced f-ing "topes". We took the "libre" road and I´m starting to learn that it´s worth the $2 to be on good roads, especially at night.

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Campeche is an old, colonial town surrounded, partially, by the crumbling "buluartes" that protected its rich citizens from pirates. When the Spanish first arrived, this city quickly became a rich trading town due to its convienent deep water port. The pirate theme is everywhere. We stayed at the Hostal de Piratas - full of old artifacts like cannons, treasure chests and old beer mugs. I noticed right away the difference between life inside and outside the buluartes. It seems the walls are still protecting the rich people. Although instead of defending against pirates, now its divides rich and poor. There are no beggars on the streets here, there´s police literally on every corner.

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Hostal de Pirata has a great free breakfast that consisted of huevos, frijoles, jugo and cafe.

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And there´s very friendly staff, Gladis and Gerardo.


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Here are some photos of the city, including some of its famous sunsets along the malécon.


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This sweet old lady lives right next to Piratas and she loves all the youthful travellers that walk by her window all year round. We had a lovely conversation and she gave me a big hug and kiss and told me she would pray for my safety along my journey.

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Here we are about to leave, headed for the ruinas of Uxmal.

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We left the state of Campeche and entered the state of Yucatán. Here the archway commerates the friendship between the two states.

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The ruinas at Uxmal had lots of iguanas. Every ruins we go to has a unique characteristic, iguanas are unique to Uxmal.Whereas Palenque was a mossy grey due to the wet jungle, Uxmal´s stones have a pink hue because it´s set amid dryer forests. To tell you the truth though, they´re all starting to seem the same.

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This guy is a tourguide at Uxmal and he loves the New England Patriots! He watches on them on Sky TV every sunday. He knew Belicheck is a defensive genuis, he knew Tom Brady hurt his arm in the last game and he was looking forward to this Sunday´s game against the Jaguars. I couldn´t believe it.

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8/12/06 -Mérida
I went for a walk by myself today in the afternoon. I was looking for a place to sit and write in my journal and maybe get to a computer to update the blog. I passed Plaza Municipal and entered a very pedestrianized part of the city. People were everywhere, scurrying in all directions. I entered a saloon on a corner with its typical, swinging doors and entered another world. Inside were all men, drinking beer, tequilas, soda. I ordered a bottle of Superior, it came with a "limon" and "sal", chips, refried beans, a bean dip, pickled cucumbers and picante potatoe squares. All for the price of one beer. The place was a mess, 4 people were working the bar. Men shouted for "caguamas" (big litro bottles-called "ballenas" in Baja) and "cambio" for their pesos-so they could play some old, country music on the jukebox. A dirty cat quietly sat on a shelf, with the box of "limones" and cleaned its self. A drunk man cleaned the dishes, slamming the plates into the sink and violently opening the faucet. A father and son worked the cash register and a man, I was told, who had worked here for 23 years, sober for 10, laughed with everyone. The men stared at me at first, I´m sure I was the only tourist who had ever entered this place. But after a while, I blended in. Old men with moustaches sat alone at the bar. There was a wet cutting board with fresh lemons to be cut, 3 cans of Raid sat on the wall next to dusty soda bottles. A fat, loud man was talking about the faucet he had in his hands, and the men would laugh. I heard "quarente ańos" amid his slurred Spanish. He gave the oily piece of metal to a young man behind the bar and motioned for him to leave the bar with it (apparenty to go buy a new one). I gave the thumbs up to a young guy with a white Red Sox jersey. The dirty white cat continued cleaning itself on the shelf, oblivious to the commotion of the bar. I unfortunately noticed the bartenders slamming the uneaten appetizers back into their serving containers. I had 2 beers, I didn´t want to seem unmacho, paid the 18 pesos and left through the swinging doors back into the crowded streets of Mérida. I walked by a clothing store, crowded with only women, and it made me think of the juxtaposition of the two sexes.
Here are some photos of Mérida. It´s more real than Campeche, with crowded buses, dirty squares and crumbling walls.

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I met these funny guys and had some beers with them. From left to right are Manuel -a "pintor", Felipe - a "joyero" of gold and Astro -a world-travelling, French speaking playboy. These guys were real characters and we had fun talking from our different viewpoints on life. I´m glad I met them too because Astro had a former girlfriend who owned a hotel in Tulum and he wrote a note in my journal that I showed her when we got there and we got a sweet discount because of it.

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Nick and I stayed at Nomadas hostal on calle 62, where they had free salsa lesson every tuesday and thursday and free "trova" (traditional solo guitar folk music of the area) every night. Flor, a sweet, dimpled girl is the receptionist.


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Posted by Christian Burrows at December 30, 2006 05:15 PM GMT
 


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