Having safely returned by night bus from Mexico City to Palenque, I was very happy to realize that my bike was still in the courtyard of the little hotel, where I had left it. Even my left luggage was complete and untouched. Well actually I did not expect anything else - I have great faith in the people of Chiapas! :-)
I took a shower, had a good breakfast with loads of coffee and re-arranged my luggage. Around midday - the hottest time of day - I started the 300something km trip to Campeche at the Gulf Coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Campeche is nice, very tidy, with a city centre full of neatly painted houses in pastel colours. It's Unesco world heritage but I am getting the impression that nowadays every doghouse is appointed Unesco world heritage... (I'm sooo bad.. ;-)). With regards to bathing in the Gulf .. forget it. It does not seem to be suitable for swimming, just amazingly shallow, supposedly quite muddy and somewhat looks like concrete since the water does not move at all.
So I spent a night there and the next morning, returned some 100 km southwards from where I came - and then took the road eastwards, directly towards the carribean coast. After a 3 or 4 hour ride through a not-too-boring landscape of jungle, small lakes and farmland I reached the idyllic village of Bacalar at the lake of the same name. The small lake has a white-sand bottom and twinkles in turquoise colours. I rented a tiny hut right on the lakeshore and enjoyed the rise of the full moon over the lake - and the next morning I could also admire the sunrise right from my bed.
I continued just 200 km further northeast, quickly reaching the caribbean coastal village of Majahual. The village itself has nothing of interest, apart from a quay for cruise liners, which actually is a problem. Apart from the money the passengers bing into the village, they also bring the noise of huge groups of Quads withouth silencers, of high speed boats and jetskis - and they very efficiently promote the destruction of the famous coral reefs and the wildlife along the coast. Some clever person once said something like "in the near future the question won't be whether or not we can get to any place in the world, but it will be whether or not that place is still worth it". This is what I thought when I saw the huge cruising ships at the seashore and the masses of noisy tourists streaming into the tiny village and its surroundings.
Following the advice of the "Lonely Planet" guidebook I found a really beautiful place on the beach, some 7km away from the village, owned by a welcoming mexican-american couple. I rented a little hut 10 Meters from the waves. Lying in the bed I could listen to waves and the wind in the palms, watching the yellow-red moon rising over the sea. This must be paradise. Well, however even this paradise was not perfect. The water was full of seagrass (good for nature, bad for swimming) and the tranquility was frequently disturbed by the thunder of huge groups of quad-driving tourists from the cruising ships. Another "problem" there is the absence of infrastructure i.e. electricty and water, both have to be generated on-place, which involves a noisy generator running after nightfall - by day solar energy replaces the noisy diesel generator. Luckily the generator was well-hidden and hardly audible due to the constant wind from the sea.
After two nights in paradise I continued northwards, slowly approaching Cancun. The next stop on my way was the very touristy town of Tulum, which is famous for its Maya ruins directly on the beach and for the beautiful beaches, diving and snorkling possibilities. The sand is extremely fine and white, the colour of the water is so beautifully turquoise that it seems unreal - and the caribbean holds what it promises. This includes international hords of bagpacker tourists and many hotels along the coastline. However these hotels are not like "El Arenal" on Mallorca or "Lloret del Mar" on the Costa Brava but usually quite tasteful locations with wooden huts or elegant villas which do not really destroy the beach - as far as you like urbanized beaches. Well, I doubt that in the future any non-urbanized beaches will remain - or at least none where an average person can afford to go.
Posted by Winne Lichtblau at March 18, 2006 12:54 AM GMT