Maree & Jack do Mexico, Cuba and California travel blog

Our room in Tulum

A rest stop

She has a pail of corn to grind

In the cenote

From the top of the pyramid

The ball court

Local taxi

Another early start, just after 7am, meant that we could not get breakfast at the hotel in Valladolid. Instead they gave us a pre-prepared sandwich, a green apple, a paper cup of orange juice and a cup of coffee. On the road under an overcast sky we cycled along a section of real bicycle track for a number of kilometres until we reached the city limits. Back on the road we made good time as there was no wind to speak of. After about 30 km we arrived at a town where there were to be some toilets for us to use. Unfortunately no one could find the key to unlock them. Edgar negotiated with a local store got us to use their facilities but at a cost of 5 pesos each. Quite surprisingly the facilities were very clean and even had toilet paper this was in contrast to their location in a yard that looked very messy and dilapidated.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet are the speed humps. The first sign that you are approaching a town is a speed hump. The first one is usually fairly shallow and easy to go over but as you get further in to town the speed humps become very high and steep, and more frequent, meaning that all motor traffic has to slow down to about 10 km/h. This happens even on major highways when they pass through towns and explains why trucks and busses choose to pay a fairly steep toll even though the highways are relatively quiet. Even we cyclists often found the speed humps to be jarring.

After 70 km we arrived at Cenote Choo-Ha which, unlike Samula Cenote, is completely covered and has no natural light. Fortunately there was adequate artificial light for us to enjoy about half an hour of cool snorkelling. I discovered then that I had left my barely used quick-dry towel at the previous Cenote, damn! Maree excelled herself by riding the full 70 km with only the occasional push from me when we got to an upward undulation. The weather cooperated also by staying lightly overcast and having no headwind to speak of. At one of the stops I discovered that somewhere I had punctured but a quick wheel change had me going again. One of the British boys had given up early on so I got his back wheel. There remained 4 km to our lunch stop so I rode but Maree took the bus as she didn't want to get hot again after having cooled off.

For once lunch didn't take ages as Edgar had arranged for us to see the menu before going for our swim and then sent the truck into town to place our orders. After lunch we visited the Coba archaeological site where a local guide gave us a bit of history of the site which used to be a city of some estimated 6000 dwellings. The site is still mostly covered in jungle but there are a number of temples and ball courts that have been excavated and partly restored. We walked to the main pyramid, honouring the honey-bee god, which, despite its size was quite difficult to see until we were within 50 metres or so. No wonder these ancient cities remained undiscovered for so long. Along with others in our group I took the opportunity to climb the 120 steps to the top for a great view of the surrounds. Coming down was a bit harder on my knees but at least I didn't have to come down sitting on my backside as some people did. Maree, wisely, stayed at the bottom. Due to the long walk from the car park to the pyramid the locals had a taxi service using the trikes that are a common form of transport. Bicycles could also be rented but we couldn't bring our own in.

The rest of the day's trip was in the vehicles. We had bee joined by a second van which e nailed all 21 of us, customers and crew, to be carried to our beachfront hotel in Tulum. On the way the rain, which had been threatening all day, finally arrived. We were very pleased to be inside rather than outside the bus. Since the Maya used to sacrifice a child every day until the rains arrived, during the period that the priests calculated it was likely to rain, I suspect that a successful sacrifice had been made.

Our hotel is right on the sand facing the Caribbean Sea. The room is large with extra sitting space and a frigid air conditioner. However it has two big drawbacks - no internet in the room and only tepid hot water. The hotel is situated on a hotel strip and is nowhere near the town so all the restaurants can charge what they please and there is not much alternative. Last night we went to Ziggy's restaurant, next door to our hotel Los Lirios, where the prices were astronomical compare to what we have been paying up to now. I must admit though that the food was delicious and very nicely presented. Paying 150 pesos for a Margarita that usually costs no more than 75 is a bit rich I reckon. Nevertheless we had a great time finally getting to bed at about 11pm.

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