Motul, the Crypts, Xcambo, the flamingos and back to Merida: Dec 24
The town of Motul was about the size of Izamal. The town plaza seemed to be the place where the hotels were located. I found it right on the corner as I entered town. This was an unscheduled stop since I left a day early from Ek Balam. In order to make decent time and catch the few sites I wanted to see I had to keep going in the direction of Merida and not drive so far to see a site from a central location. I was able to pick up Yaxuna, Ake and now, Xambo by doing that. The hotel was fairly nice with tiled floors and a small café/bar. The room was clean and sparsely furnished, but had a great shower. I found some food a couple of doors down from the hotel. Things were closing for the night so I went back to the hotel and had a couple of Margaritas at the bar. The TV was on and believe it or not it was in English. I watched for a while until the day caught up with me and I turned in for the night. This must have been the quietest place I stayed. I don't remember being wakened by things during the night, or maybe it was the drinks that lulled me to dreamland. I left early in the morning and when I checked out the night clerk came bounding up off a cot in the hotel office. He surprised me and I am sure I put a fright into him as well. I found the day was overcast and the plaza was covered with a thick layer of fog. I found a bakery and bought some cookies. They looked real good, but there was so much lard in them, they were greasy and nasty tasting. I saved them for the turkeys and chickens down the road. I went across the plaza where several vendors had breakfast tacos. I found what I thought was egg and meat. I bought a coke to go with it and started off down the road. The taco was also nasty. It had a layer of shredded cabbage with some sort of un-identifiable meat on it and the eggs were hard boiled and sliced. I gave it to the first turkey I could find. I saved all my scraps from all my meals and fed the chickens, turkeys, kids and anything else that wanted to eat them. By the time I arrived at a small town that was on my way to Xambo called Dzemul the heavy fog had lifted to become an overcast sky. I found as in other towns the painted stonewalls along each side of the road. At a 'tope' road bump I found a shrine to Our Lady. It was so beautiful I stopped and went in. It was decorated with lovely flowers. I had to take pictures. When I resumed my way down the road I found a man and his son waiting for the bus. I stopped and handed the bag of lard cookies out the window and asked if they wanted cookies for Christmas. They must have understood enough as the boy came across the street and took the bag from me. I waved and wished them Feliz Navidad, thankful to get rid of the gag bag of lard pastry. There were several really cute houses in town and as in other places I could see into the house. They had a Christmas tree with lights on it. Lots of houses were decorated with lights. It was only a couple of days before Christmas by then. I had even seen a Santa Claus in Chetamul before I left there. He seemed out of place but the children were enjoying him.
I found my next treat on the outskirts of town. There was a large cemetery of crypts located behind a stonewall. Since I was the only one around and the streets were empty I decided to go in and take a look. The only other crypt cemetery I had seen was in Mama. I was amazed at the respect that was displayed for the deceased family members. Except for the open crypt with the bones in it, all the rest were encased behind freshly painted facades, or tiled fronts. Most of the inscriptions ranged from the 1890s up to 1990's with one freshly open one ready for the final rest. The pictures are worth a thousand words. I felt really privileged to be able to walk in and view such a magnificent place without someone chasing me off. As I left a bicycle taxi came with a family to pay a visit to their loved ones. I continued on to the site of Xambo. It means the place of crocodiles and crabs. It sits on the swamp marshes about 3 K from the sea. The people that lived there in ancient times were salt farmers and harvested salt to trade with the interior cities of the Yucatan. The place was quaint and small. Even the temples were scaled down compared to other sites. It had a chapel built by the Spanish on the site next to the main temple. I walked around and climbed several of the structures. I could see the trees behind it from the top of the one with the frescos had nests for the egrets and herons. The trees had suffered badly from the hurricane in 2002 and were skinny, twisted and broken. It is going to take a long time for them to recover. When I left I turned left to go to the sea and within a mile I ran into the flamingo marshes. I was delighted and watched them for a long time. Soon a police car came by and asked if I was OK. He must have thought I was broken down. I waved my camera at him and told him 'pictures'. He waved and went on his way. I turned onto the main road and made my way to Merida by the coast road. There were many beach houses along the edge of the shore. There was no way to walk to the beach as all of that area was privately owned and off limits to foot traffic. One side of the road was the beach property and the inland side of the road were the salt marshes the flamingos and other birds lived in. When I reached Progresso, I turned to go to Merida. Several men in trucks began hollering me at. I looked to see what the deal was and found I had turned into the oncoming lane of traffic and cars were beginning to come toward me. Oops! I managed to back down the way I came and take the proper direction on the other side of the divided highway. I grinned sheepishly at the men and waved a thank you. I was able to reach Merida without any more problems. The first stop for me was to purchase my bus ticket to Palenque at the bus station. I already had my reservation. I looked for a place to park and finally found one 6 blocks from the station. I walked down to the station and purchased my ticket. That was the only place I had to show my visa, as I charged the ticket to my credit card. When that was done I drove to the monument I had seen before I left Merida the first time. I had a few minutes to get some pictures of it. It is a monument to the flag. The figure on the back side of the monument is a figure of the serpent goddess. When I was done and didn't get run over by the traffic I returned to the rental car place. I had until 9 p.m. before the bus left. I took the time to empty out the car and repack my bags. I thought I was being smart by packing the huge bag I bought in Chetumal to save on the number of bags I was going to have to take on the bus. When I was done I had eight bags.
I cleaned up the car and finished my business with the Alonzo family. I found a few things I couldn't live without on the plaza and a bite to eat. I used the Internet for a little while and when it was time to go to the bus station Alvaro called me a taxi. I bid him and his family goodbye and the taxi whisked me down to the station. I found I had a first class ticket and was allowed to sit in a special room just for first class passengers. The whole bus ride thing came flooding back as a bad dream after driving for 30 day in the Yucatan. I sure was going to miss the VW and the freedom of movement it allowed me. But, when I turned it in the canoe sunk leaving me to cast my corn seeds by myself, metaphorically, of course. Finally, when the bus arrived I told the porters which were my bags. One man tried to lift the huge bag and said something to the other porter. After a consultation they charged me 15.00 for over baggage. It must have been for the hernia he almost got lifting the huge bag. Soon I boarded the bus and settled down for the night ride to Palenque. More later, Gay