Xpujil via Chetumal
|7:30 bus to Chetumal (got tickets yesterday)...bus ride went very straight (hwy 180), nice road, some small villages but mostly dense 2nd growth dry "rainforest", nothing more than 20-30 feet tall. I think because it was day after Carnival bus almost empty, 5 of us to start and no traffic, so we made very good time arr by 12:30, a 5 hour instead of LP says 6. Decided to go on to Xpujil lvg at 2:15 - this time jungles are cleared along much of the way for large cattle ranches (saw some goats too). We got stopped 2 times by army and had to open bags (drugs?) they even took a flashlight to vents inside bus! It kind of reminds me of airport security, a bit of a show but is it really doing any good? Wouldn't it make more sense just to legalize it all and leave the responsibility to individuals while govt taxes it coming and going?
Got to town (Chetumal-Xpujil) about 4 and hiked up hill towards ruins looking for place to stay. First Hotel Mirador (no sign-we just went into restaurant by same name asking for Don Jorge Cabanas which we thought were the ones here). At 250p/nite it was clean, nice bath w/ hot H2O & towels. They also called a taxi driver who could take us to see sites. Jose Louis charged 1300p at first and we balked, then down to 1100p. Still, with entry fees (4 at 40p ea+) we spend over $60 US on the day trip!
Jose Louis picked us up at 6 am and we got to Calakmul by 8 (120km away)...60km on hwy, now being widened considerable, much improved...then 60km in rainforest preserve on narrow road. JL says soon they will limit traffic by carting tourists in by autotrain most of the way. We were only ones there the entire 3 hours it took us to see the entire site (see pics). Fantastic! On to Balam, Chicanha, and Becan-each w/ its own particular special "neat" stuff...all very impressive, ie few tourists and no restrictions to walking/climbing the ruins and getting up close and personal. Also, the sky was overcast so it was perfect weather, cool but not cold. JL did such a fine job, patient and telling us about animals (cave w/ 1000s of bats, different birds along the way, even apuma story) we gave him 100p tip - he seemed very appreciative.
He has 3 brothers 2 sisters youngest is 21. Mother still alive, father died 12 yrs ago. JL is 41 and eldest...owns/paying for his own taxi. All 4 brothers have been to US illegally working of course, restaurants & factories in Alabama. All of them back in MX working on their small farm - 20 cattle/cows, plant corn, etc. since no work in US. He said tourism is way down for past 6 months - he was lucky, had another tourist just 2 weeks ago, otherwise, mostly tries to work taxi as combi between here and Chetumal or Campeche. He is married and has 4 kids 3 boy 1 girl. Obviously, a hard worker and seems quite serious. His sport is soccer and favorite team is Chivos, best in MX out of Guadalajara. While in Calakmul we saw deer, wild turkey, bird called..... and a leemur type critter plus lots of parrots squawking off and on.