Isla Aguada to Campeche - 174 km (9:30-2:30); Quota cost 60 MX
The road along the coast was slow going, mostly because of the hundreds of topes. But, it was a pretty drive and the road was in fairly good repair. We knew that there weren't any campsites nearby but had two options: a hotel parking lot or a parking lot with 24 hour security. We opted for the parking lot and had a great night.
On our way into the town we stopped at one of the forts, I think it was Miguel. The forts were built to keep marauding pirates out of the city. Apparently these was a hundred years of pillage before the Spanish built the forts. Worth a visit if going by, but not if it's out of your way.
The city of Campeche is absolutely worth a visit and I'd come back and stay a week. The narrow streets in the old part of town are full of pastel coloured houses, a couple of really old cathedrals from the 1500s, oodles of restaurant options, a sweet town square and loads of friendly people. The night we were there, there was a big fiesta in the town square. It was an end of school term celebrations for students who have physical or mental limitations. Each class did a Christmas themed stage presentation, choreography and all. From little kids to older teenagers, it really was a great show.
One of the things that I love about places with warmer climates is that everyone is out at night. The heat of the day is gone, chores and work are finished, and the young and old are out to visit, have fun and catch up on news of the town. It's idyllic.
Campeche to Uxmal - 243 km - via Edzna (8:30-4:30)
Out of Campeche we took Hwy 261, then dropped down to Edzna from near Cayal. Edzna is a smaller Mayan ruins. It's better to visit the smaller ones before hitting the bigger sites. Here there is an impressive Gran Acropolis that is 100 feet tall. From Campeche south, toward Palenque, are the oldest and longest inhabited Mayan settlements. We took 2 hours which was plenty of time and the site was not crowded, only a group of architectural students drawing sections.
Although our GPS kept trying to get us back to Campeche to get to Uxmal, we opted to stay on Hwy 261, even though we did head in the wrong direction for a few km. Overnight parking at Uxmal is excellent, in the staff parking lot right at the entrance. The site is massive and truly takes at least 3 hours to see. Best to head in when they open at 8 as tour busses start to arrive around 10. The huge House of the Magician, with its elliptical shape, is something I've never seen. It has two facades, with one west and the other east facing. At over 115 feet, it is significantly taller than any of the surrounding trees. Although there were a number of busloads in the site when we left, it didn't really feel crowded at all.
We loved Uxmal and were so glad we added it to our list of Mayan ruins to see ... we are being fairly discriminating since there are hundreds and both of us aren't that interested in touring a "bunch of rocks" and seeing each one of the sites. Well, at least one of us really isn't that keen. Guesses??
Uxmal to Merida ... oops, didn't stay there ... on to Izamal - 173 km
All of us were really excited to be going to Merida. We'd heard that a number of campsites had closed, but were hoping that the Rainbow RV Park (technically closed) would be ok for a few nights. Well, we were wrong. We entered through a side gate with a lock that wasn't locked and drove it. This place would have been amazing in its day!! With over 100 campsites, some with brick patios, I bet there were some huge caravans that stayed here. At the moment, the only residents are thousands of mosquitoes. When we parked, they were all around our doors and windows, like they were knocking and saying "Let us in." With no onsite security, electricity that was too high in amperage, water that was questionable, and the mozzies, we had a group meeting. It was either stay at a Walmart or forge on. We opted to forge on to Izamal. The thought was to stay in Izamal then take a colectivo into Merida (about an hour away).
Well, all I can say is that the 95% humidity and high 20s temperature completely sapped our energy. After setting up camp at the Hacienda Santo Domingo, we knew we'd be there for a few days. Although a lovely, spot with wild plants, sheep roaming around and excellent bathrooms, it seemed a bit pricey at 200 pesos with no electricity or water.
The first night, after realizing that the humidity wasn't going down, Victor and I had a "Summit Meeting" ... what next?? Although the plan was to explore the north portion of Quintana Roo (Flamingoes, Isla Holbox, more ruins), we both feel we need to plunk down for a week or so. The heat and humidity is killing us especially since we cannot use our AC. So, we decided to visit only Chichen Itza then head to the beach. We would then have about 10 days to totally relax before flying home on December 19 to see our family. Pretty good decision making ... the beach!! Our travel mates, Jan and Dave, will do some more exploring in the area, spend some time with us at the beach and then head to Chiapas. We will rendezvous with them when we return on the 26th.