Amid news that three of our traveling companions are sick, we hooked up our cars and started our journey south and then inland to the west away from the Caribbean (3 rigs traveling together). It's always scary to be sick in a foreign country, but the medical care and facilities are very good in and around Playa del Carmen. However, this was reminiscent of our trip to the Copper Canyon when one of our companions had a heart attack. Luckily, he received excellent care in a very small Tarahumara Indian clinic and was airlifted out to Chihuahua. We have trip insurance that covers medical evacuation and vehicle transport if required. That story had a happy ending and we're praying our current traveling companions will be able to re-join us later.
The first leg of our journey south to Bacalar presented no problems; roads were pretty good, light rain fell, and we passed through some dense jungle area. Some of the caravan will stop at Bacalar but we plan to drive further to shorten the drive tomorrow to Palenque. Laguna Bacalar has the 17th century Fort San Felipe built to protect from the pirates; but, the real allure is the colorful lagoons and cenotes. We have had lots of water activities in the past week and this didn't hold much appeal for us at this point....you know me and water. If we had more time available, we would consider going to Belize........another reason to come back to this area.
Several miles after we turned west, we reached the Aduana Customs Inspection Station. This was the first time we went through one of these without our leaders. No problem, showed our vehicle papers, and we were on our way. We were waived through the Agriculture Inspection and crossed into the state of Campeche. The roads deteriorated some and became narrower. We stopped for fuel and debated on whether to stop at the Becan or Chicanna Ruins to park for the night in their parking lot. Since it was early, we decided we would press on......into the great unknown with no designated place to spend the night.
Lots of fruit growing through this region; banana groves, sugar cane, etc. We stopped to purchase some fresh pineapple. By then, we had targeted a restaurant with a large pull-out area for our digs for the night. The guys asked the owner if we could park overnight if we had dinner, and he agreed. This was the cultural experience of a lifetime.
After resting a bit, we headed to the restaurant. There were no menus. The six of us combined didn't have much Spanish. We were at a family-run operation and it was clear the Mom was in charge. She explained what she had available to cook (chicken, beef, beans, tomatoes, onions, etc.) We told her how we wanted it cooked and waited with anticipation on what we would get. We asked for chips; once they figured out what we were asking for, the Dad and a couple of the kids hopped in the pick-up truck and went to the store and returned with the chips. Now, that's Mexican hospitality!!!. The little kids donned their own mini aprons and served the food. This was one of the best meals we've had on the trip. They had a TV and flipped through the channels to see what we wanted to watch. We felt like we were part of their family. Whatever happens on the rest of the trip, this cultural experience will be a memory we'll treasure always.