With Chetumal only a couple of hours down the road, we were able to take our time leaving Playa del Carman. It was a good thing too; we had been in our condo for almost 3 weeks, and had made some genuine friendships. We had a lot of people to say farewell to. I was finally able to take Mary Anne for her long promised bike ride. She is such a warm person, and was so helpful to us while we were in the condo.
The ride to Chetumal was beautiful. At times we could get a glimpse of the Caribbean off to our left, and at times we felt we were completely surrounded by jungle. Chetumal is located on a big bay, just across the river from Belize. We had been warned about border towns being a little dangerous, and had booked into the Holiday Inn there. Kind of a when in doubt, go with something familiar idea. Our original plan was to stay only one night, but the museum that we had heard was so good was closed on Mondays (like almost all museums in Mexico are). We changed plans immediately. Actually, I’m not convinced that it was the museum that changed our plans. Barbie had found a Marquiseta guy on the street, and perhaps that was the reason she was so adamant we stay one more day!
We wandered around town and did a fair bit of shopping. On our way here, we had been stopped on the highway by a Military road check, and after their search, Barbie’s white sun visor thing didn’t get put away. I had put it on the back of the bike, and thought she took it, but she didn’t. It was on the highway someplace. Barbie was going through serious sun visor withdrawal, and was bound and determined to find another. Our city map showed a big Mall of the Americas, so we stopped a cab and asked how much for the trip there. He said 20 pesos. Less than 2 bucks. We jumped in. He was still driving 20 minutes later! I have no idea how he can run a vehicle that cheap. The same on the return trip. This time the driver spoke some English, and we learned he had 5 kids, and twins on the way. Needless to say, he got a good tip, but the mystery remains, how do they manage? Barbie still didn’t find a visor (Yippee).
The next morning we had our coffee, and then went to the Museum of Mayan Culture. I think this was the best Mayan museum we had been to yet. The entire layout of the place, built on 3 levels to represent the Mayan belief that we live in the present, but so do our dead relatives below us, and so do the gods above us; all joined by the Ceiba tree.
The Mayans believe that to enter the caves under the ground is to visit the underworld, where their (dead) relatives now reside. Ron and I can attest to the fact that in these underground caves, there are many roots of trees making their way down to the water that lies there. This is especially true on the Yucatán, where there are no above ground rivers, and all the water is sub-surface.
This museum unlocked the secret (for us) of the confusing Mayan Calendar, the Mayan number system, and the fact that not all the ruins we visited were active at the same time. They came and went at different times. When one was reaching its glory, the other was already in ruins.
We had a wonderful time in this “dangerous” border town, and would highly recommend a visit to here to anyone. Our evening stroll on the Malecón was beautiful, and I’m sure that as long as you are home shortly after dark, it is no more threatening than a stroll in Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue, or Winnipeg’s Portage Avenue.