Catemaco to Isla Aguada
Dec 3, 2015
|Catemaco to Villahermosa - 310 km (8:30-4:30); Quotas cost: 142 MX (11.5 CAD)
After spending an overcast and drizzly day in Catemaco, we were looking forward to some heat in the state of Tabasco. Catemaco, at an elevation of around 1200 feet, is typically much cooler than any place at sea level along the Gulf Coast. We asked someone in Catemaco how hot it can get in Villahermosa (our next stop) and they said it can go up into the 40s in the summers. Yikes ...
As we descended from Catemaco toward the BIG quota highway 145, we enjoyed the farmlands and scenery along the way. Lulled into a false sense of security!! As soon as we hit 145, we realized we were in for a very challenging drive. Potholes 4 feet across and 2 feet deep littered the right lane of the highway. Dave was ahead of us and did a great job of dodging the big ones ... we just watched his rig and tried to do the same. But it's stressful driving like that with crazy Mexican drivers behind, in front and beside you!!
When we turned off at La Venta to see the Olmec museum, we were all relieved to get out of our rigs and stretch a bit. The museum houses many replicas of original Olmec heads and other treasures. To preserve them, the originals were taken to the museum in Villahermosa. Replicas were made and placed exactly where the originals were found. There is only one original at the front entrance. Worth a stop, but be sure to really dowse yourself with bug spray. Lots of mozzies.
In Villahermosa, we camped at a balneario (Recreativo El Gordo Y San Panch) which had a large grassy field with electric and water hookup. Not bad. Had Happy Hour by the pool and wished we hadn't arrived just as they were closing the pool. Bathrooms were fairly clean and huge with cold showers.
Villahermosa to Isla Aguada - 235 km (8:45-3:00); Quotas cost 135 MX (11 CAD)
The drive along the coast was quite lovely with crashing waves and miles of deserted beach. It took a LONG time to get out of Villahermosa and around to the highway that would take us through the low marshy areas toward the coast. Road better than yesterday, but still looking like meteors have hit the odd spot on the highway. This is the only road going to Merida, so it must get a lot of heavy truck traffic that is chewing up the roads.
Going through Ciudad del Carmen was ok, but the town really looks to be in rough shape. Most of the people who live here work on the oil rigs and the town is quite dirty and dusty. Just before we entered the main part of town, in a very narrow stretch of road, we were stopped by the police, not the federales in black, but a state or municipal police officer. He was quite friendly, asked for our driver's licenses, our vehicle registration ... and then ... he asked for a little money for "comer" (to eat). He had a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile on his face. At that point, both Victor and I acted really dump (not difficult for me) and kept saying "no intiendo" (I don't understand). He finally gave up and waved us on ... not stressful, but the first time we've had any "issues" with anyone here.
When we arrived at Freedom Shores, we were thrilled to see a lovely campsite, right on the ocean, with cement pads to drive onto, awesome hookups (electric, sewer and water), and perfectly wonderful showers with HOT water. And, to our surprise, there is Kevin from Colorado. We first met him in San Miguel and we've been stalking him every since ;-) He's in a Toyota with a rooftop tent that is pretty amazing. He jokingly said that since we'd just arrived, he was going to leave the next morning. Since we arrived late, we had Happy Hour with Kevin and a later dinner.
In the morning, we realized that it was going to be stinking hot so decided to head into centro early. Welllll, it was already stinking hot when we got a few feet out past the gate and left the breeze of the ocean. We saw a tuc tuc taxi (motorcycle, two passengers seats with a roof behind the driver, just like India and the rest of Asia) ... and for 50 pesos ($4 CAD) we flagged a guy down and had a great half hour tour. Whew ... saved us from dragging our hot bodies around town. It's warm now ... in the high 20s, but bearable ... we will acclimatize?!?!?! Now that we are in the Yucatan and roasting ... we wish we'd stayed here a few days longer.