Our introduction to life in Progreso began with a kitchenette in our very nice hotel being stocked with a single frying pan and a spatula - no cutlery, no plates, no.........anything, just a frying pan and a spatula! Not too conducive to culinary delights getting created here - guess most guests just eat at the restaurants! Once we talked the housekeeper into providing a few more of the basic necessities we started to make supper only to learn the water was off in the entire hotel. With visions of hitting the sheets still carrying around todays grime we were pleasantly surprised when a dude drove up on his motorbike with a single wrench and went back into the pool area. A few minutes later, presto, there was water flowing. I was scared to ask what would have happened if the fix required any other tools? No matter we were back in business, and life was good!!!
After exploring around town and along the beach we have decided that we are quite taken with Progreso and understand why people have chosen this as their winter getaway spot. There is a definite Mexican life going on with, in our opinion, just enough non-Mexican influence so that we don't feel that we are the only white folks in town. Unfortunately the beach is eroding and in time the houses along the ocean will be compromised. A beach walk reveals that many places are being sandbagged against the tides but it is having little or no effect. This will have an effect on this poor little town which is trying so hard to hold back what seems to be the inevitable.
One afternoon we took a collective to Chelem, just west of Progreso, to see if that was a possible option for future trips. These collectivos run from a central station and leave when they are full. This means you stuff 13 people into an 8 seater van and sit in the heat waiting for number 14 to saunter up. We were thinking it was great initially when we and 3 others were the first on. It soon became painfully obvious you want to be last on as we sweltered in increasingly tight quarters while the driver sat outside in the shade waiting for his van to fill. At last we were off and we would have high-fived if we could have moved our limbs at all. Finally we made the 12k’s and entered the village of Chelem and the van driver dropped us at the zocalo, which was more than a little lame. Soon we were to discover it was the high point of this sad town! We weaved through many street dogs to finally hit the beach and walked past a series of rundown beach properties. There were a couple that seemed ok but most looked long abandoned. We circled back past the local shops which were almost as rundown as the beach houses. Wayne nearly sprinted to the collectivo’s as even another squished 12km ride was better than this place! Bonus, as the driver actually left with only 9 of us on board - YIPEE!! It was as if he somehow could sense the future as we stopped for another 5 separate stragglers along the road and it was Donna and I and 12 new best friends jammed together by the time we hit town limits. I didn’t look back at Chelem, well actually……couldn’t have even if I wanted to which I didn’t and I am quite sure it was my last visit to that place. We headed home for a tasty dinner of chicken asado (roasted chicken) and a couple of Dos Equis (XX) after a busy day of exploring.
Wednesday is apparently cruise ship day - who knew they docked in Progreso? It was funny to watch as vendors, moped rentals, massage tables and whole eating tents popped up on the beach next to the pier. The cruisers hit shore and they don’t stand a chance as every vendor in the whole region is waiting to separate them from their cash. Bar prices double and locals know better than to shop on cruise ship days. We saw a group of about 30 huddled together heading into Domino’s Pizza which would be the only name they recognized in town. Some of the experienced cruisers go several blocks from the dock where prices are normal and where they can enjoy a quiet drink, but they were the exceptions.
We met a couple, Roy and Jo, from Qualicum Beach who invited us to a music jam at a local bar. They introduced us to a couple from Winnipeg, Ken and Leslie, who own a home here and have been coming for many years. They have renovated their home and built a couple of casitas that they rent out. A wonderful place with a large pool – hmmmm, perhaps for future visits? Ken is an excellent singer and guitar player and his group were hosting the jam. The band was both Mexican and white musicians with 3 guitars, 1 keyboard, sax and drums and they had the place rocking when we arrived at 3:30pm. We were ushered like VIPS to a reserved table right up front as Roy and Jo are friends of the owner. It was a great evening of music, dancing, cervesas and margaritas followed by a delicious meal and a long chat when the music was over. We were just about the last to leave but still made it home by 9pm. Hey 6 hours of partying is about everyone’s limit it seems. We now know where we will be every Wednesday afternoon we are in Progreso.
Moving day today as we pack up and say goodbye to the Hotel Domani. It is a great little place with smiling friendly staff. There is a wispy cover of cloud as we navigate to the bus station and into Merida right where we expected! Some days your travel just works out right! After checking prices at both the first class and second class bus stations in Merida we decide, of course being the Turners, that because it is cheaper.....guess what we do? Now the second class bus leaves a half hour later and takes 45 minutes longer but we have more time than money soooo…. But as we swelter in the non-air-conditioned waiting room it occurs to Wayne that the bus may not have washrooms so he has to pony up some of our savings to use the pay toilet to avoid an embarrassing situation half way to Campeche. I don’t even know Spanish for” pull over so I can pee on the bus tire”. Donna agrees the bano might be a good plan so more savings used. Wayne now has lots of time to sweat and figure our total savings are about $3.50 each and by now the first class bus is half way to Campeche!!! Even Donna agrees we maybe should consider first class back while she slathers on deet to discourage the large family of mosquitos that frequent this waiting room. Some days of travel just works out right but...........sometimes the don't!!!
Our ride was along roads lined with trees so nothing much to see until we get to a little village where we stop and the vendors pour onto the bus to sell food to the passengers. We had forgotten this is very common from our earlier Mexican bus adventures. Mercifully the bus uses the Ado Station in Campeche (one of those good days) and we find ourselves at Terracota Corner Rooms hotel just like we knew what we were doing!!!