Our hotel in Campeche is tucked into a residential area on a small but surprisingly busy little street. The room is spacious and after a few inquiries (sign language mostly) we now have a couple of pots. One holds 2 litres and the other about 50 litres but at least we can manage. Some cutlery even showed up after a request in Spanish. They always nod and say si, si for any request but you are never sure if they can understand our pathetic Spanish. It usually involves some badly accented Spanish words followed by something that resembles charades as I attempt to act out my request. To their credit they don’t laugh......until I leave. With our room now in order we set out to visit the old walled city. The city of Campeche was established by the Spanish in the mid 1500s after many attempts that were repelled by the local Mayans. Once set up it became a favorite spot for pirates to pillage so eventually a huge wall was built around the entire city with a moat for protection. Inside the now secure compound a small city was built as the wealthy flocked in and over the centuries built many grand homes. Today these have been partitioned into small shops and residences and all are painted in soft pastel colors so very pretty by day but even nicer at night as they are all lit up. In this UNESCO site there are very narrow streets with sidewalks elevated as much as 3 feet so not exactly wheelchair accessible. In fact one must resist the urge to snoop around as you have to pay attention where you are stepping. Somehow the local senoritas manage this in high heels! Of course there is the large cathedral with huge zocalo where the city has a light and music show projected onto the front of the library building every evening. This building is about 30 feet high by about 200 feet so quite a screen. Amazing graphics and music as the 30 minute show traces the history of Campeche.
We took a trip down to Seybeplaya and along the waterfront highway as far as Champoton to scope out the waterfront. A more comfortable but still full collectivo ride (or maybe we are getting used to life as a sardine!) dropped us in Saybeplaya and we strolled a mile or so along the waterfront malecon. The entire town front beach was covered with open fish boats tied to the malecon wall. The local men were fixing and folding their huge nets all along the sidewalk and there seemed to be no concern for garbage strewn along the seawall. A trip into the town cathedral revealed a very poor and dirty town so we soon hopped the local bus to Champoton. We thought we would get beaches but the coast was very rocky and seaweedy so not swimmable to us though there were many palapas (thatched umbrellas) along the sea which suggest the Mexicans may swim here in the summer.
Champoton is set along a lagoon that runs into the ocean and has a lovely promenade that curves from the lagoon and fronts the town as far as we could see. We walked quite a ways to find an eatery with an ocean view and finally hit a little café full of locals. With some trepidation we ordered a half dozen very inexpensive empenadas and waited to see what would appear. Donna had wisely suggested we make one order only as she noted we could always order more if needed. They turned out to be delicious and huge served with coleslaw and a very good spicy salsa.....YUMMYYYY. We then strolled back into town which wasn’t anything special so after a couple of photos jumped on the bus home.
As the bus pulled into its station we realized it was not the station we thought it would be so got out and wondered WTF are we? We agreed on the direction we should walk and set off knowing we could always taxi if we got sick of walking. 2 blocks later we bumble onto our hotel’s street and it turns out our place was 10 minutes from this station. One of those times when things work out despite us! After supper we headed back to the old town so Donna could film the light show this time. Waiting for the show to begin we met a nice couple from Mexico City who could speak excellent English so had a chat which would have been much shorter if done in Spanish.
Monday morning was time to say goodbye to our little hotel and hit the bus to Progreso. Wayne had walked over and checked that the buses do go to Merida from the small station close to our hotel. We load up our packs walk into the station and a bus is leaving immediately so hustle on to it and we are underway by 9:45 perfecto. Little did we suspect we would still be passengers on said bus 4 and a half hours later and it was only a 150km journey! Turns out our bus services every little dickweed town between Campeche and Merida. We would just get back on the highway when another exit would loom meaning another bonejarring ride over speed bumps, which Mexicans love to put on town roads, and the inevitable potholes, weaving at about 5kph through pedicabs by the dozens and all manner of bicycles. We certainly did see many zocalo’s and churchs and real Mexico but even Donna was growing weary of the cultural experience. Of course the locals seem to hit the bus seat and be asleep in seconds despite the bumpy ride. Of more concern to Wayne was the lack of a washroom on the bus and, as we approached the 3 hour mark and it became evident we were nowhere near finishing, a glimmer of hope emerged as we pulled into a town and stopped beside a public bano. In very unCanadian fashion Wayne elbowed his way past startled people standing in the aisle, said bano to the driver jumped out past people waiting to board. A quick toss of a coin to the attendant and relief at long last. Standing there I calculate that it won’t take long for waiting people to board so more stress. Poor bladder gets ”sorry not yet” for an hour then "hurry for the love of God”. A quick sprint and I’m back aboard now and must make my way past those I elbowed a minute ago, plus the dozen new folks that boarded, to reach Donna and my seat. A little sheepish about my behaviour when I pushed past I say "sorry y’all" to each of them as I return and hope they will think I am simply a rude American.
At long last we are in familiar Merida and locate the Progreso terminal and by 3:15 we are heading for the sea. The bus even has wifi so alert the folks holding our condo key that we will miss our anticipated 2PM arrival by at least 2 hours. We hike to find the condo sparkling clean and it looks like it is going to be a very comfortable week here.