Happy Fourth of July!
Just as America gained its independence on this day way back in 1776, many years later we would also gain ours. On July 4th 2016, Rita arrived in Progreso, Mexico. It had been a long time coming, and though we loved our time in Merida, we were more than ready to have our wheels back. I, being my unrealistically optimistic self, believed that the process of getting Rita back would be simple, quick, and efficient. I also however, had never dealt with the Mexican port and its respective authorities. Basically, it was a b**** of a process. To put it into perspective, 1) the shipping company neglected to inform us that they only accepted USD in CASH, so we spent about an hour running around the port city of Progreso looking desperately for US dollars. 2) Our shipping broker, Alejandro (great man by the way), did not tell us that it would take a significant amount of time to unload our car from its container, as a result we ended up sitting outside of the port for approximately three hours inside of his car waiting for him to come back with our vehicle. Luckily, he left the air conditioning on. What I had anticipated being a 2 hour process managed to take 8 hours. These weren't all of the problems we had, but it gives you an idea of how our day went. It wasn't easy for America to gain it's independence, it wouldn't be right if it was easy for us.
A glimpse of what the roads across the Yucatan look like. We love the vegetation here.
They call Izamal "la ciudad armarilla" for a reason. This a shot from the entry way of the old convent in the center of town.
In Izamal, we camped on the property of Hotel San Domingo. Half of the property is a really cute boutique hotel, and the other half is a large open area for camping. As we were putting our tent away in the morning, suddenly a stampede of sheep came running by the car. We're on the road now.
We stayed in Izamal for one night and then headed over to Tulum. On the way, we stopped for a refreshing cenote break at Cenote Yokdzonot. It was gorgeous, and we even got some air time in.
Vamos a Tulum! Our drive to Tulum was nice and easy. Although that's coming from me when clearly Mitch did all of the driving. The driving style in Mexico is essentially do whatever the f*** you want. And that's just not very suited to my strengths. So, I'm working on my copilot skills for now. Mitch says I'm getting much better at navigating-less of the "oh turn right now!" as we pass the road we need. Which is good for our overall success and that of our relationship. But anyways, we drove straight to Chamico's Restaurant on the beach. Chamico is a super nice guy and lets people camp down the beach from his restaurant for 100 pesos a night. After winding down some dirt roads lined with the nicest beach condos we've ever seen, we finally popped up on the quaint beach shack restaurant and BAM: the most beautiful beachside camp spot we could have imagined. Rita really loved it:
The other super awesome part about our arrival to Solomon bay was that our first overlanding friend Brett (remember him?) was awaiting our arrival with Limonada, Japonesa style peanuts (I'm obsessed with them), and gourmet grilled cheese supplies. So, naturally we had a picnic on the beach and spent the night chatting and star gazing. Once it got dark, we all commented on something glowing in the water. We got up to inspect it closer up, and sure enough there was some kind of fluorescent green creature periodically glowing in the shallows. We would shine a light, nothing would be there, turn it off, and it would glow again. It seemed to be moving down the beach, almost squirting its glowy stuff. It wasn't like the bioluminescents that make all the water glow, it was something else. Now, SOS: if you know what this creature could have been please tell us. We are dying to know. Brett left in the morning (don't worry we will see him again in Guatemala) and we stayed at this spot for two more nights as we explored Tulum, got some beach time in, and worked on our tans.
We rapidly fell in love with Tulum. It's full of hippies and yogis and juice bars, so naturally I felt right at home. In fact, our first night there was a gorgeous little family doing some naked yoga outside their tent down the beach. Excellent vibes. We did a lot of fun things while we were there, including going to check out our next major Mayan ruin site. I couldn't get over the eye the Mayans had for their city locations. Set up on the bluffs among beautiful beaches were the bold remnants of their society. We had a great time walking trough the ruins (we were able to get in first thing in the morning and had a few less crowds to push through), and even took a swim at the beach with the ruins in sight. Our first minor jellyfish things were the only things that convinced me that I wasn't dreaming. On the left hand side of this photo is the temple of the wind gods. After camping in Tulum we developed a deep understanding of why the Mayans worshiped the wind, as it keeps the nights cool and the bugs away.
The other amazing adventure that we went on from Tulum was a day doing some rough driving down the road through the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve down towards Punta Allen. The views were absolutely incredible and there were endless clear, blue water beaches to swim at along the way. We also explored Sian Kaan from the access point of Muyil, where you can explore Mayan ruins, take a walk along a boardwalk trail through the jungle, climb an observation tower for vast views of the lagoon, and pop out back at the water.
Our other favorite memory from Tulum was meeting more incredibly kind travelers. One afternoon as we were hanging out at the beach by Chamico's, Mitch started up a conversation with a really nice guy about the waterproof casing he had on his DSLR for the scuba diving excursions that he guides out of Playa (btw, if any of you readers ever want to get certified or go diving in the Yucatan area, check out Diego/Freeway Diving in Playa del Carmen- he is so kind and passionate about what he does). We ended up chatting with him, his girlfriend, and their two friends for the rest of the evening as their shared their delicious Argentinian style barbecue with us on the beach. We ended up going up to Playa the next day to stay with them, eat another delicious dinner and even better gelato. These are the kinds of interactions that we have been so deeply grateful for on the road. The generosity and kindness that people have shown us has restored our faith in humanity as we travel through these "dangerous" areas. We said we were going to start taking photos with all of the favorite people that we meet, but somehow we left our time spent with Diego & Matea without a photo with them. We will do better next time we see them, for we are determined to reciprocate their hosting some day down the line.