Last time we spoke, me and Dom were in the middle of nowhere, resting up in paradise. Since then we’ve been on really long bus journeys to the coast, the jungle and are currently in Sans Cristobal de las Casas, a beautiful town in the mountains. We’ve certainly packed a few things in and I may even have made a local paper along the way. So let’s start where we left off…
The long goodbye
We had pretty much a whole day at Tzucabab. Only one bus a day goes from there to Campeche, and as we had great internet at our apartment, we decided to make the most of it and do some more planning and get the 5pm bus straight there, rather than getting a bus to Merida and then down to Campeche. As luck would have it, we lost the internet at about midday so we didn’t get much planning done. We didn’t get much anything done to be honest. We just relaxed and kept checking the WiFi.
The time to leave approached and so we said goodbye to a wonderful family, boarded a motor taxi and headed to the bus stop. The bus came and we boarded. It was pretty empty; only a handful of fellow passengers would join us on the five hour journey. One of them, a hillbilly dude clad in denim dungarees and a lumberjack shirt, worried Dom a little bit and so we moved away from him to the seat behind the driver. The driver brought along a mixed tape he had made and played it at full volume. It was like being on the Venga bus but with tunes from UB40 and Ace of Base, rather than radio friendly dance music. This ensured the bus journey felt twice as long as it was.
We arrived in Campeche at about 10:40 and were met by our host Carlos. He was a pretty cool dude. He took us back to his apartment, which had the feel of a place where criminals lay low until the heat dies down. We were holed up in a room split into three rooms; a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, with only the ants for company. It wouldn’t have served it’s purpose very well if that’s what it was used for, because as soon as I closed the curtains, they fell down.
I didn’t sleep very well again. It was far too hot. I got up and went to sort breakfast out. Dom had bought some porridge and I had a couple of bits of bread left. Campeche would deliver the first of a few cruel blows. I opened the bag with the bread in to discover the ants had beaten me to it. Gutted. As hungry as I was, I couldn’t face the porridge so after Dom had eaten, we headed out.
Carlos picked us up and drove us into town. Dom took notes of directions so we could find our way back later if we decided to walk. The weather forecast said rain but it was Scorchio, maybe the hottest day we’ve had so far.
Once in the centre we went to the tourist information to get a map as a backup to getting home. They only had maps of the centre of town so the guy drew a map of where we lived based on the street names we gave him. A nice touch but he had no idea. A guessing game. According to his crudely drawn map we lived in between two pizza joints somewhere in the North of the city. After about twenty minutes of the info guys bombarding us with stuff we didn’t need to know, we went to get some food. Cruel blow number two coming up. Dom’s incorrect Spanish has previously seen me have to eat a second breakfast, ten minutes after my first one. This time, her Spanish was misinterpreted and only she got breakfast. Her second one of the day. We didn’t realise they weren’t bringing my food out until Dom had eaten hers though. I did have a bit of her stuffed chilli though and not wanting to get into a confusing conversation we left.
We decided to hire some bikes. Probably the best way to get around in the heat. There was a place that did bike hire for free but we didn’t have a passport on us, and so went to a place that did two bikes for 150 Pesos (about £4) for the whole day. Bargain. They were pretty cool bikes too. Our first port of call was Fort San Miguel, an old fort on the seafront. We cycled past fisherman gutting and cooking their fish, houses with CCTV and loads of restaurants.
The fort itself was pretty cool but I was weak with hunger by now and so we headed for lunch. We found a group of restaurants and chose the one full of locals. It was right on the seafront and turned out to be a great choice. We ordered two piña coladas and within minutes had enough tapas dishes in front of us, that we may as well not have ordered anything else. We did though, of course.
The food was great but the weather had changed. The wind was blowing and eating had become a mission. Stuff was blowing off the table, my food was flying off the fork, but still we sat outside rather than sit inside the restaurant, determined to make the most of the view, which by now consisted of choppy waters and grey skies. We eventually went inside and had a coffee. A cup of boiling water was brought to us along with a plate of instant cover and sugar. Coffee DIY.
With lunch done it was time to hit the road. The wind was behind us so the cycle along the front was a breeze, no pun intended. Our destination was the bus station to check out times for our next journey. We got there after a couple of hairy moments on the bikes and discovered I had left one of the bike locks at the restaurant. In other bad news, the buses were 11am or 1:55 am. The 11 am one meant we would be getting to Palenque after dark and the 1:55 am meant we’d have to travel overnight and would probably be exhausted for the ruins.
We would discuss it later but first we had to cycle head on into what was now a gale force wind to retrieve the bike lock. It was pissing down now too so we were drenched. Dom could barely cycle so I left her on the beachfront, terrified I would be lost to the sea, and had a cycle adventure which was almost as tough as the Brecon to Cardiff trip I attempted before. Of course the bike lock wasn’t there. It must’ve fallen off earlier. Never mind, the cycle back was ace. I hardly needed to peddle, the wind took me.
I met up with Dom and we went to warm up in a museum. It was a pretty cool museum but everything was in Spanish so we didn’t learn much. We then went for Coffee to warm up further and to decide which bus to get. We opted for the 11 am as we were likely to get the flu if we caught the bus that night after getting dripping wet.
The bike people charged us ten dollars for losing the bike lock. They should have given me a bloody medal for trying to find it. And to make matters worse, carnival was cancelled due to the weather. We had only came here for the carnival. Screw you Campeche. After a trip to the bus station to get tickets we had some food and then got lost trying to walk home. She’s a cruel mistress is Campeche.
Dom had porridge again and I waited until we got to the bus station for breakfast. Dom went looking for some food for me and during her hunt, flicked through the local paper in the cafe and saw a photo of what she believed to be me, cycling into the hurricane. We couldn’t find a newsagent and so we have no hard evidence to back up this claim.
The bus journey to Palenque was long and boring. I slept for a bit and watched some shit film whilst Dom filled in job applications. After about eight hours we arrived at the small town of Palenque and set off in search for our hotel. Dom has done her other leg in now so I am like the luggage mule. The big, red luggage mule. Lee is strong!
We checked in the hotel and checked out the town. First up was looking at bus times to our next port of call. Again we had some bad bus news. It was an eight hour journey at 2pm and so we’d arrive really late, meaning we would probably miss out on almost a day at Sans Cristonbal de las Casas.
Over food, more tacos and a wonderful beef soup (spicy liquid meat), we discussed travel options. The second class bus service also took eight hours and had a rubbish schedule but we found a collectivo service that did a trip to a town two and a half hours away, and there we could get another mini bus tour destination. A total journey time of five hours. Result. With the mood shifted from gutted to great, we had a beer in honour of the Lukesters birthday.
The following day we were up at the crack of dawn to check out the jungle ruins. It was still raining. It had been for three days but this is something we are used to so it wasn’t a problem. In fact it added to the atmosphere as we trekked round the. We saw some amazing sights and the the path to the exit was just as spectacular as the ruins themselves.
After our jungle expedition it was time for our bus ride. And what a ride it was. A journey that took us uphill for so many hours, I’m surprised we didn’t end up on the moon. The scenery was amazing. Loads of trees and tiny villages, shrouded in a ceiling of mist.
We arrived in the city in the mountains and the first thing we noticed was the cold. It’s like being back home. After a nightmare of walking around we found our hostel, dropped our bags off and headed out to try and find the carnival.
The square we had passed earlier looked like our best bet bit on finding it we found it had finished. So no carnival for us. We were hungry now and set off in search for some food. It’s a cool city and due to it being a multi culture city, it doesn’t really feel Mexican. Our restaurant choice was again good. We polished off the seafood risotto in no time and headed to a wine bar we had seen earlier for a drink. We should’ve gone there first as we got a massive plate of food with our bottle. It was all bread based so Dom couldn’t eat any and so I ate the lot.
Done in from drink, food, early starts and bus trips we headed home for some kip. The bunk beds were calling and we are debating another early morning to find the church where they perform Mayan rituals.