Mexico to Belize

19th October 

Santa Elana a bit of luxury.

We are now cycling in an area of Yucatan which actually has some hills, the riding is now undulating but not too high just slow rolling hills. The morning was cloudy,  hot but bearable but by the time we reached Santa Elana the clouds had gone and the temperature notched up. We had a decision to make, cycle on another 45 miles to make the next destination or stop here. We was outside a posh red called the pickled onion which advertised a pool so we opted to be extravagant and pay the £30 for a room. Partly because we wanted to treat ourselves, partly so we say we could stay in a pickled onion and partly because we also have another 65 miler to do after we reach the next town.

The blog went on this morning, thanks everyone for taking the time to look at the pictures, it seems the Tarantula is a bit hit, our host here says they are harmless though.

Ginette – I wasn’t sure about stopping so early in the day but I was glad we did, it was lovely to have a little bit of luxury

20th October

A nice cycle day but hot, hot, hot.

We enjoyed our luxurious stay at the pickled onion, a pool to cool down in, hammocks to rest in and a great breakfast this morning. The owner, Valeria is a Lancashire lass and came over a couple of time’s for a chat.

We stopped at a Myan site after only 8 miles, Kabah. This was a great site to wander around and it was cheap to enter, we nearly had the place to ourselves and we could climb over most of it. We had birds like swallows flying around and nesting in one of the ruins and as we wandered around we admired the large lizards sunning themselves.

The rest of the ride was through mainly jungle surroundings but there was cleared farmland with corn crops. As we came closer to Hopelchen these fields of crops became much larger, this was good for us as the terrain was still undulating and with the cleared crop areas we could see more of our surroundings. We have been bombarded by colourful and large butterflies most of the day. We spotted a mammal which looked like a cross between a squirrel and a fox.

My front wheels dynamo is broken so I have not been using the Garmin but today I wanted to do a temperature check so used it a couple of times results as follows.

32 degrees in the shade
41 degrees whilst cycling in the sun

We stayed in a town called Hopelchen, it has a large plaza area and is partially made up of a community of Mennonite, we think these are like Amish people, we passed some ranches earlier that looked different to any we had seen in Mexico having buildings and a layout that resembled our impressions of Amish settlers.

Ginette – we stopped for lunch in a small town, it was the least friendly town we’ve visited, people seemed a little wary of us, rather than smiley and welcoming.

I loved the butterflies, for a good few miles i had two large yellow butterflies fluttering right in front of me. For the first time ever Gary has taken to listening to music whilst we cycle along.

The road although undulating is a little tiring as there are very few towns on route and the heat is exhausting.

We stayed in a cheap hostel which we shared with at least 4 cockroaches yukkkkk.

21st to the 23rd October 

Rest day in Campeche and a change of direction.

Monday.
In the main plaza of Hopelchen at dusk the birds gathered again and made an incredible amount of noise, it’s a bit like the way that in some areas the frog chorus starts.

Ginette – The mexican villages are lovely, lots of the women wear beautiful embroidered dresses and men wear sombreros. The traffic throughout this area gives priority to pedestrians and rather than lots of honking of horns people smile and wave at you.

The cycle route to Campeche according to the map had no towns with shops so we had a 53 miles to be self sufficient in. However the maps were not accurate there were several small settlements along the way with places to purchase cold drinks and food, this suited us as it was another very hot day and our own drinks bottles were cooking.

The terrain now has larger cleared forest with huge plantations mostly corn but also some other crops, possibly potatoes.

We arrived at our apartment In Campache late afternoon, Ginette was really feeling the effects of the heat so it was a relief to be able to rest in an air conditioned room.
We waited until later in the day before venturing out, treating ourselves to a meal in a fish restaurant.

Ginette – I was exhausted not from the cycling but the heat sapped my energy, by the time we arrived at the apartment my blood felt like it was boiling. I found it hard to function, all I wanted was some shade and an ice cold drink.

The apartment was ideal, although the wifi could have been a bit better, a great place to rest for 2 days. In the evening we had dinner in a seafood restaurant, it was a little bit expensive but it was great to have vegetables and fish. We have found it really hard to find vegetables in the villages.

The owner was very welcoming and although he could not speak english he introduced us to his dog Rambo. 

Tuesday , Campeche.
Campeche is a walled port town, the wall was built after a disastrous pirate attack. However since the wall was built the pirate were not such a threat in part due to the British sovereignty removing it funding of some of the piracy through its shock at the way in the pirates had destroyed Campache.

The town has a nice Maceron along the coast and due to its geography this town has some fantastic sunset views. Inside the walled city the houses are well painted in various colours and makes for some nice photo shoots and a pleasant walk about. The heat of the day does get oppressive at temperatures in excess of 40 degrees so once we had visited the Mayan Arqueológico museum and wandered around town we headed back to our air con room for a rest.

I have been a bit bored of the terrain in this area of Mexico, at first the jungle was interesting to cycle through but the wildlife spotting is not up to much and the bird life although exotic is not as extensive as it was in Paraguay.

Ginette – I now see squshed tarantulas and snakes on a daily basis, they still make me a little squeemish but we rarely stop to inspect them.  Gary is too busy looking ahead and misses most of the road kill, I have had to point out a number of specimens. It is however difficult to miss the dead dogs with their guts hanging out and vultures circling overhead yuk. 

We discussed our options, if we continue with our current plan we will end up with another 3 months in Mexico and although I am sure the terrain and people will vary as we travel north I would prefer a change, I suggested a trip to Cuba.

Ginette researched this and a trip to Cuba would cost approx £400 each return which is a large lump from our savings.

Ginette – this would include return flights to Mexico City and internal flights to Tijuana. I woke the next morning with a new suggestion…

We have decided to change direction and head down to Belize then Guatemala, we had planned to cycle these countries after Mexico but we are only a few days from the border of Belize and they say a change is as good as a rest.

Ginette – We experienced one of the worse storms since arriving in Mexico, fortunately we were inside the apartment but it managed to take the electrics out across the street. It may also have contributed to a road accident at the end of the road.

Weds
We have looked at the route across the peninsula to Chetumal (the border town near Belize) and are not too keen on the initial route out of Campeche so we have opted to take a bus to Xpujil, this will put us in the middle of “reserva biosphere Calcamal “ . We will be in the jungle but on a main route with settlements that we can stop at.

Ginette – We arrived in Xpujil at 18.30 in the rain, we had accommodation booked so it wasn’t a problem. We were amused to be met by the owners son, who was 14 years old but looked much younger. He spoke excellent english and clearly knew how to greet and book guests into the hostel. He later took our order in the restaurant (including two beers) and presented us with the bill.  

24th October 

A long day in the saddle with cooling thunderstorms.

Two can see toucans.

We had breakfast from the shops of fruit, yoghurt and cake then headed to the towns Myan ruins.

Xpujil has lots of Myan sites all close to the town and one within 0.5 mile of town which only cost £2 each to enter. This site had a short walk through the forest and three main structures, there was no one else there so we had a good hour wandering around and climbing on the ruins.

Our cycle ride was potentially a long 62 miler with little in the way of stops on route according to Maps.me. But we did find several settlements on route so getting hold of cold drinks wasn’t the problem we thought we was going to have.

We had an undulating road through the jungle so it was tiring but interesting, we spotted tiny lizards that ran away by hoisting themselves up onto there hind legs, they looked funny like a lady running off and having to hold up her flowing skirt.

We spotted the usual Tarantula roadkill and also a venomous Coral snake.
Ginette spotted loads of frogs but I had my head in the trees so missed them all, however that meant we did get to see a large yellow beaked toucan.

Today we had lots of cloud cover and several thunderstorms to deal with, we only got caught in the heavy rain once, the other times we managed to shelter in bus stops. The storms pass as quick as they build so we don’t have to wait long, it’s amazing to sit in shelter and witness the winds really pick up and then the rain crashing down, thunder and lighting booming overhead and then 10 minutes later blue skies break through some of the clouds and the rain on the roads steams as it evaporates.
These rain storms and clouds actually helped us today, they kept it cooler so that we were able to cycle the 60 miles without the effects of heat exhaustion.
The wild life were more active after a downpour, the birds breaking into song and keeping us entertained.

We have stopped at a small town called Ucum, on the outskirts of Chetumal. The hotel has a nice pool that is great to cool down in after a long day on the bike.

25th October 

Belize.

Ginette had some admin to do this morning so it was gone 11.30 by the time we set off, we did have a few choices of destination but we opted to head over the border to begin our next stage through Belize.

Ginette – for the record we spent an hour or two looking at where we would be going, we had three choices but we found it difficult to choose between them. In the end we opted to go straight to Belize.

The border crossing was not as smooth as it could be, the Mexican border guard wanted to charge us a tourist tax. We thought that this may have been included in the flight and entry to Cancun but our ticket only stated taxes, not what the taxes were for. Ginette set about trying to contact the airline and also researched other sites to see if we were being scammed. After half hour with no proof of whether we had already paid this exit tax we coughed up the $30 American dollars each to leave Mexico, a bitter pill to swallow as we are coming back in December and will have to pay this tax again.

We didn’t cycle far and have stopped in the first town called Corozal, it’s by the Sea but today the sea was a murky green colour and very choppy so not inviting.

Ginette – my first impression of Belize are not very good, the roads are in a poor condition, the luxurious hard shoulder we experienced in Mexico has disappeared and the drivers are far less considerate. To add to this Corozal is a little run down and everything is a lot more expensive than Mexico. I’m not in a great mood, my mum would have been 70 today and Hayley moved house, although she had much appreciated help from family and friends, I feel like a bad mum for not being there to help her. I have found it really hard to hold it together, sometimes being on adventure on the other side of the world is hard.

The biggest difference so far in Belize is that English is readily spoken, immigration was easy as everyone spoke to us in English. After so long in Spanish speaking countries it is taking a little while to adjust to hearing so much English, even the road signs are understandable now.

The first two hotels in Corozal we tried were priced at around £45 but one of the receptionist told us (in English) of a cheaper place called a Twin rooms, we are now booked in for £24. Ginette negotiated a discount as the room was not ready when we arrived.

As the room wasn’t ready we popped back into town for beer and food.
We found a place called Scottys Crodile cove, it looked like a typical expat bar with a small group sitting around the bar all chatting in English but mostly Americans.
We met a couple that had just moved down here from Maryland having driven across Mexico with there belongings packed in a trailer, they had a few issues at each of the many police control points on route but are settling in nicely now they are in Belize.

Ginette – loud, drunk, annoying swearing Americans  (told you I was not in a good mood, roll on tomorrow). I am sure everything and everyone will be lovely again.

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