Thursday, 20 September 2012

MOVING ON IN MEXICO

Just a note to say that I'm in Mexico, and not at ease in Belise any more. In fact I've already cycled more than 800 km in Mexico, in the Yucatan region (that's the big lump in the South-east of the country which juts out into the Carribean). This is not the classic cactus desert Mexico of old cowboy movies, but rather a humid, flat, tropical jungle for the most part. There are some huge resort cities such as Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, as well as some very colonial cities such as Merida, where Leana and I are right now.
There are also some famous Mayan sites such a Chichen Itza which Leana went to visit, but I didn't bother. The two of us split up for a few days, but then we met up along the road again later. I camped at some interesting places during that time, such as in the centre of a village next to what I thought was a ruin (in fact part of the building was still a functioning church, and the following morning when they opened the side door for some fresh air I struck camp to a chorus of Hail Mary's). There are so many foreign tourists around this area that the locals hardly look at one twice. There are also sinkholes around the area (called cenotes) where people can swim and go on floating underground tours as there is a whole network of underground rivers. Along one hot deserted stretch of road we found a deep well from which I managed to extract some cool fresh drinking water (luckily I didn't pull up one of the floating tourists). There is a lot of Maya archaeological sites around this area, as well as many current Maya villages with many live Mayans wandering about. Mexico is a mix of Spanish and Indigenous, even the conquestadors used the stones from Mayan structures to build their own buildings. Just down the road here in Merida is a church where one can actually still see Mayan carvings on the stones in the outside wall. We have been in Merida for a few days now in order to apply for the USA visa, as there is a consulate here. We were not all that hopeful about getting a USA visa, as we are supposed to apply in our home country (this consulate is for Mexicans and immigrants to apply for visas). However, we tried our luck and arrived at the consulate armed with loads of copies and documents to hopefully strengthen our case. Well, we were rather surprised when none of that stuff was necessary, and our visa was approved without any ado. This past weekend the locals had their independence day celebrations, with fireworks and endless parades - they also have the little stalls all over the show selling national pride paraphanalia such as flags and colourful sombreros. We found a good bike shop here and Leana bought a bunch of new parts which I fitted to her bike. Now I'm cleaning up her old parts to fit to my bike (they're as good as new). We still have about another 5 months in Mexico, and this is a big country, especially when one is on a bicycle. Distances cycled since my last update from Belize have been:- Corozal (Belize) 53 km; Chetumal (Mexico) 27 km; Limones 94 km; Filipe Carillo Puerto 67 km; Tulum 115 km; Cancun 108 km; Chiquila 128 km; Kaua 113 km; Piste 22 km; Izamal 76 km; and Merida 70 km. The total distance cycled so far in Mexico is 807 km, and the total distance cycled on this trip is 98 352 km.

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