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Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula & Quintana Roo

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May to August, 2008


After returning from Christmas holidays in Hawaii, Robert & I hoped to travel some more, and after talking with some old friends of his from Belize, we embarked on the monumental task of towing the Airstream south of the border!  (TheClick here for an enlargement reason we have very few photos from the first half of our journey is that our computer was stolen in Ciudad del Carmen, and with it all of our picture files.)

We spent several months in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi & Texas preparing for our journey and visiting friends and family, and on May 9th we crossed the border at Los Indios, not far from Brownsville TX, but click here for enlargementmuch quicker than fighting the crowds at Matamoras.

Our first stop, 230 miles later at the Country Contessa Express Hotel, was not much more than a rest-stop, but it was a guarded parking lot where we could rest in safety, and in the morning we continued south 200 miles to Nautla, to a Trailer Park De Alba, managed by Mike Burke from New England.  We were also fortunate to meet his friend Mike Gear, who gave us valuable driving and Click here for an enlargementcamping advice and helped to calm us down after all the crazy Mexican speed bumps, aka "topes".  If you have not experienced driving in Mexico, they use speed bumps instead of stop signs or traffic lights to slow motorists, often with no warning.  Some topes are small, well-marked, and benign, but others are truly dangerous, like hopping an invisible curb at 45 mph, and can cause severe damage to truck axels and trailer hitches.

So early on in our travels we discovered the wisdom of driving slowly and taking more time to rest and recover between trips.  After spending 5 days with Mike and Mike, we continued 188 miles to the lovely area of Lago Catemaco and Hotel Tepetepan.  The RV parking is a grassy park next to the hotel pool, and we were in RV-luxury here with water and sewer hookups, washing machine, wi-fi, and enough electricity to run our A/C!  And we were the only people there, other than Gene, the manager from Chicago!  Nice guy and nice park.Click here for an enlargement

    Our next stop was supposed to be an RV park on the outskirts of the big city of Villa Hermosa, but the manager Click here for an enlargementhad already closed the park and turned off the electricity for the low season.  But what we did find was a WalMart parking lot!  So after a few hours of sleep, we got back on the road and drove to beautiful Isla Aguada, and Freedom Shores RV Park.  Once again, we had the whole park to ourselves --- even the owner wasOOPS! Our camera setting: "Black and White!" gone for the low-season ---and saw no other US tourists for the 2 weeks we were there.  But the seafood was great, and the staff treated us very well. 

OOPS! Camera setting: "Black and White"!From Isla Aguada we traveled ENE to Merida, and then on to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.  We parked out in front of the Piramide Inn, and met some fun travelers who we joined on a tour of theClick here for an enlargement ruins.  One night we had a good rain storm, and our campsite became a lake, but the next few days were clear, our lake dried up, and we moved on with no worries.

Click here for an enlargementOur next destination was Xpu-Ha, but we had to stop in Cancun first to rest!  We did have a good bike ride on the dirt roads on the way to Isla Blanca, and we got to do some shopping at Walmart, Home Depot and Sam's Club there, but we wereclick here for an enlargement happy to move on from Cancun after a few nights. 

Xpu-Ha is not a well-marked area, and we actually stayed next-door to the campground we were hoping to find, until Robert explored the neighborhood and found a click here for an enlargementlittle slice of paradise!  Full hookups, a gorgeous stretch of beach, and great neighbors, all for $15/night!  We have arrived!  Robert really enjoyed the fresh-water springs, or "cenotes" that we found, includingClick here for an enlargement one big bathtub that fed loads of fresh water right into the ocean.  Jeanie enjoyed feeding the resident iguanas, who would come out of their hiding places every morning and fight for our papaya and mango skins, hibiscus flowers and banana Click here for an enlargementpeels!  Our neighbors Wendy & Gary were from Colorado, and we really enjoyed getting to know them in this peaceful place.

We stayed in Xpu-Ha for 5 weeks, and from there we took aClick here for an enlargement side trip to the Mayan ruins at Coba, where we climbed to the top of a pyramid, and walked around some very well-kept ruins Click here for an enlargementfor several hours.  Since we'd borrowed a book called "The Lost World of Quintana Roo", this area really came alive for us.  We also managed to do a bike-ride to Akumal, plus several biking-day-trips to the interesting resort-city of Puerto Aventuras.  We got to see a sea-turtleClick here for an enlargement lay her eggs in the sand, snorkel in the Carribean for several hours a day, and best of all, we found a wonderful Click here for an enlargementchurch just up the road at Paamul, led by a great couple, Doug and Darla Millar.  We joined Gary, Wendy and their friends from Colorado on a day-trip out to the island of Isla Mujeres, where we bicycled around the island, and did more snorkeling!  We even hunkered down in Xpu-Ha during tropical storm Dolly, which sped by us on its way to becoming a hurricane off the coast of Brownsville on July 22nd.Click here for an enlargement

   We finally left Xpu-Ha in August, and from there traveled south to Chetumal.  We pulled into Laguna Milagros (Miracles Lagoon), a beautiful lakefront park and Click here for an enlargementrestaurant, and we thought, "This would be a great site for a campground, let's stay here!"  The manager actually agreed with us, and even allowed Robert to modify his electrical wiring so we could hook up ourClick here for an enlargement electric line!  Luis liked Robert's work so much, he let him fix the wiring in his bar, too.  Now he can open the fridge without getting shocked!!  Luis also let us stay an extra night for free in exchange for his help.  Click here for photo enlargement

 From Laguna Milagros we headed west to Palenque and more Mayan ruins.  Mike Gear had spoken very highly of the area and its beauty, and we were not disappointed.  We stayed within theClick here for an enlargement National Park grounds at a sweet place called Maya Bell, which had nice facilities, a large swimming pool, beautiful gardens and birds, several other travelers, and easy access to the ruins.  We joined a group tour of the Palenque ruins, Click here for an enlargementwhich was quite informative, and spent a day touring the temples and water system.  There is a beautiful system of waterfalls and walkways that flow through the grounds and cut through the jungle, keeping it quite cool in the shade.  The well-maintained water system was probably one of the best things about Palenque compared with other ruinsClick here for photo enlargement we'd visited.  It's also Click here for an enlargementat a much higher elevation, and the surrounding area is undeveloped, which gives you the feeling of being transported back to a forgotten time. 

   On August 7 we packed up and left Maya Bell and Palenque, and drove north, towards the US border.  We stopped to rest at a few of our click here for an enlargementfavorite places --- Lago Catemaco and Nautla --- and then took an inland route back to Los Indios, staying for 2 nights in Ciudad Victoria,Click here for an enlargement at the Victoria RV Park.  We crossed the border at noon on August 13th, and drove 432 miles to Victoria TX.  We made it back to our friends in Onalaska TX safely, and were glad to be back on US roads!!

~ Robert & Jeanie 


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