Yes, despite my egregious lack of updates on this website, I’m still alive, and well!
I’m currently in Playa del Carmen, and have been for the past two months. Or has it been three? This place, while expensive compared to other cities I’ve visited, is fantastic and full of wonderful new travelers everyday. I’m also not sure where the time goes or how I’ve managed to neglect my readers for so long, but that’s how it goes on the Riviera Maya.
But before I get into how I got where I am now, let’s finish up the Mexico tour portion of this grand old trip.
The following takes place on and after March 19th, 2014 (was it really so long ago?).
Throughout the trip so far I’d been pretty lucky with staying connected to friends and family through various social networks and text messaging (thanks for that amazing plan T-Mobile!). A friend of mine that I knew from an Austin watering hole kept posting updates on his travels through México, except he was going north. And in a happy coincidence it looked like we were in the same area, so we made plans to meet up in Villahermosa.
First though, I wanted to visit Palenque. Palenque is the site of a Mayan city-state, containing some spectacularly preserved ruins. The best part? 90% of the site is still covered by the jungle, so there is so much more to explore.
So, I headed out very early from San Cristobal de las Casa, and subsequently broke down about 20 minutes later on a steep decline in the middle of Chiapas. Being in heavy Zapatista country (and, at the time, still being extremely wary of many local people), I was a bit nervous and positive I was going to be kidnapped. I’m not sure why to be honest, especially considering I had ridden so far without incident, but the irrational paranoia was there. Luckily the problem was easily resolved; the kickstand kill switch is a bit loose, so as the suspension unloads and the kickstand drops, the switch disengages and kills the engine. And that’s why I brought zip ties!
The bike all fixed up I headed down out of the mountains and into the sweltering heat of the jungle. Pretty uneventful and hot ride, except for me almost getting decapitated. Well, maybe; you decide.
These women were holding up ropes and wires, some with flags, in attempts to stop cars and get people to buy bananas and what not. I was pretty furious and scared at this point, not quite sure how tight that rope was tied on and, as I later found out, rightly so. A few days later while in Merida, while chatting with some other motorcycle travelers, they told me that a tour bus had been stopped in a similar fashion and people had rushed out of the jungle and robbed everyone blind. Lucky me! All that said, things aren’t great in Chiapas these days, so I sympathize with the local’s plight. It’s a beautiful state though!
Eventually I made it to Palenque. I didn’t have much time, so I paid the park employees to watch my motorcycle and belongings, gained entrance to the park and shadowed a tour guide for about an hour, admiring the ruins. They are indeed excellently preserved.
Afterwards I grabbed something to eat at the park and headed off in the sweaty afternoon to meet up with my friend Steve in Villahermosa.
Steve was down here scouting out locations for a new movie he’s producing about baseball in México, and was set up in a really nice hotel. Heck, it even had the Miss Tabasco contestants staying there while the pageant went on. Bonus!
It was fairly hilarious to me walking into this fancy hotel, disheveled and smelly, looking like an astronaut and asking the front desk for the extra key. First thing I did? Clean up and get a shower, you know it!
While there, he invited me along to a couple of meetings and dinners with the director, art director, and other producers. It was a fascinating insight into the film industry that I hadn’t been privy to before.
Left to my own devices most of the time, I lazed about on his couch for about 3 days, caught up with writing on this blog, hit the gym, and slept. Eventually Steve and the others geared up to leave for Mexico City, and I packed up and headed towards the Yucatán. I had some friends that I had to meet in Playa del Carmen in three days, so I had to get moving! Many thanks to my good friend Steve for his generosity and hospitality!
So my destination that day was Merida, a place famous for hammocks. At least that’s what everybody told me. This was my first time seeing the Caribbean as well, but it was a very long ride. Six hours later though I finally made it and checked in to a hotel. No pictures, but I had a good time. It’s a very European city, with great restaurants all around and multiple zocalos dotting the cityscape.
My memory is a bit hazy at this point, but I believe I left two days later to Playa del Carmen. First though, I wanted to stop at Chichen Itza, a famous Mayan ruin. Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed. It’s very commercialized, and after seeing Palenque and actually explore the ruins it’s a bit of bummer to not be able to climb the pyramids. They’re pretty spectacular, and I imagine very beautiful during sunrise or sunset, but the hordes of people there soured my mood.
Finished with the sightseeing, and anxious to meet up with my buddies in Playa del Carmen, I cruised another three hours, stopping in Valladolid for lunch and eventually arriving in Playa.