Costa Maya, Mexico
Costa Maya, Mexico
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Sleeping in the desolate and undeveloped regions in Costa Maya makes sleeping in the jungles in Palenque, Chiapas a walk in the park. Jeremiah and I reached a pinnacle of low before a miraculous reversal of fortune kicked us into gear. Assuming the other had more cash than sense (not a tough assumption), we trekked and bussed our way to Mahahual, Costa Maya, the area I’ve been so determined to reach and explore. Perhaps being so near had us a little scatter brained. We arrived in the evening without any real knowledge or expectation of the place. We exited on the beach road and stopped at the nearest pub for some suds and grub. Five minutes into our beer, I realized I left my journal on the bus. Everything I've done is in it. Everything I've witnessed, experienced, and enjoyed. Next we realized that we had about 300 pesos on us. This was after I heard how dangerous the place is for tourist at night and the cheapest accommodations are about 350 pesos!
Next, we found out that there was no bus departing until 6:00am and that will run us 90 pesos. Finally, (and by now, as expected) no ATMs or credit card accepting joints are in the entire Costa Maya. My beer went down pretty quickly. Then, just as quickly as the lightning flashes we were witnessing over the Atlantic (beautiful, but hard for me to appreciate at the moment), everything changed (as it always seems to do here). John Fisher, a gentleman from N. Carolina we were speaking with, insisted on giving us $20 (U.S. dollars). We were saved! We normally don't accept acts of charity, but we were desperate. Next, we walked up the sand road and found a wonderful lady willing to let us camp on her beach for 25 pesos each. Miah has a hammock and I a sleeping bag (20 degree though). Things were getting better by the moment. Sleeping was ROUGH!!!! Had the option of being eaten alive by the sand lice, or completely submerging myself in my bag and being toasted. I had to choose the latter and probably lost 2 liters of sweat. My bag was wet. I had to have awoken every 15 minutes. I had my alarm set for 6:00am in hopes of stopping the bus and (for some miracle) to find that it's the same bus and my journal would be right where I left it! Damn alarm! I woke at 6:38, and in a matter of maybe 7 seconds, I jumped out of my bag, swearing and running to the street. Amazingly there was the bus. I ran back, threw on some britches, stopped the bus, and HALLALULAH! There was my journal. In all, I may have now been awake for 30 seconds. Not a bad start to the day. Then I looked towards the ocean. We had slept maybe twenty feet from the marvelous Caribbean blues and turquoises. How sweet life is! In a matter of 10 hours, our fortunes made a complete reversal. We had to return to Chetumal to find cash. Jeremiah had to leave today, so now I'm solo. Tomorrow I head back east.
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Costa Maya is beautiful and for the next several days, I intend to hammock the nights on the beach and gather as much info on this area as possible during the day (with of course an occasional afternoon cool-me-down-beverage. I have to talk to the locals and learn the ropes in order to try to buy a piece of paradise here, ya know).
Since my last writing, we left from San Cristobel with our Swedish buddies, Jonatan and Hanah to the jungles of Palenque. The ruins of Palenque have been my favorite. Just spectacular, with thick jungle crowding every available crevice! We went off the beaten path scouring for jaguars, monkeys, boas, toucans, and panthers, or whatever without luck. The noises in the jungle were plenty intimidating, though. We've enjoyed the local food (as usual), but I have to say we were a little disappointed in the mushrooms (this area is widely known for them) even though we gave them several chances. Sleeping in hammocks on the outskirts of the jungle was a real treat. Demonic roars of the howler monkey were always an intriguing way to wake up. They sound like possessed lions. Upon our departure, in the jungle behind the bus stop, we spotted several iguanas and our first howler monkey screaming above them.
I visited beautiful areas around Palenque and San Cris, including the colorful falls of Agau Azul and Misol Hol, and the ever so popular Chiappa del Corzo. The local Indian populations have been great. Very kind and colorful. I think of a new plan on a daily basis. I really want to go into Guatemala since I'm so close as well. Decisions, decisions. I now have no money but no worries, as I have had to sell some of my stocks to reload.
My final days in Mexico are quickly approaching, and every day now gives me a similar sensation to the times my mother would fry chicken and I had to compete with my brothers and dad for the final prized pieces. The previous week had reached several pinnacles, but I constantly feel the pressure to cram in all the activities that I had wanted to pursue but put off to the end. Story of my life!
Costa Maya (the south eastern most strip of Mexican Caribbean, stretching from Mahahual down to Xcalac, 56km south) was every bit the area I've dreamt about. The place was definitely a fresh breath of air. I didn't know beaches and waters like these could exist in Mexico without 50 tourists per square meter. No paved highways, no computers or calling card accepting phones, no cares and no worries. Mahahual is the metropolis of the strip boasting maybe 1200 inhabitants, offering excitement for day-trippers breaking from their passing cruise ships. The jungle-clad, weaving road (I guess it qualified as one) eventually comes to an end in Xcalac. A true hidden paradise! Bonefishing and diving are the activities here. I kayaked for about 3 hours through the clear blues of the ocean and murky depths of the mangroves without ever passing a boat or another soul. Truly cleansing! Spoke with a fishing guide who informed me a guest of his caught 25 Bonefish (the ever-so-elusive sport fish common in particular Caribbean flats) in one outing! Sleeping in the hammock was a love/hate blend; pressing hard on the hate side with all the bugs in the evening, but flipping to shear love and appreciation the second the sun begin to rise and the “boiling water” sound of spooked fish surfacing.
Hitchhiked my way up to Limones and made it to the town of Tulum, which boast the impressive ruins overlooking the coast. The beaches are broad and somewhat quaint. I liked Tulum. It was a tolerable blend of tourist and flavor. Most exiting here however, is that I chose to take my open water diver certification here so that I could train in the Cenotes rather than a swimming pool. After certification I dove Dos Ojos-one of the most famous rivers. There is an IMAX special on it (but I can't remember the name). The Cenotes are indescribable. The Cenotes are a fresh water, underground, river system that has throughout millions of years carved tremendous tunnels and led to remarkable caverns and caves. The Cenotes were the only source of fresh water for Mayan civilizations and were held with sacred respect. Diving inside is probably the closest example of what I figured heaven would appear as. Millions of years old stalactites and stalagmites reach for one another in water that you would swear to be glass, offering visibility as far as your eyes could take you! Rounding turns, illuminated rooms and caverns give off the most amazing light shows!
Currently in Isla Mujeres, a small island just north of Cozumel and east of Cancun. I just finished my final dives of certification requirements yesterday and I thought I would go diving for my first free dive off the beautiful water here. Today is my birthday. As I inquired from a local shop on diving times, rates, and depths, the senor insisted that the two dives I was agreeing upon were both easy dives easily within my “beginner” limitations/recommendations of 30feet/flat bottom. Great. As I'm conversing with the six others on board, I'm informed that we're on our way to C-55, a ship wreck at depths of 85 feet. Wrecks and deep water are welcomed and taught in specific courses or advanced certifications. The deepest I ever got in my certification was 21 feet, with no tricky hallways, rooms, and doors to maneuver through. But, no way was I sitting on the boat on my birthday while everyone gets a glimpse of paradise. Went smoother than a baby´s behind. Safe to say that now, I'm hooked on diving. Being on my own has been nice. Would never say I miss Jeremiah, but it would be nice to have him buy me tequila every now and again. Going to be hard to leave Mexico! There´s so many things I'm going to have to save for a future visit. I'm really glad that I stuck with one country on this trip, though! If we would have tried to see more, I would have missed so much here. I'll save those for later!