In the shadows of giants

Trip Start Dec 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Rio Bec Dreams

Flag of Mexico  , Campeche,
Monday, February 15, 2010

We're still heading east, spending some time in the (dry) jungle of the Rio Bec. We were beginning to think that our stuff would never dry properly but we have finally caught up with the 'dry season’.  Upon getting here we immediately set about hanging most of our clothes; some in the trees, some on our deck railing, some around the room.  We are staying at a hotel just off the highway owned by a retired Canadian couple.  We are in a forest and there is lots of space for the boys to play and explore, unlike the manicured areas of our last hotel.  What’s interesting about this place is that it’s not your typical Mexican hotel.  Our  ‘junglow’ faces the septic field and even the pathways to the cabanas are uneven concrete… but the interesting part is where this hotel really stands out.  The beds are fabulous (we were sure we must have been following the ‘hard beds tour’ of Mexico) and so is the food!  Although we’re not sure whether the great taste has something to do with the fact that you’re starving by the time it arrives.  The wait for both dinners from ordering to eating has been 1.5 hours.  Our host does the cooking – with help – but doesn’t slack on her host duties either so it can take a while.

Yesterday we explored the grandest and lesser known ruins of Calakmul.  Calakmul is remote even by our standards; it’s over two hours away from our hotel and we are one of the closer ones.  All the guide books will tell you there is neither food nor water to be had at the site and we think we figured out why.  If I were a vendor, I wouldn’t want to drive 80 minutes one-waydown a narrow road in the hopes that the few visitors might buy my stuff.  Even the ‘guides’ wait out at the highway and not AT the park.  The park is the largest bio-reserve in Mexico but the ruins only cover 25 sq. km.  They are home to the tallest Mayan pyramid, from the top of which you can see Guatemala (30 kms to the south.)  Its rival city was Tikal (in Guatemala.) It is a fantastic park for kids since you can still climb on all the ruins... and to the top of that tallest pyramid. 

There is also plenty of wildlife.  Shortly after walking the 1km from the parking lot into the ruins, about 100m behind us, up in the trees, we heard a loud and disturbing noise.  It was so loud that I suspected it might be amplified.  It sounded like a cross between growling and arguing gorillas.  To say this was intimidating would be an understatement.  Nobody else was in sight.  I herded up my little ducks and we hurried up the path only to hear another, similar sound up in the trees immediately to our left… almost like it was following us!  Then it stopped and we soon forgot about it.  We later learned that the noise was howler monkeys which we knew to be in the park… but I would not describe the noise as howling.  And the noise was not made for our benefit; it’s the sound that the males make to keep other male howlers away.  To be able to observe the monkeys, you have to be quiet =not very often with Adam around.   But while Adam was distracted by a rather large ant procession, we got to see a mother monkey with the tiniest baby clinging to her back… so sweet. 

We had just enough energy left to make the long walk back to the van and drive two hours back to our hotel and wait (and wait) for dinner.  If we had more days like this, I would be losing weight, not gaining it.

I would like to just take a moment here to mention that I am not the only who has put on weight.  For the first time in his life, Jeff has a belly!!  He just had trouble doing up his shorts.

For our second day of exploring ruins, we went to Chicana and Becan – both quite close to our hotel.  Chicana has a fabulous mural of an open mouth done in relief but is otherwise not much compared to the sites we’d been to so far.  Becan is better.  And of course, you’re still allowed to climb on everything.  It was our hottest temperature so far though (33 degrees C.) so we pooped out before we were able to really enjoy all of it. 

Today we are picking up our clean laundry in town (always a treat) and heading for the coast… our farthest point from home.
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Karen Teichman on

In reading your stories, I just can't help but think of all the wonderful memories you, Jeff & the kids will have of your Mexican Adventure. This is truly an adventure of a lifetime. I hope your family realized how luckly they are that you planned such an Awesome trip. Let me know if you get to go to Les Tres Rios which is north of Playa de Carmen. What are your plans for Rivieria Maya week? Did you say someone was meeting you there? We loved the beaches in Cancun, which now that they have been reclaimed with Tons and Tons of sand they say are better than the Maya Rivieria.

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