Another day in paradise?
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Friday 19th we decided to hire bikes for 3 days. We had already checked out where and how much etc so all we needed to do was go and collect them. We planned to pick them up at 9am when the shop opened, ride back home to get used to them, and then decide how we would spend the day and pack a rucksack accordingly. “Simples” as the meercats would say. If only we had been as smart as meercats!
After setting off we were pleasantly delayed by a procession in the town square (more info in blog – Independance Celebrations) so we stopped and watched for a while before collecting the bikes at 10am
Eventually we entered the park (after about 10 K) and found there was only a gatehouse where we could pay the entrance fee, no facilities or shop
However, relief was short-lived. The Visitor's Centre consisted of one man, toilets with no water, a few display boards, no shop, food or drinking water. I felt like crying. It did have a very nice wooden tower which gave a wonderful view over the jungle to the sea, rivers and mangrove swamps but I have to say I wasn't able to appreciate it, especially as by now the wind was so strong it was necessary to hold on to the rail to avoid being blown over. We could not have gone back without food or water but luckily the man told us that there was a fishing lodge 2 kilometres further on where we could eat, so on we went
On reaching the Lodge, Jim held the bikes while I went to find someone, as the whole place looked deserted. I should mention here that in the course of the ride we had been through many puddles, some so deep they almost reached the midpoint of the wheels, and the result was that we were spattered from toes to chest with what I think potters call slip, a mix of fine whitish clay and water – not a pretty sight. I had walked around to what looked like the restaurant and bar on the beach, when the owner came out to meet me, obviously wondering what the disreputable looking stranger was up to. After saying hello, I asked if there was any food available. There was no-one else around and the restaurant looked closed but I think he took pity on me as, after a long pause, he said he could only do some quesadillas. What a relief! I said quesadillas would be perfect. I collected Jim and the guy showed us where to leave the bikes and we followed him into the restaurant, where there was a sign saying do not enter if you were damp or had sand on you. I stopped and said “I am sorry” and just indicated my front down to my shoes, and the wonderful man just said “No problem” and showed us to a table.The restrooms had warm water and towel napkins for drying hands. I realised the Lodge was more luxurious than our usual eating places
The food tasted superb and the only worry then was did we have enough money to pay? Luckily, he was happy to accept some stray dollars that were lurking in my purse as we did not have enough pesos, or Jim might have still been there washing up.
The return journey was a nightmare as the wind was really strong. At times I had to walk, as it was like trying to ride into a solid wall. I know Yucatan is flat and hot but I kept having flashbacks to the climb up Ditchling Beacon on the London to Brighton bike ride, and at other moments I could only see Omar Shariff crossing Siberia in the snow. Honestly! It was that bad. But enough whining – we made it, after over 5 hours riding and 45 k that seemed more like 70. Perhaps the most painful aspect of the whole experience was acknowledging that it was totally self-inflicted. Wisdom from another discipline says, “Plan the dive, and dive the plan”. We had a plan which we metaphorically tore up and tossed over our shoulders 5 seconds after getting on the bike. We might have felt like 10 year old kids at that point, but I can tell you, we knew how old we were by the time we finished
And the final straw was that we did not see a single bird in the whole time we were in the Biosphere.