• Thursday , 14 December 2017
Road to Ruins

Road to Ruins

It was quite cool and damp camping in El Tule, Oaxaca so Ducati suggested some beach time. Since Shannon and I were both dealing with head colds and sore throats we agreed to the plan eagerly. Team Boiler Works headed further south to the Pacific Coast near Puerto Angel. Here we found a place called Zipolite beach.

Our neighborhood of cabanas on Zipolite beach

Our neighborhood of cabanas on Zipolite beach

In Mexico, nudity is frowned upon and mostly illegal but Zipolite is one of a handful of beaches in Mexico where nudity is tolerated and legal. Contrary to what you are thinking we headed to Zipolite for the beautiful one mile beach, rural atmosphere, and cheap accommodation right on the edge of the surf. With the added bonus that people walk down the beach selling tasty, tasty food so you never have to leave your tent or cabana. Here are some universal truths about nude beaches in Mexico

  • most people are dressed
  • 80% of the naked people are men over fifty
  • all the people you would like to see naked are clothed and vice versa
Excellent street art throughout the small town of Zipolite

Excellent street art throughout the small town of Zipolite

For more photos of the street art see our slideshow: Oaxaca and Chiapas street art slideshow

We had a very pleasant week at Zipolite that included catching up with other overlanders that we had met in San Miguel de Allende (Carl and Kathleen 2up to South America) and in El Tule at Overlander Oasis (Mick and Chris from intrepidfor10minutes) before continuing east toward Chiapas state. On the way to Chiapas we passed through the narrow piece of land that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Pacific. Since the Gulf maintains a higher atmospheric pressure than the Pacific a constant year-round windstorm howls between the gaps in the mountains and the wind has been known to blow semi-trucks off the road. It was slow going and nerve-racking trying to ride with the motorcycles angled into the wind. It was surreal to ride through the “forest” of wind turbines that stretched to the horizon in this area. But it was good practice for what we expect to find in Patagonia.

Chiapas state found us back into the mountains and donning the warm clothes again. This is a poor and very rural part of Mexico and in many places the indigenous population has organized and are aligned with the Zapatista revolutionary leftist political and militant group. This group has declared autonomy from Mexico in parts of Chiapas. While we saw Zapatistas none of the roadblocks that we partially expected were in place and our passage through the mountains was uneventful. The Suzukis were right at home on the potholed and narrow roads. Children in smaller towns, possibly following the lead of the Zapatistas, set up baby road blocks consisting of string across the roadway in hopes cars would stop and buy fruit or snacks from them. All quite harmless and motorcycles seem to be exempt from having the string raised across the road so we simply road over it. We think they rightly realize we can’t easily purchase and put away anything while fully geared and riding a motorcycle.

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The pace of life on the road after a hundred days has settled into routine and we are happy, joyful, and having the time of our lives. Each day is full and whether it is a traveling day, buying food, searching for accommodation, or just living as gypsies we are busy all day. We are monumentally satisfied with our decision to hit the road as a career. It is a simple life but very fulfilling.

Now that we have arrived in southeastern Mexico we are in Mayan country and there are scores of pyramids and ancient ruins dating back to BC in some cases. Our first major explorations were the ruins at Tonina in eastern Chiapas. We camped within walking distance and were impressed by the lush, green landscape around the pyramids. It is ranching country.

Cooking at our campsite near Tonina ruins.

Cooking at our campsite near Tonina ruins.

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Tonina Ruins in the afternoon light

Tonina Ruins

Tonina Ruins

Palenque was our next stop and again we were able to camp within walking distance of the ruins. Of the four ruins we visited this had the most excavated sites/buildings and overall is well laid out, signed, and maintained. Unfortunately one of the ruins (Temple of Inscriptions) was closed for climbing/walking but the others were open and we spent hours walking, climbing, and just sitting (it was a hot day) and viewing the different ruins. As you walk through the ruins there is a lovely waterfall with structures of housing around and the walkway looks like something out of the hobbit movie.

Agua Azul Falls on the road to Palenque

Agua Azul Falls on the road to Palenque

Agua Azul

Agua Azul

Palenque Ruins

Palenque Ruins

Calakmul is reached by driving a narrow, windy road, 40-miles into the jungle off the main highway. The canopy goes over the road in such away that you really have no sense of direction or where you are. We climbed two of the higher pyramids at the site to get an excellent view over the jungle canopy that stretches as far as you can see. There are no nearby human habitations so it is uninterrupted jungle (it is called the Calakmul biosphere) with sounds of monkeys and birds.

Campsite on the way to Calakmul with resident peacocks

Campsite on the way to Calakmul with resident peacocks

Calakmul Ruins

Calakmul Ruins

The last ruins we visited in Mexico were Becan. This was one of our favorites as there were very few people and the ruins were a bit different than the others. There were rounded corners on the structures, in-place carvings and base-reliefs, as well as narrow passageways and stairs you could climb. On one building it was almost like an Escher painting with various steep stairs going this way and that with no clear rhyme or reason.

Becan Ruins

Becan Ruins

Becan Ruins

Becan Ruins

For more photos of the ruins we visited see our slideshow: Mexico Mayan Ruins slideshow

We are currently in the state of Quintana Roo on a crystal clear fresh water lake called Laguna Bacalar. The water flows from under ground cenotes and aquifers and is very pure. We will camp here until Christmas passes then we will enter Belize and leave our beloved Mexico behind. Twinges of homesickness visit us both during this holiday season and family/friends is something we miss very much. It is strange how much I still think about the Puget Sound Blood Center and my job there as well as all the great people I worked with. As chief engineer I was conditioned to worry about all things PSBC and habits die-hard.

View from our tent at Laguna Bacalar

Laguna Bacalar

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