Riding across the Yucatan from Escarcega to Paleque
3 Deciembre, Sabado Xpuhil, Yucatan
Up very early to go to El Mercado. Bought some oranges and tangerines. Ate some really delicious meat tacos at a little stall. Then to the Panadaria for some pan dulce. I walked over to the Jugos Caribe for a very good platino con leche con dos huevos. A good breakfast is the best way to start the day.
I strolled back to my humble cuarto and packed the last few things on the Silver Dawn. Said adios to the landlady and rolled out. 280 Kms to Escarcega.
Rode out of town, past the Belize exit, down the road to Escarcega. The bike was cruising well, the load was well-balanced. Into the jungle. The kms flew by. I passed Kuhunlich and still I rode on. I figured I’d try to make Xpuhil at km 154.
Whew, pulled in at 5.30. 9.5 hours of steady riding. I was beat. 125 kms, a new record. Ate a good meal at the café next to the Pemex station. Well, it looks like I might make it to Escarcega at least. Hard to say. Slept in a small outbuilding in the little pueblo that surrounds the Pemex.
Kilometres 125 To date: 381
4 Deciembre, Sabado Siluituc, Yucatan
Up at dawn. I’m a bit stiff, but nothing that a little exercise won’t cure. Over to the café for a coffee and relaxation. Then on the road. After a quick 8 kms I came to La Zona Archeologica Becan. I rode in about 1 km on a little dirt road and there I was. Becan. I climbed up the temple, many intact sanctuaries inside. Classic Mayan corbelled arch construction. Many other plazas and temples, some with stucco maskarones, but abstract in nature. An odd 75m vaulted chamber. Perhaps an aqueduct? Very nice. Also some intricate stone geometric designs. Some temples show Rio Bec influence while others don’t.
About another kilometer down the road was Chicanna, another ceremonial center that seemed much more related to Xpuhil in as much as it was in the classic Rio Bec style. Finely-dressed stone and some very nice ornamental stucco. One interesting feature was one temple façade was made to look like a gigantic stylized face complete with a mouthful of foot-long teeth. The mouth opening was a door into a sanctuary. Neeto.
Well, on with the ride. Many ups and downs, a few flats. Not many towns at all. The jungle, however is very beautiful, fragrant with 1000 blooms. Deadly. I saw a huge snake oozing out of a cliffside nest. Ever onward.
Passed Siluituc at 5.00, camped just past in the bush. Sure glad I have a skeeter net. Another long, but fun, day.
Kilometres 149 To date 490
5 Deciembre, Domingo Escarcega, Campece
That skeeter net saved my life. I mean there were hundreds of thousands of these voracious little devils buzzing around, trying to sample some gringo blood.
Got up at seven, packed my gear and hit the road. Not for long, however, as I guess last night I picked up a thorn and my front tire was flat. Rats. I put on a new tube and after much hassle I was back on the road.
The last few kilometers were easy and I buzzed into Escarcega about 12.15pm. Just on the outskirts of town there is a little migracion office and I stopped. The officials got a kick out of my bike and me and tried to shake me down for some nylon cord. However, I was able to talk them out of it.
It was there, however, that I noticed an ominous bulge in my front tire. No es Bueno. Perhaps I’d better buy a new tire cuz that one spells blowout to me and it’s 200 miles to the next town.
So anyway I rode to a hotel and checked in, a nice one too, very nice in fact, for 84 pesos. Man, did that shower feel good.
After a quick nap I went out to walk around Escarcega. Nothing special. However I did enjoy an excellent meal of pollo frito complete with fried plantains, potatoes, salad and garnishes. That with a tall OJ and a Coke and a muy bueno chocolate bar for 33 pesos. It was a lot of fun sitting right next to the main street watching the Domingo tardes people stroll by.
Back to the hotel for relaxation and a bit of letter writing. But the lights went out. So I walked across the street and bought a candle. To sleep early.
Kilometres 48 To date 538
6 Deciembre, Lunes Emilio Zapata
Eyah that cervaza goes down good. I’m sitting in a little café next to a Pemex station exactly 100 kms from Escarcega. It is hot out. I came up with a good name for me: diablo del sol!
Got up early this morning and ate a muy bueno breakfast of huevos con jamon, café and a litre of fresh OJ. Because I figured on having a blow-out I bought a new tire for 67 pesos at a bike shop in town. Went back to my hotel, packed and took off at 9.30.
Half and hour later, boom. Front tire blow-out. Usual hassle and bullshit. An hour later back on the road. For a couple of hours I sizzled. 24 kms in one hour. The roads: flat, straight and smooth. Not much traffic or towns. A bunch of ranches, though. 224 kms to Palenque.
Reached the 100 km mark at quarter to 4. Making good time, hotter’n hell, though. Lucky I’m a diablo del sol. Pulled into this convenient café and ahhh, cerveza fria.
So I rode on, and on and on. Past 125 kms, my old record at sunset…beautiful. The full moon rose over the flat, swampy land. Mucho mosquitos. Finally, at 7.45, at km 156, I pulled into a café on the banks of the grand Usumacinta.
Had a refresco and got to talking to the people who worked there. Turns out one of them was driving to Emilio Zapata, where there was a hotel, in an hour. He said I could ride with him. Muy bien. So I sat there and talked for an hour or so. Then off, via a camionetta, for Zapata. Lovely night.
Got to the hotel, a room for 50 pesos, but alas, no blankets. Oh well, at least no mosquitos and a nice shower. 156 kms. That’s 97.5 miles. A new all time record for me. Bueno. Long day.
Kilometers 156 To date 694
7 Deciembre, Martes Palenque
I hauled ass yesterday, but paid today. Had a rough time. Got up and rode 8 kms back to the main road. Had a good breakfast at the cross-roads for 14 pesos: huevos, OJ & frijoles. Then 20 slow kms to the Palenque exit.
Whew, slow going. 27 kms to the Pueblo Palenque. Hills and curves. Mucho trabajo. Finally made it (in three hours) and rode a little farther to a campground, 10 pesos a night. I’m staying in a palapa, a grass-covered open-air pavilion. I’m a bit apprehensive about bugs, though. Sure is nice to get to Palenque.
Spent the afternoon relaxing and getting the feel of things. Ate a good supper of huevos al la ongas. Much rain tonight. Kind of a trip sleeping in the jungle with the rain.
Kilometers 64 To date 758
R and R at Palenque. Camped out in the Mayan-style palapa in the jungle, cooked over an open fire, slept under my skeeter net. Met heaps of fun and well-travelled people, plenty of weed and magic mushrooms, a good market in town and, of course, exquisite ruins. Not to mention monkeys in the trees and fragrant blossoms all over.