16 May 2012
We limped the dingy to shore & got a room at The Flying Cloud Hotel next to this cute little dive shop (XTC Dive Center). They have 5 rooms renting from 40, 50 or $60 a night. We were up & walking by 4:30 to catch the bus that leaves at 5. We went to Chetumal to find a dinghy & something for the termites. The ride itself, we knew, was going to be an experience. The first ½ hr wasn’t bad and then he turned onto a dirt road that was only the width of the bus. The palm fronds were slapping both sides cleaning the windows. The potholes!!!! OMG! The driver would get the bus up the 3rd gear then slam on the brakes back to 1st. This lasted for about an hour. There were some really cool little resorts & villages along the way where we were picking up people. We traveled north to Majahual then west. It took 4 hours to get to Chetumal. Along the way the scenery never bored you, between the speed bumps (topes) & check point Charlie with armed guards who boarded the bus & looked around, we were entertained. At one of the stops some locals came aboard selling sandwiches & tamales. There was a Mayan ruin right there on the side of the road. Who knows what significance it has??
We arrived in Chetumal at 9:00. The air-conditioning on the bus was so cold – how cold was it? – it was so cold, we walked around a few blocks not knowing where we were going just so we could warm up. Ha! Starving, looking for breakfast, we flagged down a taxi who took us to 1 of the markets for real Mexican food. YUMMIE! We each had a huge tamale & sopes. The market is so typical. Selling meat in the open air, beautiful fruit & vegetables everywhere, all kinds of clothing & hats & serapes’ & shoes & purses ----- you get the idea. Amazing place.
We had asked our taxi driver, Juan Carlos, to come back & be our chauffeur for the day. He actually came back! He went home to pick up his mother so she could ride around with these crazy gringos. He was probably only around 20 yrs old? Really nice people. So – off we were to find a dinghy. Went to the nautical store, Wallmart, Sams & then out to the ‘free zone.’ This is an area between Mexico & Belize. Not part of either Country, just a chunk of land with duty free stores on it. Well – check point Charlie border guards would not let us cross because we did not have our tourist papers. After a little pleading, Fernando slipped him a $20 and he went right to stamping, we were allowed to go in. They love their stamps. Unfortunately we did not find 1. When we were coming out we had to go through check point Jim. (Charlies brother) Luckily we had flipped Charlie the $20., we told Jim, Charlie said we were ok & he let us come back into Mexico from (the Free-Zone)a land that was neither Mexico or Belize…… you figure it out? I guess they share the $20. Actually the Free-Zone wasn’t all that free, it cost us $20.
Exhausted from driving around the Capital of the State of Quintana Roo, we asked Juan Carlos & mom to take us to the bus station. After 3 hrs of schlepping us everywhere, the price was a whopping 380 pesos!!! That’s only $32.00 US. Of course we tipped him very well & mom seemed very happy.
What a wonderful day so far. We did get the termite stuff & now we will just have to go to plan B about the dingy. We were able to pick up some incredible fruit to bring back. The pineapple (pina) is in season now & it is so sweet & juicy. YUMMIE! They are only in May & June, so we are here at the right time.
The ride back to Xcalak was the first paragraph in reverse. Ha! We made it back by 8:30, walked back to XTC dive shop/hotel & crashed.
What a great adventure!