Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | June 12, 2013

What Happened in Mexico

N 20° 49.8′   W 86° 53.3′

Puerto Morelos, México.

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The signature Puerto Morelos lighthouse, tilted by Hurricane Beulah in 1967, with the newer model behind it

Here we are on the Yucatán Peninsula in Quintana Roo, the easternmost of Mexico’s 31 states. We are sporting the wristbands of the Hotel Marina El Cid all-inclusive resort. Tourists we are, two in a sea of many.  Today it felt more like a herd as we stomped around the Tulum ruins taking pictures of other tourists taking pictures of us taking pictures.  Moo.  It’s culture shock again, although the current culture is not that unfamiliar.  It just feels strange after so many months in places like Roatan and San Andres and Panama and Colombia.

Our companions in the marina are mostly fishing charter and excursion boats that serve the tourist market. Our friend Mike on M/V Doubloon and his Dad just pulled in from Honduras.  His passage wasn’t so nice either, maybe worse than ours.  It is so nice to see a familiar face and to quickly catch up, even though Mike has to fly out to go back to work.  Hopefully he will return soon to get Doubloon across the Gulf and safely back to the States.

A couple of cruising boats are anchored off the town about a mile to the north. No thanks, that looks like a constant motion gut-churning spot at the moment despite the cruising guide author’s assurance that she nicely weathered a 50 knot June tropical storm there. We’ll take the floating dock with super high pilings behind the huge breakwater, thank you.  We’ve made progress, but have a whole lot more room for improvement in the penny-pinching department. Guess that is one reason we are heading back to shore life and employment.

The stretch of 80 miles from Cancun to Tulum, down the Riviera Maya is filled with resort after resort after resort. There might be more resorts here than in Orlando.  There are upscale choices of the Ritz Carlton caliber, unlike in many of our Latin American stops.  There are many of the all-inclusive variety, a la Club Med.  Driving along the main highway we almost feel like we are back in the States, except that the billboards and road signs are in Spanish. They also have annoying speed bumps called “topes” that suddenly appear on the high-speed road with little or no warning.  That certainly makes driving more interesting!   Having only been only to Cozumel via cruise ship, mainland Mexico is not as I had imagined. Bob says the tourism aspect here  is not unlike Cabo San Lucas, although the mountainous terrain there is very different from the flat and swampy surroundings here.  I’m sure, like in Colombia, that there is diversity in this large country and we are only sampling one small piece.

It is really hot here. It feels like the hottest place we have been. My friend Professor Chuck would say that is the “experiencing self” vs. the “remembering self”. Right now we are experiencing incredible heat. Maybe in the future the memories of all the warmth we have felt in many locations will blend together, but surprisingly to us, the heat along our route has been mostly comfortable. Sometimes we have actually felt cold in the Caribbean.

Here we do not find the shady walks of Fantasy Island on Roatan. The dogs are consoled by the lush St. Augustine grass, their first in many miles, which they are happily sniffing at the moment. For the humans there are packed swimming pools and crowded sandy beaches and bountiful buffets to enjoy if we wish to purchase extra coupons to supplement our white wrist bands, which allow only our presence in the resort. There are numerous nature and water oriented adventure parks with names like XPLOR and Xel-Ha and Xcaret. There are dolphins to swim with and crocodiles to see. There is no reason to be bored here, that’s for sure.

One of the reasons we chose to stop at Puerto Morelos was the opportunity to experience a smaller Mexican fishing village. We found a quaint seaside pueblo, but one also heavy with tourists that overflow from the resorts. As in Cozumel, all the vendors want to be your amigo, want you to come into their shop, want to sell you a tour, want you to stop in to dine, want to sell you a cold beverage. Bob refuses to wear the white wristband, further branding him as a tourist, and has to remember to keep it in his pocket so he can get back into the marina. I manage to squeeze mine off after we venture outside to try to minimize the sales pitches. The town is still interesting, with a gorgeous beach, little shops, artisans and scrumptious restaurants and cafes.  It’s a perfect location to explore to the north, to Cancun, and to the south, to Playa del Carmen & Tulum.

We are disappointed to find that the advertised 5 peso (about 40 cents) collectivo ride to town, where buses can be caught, has been discontinued thanks to the local taxi mafia. The choices are a sweltering 30 minute walk each way to a bus stop or a $20 round trip taxi ride. Bob is still trying to understand why an all-inclusive resort would want to hold its guests hostage to those expensive fares. Why not provide a free shuttle ride to town, where the guests could be tempted to eat and drink and play at their own expense? A $20 taxi ride is probably pocket change to the vacation-goers here.  We find a rental car for $30 a day including insurance, which means easier and more flexible sightseeing and getting around town for us.

While we are still shaking the passage exhaustion and time change effects (to Daylight Savings, still Central Time zone) and getting settled in our location we see an upcoming weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico. Go figure! This has been a repetitive event. We get somewhere, are just getting familiar with the new surroundings, having a fun time and then are nudged to leave. A Thursday  departure dangles the carrot of 3 foot seas, settling to less than 1 foot for much of the trip with little to no wind. This time, we aren’t going to say – nah, let’s wait for the next one. We know it could be weeks or months or who knows how long until we find similar. Bob thinks he has the stabilizer problem pinpointed, but it is expensive and complicated to FedEx boat parts to Mexico, among other places.   With that kind of forecast, stabilizers aren’t a necessity. We make an effort to cram in as much sightseeing as we can, provision and do the necessary chores to get ready to move on.

The plan from here is to take the boat to Isla Mujeres, about a 4 hour trip. We’ll have 24 hours to visit that island and maybe get ourselves checked out of Mexico for a few pesos less than will be required here in Puerto Morelos, where the agent-mandatory process and related fees has been pretty expensive.

This coast has been severely short-changed. We skipped Belize & Guatemala entirely, stopped at one atoll for 5 hours, and spent 6 nights here.  We will zoom through Isla Mujeres, where we had hoped to spend at least a week. It is not terribly far, compared with our other destinations, if we wish to return at some future time. Only a couple of days at sea, which should be a piece of cake for us. I can’t imagine traveling this coast in the other direction, fighting those strong currents that were as much as 3  knots at times.  Realistically I doubt that the Mar Azul will be back this way soon.

It will be another somber farewell but for different than the usual reasons. We haven’t had time to become attached to Mexico. We have mixed feelings about making this crossing so soon. We are anxious to get back to Florida, get settled for hurricane season, see family and friends again.  Yet we know we will miss the special lifestyle of these last two years and the thrill of exploring new destinations and different cultures.

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Puerto Morelos town beach and anchorage

 

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Imprevist Restaurant was a great find for Sunday Brunch in Playa del Carmen

 

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Resort row in Cancun

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We were two of many visitors to the Mayan Ruin site in Tulum. Interesting, but I guess we are not ruins aficionados.  Hot, hot, sweaty walk. The really smart people paid extra to use the beach for a cool swim.

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Amazing tortilla chips and salsas at Don Cafetos Restaurant in Tulum

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A provisioning adventure at Super Chedraui and to play it safe in case we are inspected, just enough fresh stuff to get us through the next passage

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Was surprised to find a huge bakery with all the goodies displayed uncovered on open racks.  We had to restrain ourselves not to pinch the donuts and swipe the frosting.  The  rest of the store was more Super Walmart like with a fairly good selection in all departments except for frozen products. Darn it, was hoping to simplify the passage food with a couple of frozen dinners.

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Small fishing boat fleet moored along the Puerto Morelos waterfront

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M/Vs Doubloon and Mar Azul berthed side by side at El CId. Lady’s little black nose can be seen behind the blue kayak, where she often stations herself to watch for us when we are gone.

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Responses

  1. I know what you’re saying about the Yucatan heat… it’s been sweltering each time I’ve been there… gotta stay wet! Good luck with your next passage.. as you get closer and closer to home!


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