Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula

May 6 – 24, 2016.

This is our 9th and final post on Mexico.

The Yucatan Peninsula is probably the best know Tourist destination in Mexico. Magnificent beaches with turquoise water, Mayan ruins, night life, world class Hotels and Resorts, Naturals Wonders, Colonial Cities, diving and snorkeling … no wonder it is so popular. The Yucatan Peninsula encompasses 3 states: Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

Campeche

On May 6, 2016, the day after celebrating our first year on the road, we entered the Yucatan Peninsula and stopped in the Colonial City of Campeche. After a long drive through steep roads, as we were arriving, our truck lost all engine compression, we barely made it to the Dodge dealer. It was 4pm on a Friday and they were about to close but we must have had a desperate look because the Service Manager agreed to take our truck in for a computer analysis. It turned out to be a computer glitch with the fuel injectors, they reseted the computer and we haven’t had any issues since (knock on wood!). They were so nice and did not even charged us a penny!

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Statue of Man holding a torch by artist Roberto Martinez (Resurgence)

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We camped for free in the Visitor Center parking lot across from the Malecon (oceanfront promenade) in Campeche. It was just a short walk to the historic district.

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Central Plaza and Cathedral of the Colonial Town of Campeche.

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We were standing on the sidewalk of the Central Plaza when we spotted these black SUVs, but we never imagined that we would see the President of Mexico coming out of one of them!

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President Enrique Pena Nieto came out of the SUV he was driving himself and started talking to people and shaking hands.

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A few selfies, why not!!!

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Restaurants lining one of the street of the historic district.

Izamal

Izamal is a small colonial city near Merida, the Capital of the Sate of Yucatan. Sorry no pictures of Merida! I was actually sick with an ear infection so we stayed in the parking lot of a Walmart where I got some ear drop from the pharmacy. We didn’t even venture into the historic part which is suppose to be very nice. It was also extremely hot so we were looking for a nice resting spot with a pool. After a little bit of research we came across a small hotel, owned by an Austrian and his Mexican wife in this cute little town (Izamal) only 45 minutes from Merida.

We did not really explore the town but we did stop for a few pictures of the main Plaza. Izamal is a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) where all the buildings including the massive convent are painted yellow and where horses wear hats! Their claim to fame was the visit of Pope John Paul in 1993.

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We stayed at the Hacienda Santo Domingo. The small hotel also had a few spots for campers and we could use the pool so it was a nice place to recover from my ear infection and rest for a few days. The gardens and the pool area were so pretty and romantic, they tried to recreate the Mayan charm and did a great job!

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Quite a few European rigs, mostly Germans we stored behind the hotel while their owner’s went back home for the summer months!

Cenote Yokdzonot

There is literally thousands of Cenotes (sinkwholes) throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Once revered by the ancient Mayans as sacred wells, they are now magnets for tourists. The first one we visited was Cenote Yokdzonot, located 15 km from the ruins of Chichen Itza, it’s operated by a group of Mayan Women a great example of sustainable community project. It was our first experience and with the intense heat, diving in the cool water was just divine and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. A few small groups came and went throughout the day but since we camped just outside the entrance, we could go in and out as often as we wanted. The entrance fee was only 70 pesos per person (less than $5).

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I could stay in that water for hours, just floating!

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Joe exploring the clear waters but the bottom is estimated at 45 meters (148 feet) so not much to see besides a few fishes.

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Unbelievable natural beauty!

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We were able to observe a few Turquoise-browed Motmot birds.

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They had their nest in the limestone around the Cenote.

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We camped with our British friends Guy and Amy and Hugo their Land Rover Defender.

Pyramid of Chichen Itza

The most famous and best restored of the Yucatán Mayan ruins is Chichén Itzá, it was  also named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. The ancient city thrived from around 600 A.D. to 1200s. It was an incredibly powerful economic power in the Maya world, they established trade routes as far as South America even though some believe they even went beyond the American Continent!

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“Ever since Chichén Itzá was named one of the new seven wonders of the world, it started making its way onto many bucket lists. The massive El Castillo pyramid, Chichén Itzá’s most iconic structure, will knock your socks off.”

Excerpt From: Lonely Planet. “Lonely Planet Cancún, Cozumel & the Yucatán.” iBooks.

 

Cenote Suytun

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Suytun is one of the most photographed Cenote.

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The Cenote is completely underground with giant stalactites. We accessed it through a long stairwell.

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Mayan warrior!

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We camped a few hundred meters from the entrance of the Cenote. We had access to a restaurant, bathrooms, showers, and a great pool for 250 pesos ($15).

Chemuyil near Tulum (house rental)

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While at the Suytun Cenote we got a message from John and Mandi to know if we were interested in renting a house with them for a week. They had us at AC and WiFi!!! Then Guy and Amy joined in. It was a fun week of catching up on laundry, great diners and just chilling with cool people!

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A block from our rental house was this unbelievably clear little Cenote!

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Who needs the beach when you can cool off in one of these!

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The tribe: Betty, Amy & Guy, Joe & Josée and Mandi

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Our new Swiss friends Betty & Beat from Reisefriedli and their cool Lan Cruiser Camper.

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We see these hanging nest all the time but it was the first time we saw a White-winged Tanager peeking out!

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Wonderful colors of the bougainvilleas!

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More colors, more interesting contrasts!

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What a line up: DodgeRam/XPCamper, Ford E-350 4×4 Van, Land Rover Defender and Land Cruiser with Camper. A lady from the neighborhood called the owner of our rental house to tell him that gypsies were in his house ha! ha!

Tulum

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What makes the ruins of Tulum so special, in our opinion, is it’s location! High on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and white sand beaches!  

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Popular fishing spot.

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Lazy iguana just taking in the view!

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Tucked away between the fancy Boutique Hotels on the beach of Tulum we found this small campground (Camping Chavez) that offered tent camping and we were able to get a spot for our rig.

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Tent rental right on the beach. A nice alternative to the expensive hotels.

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We were the only rig parked in the small parking lot.

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Tulum has one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen!

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No comments!

Lake Bacalar

A few hours drive south of Tulum away from the hustle and bustle of the Riviera Maya is the tranquil Lake Bacalar. The long (42km) and narrow (2km) lake is fed by underwater Cenotes and is the second largest natural body of fresh water in Mexico. It is also called the “Lake of the Seven Colors” by the ancient Mayan.

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We camped at Cocalito for 200 Pesos ($11 USD). We only stayed one night because our Mexican tourist visa was almost expired!

 

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Swimming in that lake was incredible! Can you see the Seven Colors?

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View from the camper’s back window! The site had a small restaurant but we cooked some steaks, potatoes and mushrooms that we had bought in Tulum! Wonderful evening!

Chetumal

Chetumal is the State of Quintana Roo’s Capital and the last Mexican City before crossing into Belize. This is where a lot of Overlanders overnight and do some chopping at Walmart and Home Depot before crossing into expensive Belize. Fuel, propane, groceries, water, repairs etc… And it has a nice campground called Yax Ha Resort & RV Park for 300 Pesos per night ($16 USD).

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A few hours after we got to the campground, John and Mandi showed up! We had no idea they were coming. It was a little bit late in the afternoon for them to arrive because we always try to be in our night spot well before sundown, but they told us that they had their first flat tire and it took them some time to change it in the blistering heat! The next day they were able to replace their spare tire.

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Happy Hour!

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The camp site, Yax Ha Resort and RV Park had a nice pool, where we spent most of our time.

Our last errand on an extremely hot day was filling our diesel tanks including our small tank for our appliances, the tank is located in the back of the camper. To reach it, we have to pop the camper up and to do so we always open the side entrance door of the camper. We must have gotten distracted because we drove off from the gas station with the side door open! Just before arriving to our campground we pulled over to look up an address, that’s went the open door got knocked off by a cement post! After earing a gut wrenching noise, I was afraid to look out my window! But I did and saw our camper door lying on the side walk. I don’t know if it was the eat or the fact that our Mexican tourist visa was expiring the next day but I LOST IT! I got out of the truck and screamed at Joe: WE ARE FUCKED!!!

Joe calmed me down, put the door inside the camper and we drove to our campground where our Overlander friends helped us put the door back! (temporarily anyway).

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John and Mandi and Birger from Slow Motions helped us tremendously! They straitened the door hinge and were able to put it back. THANK YOU FRIENDS!!! 

We spent 6 incredible months traveling through Mexico and have been blown away by it’s people, art, culture, cuisine, history, landscape and natural wonders. We had no idea it had so much to offer and we’ve only scratch the surface. MEXICO WE LOVE YOU! You will be in our hearts forever!

Next, BELIZE … stay tuned!!!

6 thoughts on “Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula

  1. What an exciting adventure you’ve had, can only envy you such a wonderful time. It’s truly beautiful there, so much to do & see. I have totally enjoyed reading about your trip & look forward to more from you in the near future. Thank you for sharing. With Christmas & New Year’s in just a few days, I want to wish you both the best Christmas & happiest of New Year’s.

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    1. Hello Carole,
      Thank you for taking the time to read us and for your comments! We really enjoy our nomadic lifestyle and can’t believe how much we have seen and how much more there is to see! We wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy happy New Year!
      Cheers!
      Josée and Joe

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  2. Joe and Josee these photos and explanations are terrific. Ty for sharing. I appreciate everything about your travels. Especially the Mayan warrior. 😊

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  3. Hello !! Je ne pensais pas que vous avez passez si de temps au Mexique…. que de belles photos et les paysages wow!! Le Mexique est tellement grand. Merci de partager cette aventure j’ai déjà hâte de voir la prochaine destination. Joyeux Noel et Bonne Année 2017 ,nous serons Mario et moi chez mes parents à Ajijic pour les vacances de Noel.
    A bientôt xox

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    1. Salut Martine,
      Effectivement le Mexique est très grand et il y a tellement à voir! Je vous souhaite un super beau voyage et souhaite à vous tous un Joyeux Noël et une année 2017 remplie de bonheur! Nous sommes présentement en Floride chez le fils de Joe pour le temps des fêtes (6 semaines) Je vais au Québec voir ma famille pour le jour de l’an et nous repartons le 9 janvier pour le Costa Rica où nous avons laissé notre camper.
      Bisous!
      Josée

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