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Old 02-26-2013, 07:11 PM   #826
eakins
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Glad to here you're feeling well again. I got hit with 2 nasty sick periods when I was in Mex and it was no bueno.

I'm amazed you 2 have not hit a beach in all this time. I know the allure of the Colonial and pre-colonial highlands, but I'd have a swim in the ocean itch by now.

Sounds like the Yucatan is on your radar. Along with Merida, don't miss Campeche, seeing a few cenotes, eating pibil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochinita_pibil plus visiting Tulum & Chitzin Itza, Isla Holbox & Isla Mujeres.

From your report, I can tell you are in amazement of the cultural, culinary and humanistic depth that Mexico has to offer. It's deeper than I ever expected and you never get that feedback from those who only visit the tourist resort town.

Having visited several other Central American countries, all I can say is savor all of that depth because it's often less so. As been said before, the sad thing is many ADV riders just blast through Mexico (usually along the coast) and miss so much of what she has to offer.

For those (gringos) that live in, have lived in or who have truly experience Mexico the saying goes: "once you've experienced Mexico it will change you forever...in more positive ways than you realize at this moment."

Enjoy! Bill
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eakins screwed with this post 02-26-2013 at 07:17 PM
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:20 AM   #827
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It's good to hear that you have beat the bug and are up and around again!! I'd just like to second what Eakins just said about taking your time in Mexico and the benefits of so doing. Most rides are not open-ended like yours, and I think that tends to lead us to focus more on schedules and the end-point and less awareness of where we are at any given moment of the trip. In the future I'm going to try to plan lay-over days here and there and take the time to savor the moment; putting thoughts of schedule and end goal away for a bit. And I'll probably plan trips that are less-ambitious mileage-wise but the same duration, so I can explore a smaller area in more depth. My thanks to your stellar RR for helping me see other ways to go.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:39 AM   #828
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Hi Gene and Neda, great Ride report, caught up a while ago and now checking daily for updates. Unfortunately my production in work has fallen...

I'm sorry if I missed it whilst reading through, but how long are you expecting to be travelling for? I know that putting a time on a trip like this depends on many different factors, but I'm just interested if you guys had any indication, just as a guide are we talking years or months?

Looking forward to the next update.

All the best both, Jon
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Old 03-02-2013, 12:49 PM   #829
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eakins View Post
"once you've experienced Mexico it will change you forever...in more positive ways than you realize at this moment."
Amen!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
I'll probably plan trips that are less-ambitious mileage-wise but the same duration, so I can explore a smaller area in more depth. My thanks to your stellar RR for helping me see other ways to go.
Wow, that's a really high compliment, thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonWal View Post
how long are you expecting to be travelling for? I know that putting a time on a trip like this depends on many different factors, but I'm just interested if you guys had any indication, just as a guide are we talking years or months?
We are moving so slowly right now, I think we'll need more than a few months to see everything we want to see. I think it would be awesome to travel for longer, but circumstances can change so suddenly that we don't really plan too far in advance, just focus on what we're doing right now.
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Old 03-02-2013, 01:01 PM   #830
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/75.html



We're headed to the Yucatan Peninsula, which is one of our must-sees on our travel list, with the promise of lots of Mayan ruins, sunny weather and great food.


Our bikes resting in Palenque


As we were getting ready to leave, John from Valladolid chatted with us. He sent us this pic later that day!

We rode up the western part of the peninsula and arrived late in Merida. While looking for a place to stay, we talked to a few of indigenous Mayan people who were admiring our bikes. Their Spanish was very hard to understand, since they spoke it with a different accent. When we told them we were from Canada, it seems that it's a popular place to find work, more so than the US these days.

There are actually dozens of different indigenous tribes living in the Yucatan, all of them have their own distinct culture and language!


Neda is hoping to see some flamingos

While in Merida, we made a side-trip west to the coast to visit the Flamingo Sanctuary in Celestun. It's a small fishing village with great beaches and excellent seafood, and we rented a boat to take us out to the flamingo colonies.


Ducks hop and skip across the waters


Flamingos are a deep pink because of the crustaceans they eat off the sea bottom

Neda is quite a bird-enthusiast and one of her wishes was to see a flamingo live. Ever since she saw Miami Vice, actually... :) In the distance, we saw what looked like a line of pink buoys, but as we got closer, they were flamingos all lined up in the water! Neda was ecstatic and going crazy with the camera!


Such funny-looking birds


They look like road runners when they land on the water

Neda is a wealth of information, she says that flamingos like to congregate where there is a mixture of salt and fresh water, which creates an ideal habitat for them. When they're born, they are white in colour, but slowly turn pink because of their seafood diet. Which makes me think of my own Mexican diet and then I realize I'm not really tanned, I'm taco-coloured...


The boat takes us through a Mangrove forest


Reminds us of the Florida Everglades. All we need is an fanboat...


Flamingos aren't the only birds living here, pelicans hang out on the treetops


The wingspan on these birds are huge!


Hooligan pelicans hang out in groups of 5 and 6


I think the term "Flamenco Line" comes from flamingos...


Neda goes looking for birds in a fresh-water spring

The boat lets us off at a spot called Ojo de Agua, where an underground spring flows fresh-water into the sea. The water is cool and refreshing and Neda takes the opportunity to do some up-close bird-watching.


This Great Egret is not fazed at all, Neda got so close to it!


Birds are vain too...


Our chauffeur taking us back to the mainland

We're staying in Merida for a few days to catch the end of Carnaval, lots of street festivals and parades every day. On the last day of Carnaval, we watched a stage show in the middle of the historic town. The theme of the show was Merida Mistica and featured portrayals of mystical creatures.


Plenty of tourist transportation available on the streets of Merida


Dancer supposed to represent a unicorn


These dancers are supposed to be dragons


More dragon dancers!
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:05 AM   #831
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You guys are always smiling! Love the flamingos.
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Old 03-06-2013, 07:32 AM   #832
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Excellent RR, good job
I'm subscribed.
So now get on with it, post some more...

And yes, I also noticed - both of you are always smiling, that's nice.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:40 AM   #833
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Neda is not feeling well. She's got a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge and she can't stomach any food. Which is a shame because there is some great Yucatan cuisine in Merida. We end up patronizing a German beerhouse (of all places) across the street from our hotel and I gorge myself on bratwurst and Guiness. There are a lot of foreign tourists wandering around the city and accordingly the prices for food and accommodations have risen. We don't really like that too much.


Opting for a liquid diet


Merida is a very cultured city, lots of art displayed everywhere

Our next destination is directly east across the Yucatan peninsula. The Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are one of the most famous in Mexico, and this has been on our to-do list from the start. Chichen Itza is only a couple of hours away so we leave early in the afternoon to try the catch the best light at the ruins. We encountered a very gruesome motorcycle accident on our way, which put me in a very sober mood for the rest of the ride, reflecting on all the things that could happen to us while on two wheels.


The Castillo Temple at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was a very big disappointment. Right from the start, we were charged a hefty admission fee, part of a two-tiered system which made it cheaper for locals than foreign tourists. I can understand a tourist surcharge, we encountered the same thing in India, however what we got in return for that large expense was very underwhelming.

The ruins looked like they were entirely reconstructed on a well-manicured golf course. There was none of the stepped-out-of-a-jungle feel that we had in Palenque, and there were far fewer buildings here than on other ruins we had visited. Bus-loads of tourists from Cancun and Merida were unceremoniously dumped on-site and it felt more like a Disney attraction than an archeological site.


This pretty much summed up our Chichen Itza experience

We opted not to hire a tour guide (more $$$), but we were curious when all the guides had their tour groups clap in front of the Castillo Temple. When we eavesdropped on a tour, we found out that due to the construction of the stairs on the face of the temple, the echo of a clap would make a two-toned sound that would mimic the call of a Quetzal. This is a bird that is commonly found in the jungles around the area, and was also worshiped by the Mayans as the God of the Air.


Might have to turn up the volume a bit

Never having heard what a Quetzal sounds like, we thought at the very least the two-toned echo was neat. Later on, I searched online for a Quetzal call - it sounds NOTHING like the echo. So all those dumb tourists (us included) who clapped in front of the temple were probably being laughed at by every single tour guide... :(

I think we're done with visiting ruins.


Tourists walking around the ruins

Valladolid is less than an hour away from Chichen Itza, and we stopped there for the night. It recently gained status as a Pueblo Magico, and the government has invested a lot in cleaning up the city and painting all the buildings in the historic downtown. Very pretty town, but since we arrived late in the evening, we only had time for dinner and a quick stroll through the streets.


Impromptu mass in the middle of the street from the back of a truck!

The next day, we rode from Vallodolid to the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. If it seems like we are speeding our way through the area, it's because we are. The Yucatan is packed with foreign tourists and everything is expensive. We were going to stop in Cancun but after doing a search for accommodations, we decided to head towards Tulum instead. It's a much cheaper town to stay at for a couple of nights.

Tulum is packed with sun-seekers and beach-goers who have come here to seek refuge from the over-priced hotels of Cancun. It's a very young crowd and our hostel was full of university students and recent grads from all over the world on their "Gap Year" trip. Our next-door neighbours were two girls from Australia and they told us about a cenote they visited closeby called Dos Ojos. We thanked them for the tip and headed out the very next day!


View from inside one of the "eyes" of Dos Ojos

A cenote is a natural sinkhole or pit that exposes the groundwater underneath. They're found all over the Yucatan Peninsula, and Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is set a couple of kms into the jungle and boasts one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. We only rented snorkeling equipment so we stayed on the surface of one of the "eyes", but the light flowing from the mouth of the cave through the crystal clear waters was astoundingly beautiful!


Stalactites hang from the ceiling of the cave and dip down into the crystal blue waters


Stalactites break the surface of the waters and everything is surrounded by an unearthly glow


Neda takes in the underwater view


View from above the waters


Same exact view from below the waters


Taking a break from diving


Posing on a rock


More underwater touring


Neda dives to get a better view of the floor
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:13 AM   #834
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You guys are living my dream. I am so envious.
How tall is Neda? What's her inseam?
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:28 AM   #835
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Good stuff.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:02 AM   #836
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.
This is a great trip - but I know this didn't tickle !
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:09 AM   #837
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Amazing adventure you two are having! Thanks for taking the time to record it and share it with those of us who aren't able to experience this type of traveling. Some day maybe, but not now. Thanks again!
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:53 AM   #838
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Other than the cenotes and the odd tourist attraction, I don't see why people go to the Yucatan. Everybody says it's a waste of time and money.

Jdowns was the only rider I've read that pretty much said it wasn't, but he found some unique things away from people.

I've done the Yucatan when I was young staying in Cozumel and visiting the ruins, but I don't think I need to go back. I've heard the once very quiet Cozumel is now tourist chaos. Sad. Cancun isn't my type of holiday or desire to visit. I know not everybody shares teh same views though.

Start heading south! Interested to hear your views on Belize and Guatemala.. Do you guys have plans to head to the Islands off Belize?
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:33 AM   #839
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Gene and Neda,
If you make it to Guatemala, the temples at Tikal are in the jungle and will offer you more of the Palenque experience.

If you appreciate the depth of culture in Mexico, Guatemala will blow your mind.....the indigenous expression is so much more evident....spend a few days in Chichicastenango and your life will never be the same.

Yes, seeing the carnage of a motorcycle accident is a good reminder to just how vulnerable we are on two wheels.

Travel safely and good luck with stomach bugs (my recent experience in Mazamitla [bad taco on the zocalo] left me appreciating how good it felt to finally throw up and get the poison out of my guts.....not to mention the squirts ).

Gene....who made your seat?
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:36 PM   #840
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Hope Neda feels better soon. I feel better about Kari and I missing out on the C. Ruins
Take care Rosie
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