November 25, 2004
After leaving Celestun, we traveled east across the Yucatan Peninsula. We turned north near Merida and visited the northern coastline near Puerto Progresso. This part of the peninsula still borders the Gulf of Mexico so the water here isn't the pretty turquoise blue we will find in the Caribbean, but the beach we found to camp on was still attractive and had many shells. Arriving fairly early in the day, we had the opportunity to wander up and down the beach and to marvel at the number of vacation homes along this stretch. Being less than an hour drive from Merida, I'm sure this is where the Meridians escape to on the weekends.
As we were exploring, up above the sand in the plant growth area on the beach, we discovered a large turtle shell. We don't know what kind of turtle it was, but the shell was about 3 ft. long (1m) so it could have been a green turtle. Turning the shell over, we could observe the spinal column still attached to the underside. The shell was very old and deteriorated but it was a fascinating discovery.
November 26, 2004
Continuing on side roads along the top of peninsula, we traveled through small fishing villages and vacation areas. We were able to observe first hand the effects of the hurricanes that frequently come through this area. We saw completely destroyed concrete buildings and areas that had absolutely no trees at all. The road we were on had been repaired courtesy of the government and they had placed signs periodically patting themselves on the back for it.
Turning inland, we proceeded to Valladolid which has become a very popular side trip for people visiting Chichen Itza. Sitting in a restaurant off the zocalo, we marveled at the numbers of busses dropping people off for an hour and proceeding back to (we assume) Cancun. Viewing all this tourist activity, we decided that having visited Chichen Itza in the past, we would bypass all the tourists and add some photos to the website from our previous trip.
November 27, 2004
It is now time to head off to Cancun to find a place to store the expedition vehicle. From there we'll drive down to Tulum then visit the Island of Cozumel to scuba dive on the world renown reefs that lie just off-shore.
November 28 - December 1
Driving south from Cancun we felt like we had been transported to some coastline in the United States. The road was a nice divided highway and the views ... well let's just say that it didn't feel like Mexico anymore. All along the coast, this Mayan Riviera, there is nothing but huge hotels, amusement parks and vacation homes. The land is even too expensive for the local population to live anywhere near the beach.
We decided to find a spot along the beach where we could camp. This was more difficult than we expected, so we drove past the Mayan ruins at Tulum and found an area of white sand beaches and coconut palms. There is a bungalow/campground where many of the backpacking travelers stay and the management was very willing to allow us to park on the sand overlooking the beach. For about $5.00US a night, this was an excellent place to stay.
After a few days, we decided to try our luck at finding a more deserted area to camp. As we headed back toward the Cancun area, we followed several trails and drives toward the water. After a couple of tries, we found just what we were looking for ... an undeveloped area of coastline where we could camp at the water's edge and snorkel in the clear water of the bay. That night we found that the area was very secure as the local naval attachment patrolled the beach.
December 2 - 7
Today we are heading to the Island of Cozumel. The main draw on the Island are the coral reefs that line the shore. These reefs were made world famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960's. To reach the island we have to take a ferry from the town of Playa del Carmen.
During our five days on the island, we went diving every chance we could. The water temperature was warm and the visibility wonderful. We dove at ten different location, each one having something different to experience. We drifted along drop offs called walls, we swam through underwater tunnels of coral, and even explored the wreck of a sunken naval vessel. We saw so many types of fish and eels that we lost count. On one day, we swam with 5 different Sea Turtles! This was definitely the highlight of our diving.
December 7 - 10
We will be leaving Mexico shortly and have to make final arrangement to leave the expedition vehicle, but we will be returning at the end of February, 2005 to renew the Worlds of Wonder Expedition and head south to Central America. We hope you have enjoyed traveling along with us as we discovered Mexico and will join us again in February.