We spent 3 weeks touring around the Yucatan in the summer of 2005. For the first week we were based in Merida, the capital, at the Luz en Yucatan, a converted convent in the Santa Lucia district. While there, we rented bikes at one of the nearby hotels and cycled to the Mayan ruins of Dzibilchaltun, about 16 km north of the city, on the road to the Gulf Coast.
The Temple of the Seven Dolls was named for the seven small sculptures excavated here and now residing in a museum in Mexico City. This temple is situated so that every year, on the 21st of March and September, the spring and fall equinox, the sun shines directly through the doorway as it rises.
Throughout the Yucatan there are many swimable underground rivers called cenotes – this one at Dzibilchaltun is called the Xlacah cenote. One end of the cenote is very shallow, while the other is over 140 feet deep and continues on into a tunnel. This ride was hot – we took the Merida-Progreso highway, stopping at one of the many roadside taco stands for a drink, and at the town of Dzibilchaltun for a snack. We did not see anyone else out riding and were a curious sight for the locals who couldn’t understand why we weren’t in a car …
Rooftop at the Embajaderos
After a screaming hot week in Merida, where the temperature was often 40 or higher with 100% humidity – quite hot in our non air-conditioned accommodations, we traveled to the port town of Progreso on the Gulf of Mexico. Here we stayed at the Hotel Embajadores, a small hostel/hotel just off the Malecon, about 1.5 blocks from the beach. We enjoyed the hospitality of the hotel’s owners and often cooked and ate our meals with them.
Dinner at the Embajaderos
Ivonne and birthday girl Abigail
The hotel had several bikes for rent; however, none were ridable until Ty fixed up 3 or 4 of them for us to use. We rode daily, heading east to Chicxulub and the beach there, and west to Chelem and the fishing port.
One morning we had the pleasure of listening to a local trio of musicians practice as we enjoyed a pit stop at one of the local cafes.
We enjoyed just tooling around the town and cruising up and down the boardwalk, eating fried fish and drinking cervesas. The beach was great – soft sand, palapas, and many restaurant stands for snacks. We purchased 3 large inner tubes and rode the waves in the hot bathtub-like water of the Gulf.
Martini glasses on the beach
Ty and Taz
Scientists now agree that 65 million years ago, a meteor struck the planet at a point in or around the town of Chicxulub, forming an invisible crater. It was this meteor that they think was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. In Chicxulub, a Maya word that roughly translates as “tail of the devil,” the crater, now buried beneath kilometer-thick sediment, has been imaged using new geophysical techniques. It appears to have a diameter of 145 to 180 km, which makes it one of the largest confirmed impact structures on Earth.
On the road to Chicxulub
Progreso beach with the pier in the background
From Progreso, we took a bus across the Yucatan to Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village on the Mayan Riviera between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Here we stayed at the Maya Echo B&B, with hosts Sandra and Daniel and their 3 Dachsunds.
We had the use of 3 bicycles while staying here; the house was about 5 miles from the town centre and we often cycled there and back on these somewhat antiquated machines, carrying our groceries and other goodies.
The beach at Puerto Morelos was pretty well deserted of people, although not of sea grass. The water was lovely and warm; we spent several lazy afternoons drifting in our brightly-coloured flotation devices.
To see more pictures from this trip, click here.