Bacalar Lagoon

h bacalar
Bacalar is a moderately small town right next to the Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the lagoon of seven colors. Right next to my hostel, there’s a fort called Fuerte de San Felipe. It was built in 1733 to protect Bacalar from pirates! Now I understand why my hostel is called Mesón del Pirata!

53 bacalar
Unlike the Mexican sea coast, where it’s always free to swim anywhere, this lagoon is chopped up by different owners. This means that in order to fully appreciate what Bacalar has to offer, one either has to take a boat tour on the lake, or pay for the entrance at decent spots to swim.

There are supposedly free spots too, and I went by bike to find them.

54 lagoon 1
All along the road that goes parallel with the coast, there are people trying to sell tours. I said I wanted to find a place to swim for free, and they told me I could go down here. Nope, not the best place to swim….

55 lagoon 2
My second attempt was even worse. How did this floor even break?!

56 lagoon 3
At least this part looked nice, but it was just a pier for boats. Some kids jumped into the water from there, but it just didn’t seem appealing at all.

I was about to give up. “Should I just go back to the hostel to take a shower instead?” I wondered.
57 lagoon 4
Seven colors? Maybe three..

But no, couldn’t give up! I kept biking along the side of the lagoon and eventually left the village. This was the most hilly road I’ve encountered so far, and thought it was probably good practice. I can imagine that Guatemala and Honduras will be crazy.

58 hilly roads
Found quite a nice beach that charged 25 pesos for the entrance, but along the way, I had seen signs of a “cenote” (sweet water holes) not far away. I asked the teenage girls (who happened to be in charge of the entrance) which place was best to swim. They said both, so I decided to just continue to the cenote, which is called Cenote Azul.

It ended up being 5.3 kilometers from central Bacalar. It’s a nice little trip if you have a bike, but too far to walk.
59 cenote azul
And it’s a nice place! Using life vests is apparently obligatory, because it’s so very deep. No one stopped me when I got into the water without one though. Breaking the law, once again!

There’s an overpriced restaurant in the area as well, and WiFi! With a friend, this could have been a nice place to chill for many hours, but since I went alone, I was done after an hour and biked back home again.

61 bacalar lagoon
This view over the lagoon was quite pretty!

Food in Bacalar:
At calle 7/calle 18-20, there’s a very authentic restaurant called Tacos El Socio, and there were only locals eating there. And me.
I ordered a torta (a sandwich basically) for 22 pesos, and it’s a lot more filling than two tacos, which is what you get for the same price. Everything else was cheap too, so it’s definitely a go-to place if you’re staying for a while.

There are no supermarkets in the town, only small privately owned stores. I bought a 5 liter water container for 23 pesos and bananas for 12 pesos/kg, to be eaten on my trip tomorrow.

Visa card update:
So my bank requires that I make a phone call when ordering a new Visa card. And it’s been impossible to find a place that does international phone calls! Maybe I’ll just have to survive without one. So far it’s been fine.

Flat tire update:
I went to a bike/motorbike shop at calle 7/calle 28-30, to see if I really had a flat tire or not. Nope! It would be super flat if there was a hole, they said. They pumped my tire nice and hard and charged 2 pesos for it. Problem solved!

Day update:
When the sun was already down, I talked to a Spanish backpacker who said that there is a pretty nice place to swim nearby for free. We took a stroll there, but by then it was already closed.

We then continued to one you normally pay for, and she just walked confidently right past the guards (who were looking in the other direction at the moment), and we got in.
She was such a master thief! I’ve got a lot to learn, I thought.

The place was nothing special. Water, quite warm, nice to swim.

The end.

 

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Mahahual – Bacalar

g mahaual - bacalar
First I want to tell about apparently the only laundry place in Mahahual. It can be found next to the restaurant The Krazy Lobster; they charge 20 pesos per kilo, so it’s not too bad if you don’t have much to be washed.
They said it would be done by 1pm the next day though, but when I came at 2:30pm, it was still not finished. “Only two minutes left!” they told me, so I walked around a little bit and came back five minutes later. “Only five minutes left!”

And so it kept going on, and I didn’t get them until past 3pm. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, because everything is slow in small villages like these, including the restaurant service. Just take a deep breath and you’ll be fine. But this time, my bike trip was delayed by an hour, which would turn out to have dire consequences.

So, on to the biking of the day!

Because of the late laundry, I didn’t start biking until 3:30pm. I was not sure yet what my plan would be, if I’d find a hostel in Pedro Antonio Santos, 65 km ahead, or if I would have to go all the way to Bacalar, 104 km away. But that could wait until later, I was optimistic and looked forward to get back on the road!

And everything started so well. The wind was at my back and I thought that maybe I’ll make this return distance at half the time compared to the other way around!

Half-way there, I suddenly felt that something was wrong. It was heavier and unbalanced. I stopped by the road, fearing the worst. And for good reason:
The tire was flat.

Crap.

I unwrapped my newly bought pump and wondered how the heck one fixes a flat tire.
48 flat tire
I started by simply pumping, to see if the air would stay. Once the tire was hard, it was a bit tricky to remove the pump without leaking out air. But I did it okay. And bounced a little on the bike to see the results.

The air was already almost gone again.

“This is bad!” I thought, as I looked for the repair kit I had also bought. Then I started unhinging the outer part of the tire, as I recall grandpa did so many years ago. It seemed to go well! But where was the leak?!
49 flat tireI kept pressing on the rubber tube, keeping my ear close to one spot at a time. Not a damn sound. I turned the bike upside down in an attempt to hear it better, but no such luck.

After I don’t know how long, and my attempt to stop a car or bus had failed too many times, I decided to just wrap it up and bike little by little, stopping regularly to refill air as to not break the wheel.

I got started. And kept going. And kept going. I wondered when I would hear metal from below me or something, but. It never happened! Was my tire not broken after all?! I don’t understand bikes, but I kept on biking with no more breaks.
50 flat tire
(Picture showing how I successfully managed to put back the tire to its original state again.)

I arrived on the highway around 7pm. Despite a long reparation break, I had made the same distance in 3:30 hours, 90 minutes less than it took to go the other direction. So I definitely recommend bus to get to Mahahual, biking back!

I saw a bus stop and wondered if I should just continue biking the last 46 km, or hope that a bus or colectivo (a cheap white van/bus) would pick up both me and the bike.
I decided for the latter, sat down and made a banana sandwich. (It’s my special recipe; peel a banana and put between two slices of bread. Squeeze. It’s quite juicy!)

One colectivo actually stopped for me! But it was full. The driver said something about how the next one would be emptier, and something that was either “veinte y uno” (21:00) or “veinte hay uno” (20:00 there’s one).
I wished with all my powers that it was the latter, or something even better, because it was already getting dark, and the mosquitoes were getting annoying.

It was a frustrating waiting game. I wondered if I should just bike the final 2 hours to Bacalar instead of finding a bus, but once the time passed 8pm, I realized that this would not be possible; it was already pitch-black outside, and I have no lights on my bike.

By 8:30, I gave up in frustration, got on my bike and started riding despite the darkness. Pedro Antonio Santos was only 6 km away, and I figured that I might have better luck there.

I biked. It was actually easier with no traffic around, because the moon lit up the road well enough for me to avoid the holes. Traffic coming from behind was also nice, I could see well for a long distance ahead. Meeting traffic was horrible, as I only saw their lights and the road in front of me was completely black.

Yes, this was dangerous. Not recommended.

But I made it to a bus stop in the tiny village Pedro Antonio Santos in one piece! An old man kept talking to me about how he’s always wanted to visit Europe, and I believe he also said that there’s a big house further ahead, where I can ask to stay the night, so I can continue biking the next morning.
I considered it for a little, but then finally, a bus came and stopped! RESCUED.
51 nice bus
We put the bike in the spare tire trunk, and arrived in Bacalar 40 minutes later. Only 30 pesos for the ride!

Here, I biked around until I saw a sign that said “hostal”. It’s called El mesón del pirata, on calle 20 / ave 5, and it costs 200 pesos per bed in a dorm. Not the cheapest, but not bad either.

This was the most adventurous day so far! I’m kind of relieved that it all went well.