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.

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Mahahual day 2

f mahahual
Today I biked to the neighboring village Costa Maya to withdraw money with my friend’s credit card, because Mahahual has no ATM.
(It was for her, and also an additional loan for my last days in Mexico. I have successfully transferred money via Western Union, to be picked up in Belize, but I’ll tell more about that further down in this post.)

It was a short but sweet ride. The best news is that I had the wind at my back, and it was so much nicer to bike this way! Tomorrow I’m biking back from the coast, and I’m hopeful that it will be a much more pleasant ride without constantly struggling against the wind.

Costa Maya was an odd experience. I’m pretty sure someone thought “hey, let’s make this the next super tourist resort!”, but something has gone wrong. All the buildings had “for sale” signs, and it was like a complete ghost town.
43 costa maya inn
You could wonder why this of all places had an ATM, but there is ONE place that is alive; a big 4 star hotel named Costa Maya Inn that seems completely out of place.

It was a nice little trip, and I got to add 6 km to my totals.
44 reading
Except for just relaxing on the beach, reading, writing, one may also do some snorkeling! For 250 pesos, you’re taken out to sea, you get fins, snorkel and mask and get to swim a certain distance with a guide.

In this case, he was a super enthusiastic Mexican-American hotel manager named Marcelo, who needed a change and was now swimming with tourists instead. I think either you’d love him, or you’d find him to be “too much”. Whatever your preference is, he’s certainly a character.

I had not done much snorkeling before, but it was alright! A little grey at times, but very clear sight, as I saw the bottom at a 20 meter depth. Occasionally there were corals with lots of fish of all sizes, which was cool, and the highlight was swimming right next to a huge green turtle (one meter long surely), and it felt like something right out of Finding Nemo.

My two favorite restaurants in Mahahual are Loncheria El Primo  and  El Salsero Mayor, both on the main street, Huauchinango.
The former has this super tasty burrito (left food pic) for 45 pesos, tacos for only 10 pesos, and a whole liter of fruit juice for 30 pesos.
The latter has a lot of variation, and it’s all less than 70 pesos per meal. In the middle, we have chilaquiles; some kind of nachos covered by sauces and more. On the right, gringas; wheat tortillas with a bunch of ingredients. You could say they are like tacos, but bigger and more filling.
I’ve also tried enchiladas (almost pancakey tortilla rolls covered by sauces) and burgers there.

Money update:
Now I have enough Mexican pesos for my last few days here, but I will need a good amount of Belizean dollars upon arrival in the new country. So I tried using Western Union, sending 500 SEK + the fee of 25 SEK (a total of around 65 USD). For this, I get to withdraw 117 Belizean dollars at any shop that deals with Western Union. There are three in Corazal; the city closest to the Mexican border.

I compared the currency conversion at XE.com, and learnt that 525 SEK is currently worth 129 BZD, so it’s not too bad! I lose 6 USD on a 65 USD transfer, which seems similar to the fees and conversion fees when using regular ATM’s.

I’ll tell you next week if I managed to withdraw those Belizean dollars or not!

Mahahual

33 mahahual
Mahahual is a tiny coastal town at the very “end” of Mexico. Although there is a number of fancy resort hotels nearby, it’s still a very calm and not too touristy place. Hostels are not very cheap, but 200 pesos per night at Bambu Hostel definitely feels worth it! Cozy simple atmosphere, dinner (one specific dish per day) for 50 pesos per person, and 20 meters to the beach.34 Bambu hostel

39 hostel inside
35 bambu hostel fanThe former picture is me inside the hostel, right in front of the beach.

One detail I want to add which is new to me, is that although the dorm rooms don’t have air-con, each bed has its own fan. It’s gives a lot of individual control of the temperature, and at least for me, it works great!

37 mahahual
The water is very calm, mostly very smooth sand, and it doesn’t get very deep. Perhaps not super exciting, but nice to just chill and hang out in the water.36 swimmingHere’s me posing like one of Leo’s French girls.38 mahahual
I guess that’s it from here! I’ll get back to you when I decide to get back on the road!

Felipe Carrillo Puerto – Mahahual

e fcp to mahahual
My plan had been to go straight towards Chemutal next to the Belizean border, but I was convinced to join another backpacker to take a detour to a final Mexican coastal town, called Mahahual.

Since it’s off my track, I decided to cheat a little, by letting a bus take me half the way. It costed 46 pesos per person for the 60 km trip, and it was modern and air-conditioned. We got off at a tiny place called Limones (which also has ruins, but we didn’t visit them), where my friend got on a 50 peso colectivo (a smaller bus, or van), and I started biking.

Limones – Mahahual (64 km)
I realized right away that this would be very tough. The frikkin’ wind! I didn’t think about it before, but it makes a crucial difference. And this road goes straight east towards the Caribbean sea, with a constant warm wind working against me non-stop. Every push took twice the effort and I had to pedal on a lower gear the entire trip.

Had to take a longer break after 20 km, and as if that wasn’t enough, the road got considerably worse right after.

After five hundred years, I had to check my GPS, and I was still only halfway. This route was just as tiresome as the 94 km one I biked the day before, and more monotonous than ever.

With 20 km left, I was once again sitting on the road, trying to muster up some final strength. At that point, I was out of water (again I had not brought enough), and I started holding out my bottle upside down whenever a car passed me, but no one was kind enough to stop.

“This is what I signed up for though!” I thought. A challenge, to see what I’m made of!

And I kept going.
32 Mahahual sign
With 5 km left, I was finally greeted by civilization again. A gas station,  where I could buy some water! After consuming 1 liter in a few seconds, the final stretch was easy, and I arrived in this beautiful little town right next to the beach!

I really look forward to a future distance where I arrive not completely exhausted! That would be nice.

Next update will be about Mahahual, the nicest place in Mexico I’ve visited so far!