2 weeks cycling in Yucatan & Quintana Roo

To end in beauty and in cycling this year 2019, we chose to migrate to the extreme south-east of Mexico, in Mayan country towards the Yucatan peninsula and the Quintana Roo. From Mérida to Bacalar, we took advantage, despite mass tourism, of a large, invigorating sun and natural wonders. Here are our best memories 🙂

Christmas hug in Mérida

From Mérida where we are welcomed with onions by our hosts Warmshowers Ken & Erin, we leave on a small road to Izamal. The day is very peaceful, punctuated by multiple “topes” (donkey backs in good shape) and a few typical villages: a large sleepy square decorated with tropical trees, some shops and Christmas decorations of course!

On the road to Valladolid

In Izamal, the yellow city, we stroll through fairly quiet alleys reminiscent of Andalusia, then we visit the huge central church and an ancient Mayan pyramid, small and rather conquest.

In Valladolid, we celebrate Christmas at the youth hostel around a buffet shared between backpackers and then discover our first cenote the next day (natural pool, generally quite deep and with crystal clear water). The city is not particularly charming elsewhere.

Pic nic on the road

60km further south, after a somewhat monotonous road, full of plastics and wild dumps, we discover Coba and its large Maya archaeological site. Ironically, tourists travel by the hundreds by rental bikes (after coming by bus and pick up …) but we are forbidden access with our own mounts! We will therefore spend a good two hours on foot but the place is worth the detour. Then we stop for the night in the cool, at the edge of the jungle, at the Malinche Inn Café which we highly recommend!

Mayan temple of Coba

Next step: Tulum! We land on December 27, at the heart of the holidays of hordes of Europeans and Americans who have come to seek the sun and relax on the Caribbean coast. Suffice to say that at first glance, we are a bit wary. But ultimately the charm operates, largely thanks to Ursulla, an Austrian converted into a local guide, captured by magic via a Warmshowers contact. In 2 quick days, we visit a new cenote and enjoy local and varied food in town.

Ursula, a great meeting inTulum

What’s next? Punta Allen by a somewhat bumpy road along luxurious hotels for 10km then 40km on a rather wild tricky path in the reserve of Sian Ka’an. The sea, very close to the path, takes on its sublime blue and green hues but also, as in Indonesia, its piles of waste on the shore.

Nice view on the road to Punta Allen

We spend the end of the day at a charming campsite which was advised to us by Ursula. The atmosphere is tropical: coconut palms, songbirds and … mosquitoes!
From this fine arm of land, the next day, we reach by boat a deserted path that winds between mangrove and jungle for more than 50km. We can see a couple of foxes, spider monkeys and some birds that camouflage themselves decidedly too well!

Yellowthroat of Sian Ka’an

170km further south, after a stop at the edge of the lagoon, and hours of boring pedaling on endless straight and flat roads, we find the Caribbean Sea at Mahahual. High diving site, and stage of gigantic cruise ships, the village remains pleasant and lends itself well to cycling. We cook and rest in a nice campsite and hop here we are in 2020!

Bike repairs in Mahahual

On January 1st, we meet at 10am to make two beautiful dives along the coral reef. We wish a happy new year to some parrot fish, angel fish, groupers, moray eels, a stingray, a turtle or even crayfish. But let’s not embellish too much, the corals are still well damaged by human activity…

Last step at Quintana Roo, we spend 2 days in Bacalar and Xul Ha on the edge of the famous lagoon with 7 colors.

Laguna of Bacalar

Biking is again very practical for getting around the various sites, where the vast majority of tourists flock to taxis and buses … A kayak trip and a few swims round off these two beautiful weeks in the heart of winter!

Camping zen in Xul Ha

A short time in Hidalgo

As a long-standing promise, after her visit in 2012 as part of the student project aiming to construct solar dryers and solar ovens “Mexisol”, Clea dreamed of going back to Ixmiquilpan and Orizabita, in the state of Hidalgo. And from Baja California, it is quite far!

Just arrived on the “continent” in Mazatlán, after 20h of ferry, we borrow a night bus to Queretaro then a second in the rug to Ixmiquilpan. 48h after our departure from La Paz, we find with joy in Iximiquilpan the Cruz family (Irving, Joanna and their two small Lia and Sam) then Maricela, Irving’s mom, who was at the origin of the partnership with the students of Perpignan.
The streets are crowded since Christmas approaches and we spend a wonderful week in the area with our guests.

We wanted to share two special sound environment atmospheres.

Ixmiquilpan market soundscape

Let’s start with the Ixmi market! Every Monday, the village metamorphosis to offer fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, clothing and other unusual objects. If the smells are less pronounced than in Asia, the colors are exacerbated and we find the great conventional Mexican products: Tortillas in bulk, (ji)tomatoes, chile, jalapeños, nopals, goyaves, mandarins, etc. ! All in a festive atmosphere and a sound of cumbia different at each corner of the street 🙂

Second atmosphere, in the village of Orizabita one evening of “Posada”. This Catholic tradition very rooted in Mexico consists in organizing a ceremony and festivities every night during the 8 days preceding Christmas Eve. The religious part in itself is nothing particularly exotic but the festivities are worth the detour! This is suited to a lamination of luminum guided by an accordion-guitar-singing trio, punctuated by fireworks at irregular intervals, then to a candy distribution, tamales *, local punch, coffee and chocolate drinks for all! The winter freshness is well and we appreciate this family and friendly atmosphere, so far from the dangerous or inseurical reputation that the country usually wears!

Difficult to detail all other fun things we experience in Hidalgo: Tolantogo and its supernatural hot sources, the mystical and revigorous “temascal”, the excellent meals always based on “tortillas” and (a little too much of) meat like the “barbacoa” and its cooking smoked under the maguey leaves … or a nice walk on surrondings of Pachuca !