Well, here we are in Corozal, Belize… Long days of riding and lots of adventures…….. Keith is taking the helm on this post offering a diary of our trip and the balance of Mexico…
Ok so after two glorious days of hotel time with blazing cold AC in Puebla, Billy and I got our new front tires mounted, balanced, and installed. We had to swallow our pride a bit and have this service done at the Yamaha shop (The Kawasaki store doesn’t do tires). These guys were amazing! They were friendly helpful and excited to hear about our adventure. With new fresh tread installed we headed back to the Kawasaki shop to have our oil and filter changed and meet another amazing man in the trade. He serviced our bikes, looked them over meticulously, and gave us some pointers on what to look for and how to care for the KLR in the future. Additionally, he was the best tour guide we have met on the trip thus far. He spent a load of time with us planning out the next several days of our adventure giving us insider tips on what to see and do.
Monday was a long day doing something as simple as having a new tire and oil changed. In Mexico, it seems there is always a hiccup with a solution. You would never guess that we had to buy our oil from an auto-zone or have tires changed at the Yamaha store. All things considered, we both felt like we were riding new machines. The next morning we set off early to Lake Bacalar – This magical town of Quintana Roo is located next to a beautiful lagoon of seven shades of blue ideal for diving, swimming, and snorkeling. We found a quaint and charming hotel named Hotel America. It was located on a quiet dusty road with a very accommodating desk clerk named Christopher who let us park our bikes in the lobby of the hotel. The price was just right for shamrock emblazoned headboards and pink décor AND morning coffee in the lobby!
Puebla to Villa Hermosa
Mounted on fresh llantas (Tires) we hit the ol’ dusty hard en route to Villahermosa. This would be a big day with all toll road travel. Arrival at our hotel we would log just over 425 miles. Two things were super noteworthy on this leg of the journey. 1. Mexico is Mountainous! Mountainous. Growing up on the west coast and visiting Baja a lot, I think you just assume all the rest is a desert too. (Wrong assumption) We did several 9K foot passes 2. Mexico seems like it never ends. Tolls roads forever. Additionally, we crossed into the state of Tabasco right next to Cholula!
Villahermosa to Bacalar
Lake Bacalar is amazing! It is every bit as blue as Lake Tahoe without the breathtaking chill. It seemed too beautiful to be real. We noticed several private properties that advertise alongside the road “Lake Access” with large billboards and banners. While having breakfast at a local hippie restaurant called Manti we befriend the owner. She gave us specific directions to her favorite private swimming hole. We found what we thought she was describing and were out of luck.
Closed gates, dogs barking, and numerous trips down jungle roads got us a bit discouraged. We turned around to head back towards the hotel where we had seen more advertised. We rolled to a stop at an immigration checkpoint where we were politely asked for our passports. Passports? Of course, the one time we are out for a beach day and have nothing but our swim shorts and flip-flips we are asked for our passports. We told them we have them buuuttt, they are back at the hotel. We remained polite and friendly but the boss wasn’t buying it.
We were stopped for over ½ hour to check with the main station if our information checked out. The best part is Billy & I have two-way radios in our helmets so we can talk to each other and they are none the wiser. We strategized their plan and what their move would be. Billy nailed it and said, he is going to call his boss and eventually let us go. That is exactly what happened! On our way again to find another swimming hole…We hit the mecca of all places in Mexico! We rolled down a long dirt road overgrown with Mangrove trees and found a guy with a Machete cleaning up the growth.
He explained his place was for rent for the day. We paid 40 pesos for both of us all day. This place was ridiculously beautiful. There was a huge grassy lawn with thatched huts, a private dock, and sky blue freshwater. We spent the entire day here hanging out, reading, swimming, and even enjoyed one of our REI camping meals we have been toting around since we left. Billy was befriended by a cat that looked like it could have been a sister to his cat Tiger.
We had both read a lot about Punta Allen and were excited to visit the white sandy beaches of a small remote isolated peninsular town. The town of Tulum is loaded with Eco-Friendly thatched roofs resorts that are popular for yoga retreats and Zen get-aways. The road from Tulum to Punta Allen is a 40-mile dirt road that is un-maintained. It took about an hour and a half picking our way through pot-holes and 40-foot mud puddles.
When we reached the town we were both super disappointed. All of the beaches were covered in red seaweed that we found out happens annually for a few months each year. We hit it at the perfect time because there were loads of it everywhere. You had to climb over 3-4 foot berms of the stuff to even get to the water.
Once you reached the water, there are another 20-30 feet of the stuff you would have to wade through to get to the white sand. After enjoying a Michelada we decided to cut our losses and returned to Tulum to find an eco-“Cheap” resort to stay the night. Another hour and a half back on the same road left us feeling a bit deflated. We found a roadside resort/general store that had a sandwich sign advertising rooms for $40US. We struck gold!
This place was out of a brochure of what a thatched roof bungalow should look like. It had a generator for power from 9:30 to 11:30 and 2:30 to 6:30 daily. The room was exactly what we were looking for: 2 beds and a shower. They forgot to tell us at check-in that the shower was saltwater. Of well, there was an amazing hammock on the porch that stepped to the beach. We found a local restaurant called Simple where we picked our fish from the catch of the day and had it prepared for us. It was ridiculous! After two days of eco-lodging, we decided it was time for some AC and running freshwater. We headed north to the town of Tulum to find it.
Tulum is a large ruined city of the Pre-Columbian Mayan civilization. It is loaded with different Mayan ruins and Cenotes. Cenotes are large freshwater sinkholes that are fully underground or partially underground. We took the first part of the day to go and explore one of the most famous ruin sites of Coba. The town of Coba was about 45 minutes from our hotel and easy to find. It is a hot spot for tour companies who bring busloads of tourists from Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
We found the entrance to the park, paid a nominal parking fee, bought our entrance tickets, and set out to explore. In typical Mexican fashion, you are immediately hit up by tour guides that will give you a private showing of the park. Numerous hosts pitched us and they started somewhere around 500 pesos and Billy ended up sealing the deal for $250 (about $17 bucks) with a nice guy named Roger who grew up in Coba and spoke perfect English.
The tour was fascinating and it’s hard to describe in words what these people accomplished with so few tools and resources. We learned there were nearly 65,000 Mayans in the greater area of Coba. The structures they built are magnificent and truly leave you scratching your head asking “How did they do that?”.
After touring the lower end of the park and finishing our time with Roger we rented bicycles and rode up the upper park where the most important pyramid was. It was super impressive and equally hot and humid. After another hour or so, we called it quits and set off to find a Cenote to cool off in.
The Cenotes are amazing! They vary in size and shape and are all over this region. They do charge a small admission fee but it was well worth it. The first one we found was named Multum Ha. It was approximately 65 feet below ground. You take a claustrophobic spiral staircase down into the earth that opens up into an Indiana Jones-looking temple.
The water is cool, fresh, and clear. We swam here for a bit and decided we wanted to visit another with sunlight openings. We found this at Gran Cenote just a few miles outside of Tulum. This place was amazing! Four pools with man-made docks and loads of wildlife. Turtles, Snakes, Small fish, and even bats fly in the caves.
Tulum – Quintana Roo Mexico to Corozal – Belize
OK, so we are finally on our way to our 3rd country! Mexico was fantastic and we loved all of it. We are both itching with excitement to cross a new border and experience new terrain. The ride down from Tulum was uneventful, straight, long, and hot. It was even a tad bit boring because we had already ridden this road on the way up the Yucatan. Roads in this part of the country are much less populated with blazing semi-trucks, clapped-out Mexican Taurus, and far fewer small towns and Topes (Giant Mexican Speed Bumps) which gives you a safer feeling.
The only uncomfortable feeling I had was my internal organs churning like a garbage disposal. You never know at what point nature will come calling. Two days prior I became heavily struck with Montezuma’s revenge. When I say heavily, I am not exaggerating. As Billy put it best, I needed to know where all available toilets are in my vicinity at all times! They say it will pass soon. As I am writing this I’m on day three and over it!
Fortunately, we made it to the town of Chetumal and began our border crossing paperwork. Surprisingly it went very smoothly; upon entering Mexico with a vehicle you have to place a security deposit to ensure you won’t sell the car or bike during your stay. They returned every penny of our $800 deposit! So with the deposit back, and passport stamped we headed to the Belize side of the border to take care of the rest. Belize was strikingly different than Mexico in every way.
The country is small (1/2 the size of California) and the small country feels made us very welcoming. Additionally, everybody here speaks English so Billy did not have to use his amazing Spanish-playing translator for all encounters. We cleared customs and then headed back toward the Mexican border to have our motorcycles fumigated. It’s a small fee and a friendly guy in a small shack strapped on his gas mask, sprayed the bikes and we were on our way. Now you need mandatory insurance for Belize.
We found the building, went inside, and got the process started. While we were there discussing our plans of heading south to Belize City, there was a truck driver (who was coming from Houston) who told us to “Stay out Of Belize City”. When we pressed why, he made the picture very clear and showed us an easier, more scenic, and safer route. About 10 miles from the border we stopped for lunch at a roadside café in Corozal. We shared our new route with a local woman who said it was far too late (2:30) to be heading south and we should just stay the night here in town. We did exactly that, found a hotel with AC (they charge more for rooms with it), decent Wi-Fi, and a safe place to lock the bikes up at night.
Off to check out some of the amazing Cays in Belize and find some white sand and sun. Hope you enjoy reading this – We love your comments and feedback! Keep it coming!