Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Week at Xpu-Ha

I can’t believe that the Winter is almost over. We got here on December 7th and other than the 17 nights that we spent back home for Christmas, we enjoyed every minute here. All the friendly campers and the beautiful beach and pleasant weather made the days go fast. I especially enjoyed reading about the snow, ice and cold weather back home.

People always asking me about  safety in Mexico. Like the states, you don’t want to go into a bad neighborhoods at night. Unlike the states most crime is petty theft with no weapons. You read about all the deaths and shootouts here, but 95% of it is in the border towns. I would never camp in Texas near the border of Mexico. Far more likely to be robbed, shot or have your truck stolen.
Here on the Mayan Riviera everyone wants and treats tourists very well. The tourist bring the money that supports the hundreds of thousands of workers who have found their way here for jobs and housing. New small houses are being built everywhere.
How about crossing the border? We try to pick a place where there is no town at the border like Los Indios/Free Trade Bridge which is good for us Easterners. Those heading West have lots of safe options as well. Just stay away from Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa or Matamoras, big cities bring more danger.
What is the biggest problem travelling? Topes, the speed bumps that control traffic whenever you are near any population. Some are huge and could really cause vehicle damage. Gas Stations, they are full serve and many attendants try to scam unsuspecting travelers. But stay at the  pump, watch that they start the pump at zero and make sure you tell them and they agree to the size of the bill that you are handing them. They will try to say you gave them a 50 peso note rather than a 500 peso note, if you let them walk away to get change. Police, I guess it’s because they are low paid and think tourists are rich, stupid and scare easily into giving them bribes. They make up infractions and then ask for huge amount of money.

Some tourists submit because they don’t want to be delayed and pay illegal bribes.

I also post this sticker on my RV, that says “No Bite”, “Don’t feed the corruption”

Below are two paragraphs written in Spanish that you could use to stop this illegal practice. If they stop you for a traffic violation. Hand them this.

Entiendo que Usted ha pedido que me detenga debido a que posiblemente he cometido una violación de tránsito. Obedeceré sus instrucciones de acuerdo a la ley, le entregaré mi licencia para conducir y el registro de mi vehículo. Sin admitir culpa en esta situación, voluntariamente lo seguiré hacia la Comandancia de Policía en donde Usted o alguien podrá informarme acerca de los procedimientos legales a que haya lugar y si me es requerido, pagaré la multa que corresponda. Entiendo que en este caso, se me extenderá un recibo por el concepto de la multa.

(English translation)
I understand that you have stopped me for allegedly committing a traffic violation. I will obey your legal instructions by providing you with my Drivers License and vehicle registration. Without admitting guilt in this situation, I will voluntarily follow you to your local police station, where you can properly inform me of the legal procedures, and if asked, I will pay the required fine. I understand that you will issue me a receipt for these actions.
Or if they ask you to pay a fine or ask for a bribe or a gift, hand them this.

Por favor, tome nota de que:
Tengo conocimiento de que existe la Sindicatura del Ayuntamiento y que si Usted me ha pedido que le pague directamente la multa de la infracción de tránsito, le pediré que me diga su nombre y número de oficial. Es mi derecho reportar esto al a oficina del Ayuntamiento, donde una investigación oficial podría ser iniciada.
(English translation)
Please note:
I am also aware of the SINDICATURA process, and if you have asked me to pay you directly for a traffic violation fine, I will ask that you give me your name and badge number. It is my right to report this to the Mayor’s Office, where an official investigation may be undertaken.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day Trip to Tulum and Tankah Bay

We left at 8 AM to drive down to see the Mayan Ruins at Tulum. Even though it is the second most visited ruin in Mexico, this was our first visit.
There are a few more pictographs carved in stone than some other Mayan sites, but they don’t photograph well, so here is an example of the carving at the Temple of the Frescoes.
Claude and Mags have a nice truck which allows us to visit the area attractions without taking public transportation. Here they are with Peggy having entered the portal through the walls surrounding the site.
Here is a view looking toward El Castillo.
A closer view of El Castillo

Tulum is not a large Mayan site but it has spectacular views.  El Castillo sits on a cliff directly above the Turquoise ocean.

You could walk down these stairs to the white sand beach called Boca Pela directly below El Castillo.

Here is a good tip. Get to Tulum early in the morning, so that you can avoid the crowds that arrive starting at around 9:30AM.

It's also cooler in the early morning.

They average about 10,000 visitors a day during the winter months so the place is crawling with tourists by mid-day.

Below is a view looking to the North along the ocean.

 The ruins are crawling with very tame iguanas of every size and shape.
Mags & Peggy enjoy the Bougainvillea along the path.

After our morning at Tulum we drove back toward Xpu-Ha but decided to stop at Tankah Bay where friends of Claude and Mags, Glen & Maureen from Alberta, CA, had purchased three ocean front lots and moved their 5th Wheel in while they work on improvements. Here is a view from the water of their spread.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kayaking with a Friend

A couple more campers arrived yesterday, one from Wyoming and one from Colorado. Don from Wyoming has a sea kayak so I suggested we take a little paddle North into the Cenote by Xpu-Ha Palace and over to the Cenote by Puerto Aventuras. I remembered to bring my camera. Don didn’t want to go as far as the next cenote so I continued on.

There is a little Mayan Temple at the end of the large cenote by Puerto Adventuras. You can ride your bike over to it.

It is reachable by kayak about 3 mi from Xpu-ha next to the Barcelo resort.

It’s a fairly large cenote and a good place for snorkelers, since boats are not supposed to enter, but I see one in the background.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little rain – Cats & Dogs

While everyone back North is suffering from the deep cold spell, we have suffered a little for the past 3 days. It’s been warm with highs in the 80’s and a heavy rain at night but only a few showers during the day. Today I hope is the end, it rained off and on all day, while the temperatures hovered in the low 70’s. The forecast is for no more rain and temperatures back near 80.
Three new campers arrived in the past couple of days. Elaine and Reed from New Mexico, who have been writing me about Mexico travel for the past month. Two motor homes with campers from France also arrived. One left early today for Mahahual and the other is heading North to Meco Loco. They are both going to be storing their vehicles and flying back to France in the next week.
Gerry & Ann’s string of bad luck continues. If you forgot, here is his theft story. Gerry was driving his truck in Playa yesterday and a big truck backed up into him and then left. The police took chase but they claim they didn’t catch him. The truck driver probably offered the police a little money and they let him go. Gerry is now out another $500, the deductable on his collision insurance. Ann’s older brother died in Florida today, I hope all goes well with them for the remainder of the trip.

This is Gerry & Ann’s dog Bear, they also have a big cat Buddy. Speaking of dogs, the campground is full of them. If a camper doesn’t bring a dog, the local dogs adopt them and offer their barking guard services for a scrap of food.

Goldie eats so much this is how she normally looks, laying down on the job. Sigrid looks after her.

Dierch and Vera look after Leica.

Corelle & Estrella hang around Claude and Mags camper.

They keep an eye out for when I light up my grill. They spend most of the day with Tacho who is their owner. He takes people out snorkeling or fishing in his boat.
The funny thing is all these camp dogs, not Bear, are related and some from the same litter, even though they look so different. They are good watch dogs and they even got Bear to bark and run after strangers. Although Bear then waits until the strangers pet him or scratch his stomach.
So that’s pretty much what is going on around here, nothing much. But at least it gave me something to do on a rainy day.