Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Canned in Cancun (Nov. 2-6)

Ahhh... the tropics! The humidity greets you like, well, a slap in the face. We hit the ground running, opting out of the many tour-group mini buses that swarm you inside the airport terminal and making our way to the very cheap ADO bus stand (ask in the Departures terminal, it's $3.50 each instead of $15US each for the mini). Not that there would have been any point to taking a mini - we had no idea where we were gong yet. I was waiting for confirmation from my CouchSurfing host to see whether we had a place to stay for the night. We wander around town and come across the festivities in Parque las Palapas for Dia de los Muertos. We get our first tasty nibble of Mexican food, traditional dancing and modern Mexicana fiesta music. We can't wait to sample more of it all.

Our host's name is Francisco, and we learn that night about Mexican nicknames: Francisco = Paco, Jesus = Choy... We are 5 couch surfers staying at Paco's - one in a bed, 1 in a hammock and 3 on the floor. It's lively and most are great people. Nicholas from Argentina teaches us how to weaver bracelets. It takes us a short century - he completes 3 for every one that we do. Paco's friend Jesús is a champ. We just asked for some advice on second-hand bikes or bike shops and the next day he arrives with a car, a list of places to check out, a few call-backs from bike sales in the classifieds and a world of patience. It is the friendliest welcome to Mexico I could have imagined. It looks like we will need to stick around for another couple of days to get the bikes and equipment all sorted out. We have a ball playing charades for hours with the guys at Hadad bike shop. How to explain all the crazy alterations we want to the bikes? They are equally helpful and patient and we're forever grateful for their help.

Since we had some time to kill while waiting for the bikes, we spend a day at the beaches in the Hotel Zone. It reminds me of the Gold Coast, but worse. This is where all the monstrosities of giant hotel complexes congregate so tightly that we walk along the beach for 8 km looking for access back to the road before we give up and are ushered like criminals through one of the hotels back to the road.

Since the beaches held little appeal for us, we headed to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza the next day. Castillo de Kukulcan was the only real draw-card for us, since Vinko did some simulations in Sketch-Up of the serpent sliding up the temple and wanted to see the structure n real life. There are more hawkers than stones in the complex, and we're a bit relieved to leave after only 2 hours. We catch another ADO bus to Valladolid. We arrive blind again and meander through the cute little streets. Valladolid is charming and we're pleasantly surprised. There are beautiful plazas, old colonial buildings in great shape and a real Mexican cantina with swinging bar doors, casual gambling on the bar and pictures of naked women on the wall. I get a few confused looks when we enter, but two gentlemen get up and offer the lady their table. We just can't resist this gem and have ourselves some giddy cervezas. With limes. And salt. Giggle giggle.


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