Searching for the Mayans
Date: 11th February – 13th February 2012
Where: Mérida – Sotuta – Piste – Valladolid
Distance: 371 to 501 miles
We set off from Mérida keen to get peddling again and managed to escape the one-way system without much pain. When stopping to buy degreaser, we were given a free road map of Mexico by the owner…we have no idea why, our entire route so far was about 20cm on this map, so it was hardly going to be useful!? However just 2km down the road our feelings of scorn turned to happiness as we found a completely new shiny highway in our path. The road map quickly set us in the right direction & we rolled into the main plaza in Acanceh in good time. Our luck was in! Our first genuine Mayan temple rose up before us (it was quite small actually, but we were still excited!).
Leaving the town we started to see signs for cenotes (large limestone sink-holes) & were quickly distracted by a signpost claiming 1.5km to the Ban-Mil cenote. The bumpy track tested Geoff’s bike for the first time, and we were a little disappointed when we arrived with sore bottoms. A small hole in the ground with a tree and a rusty ladder as the means of descent. Closer inspection revealed a huge cavern filled with stalagtites and evidence of ancient Mayans (hand-prints etc) and that the tree was in fact rooted to the base of the cave. Happy with our random discovery we set off in high spirits, that was until Geoff felt something in his hair & casually brushed it aside. One or two sharp pricking sensations & then Sarah’s voice came loud and clear: ‘RUN!’ (or ‘PEDAL’ for the pedants). Both putting pedals into over-drive a brief glance over the shoulder showed a whole swarm of bees coming at us. Turns out you can out-run bees on a bike. Geoff had 3 bites in all (ear, knee, bum) & thankfully Sarah just managed to escape, in fact a lucky escape all round. We trundled into Sotuta in the late evening light to see men practising lassoing round a log on the village green & the whole place had a nice vibe to it. Unfortunately it had no rooms. We were given two options: camp in the graveyard or stay in a dingy room in hammocks with a cat & 10 kittens for company? Not wanting the faff of putting tent up in the dark we went for the room. A random experience best told with photos.
The next day we set off for Piste and made it in good time, having the most delicious whole grilled chicken that night. Early the next morning we braved Chichen Itza, and thought it was nice, but not so spectacular. By midday we were ready to head off for Valladolid, but by now Sarah was starting to notice looseness in her bottom bracket which was worrying us greatly. Luckily Valladolid seemed to be a lovely town to get stuck, and we slept well that night.