The Yucatán, Oaxaca and to Baja California

We were excited to be in Mexico, the penultimate country of the trip. We’d been looking forward to the food, the beaches and the rich sense of culture for weeks.

The Yucatán

The Yucatán peninsular is pancake-flat and we made the miles to Tulum from the Belizean border in just over two days.

The tourist town of Tulum is centred around the highway, a strip straight through town that sports the usual souvenir shops, bike rental businesses and overpriced bars advertising Happy Hour. 140 miles in the past two days meant we were in no mood for novelty sombreros or drunken backpackers.

It was the next day, after coffee and an extra couple hours kip, that we understood what the fuss is all about. The famous Mayan ruins are interesting, but that stretch of spotless white sand beach is unbelievable. The sea is this luminescent clear blue that’s almost difficult to believe. Very beautiful.

Tulum

Tulum

And the town itself is cool, with plenty of boutique shops and well planned eateries. It’s a laid back, gringo friendly place: an easy spot for the image conscious Instagram generation to spend a few days.

As ever though, we had to push on.

A further three days riding to Mérida were equally as simple as the first couple in Mexico: the drivers were always courteous, giving us plenty of space, and the road surfaces were excellent – a huge improvement from most of Central America.

We took in Chitchen-Itza en route. Hugely impressive! It’s amazing to visit ruins of a scattered civilisation that are so well preserved it’s almost easy to imagine what the city looked like during its golden era.

Chitchen-Itza

Chitchen-Itza

In Mérida we caught up with my friends Biggsy and Jade who were taking a trip through Mexico and Cuba. It was really fun for Sophie and me to catch up with familiar faces for the first time since saying goodbye to my sister in Rio de Janeiro a year before. And congratulations to them: they’re now engaged after Biggs popped the question in, I think, Tulum!

We’re on a time limit with this trip. Due to circumstances, we want to be home before March. Our plan was to reach Mérida before taking a bus up to Oaxaca for Christmas.

Oaxaca

The historic centre of Oaxaca is defined by Colonial-era buildings which resulted in it being declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. It’s a really pretty town with a rich indigenous cultural heritage and it was the perfect place for the festive period.

Oaxacan church

Oaxacan church

We enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere in the Zócalo – well decked with boughs of holly, tall Christmas trees, nativity scenes and festive lights. We wandered markets and sat in bars. We explored churches and watched fireworks and processions with giant puppets dressed as the three kings. We drank mezcal and put Christmas songs on the playlist.

wandering the markets

wandering the markets

And we roasted a chicken on the 25th, with potatoes, carrots, onions, oranges. I watched the Queen’s speech, Skyped my family and caught up with people’s festive photos on Facebook. It was really a perfect day, a magic time, as I believe Christmas should be.

walking home for Christmas

walking home for Christmas

And onwards

After Christmas we took another bus to Mazatlán to take the ferry over to the south of Baja California. We’ll be boarding in a few hours. From La Paz, we’ll be back on the bikes to make the final 1,000 mile push up the Pacific peninsular to our goal of Los Angeles.

I can’t wait to get back on the bike. The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a day of riding always gives me a warm flush of endorphins. I love the momentum of moving, of eating up miles through beautiful scenery. I miss the tent and quiet nights under the stars. I miss being away from busyness, from shops, from the bustle of daily living.

Staying in towns, even in beds, has worn through for me. I’m excited to be heading back to a wilder place, and Baja promises wide-open skies, giant cacti, diverse wildlife and silent beaches. I’m looking forward to the challenges and hope to appreciate each moment, knowing the trip is soon to be at a close.

The desert is calling.

Vida! Saúde! Felicidade!

Mike

As ever, if you’ve enjoyed reading these posts, or if you see value and a challenge in this trip, or if you’d simply like to support a wonderful cause, it would be great if you drop a little sum towards my fundraising goal for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Head over to https://www.justgiving.com/Mike-Edmondstone/ to get involved. Thanks 🙂

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