I wake up early Sunday feeling slightly feverish. Turning over in bed for another hour seems to cure me of my phantom illness and I begin preparing for the day’s ride to the Mayan ruins of Uxmal, in the Mexican state of Yucatan. I briefly use the phone to wish Sara a happy birthday in the US then get on the road. Mornings are always the most pleasant time of day to ride. The air is brisk and I bask in the morning sun. Last night’s rain storm has dissipated and the sky has only a handful of clouds. The drive to Uxmal is brief. The structures here are a lot larger than those of Palenque, but dense jungle atmosphere is replaced by a sparse forest.

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Iguana (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

A millipede (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

A millipede (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico 10/31/2010)

    The sun is high, the area is filling with crowds with tour guides, and my hunger once again has crept upon me. I set my bearing toward Chichen Itza to find a place for the night. I want an early rise to visit the Mayan ruins tomorrow morning.

My riding face. The chin bar is usually down, btw. (Near Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    About 20 kilometers from Chichen Itza, in a town called Yokdzonot, I notice a sign for the Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel and Retreat. Curious, I take the winding dirt road and park at the front of the property. I’m met by Don Daniel, a native Mayan and caretaker of the EcoHotel, carrying water.

Don Daniel at the entrance to the EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    The property is beautifully constructed. It is a small area, but feels much larger. I’m sold, and am currently the only client there. I walk around and inspect the palm-roof houses, outdoor kitchen, outdoor bathroom & shower, fresh water dispenser, well kept gravel trails, and trees (they’re everywhere, including the bathroom). For rent here are tent spaces, tents, hammocks, cabañas, and a very nice hotel-style room. I opt to set up my own tent, for $100 pesos per night. Later I find out couchsurfing members get to stay the first night for free.

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Yucatan Mayan EcoHotel (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    An hour after I set up my tent and lie down to rest, I hear a Slavic language being spoken between two people setting up a tent near me. I get up and introduce myself in Spanish. I discover we share a common language of English, and they introduce themselves as Marcin and Magda, two Pollish citizens backpacking from Alaska, United States to Argentina, South America (click here to check out their blog). They have been hitchhiking for two months now and have another 4 months to go. As like-minded travelers, we get along well and enjoy each others company for the rest of the night. We walk to town for dinner and afterward we take turns playing Marcin’s guitar he purchased at a market in Mexico City, with plastic cup drums.

    The next morning, instead of taking my motorcycle to the ruins, I venture with them, hitchhiking. We wait only 15 minutes before a truck picks us up. The driver takes us most of the way, to a town called Piste. We walk most of the way through the town before we begin hitchhiking again. This time, no one is stopping. We are fooled by a man that rolls down his window only to tell us if the police catch us doing this, we could be each fined $5,000 pesos (~$400 USD). We decide to play it safe and pay $30 pesos ($2.50 USD) for a taxi driver to take us to the entrance of Chichen Itza. We were swindled, because we were unknowingly a mere 300 meters from the entrance of the ruins! It wasn’t a large loss, so we don’t sweat it.

Leaf-mimicking insect (Near Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Marcin and Magda (Chichen Itza-ward, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Myself (Toward Chichen Itza-ward, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    Entering these ruins, like Uxmal, was expensive. At $166 pesos, it was triple the cost to enter Palenque. We didn’t have to pay for parking, which was a plus. The gates were supposed to open at 8:00. Our arrival is 8:30. We wait around until after 9:00 before the first ticket is sold. Mondays…

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Can you find me? (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

The longest way to play a game of Tic Tac Toe (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Una meriposa (a butterfly) (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Iguana (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

Sacrificial cenote (sinkhole filled with water) (Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    After exploring Chichen Itza, we head back into the neighboring town, Piste, on foot. After stopping in an internet cafe and paying $5 pesos (~$0.40 USD) for 30 minutes internet use, Marcin and Magda now have a phone number and are about to finalize plans to move on to Cancun to stay for free with an acquaintance. After a phone call, they are told to wait an hour and call back. We have lunch at a nearby restaurant in the meantime.

Lunch (Piste, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

…good company (Piste, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

…and delicious beer (Piste, Yucatan, Mexico 11/01/2010)

    Every meal in Mexico has been simple and delicious. Every restaurant is an adventure of taste, and I’m always excited to have a new meal. Marcin and Magda’s phone call confirms their stay in Cancun, so we buy an 8-pack of Tekate to celebrate and head the the edge of the city to attempt hitchhiking back to the EcoHotel. Within a few minutes, a man in a white truck stops. He’s headed another 105 kilometers, and is happy to give us a ride. He lets us into the interior of his truck, which is very comfortable. Returning to Yokdzonot, we stop at camp briefly before decide to visit the local cenote.

Local cenote (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/1/2010)

Local cenote (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/1/2010)

Local cenote (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/1/2010)

Local cenote (Yokdzonot, Yucatan, Mexico 11/1/2010)

    Back at the EcoHotel, we break open the Tekate. Shortly after sunset, another traveler enters the camp. Peter, visiting from Germany, flew into Cancun about a week ago. Earlier today he arrived from Valladolid, rented a tent, and unloaded his backpack to go see the nighttime light show at Chichen Itza. He goal is to make his way to Mexico City, where in a few weeks he will return to Germany. Our night is relaxing. The atmosphere is serene, the stars are bright, and this was the perfect getaway from my back-to-back days of driving. It’s times like these that remind me that taking a day or two to rest and recharge is just what I need. Marcin and Magda have made me realize I’ve been neglecting couchsurfing. I’m now making a concerted effort to try to meet and stay with people in this community. We all exchange contact information and I head off to my tent to sleep.

    My ideal of waking up early falls short and the next morning I’m up with everyone else a few hours after sunrise. I dry my tent and pack it on my bike with the rest of my gear. This routine is now down solid, and I can get everything strapped on in as little as 10 minutes. I say goodbye and after Marcin takes some photos of my loaded bike, I’m off to Tulum.

    120 kilometers from arriving, I stop at a crossroad not on my paper map or GPS. To the right, a sign points to Tulum, so I take it. According to my GPS, it’s heading directly toward the ruins. Along the way, I see signs pointing Cobá only 5k to the right. My GPS says it’s 10k to the left. I figure I misentered the coordinates into my GPS and accept it as a pleasant surprise. I turn right to check it out.

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

    I don’t find Cobá particularly impressive, and the large expanse of the ruins requires a long travel between sights (for which there are bicycles for rent). I don’t feel like renting a bicycle nor riding while holding my motorcycle jacket and tank bag, so I get back on the road to Tulum. I arrive in Tulum to find the most populated ruins I’ve come across in Mexico. I have to walk through about a kilometer of shops and booths selling souvenirs before I get to the entrance ticket booth, but not before managing to get some pictures of natives in Mayan dress.

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

    The ruins at Tulum are spread out across the coast of the Caribbean Sea, on pristine beaches and beautiful blue waters. By now it’s nearly 2pm, and the busiest time to be here. The sun is way too hot for my pants and boots, and the crowds are in full bloom. I make the best of the situation and still have a good time despite there being many people. I have to wait some time for photo opportunities to open, but I get a few good shots.

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 11/2/2010)

    Back at the parking lot, I’m approached by a few curious people that ask where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’m always glad to explain my trip and perhaps give my blog address. A short drive from the ruins brings me to a moderately priced Hotel. It’s $400 pesos ($33 USD) for the night, but I’m happy to pay it since it’s the first one to offer internet of the three I visited. I could look longer, but this hotel seems like it’s worth the price.

    Settling into my room, I check my email and am surprised to find a story about my travels, with a link to my blog, has made it’s way to the news section of the Yucatan Living (7th story on the linked page). More surprising, I have several messages from enthusiastic readers of the Yucatan Living leaving me encouragement and a few even offering to let me stay with them if it would help. It’s a very good feeling to know complete strangers will reach out and offer their homes for a chance to meet and help me on my travels. I buy a beer from down stairs, get some granola from my bike, and get comfortable to reply to messages, send out couchsurfing requests, edit photos, and write up another online journal entry.

KyleGabriel

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