OR, SUNBURNT BACK FROM SNORKELLING AND MOTORBIKE RIDES.
Rather than a cenote today was a lagoon day or rather a combo of the two. Cenote y Laguna Yalku was waiting for me so I got up nice and early to get on my collectivo going there. What they don’t tell you is that it’s miles from the highway. So daring Dan here negotiated for a ride there after buying an ice cold bottle of water and got myself a motorbike ride. I paid him three quid and had a lovely jaunt with the wind blowing in my hair and loving that I was back to being a proper traveller again. I had been missing those scary but fun bits that require negotiations and a bit of extra excitement. Getting there after about ten minutes at relatively high speed I entered a somewhat pricey place that was very manicured and pretty.
When you arrive at the lagoon it was indeed beautiful and straight away I saw a lot of large fish. It was lucky I came early as it soon became busy and idiots stirred up the water by standing on the rocks that were covered in algae and splashing away with fins. However I had an hour before the hordes came and went on a regular basis on their tours. Moaning aside I spoke to a few people who were also escaping the lunacy of various countries.
The water was cool and soon I was looking at the mix of lovely fishes. My breathing as usual, calmed except when that damned snorkel started letting water from time to time. It’s the bane of my life, I always either have a mask or a snorkel that plays up. There we were wooden platforms for sunbathing over the very sharp volcanic rocks and the set up was lovely. At one point I got a nasty little nip from a very territorial fish much as I had in Kota Kinabalu. I then heard others shrieking out they had been bitten too. People in their life vests left the water pronto and a woman explained to me that after she had been bitten her life jacket slid over her head and she nearly drowned. Further down the lagoon the water becomes more brackish and the visibility is poor but they say there is where you’ll see turtles.
After overdoing it as usual I decided to sit on a little wooden platform and eat my grapes and toast my beer belly for a while and stayed as long as I could stand the very hot sun, had another quick dip before packing up and going to the exit and negotiating another motorbike for the village on the other side of the highway. Zooming over the overpass was like being on a ride at a funfair. The guy dropped me off and I spied a lovely local bar with two sleeping dogs at the door. The dogs always know when it’s siesta time! I had a couple of ice cold beers while chatting to the owner about life in general and was feeling top notch. The collectivo went from right by the bar so I couldn’t be arsed to investigate the village more and set off home. On the ride back I noticed my back felt a little hot.
Went to my bar and had a white wine spritzer for a change then tottered off on my new safer route home. There I took a cold shower and after wrapped in a white fluffy towel I felt the heat, the towel felt scratchy and I looked at my back in the mirror, burnt like a bastard and glowing in the dimming light.
Top Tip: Your back can be reached while solo travelling. It’s more like a stretch in yoga and you should use this for putting on cream sunblock on your back. The lower back and shoulders are easy but the middle of the back you put the screen on the back of your hands and work it in as if a copper has you in an arm lock. You should see if you’re well covered with the white residue it leaves. In many places now you’re not allowed sunscreen as it will harm the wildlife so then the long sleeved shirt comes into play. If you’re not diving a lot then wear a cap with the peak to the back which will also cover the back of your neck. In Indonesia following my turtle I didn’t wear a cap as I was expecting to dive all the time but she stayed close to the surface and so did I. Do you know what sunstroke is like? It’s very hardcore headache, puking and the shakes and that’s if you’re lucky. You can’t do anything for around two days and it leaves you open to getting sick as it hammers your immune system, that was how I ended up with Asian flu when I was in Indonesia.
Sleep was difficult that night and I stayed in for a couple of days only venturing out as the sun set like Dracula. However, this gave me time to plan my next road trip, and indeed this morning I booked my two buses to get to Campeche and my hotel there. Seeing it’s a green zone now the excellent museum is now open and I’ll be able to look around at this lovely city. Then I’ll be hitting Palenque at last. Then my plan is going to get trickier. Becan and Kohunlich archaeological zones are luring me. Then Chetumal before returning to Tulum. It’s a big ask but I am a very stubborn old bird and although on limited financial resources this trip I’m sure I’ll crack it even though the last two are very remote.
Alert: When planning these kinds of more remote trips be aware of any dangers. Stranger danger is always a problem, if it don’t feel right don’t do it. Opportunistic men are always around. Also be wary of missing that last bus if you’re in a remote place you don’t want to be stuck somewhere with no hotels etc. And although I went on motorbikes on my lagoon trip they were people known to the office there not just some random bloke. Cover up because even old birds can attract unwanted attention and don’t take valuables. I normally take off my watch and any jewellery and try to look, well, poor. Hide your bum bag under your top and if a site looks too empty think twice if it’s worth it. In Guatemala I was very lucky that they had a couple of wardens there as I slipped and went arse over tit in a slimy puddle running from the howler monkeys and then got lost. A kind warden showed me to the toilets so I could wash up my bleeding hands and knees! It was scary and stupid of me, I just hadn’t realised that the site was so huge and had terrible signage. Don’t be a fool like me.