Trip Report: the Toh Bird Festival 2011 – Day 5

Day 5 – 200 kms on the “cuota” and an unplanned overnight stay in Valladolid.

The Gulf of Mexico. (Photo © Ivan Gabaldon).

We wake up in Ecoparaíso XiXim to the murmur of waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Our shower has glass walls with a view to a small indoor garden, where a couple of orioles keep us company while we enjoy a hot bath. At breakfast we share the restaurant with the only two other couples in the hotel. The panoramic windows allow us to see fully active orioles, tropical mockingbirds and hummingbirds. I leave the table several times to catch a better view from the balcony.

Weather has not improved and navigation to see the flamingos is still suspended, so we decide to get going back to the Riviera Maya. We take it so easy that noon is already upon us before we turn on the ignition on the F650 and start riding towards Celestún, where we plan to fill up our gas tank. We waste some more time taking a wrong turn on the dirt road, confused by the signs. Finally we make it to town and go around a few times until we find the gas station, in the meantime getting a superficial look at the place. We find Celestun to be lacking in charm, filthy and unkempt, the bay where the boats are moored looking specially sad in a day without activity.

We finally make it to the PEMEX station. While we fill up I ask the young attendant: “Friend, how do we get out of here?” His dry answer is not an attempt at friendliness or humor: “Same way you came”. I follow his lead and retort in equally unfriendly manner: “Jeez, that’s great help. I’d have to go around as many times as I did to get here”. I ask again, so he has no option but to provide directions. It makes me think back on our brief ride through Hunucmá, and the noteworthy kindness we perceived in people there. The energy we sense here is totally different, although it would be unwise to cast judgement on the place after such a short visit.

Our day holds many kilometers ahead of us on the motorcycle. We ride past Merida and continue to Valladolid, this time taking the so-called “cuota” (140 pesos toll). The road is impeccable, two lanes in each direction flanked by dense vegetation and separated by a wide division also filled with vegetation. We make good time and barely see two or three other vehicles during the entire ride. However, we have a problem: there’s not a single gas station in over 200 kms of road. The F650 lacks a fuel gauge, but the odometer shows we’ve ridden 150 kilometers on the tank we topped before departure, so I know we’re running on reserve. The night is falling upon us but we keep going, trusting our good luck. We finally reach the end of the road and find the coveted PEMEX. As we fill up it is confirmed: we had less than one liter of fuel remaining.

I just love this shadow images Rose makes while we’re riding! (Photo © Roselys Oropeza)

At this time of year night falls shortly after 5 pm, so we won’t be able to make it to the Riviera Maya with the benefit of daylight. We decide to sleep over in Valladolid and once in town ride around in search of suitable lodging. All rooms are taken at the inn Casa Quetzal, but they kindly point us toward hotel Tunich-Beh, on the Calzada de Los Frailes. As we arrive I see two motorcycles parked on the front porch, which of course we take as a good sign. We are welcomed by Mrs. Lupita Sanchez and her son Rafael, who tells me I may park the bike next to the others, nicely protected under the roof. Rafael owns one of the two bikes, a 20 year old Honda Magna 750 that looks in great shape, save for the old tires, which are screaming for replacements. He tells me he bought the bike on eBay for less than 500 dollars, and it was shipped to him from the States in several boxes, just as it had been kept in storage for years. Now rebuilt the bike looks like new, but Rafael still hasn’t taken it on the road. We talk about motorcycling for a while and he says a few days earlier he slid on a corner and fell down. I say it doesn’t surprise me, considering the condition of his tires. I urge him to get new rubber, buy protective gear and a good helmet, and hit the road.

It’s comforting to know the F650 will sleep under cover and in good company. (Photo © Ivan Gabaldon).

After a shower we go out for a walk through the historical center. We look for some food, without any gastronomic ambitions whatsoever. Globalization does its thing and we end up in an international sandwich franchise. Back at the hotel we soon fall into deep sleep.



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