After a gentle start from Cancun on highway 307 until Tulum we needed something more adventurous than a well paved, flat road with a broad shoulder. We decided to take road 15 along a peninsula to the small village Punta Allen. From there we took a fishermans boat back to the main land and through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
On the internet these roads had a bad reputation, “difficult to cycle with big holes in it”. Locals called us crazy, to use this bad road and camp in the jungle full of dangerous animals with two kids but we decided to give it a try. We could always turn around and go back to highway 307. Finally the 130 “horrible” kilometers through Sian Ka’an have been peaceful, beautiful and quiet.
In Felipe Carillo Puerto we rested some days at the beautiful campsite Balam Nah of our warmshowers host Bruno at laguna Ocom. The kids enjoyed this beautiful place and till now Ben calls the three little baby dogs there, he was playing with them for two days, his friends and one of the best experiences so far on this trip.
Again we took secondary roads away from the 307 highway and ended up on beautifully paved roads without any traffic. In Petcacab we met the Maya family Gabriela, Narcisso and their son Armando who invited us into their home. Lucky us, four hungry cyclist and all this nice food Gabriela made for us!
The most spectacular has been a chicken prepared in the earth which she called “enterramiento”, burial.
We stayed two days with them but they didn’t want us to leave because there was much more food we had to try. Narcisso earns 12 Euro a day which is a lot according to them. They don’t have mobile phones or internet but still shared everything with us. We offered to pay for food or cook our own meals but they refused which made us feel uncomfortable because we knew that we could pay for all of it much easier than they can. As so often experienced in our previous travels people we call poor in Europe are proud of what they own and like to share it with others. After two days we left with a warm and thankful feeling. It was time to cycle to Chetumal and cross the border to Belize.
In Belize we saw our first Maya ruine, Altun Ha. We arrived there late in the afternoon and therefore had a beautiful evening light and little other visitors. We talked for some while with the guards of the park while they closed everything for that day. When we finally left, the sun went down, it got dark and the mosquitoes started their working day. Again we got invited by a family. We could camp in their garden which we were very thankful for. The woman had six children and some grandchildren. Ben and Esmé played the whole evening and the next morning. Already from the beginning of this trip they have been making contact with children everywhere very easily. Poor or rich, white or black, local or tourist, it doesn’t matter for them. Ben also started to talk English and he understands it already very well.
The only problem so far have been the insects. Back in Punta Allen Ben was all over the mosquitoe bites and scratching like crazy. One morning in Sian Ka’an we were having breakfast in a house which sometimes is used for biologists doing research in the jungle. Just when we finished huge ants invaded the outside wall and entered through small holes. We evacuated as quick as possible but all of us got bitten which hurt like crazy. And now, in Belize, we met the sand fly. The working hours of the sand flies are during the day. As soon as we stopped cycling they would start terrorizing us. When the sand fly goes to bed in the evening, the mosquitoe would welcome us. That’s one of the results.
As you maybe can imagine we hardly stopped cycling, only took short brakes, wore clothes with long sleeves (while cycling in 35 degrees Celsius), used all kind of mosquitoe repellent creams, sprays and mosquitoe nets over our heads and in the evening got into our tent as quick as possible. We cycled long days and didn’t take any rest days. We rushed through Belize, hoping that the mosquitoes and sand flies would dissapear when getting into the hills.
But Belize has been so beautiful! Everybody has been cheerful and friendly and we didn’t feel unsafe. We cycled secondary roads again, the Coastal Highway with its beautiful sand colours and the Hummingbird Highway, finally in the hills.
Unfortunately the sand fly also likes the Hummingbird Highway. We decided to push on until Belmopan, the capital of Belize, to find a hostel and get some rest days. Belmopan was founded as a planned community in 1970 and is one of the newest national capital cities. It is a strange place, no city center or tourist information could be found. The only hotel we have seen was way too expensive for us but, again, we got invited and stayed for one night with a family from Colombia. The next day we left. Thankful, clean and rested we crossed the border into Guatemala.
Already for months Peter has been in contact with Annie, a German woman living in Poptùn with her husband and children. She invited us to stay with them because her children grow up bilingual but hardly speak German. Lenny and Erik are 6 and 4 years old and for one week playing and fighting 🙂 has been the routine of the day. (Luckily the first more than the second.) Annie showed us around, we did some really nice bike trips and walks. Yesterday Peter succesfully gave our lecture “Cycle touring – A nomadic lifestyle” for the locals here in Spanish. It has been a relaxing, interesting and pleasurable week before we head south-west into the mountains of Guatemala.
Enough for now. We keep you updated. ¡Adios!