From Diary 1 the tour
22. We get up early; the clock is no more than six. Enter Chihuahua town to find a particularly nice house. A poor man proposed to a girl. She said "yes" and he would build a house for her as a gift. It took several years to build the house, which is also really beautiful. Unfortunately, however, the girl fell for the architect and got rid of proposer. There are several morals in this story - which I will not get into!
We continue on through the nice town, but without seeing a single one of the little dogs whose name comes from here. We buy breakfast at the huge bus terminal. Like most other places, you have to have equal money. Big banknotes are totally taboo. Even when you have to pay, for example, 380 pesetas in a large, expensive business or at a busy bus terminal, and two 200 banknotes, they complain. And it's not for getting tips. The toilet costs one and a half krone. There is a vending machine to throw in the two pesetas, and an employee whose sole purpose is to exchange. Another makes sure to keep them clean. Right at the entrance is the toilet paper holder. Don't know what the benefits are, everyone takes plenty! This toilet system again is found in many places on our continued trip. Another type is what Australians call: BYO - bring your own (paper).
We roll out of the big city and pass some huge queue farms. Similar to outdoor loose operation, just without grassland. Stair-pyramid-shaped hay stacks at 20-30 meters in height provide food for up to 10,000 dairy cows. Then the plains begin. Here are three or four different fig cacti, and I'm lucky to see two road-runners. Later, a shy prairie wolf crosses the road, known as Grim E. Wolf. Elsewhere, there are ground squeals and (wild?) donkeys.
There are yucca, some funny pointed barrel
cacti, clusters of small cacti and large agaves. In a few places,
there are fields that are irrigated, but we do not actually see any
houses in the countryside.
After six hours (plus an hour delay) we are in Torreon where we change bus to get to Zacatacus. We have just 20 minutes for a snack, and stock up on food for the next six hours. The temperature is at 34 degrees and humidity is also at its peak. Pretty comfortable getting into the bus. The landscape is dominated by fig-cacti, some without thorns, only brown spots of the miniatures, but there are also many agaves and "trees", with thin branches / leaves and yucca.
We stop for half an hour at a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere. I take the opportunity to photograph a few different cacti. It starts to thunder at dusk, as we reach the Rio Grande. The clock is forwarded an hour. We arrive at eleven, far out of town. We have driven 850 kilometres and (like most other roads, especially the toll roads) they have been flanked by four rows of barbwire on each side. If there are wooden pillars, they stand one and a half to two meters away. Most are concrete pillars that are up to two and a half meter in between!
Taking a taxi to the hotel we wanted, but there is no room. The taxi driver finds another one that has only dooms. Newer mind, it's almost midnight, and it looks really nice. Now we have also awakened a guest, who has awakened the host, who has awakened the others in the room.
On the way, we passed a large illuminated aqueduct and some beautiful old buildings. Didn't mention it before: Mexico is paved with road bumps! In the cities you drive in 4WDs for the same reason. In the countryside you can get by with a regular car. Everything from small cars to huge trucks drive at two kilometres per hour over the bumps. The car we later rent scrapes the stomach against countless times.
23. We sleep long; at nine o'clock. It is cloudy, but we trudge out among the city's myriad beautiful ancient buildings. It reminds me most of all of Venice. We see the cathedral, which is incredibly beautiful, but the worship service prevents us from seeing so much inside. All of the city's streets are paved with 30X30 centimetres of lava tiles. The sidewalks are washed by business owners and flower pots decorate all around. Several beautiful small parks appear with a myriad of beautiful flowers. The temperature stays at 22 degrees, comfortable.
As in so many other cities, the water car comes squeezing around to everyone. 25 litres of water can supply the Mexican population with drinking water. In many places, the water the taps taste bad. You can feel where the mineral is saturated in some places where the subsoil is lime. Elsewhere, it is slightly salty and then in some places there is the laryngeal addition of chlorine.
We have breakfast at a delicious cafe. Only exception is Rikke's tamales, which turns out to be a dry, wilted corn cob cover with a bit of baked cheese. We can't get stuck; we need to experience something and the sun comes up. The city's wealth is based on a very rich silver mine: We must see that. For 20 kroner we are driven into the mountain by a small train.
A witty and eloquent guide walks us through
the many tunnels. Unfortunately, he only spoke Spanish. We see deep
abyss, stalactites, blue lakes and small white crystals.
At the top, the queue for the track is huge, so we decide to walk down. At the top are various cacti, anoles, lizards, ground squeals, iguanas and butterflies. We walk down a combined ramp and staircase. At first, it is very rough, but ends up being some of the city's steep streets and stairs. See a cactus booth, with all shapes and colours of fig-cacti fruits and loads of leaves that have had the thorns removed, so they are easier to use in cooking.
It is getting late and we take a taxi to the bus station. The ten minute tour costs 20 kroner. Danish taxis have a lot to learn (or is it the opposite?). The bus only leaves in about an hour (checked yesterday), so there will be time for lunch. Then it turns out, the bus at 14 o'clock does not exist at all. There are several companies running the route, one of which has 28 departures a day. There just isn't anyone between 12 and 4.30 pm! And it turns out it is full, so we have to take 17.15.
We get to eat while we wait! Remarks otherwise; almost no men have a full beard. They otherwise have good facilities, but only the moustaches are used. In turn, they are powerful. There is hardly any real candy here. The ice creams are good enough, but wine gums, hard candy and the like remain a dream.
Finally we move. Luxury bus: Large bus with only eight rows of seats with two on one side and one on the other. They can be put down almost completely. At the back of the bus there is a self-service coffee kitchen and a well-equipped spacious bathroom. The downside is the price: double-up, but we have to move on.
It goes through dry areas with thorn apples, giant yucca's and large plains with fig cacti. In between there are planted fields with them too. Then some agave fields occurs. It will be more fertile, but there is a long way between the fields. Water holes with blue water hyacinths appear, but here is still mostly nature.
We stay in Leon for 20 minutes, then continue towards Guanajuato, where we will meet with the brothers tomorrow noon. Arrive at eleven (in the middle of an English-language version of xXx with Vin Diesel), and take a taxi to the meeting hotel. On the way, we drive through five or six long tunnels, in the middle of the city. There are even side roads inside the tunnels. Will be exciting to see in daylight!
At the hotel we (may) find out, they haven't arrived yet and there is only one room with a double bed available. We call it, and then head out to find an internet cafe, so we can write to them: We are here. The first bar we pass has two tan Danes sitting with each one beer. It turns out that the plan I sent to Jesper was Mk. 1, we should have been here at noon. Well, then they got to see the city - thoroughly! We have fun and small-plans for one o'clock.
24. Up a little before seven: Yarn! A little food, and then a taxi to the bus station. Three minutes later ,we sit in a luxury bus, like the one we drove yesterday. We see Harry Potter, and have several channels of music to choose from. Landscapes look almost Danish, here are just a few more corn fields and larger hills. Everywhere are great, and very long stonewalls, giant agaves and "cowboy cacti".
We get to Mexico City, find line five to the airport. On the way, two fakirs show up. Same tricks: Lying on broken glass. Several scars on the back and abdomen show it is real. Like the others, who entertain in the Metro with song, music and arts, they quickly move on to the next carriage. You really have to be in the shoes if you are going to give them money. You also have to be quick, if you are going to buy crosswords magazines, chewing gum, wrench kits or what do I know, which are offered in the subway's carts.
We look for the car rental companies for quite some time, and find them in the Arrivals Hall, behind the barrier. Drops in without any hassle. but then it lightens up. Avis, Hertz, Budget and the others have only giant cars for 800-1000 kroner a day. We need it for 17 days and can settle for less. Finally, find a VW somewhere around 6,600, which is ready within an hour. We need to keep up.
End up at the other end of the airport at another company where she deliver us to. Actually starting all over. Morten says she promised us the VW for 6,000. The man mumbles something, but then finds it. Now it's called a Ford Focus, but is brand new. The insurance only covers, if it gets completely smashed / gone - something that is impossible to live up to. Then he just needs a blank credit card voucher. We discuss that a lot and I sacrifice my Master Card. Through the old credit-card-roller with no amount and date, just the signature! A blacno check!
Finally, we get out to the car, with the Ford Fiesta in the back. It is actually quite large, but it is not new. It has 70,972 kilometres on the clock! It has the advantage that we can find stone strokes and small scratches all around. It becomes difficult to damage it, where it did not already have a line on the paper. At a distance of three meters, it actually looks new. As we start the fan, one nozzle falls to the floor and the others cannot be controlled. The exhaust is a little loose, may it be what saved it later?
Then we just have to get out of town. Did I write "Just"? We need to get out of route 086, but it branches off into infinity. Then we try to drive north, but end up far up the mountain side, in a poor neighbourhood. Finds a great road several times and will follow it out of town - no matter the direction, but they divide, over and over again. Eventually we end up in small blind streets. Are at several gas stations to buy a map, they just don't have any.
We swap driver, and the first one fall asleep in the back seat within minutes. Not quite sure how, but after five febrile hours, we are finally out, and probably headed in the right direction.
We get to to Tula at ten. On our way into town, we pass a huge oil refinery. A huge yellow and an even bigger blue flame burns on each tower. The smell could be significantly better. The next day we can see, the air several hundred square miles around, could also be more transparent! The boulevards are unidirectional; six lanes in the same direction with the trees in the middle still.
After finding a hotel, we head out to find a quiet cafe, where we can plan. We find "Twilight-Light Zone" as the only thing. People, especially the host, are hammering boozed, but we get three water and two beers for 25 kroner. The host is apparently disappointed we won't have have tequila. Home and wash clothes and then to bed.
25. First get up at half past eight, yet there is nothing open. Don't understand, they don't spend the cool hours of the morning. The locals sweat at least as much as us. We find a market with a little action. Stalls with different cacti products like food, but no coffee and bread. We head towards the local pyramid: Tula, which is an Aztec settlement, and finds a grocery store with bread and bananas on the way.
The Tula pyramid does not open at nine, but first at ten. We take a look at the surrounding cacti, a small red bird and the closed door. Finally, they open. We are the only tourists walking through the tip of the souvenir stalls that have not yet opened. Several buildings, the largest with some large statues on top. Pretty impressive. There is also a museum with various finds of ceramics and volcanic glass and metals. Very neat and interesting.
We have lunch in Actopan, where we also find the Mexican map book, even the 2003 edition. We haven't seen a bookstore yet, but Morten finds it in a newsstand. They are everywhere. The main article is pornographic booklets, but also many with photos. Strange for a Catholic country! We see the world's largest roasted pork skin in loose sales. It is simply the skin from half a pig! Jesper and I get a haircut and I get the beard trimmed. Must be 20 kroner each! The Danish barbers have a lot to learn (or is it the opposite?).
We continue towards Pachuca. Watching the first sheep on the low meadows clinging to the huge hills / small mountains. Turning north on Route 105, and 65 kilometres outside, heading for Huejutla, huge barrow cacti appear. Here are about ten other cacti species, Jericho's roses, epiphytes and much more exciting. I had actually given up on finding the area, but as we entered a rest area to turn around, Morten spotted them.
I don't change into shoes, but I just go out with the camera in flip-flops. Unfortunately, there are several loose cactus leaves not to mention loose, dry acacia branches. After about 20 minutes, I have taken two films, and my feet are as worn out as the patience of my travelling companions. For the rest of the holiday, I can entertain myself by piling centimetres of thorns off the soles of my flip-flaps, when nothing more interesting happens.
In the distance we can glimpse the snow-capped summit of one of the higher mountains. We head south again, down to Pachuca, and then look southeast. Gets really delicious dinner for 100 kroner for four, with drinks. We stop in Tlaxcala, where we get three really cool double rooms for 260 kroner. The car is put in one of our three closed garages
26. We stop by for breakfast and gas the car. Our car only runs between twelve and fourteen kilometres per liter, but fortunately a litre costs only four kroner. We drive through huge and very lush hills, on a good toll road. Can hold it at 110 kilometres per hour, very comfortable after the last days mountain driving with 40-50. 100 kilometres south-east of the 135s, masses of yucca and cacti show up; mainly Old-Man. 130 kilometres out there are huge Beaucaneas.
We reach the top of the mountain range, here are the yellow rocks completely burned by the sun. Nevertheless, here is Spanish moss, and it is overcast as well. Some agave comes and then the deciduous forest takes over
We get to (Santa Maria) El Tula where we have to see a tree. Not any tree: The world's largest biomass in one organism. They have some high ones in the United States, but this taxon; Taxodium mucronatum is about 2,000 years old, 42 metres high, 14 metres in diameter, 58 metres in circumference, a volume of 816,829 cubic metres and so they think it weighs 636,107 tons. It is big! DNA have shown it is just one plant.
Then we see their big souvenirs market, without really finding anything else, but a little to drink. Here we see ten whites, which is many! We return to Oaxaca to find a hotel. It is not straightforward: There is a folk music festival, and we only get a seat at the fifth hotel.
Dinner at a very nice, and at an exceptionally good restaurant. We get, among other things, avocado with crisp, tender lamb chops (which Morten and Rikke will talk about for many years), "mole in the dark" (this was how it sounded, but we do not know what exactly it was Jesper goofy in, with great pleasure), and for me; pork in gorgonzola sauce. I ask for the dessert card, but instead the lady comes with a cart of 15-20 delicious looking cakes.
After the meal we get a tequila. It is very similar to whiskey / cognac, and is called Cazadores and has a deer on the label. Then the others try some others and mezcal. After their facial expressions and statements, I haven't missed anything! It is also made on the stem of agaves, where the tequila is made on the leaves, and then you drink it with paprika salt.
We thought it was a slightly scary neighbourhood we found the hotel in, but when we get home at night, we are more calm: It turns out to be so peaceful that young girls can stand on the street corners wearing very little more than underwear. So it must be a safe neighbourhood, right?
27. A poor night's sleep: The doors were metal, so they were pretty noisy. The ventilation consisted of no wall over the doors and then people talked damn loudly out in the yard, most of the night and from very early morning. Somewhat clad-eyed, we find some excellent breakfast with a German immigrant.
Today's site is Mount Alban; a huge pyramid plant, built by the Zapotecs, with tombs and views. I get migraines, and combined with motion sickness, a few minor concussions (due to their far too many, too low doorways) as well as stomach flu, too many chillies and tourist stomachs in general, I'm ready to be put in bed!
The others find a really nice hotel for me, and I sleep for the rest of the day. They drive out to the local pyramid: Yagul, which is an open maze with jaguar tombs. In the afternoon and evening, they spend at a local Indian ball, a church, some beers and good food. They get home with a helium balloon to me, with the desired and good recovery. It probably would have helped better, if I had seen Morten walking around with it in town ...
28. I feel much better and follow the others into the town square, where there is a really good restaurant that serves breakfast. It is a little cool this morning, we find the fleece jackets for the first time. Here, like so many other places, souvenir, flower and chewing-gum sellers come by. They all accept a slight head shake as "no". Oh yeah; have completely forgotten to mention the local Bimbos. It's the Mexican (American) edition of Karen Wulff! Watching the vans and cookies everywhere.
We drive southeast out of the 190's, through green mountains with old-man cacti and agave fields. Mezcal is advertised on all gables, and here and there are mountains of agave tribes. The steep fields are ploughed with oxen. Here, the ubiquity blackhead vultures have been joined by the redhead. Weaver nests sit on the electric wires, the ones on the high voltage wires must grow into a worse magnetic field!
We see a few flocks of parrots, a few toucans, a cow-heron colony and masses of butterflies. We are in the tropics. We arrive at Tuxtla at dusk, after 550 kilometres. A few showers came, as we drove through the wooded mountains, but it has also gotten hot. Delicious dinner: Grill spears and giant New York steak for Morten.
29. We check e-mail: Rikke has been admitted to her school. Then we drive out to Canon el Sumidero; a huge gorge that is 1000 meters deep! We buy a ticket for a smaller motor boat, which takes us through the gap. Here are a multitude of different herons, cormorants, vultures, parrots, butterflies and some crocodiles.
We sail under waterfalls which, due to the altitude, are almost foggy. Here is a cave with a monastery. A vertical cliff wall of 800 meters and exciting vegetation. Many plants cling to the vertical rock walls. Here are epiphytes, cacti, bonsai-like small trees, ferns and agaves. We end the tour by a large dam, built by the Swedes. Delicious with a boat trip in the heath, and without waves! We'll be back after two and a half hours, well tanned / burned.
Then we continue the 186s towards Palenque. 350 kilometres of winding mountain roads. Small cornfields cling to the rocks between the bromeliad overgrown pines. Not surprisingly, the pigs are furry. We drive down, and there are tobacco, lime and banana fields. Every time we pass a house on the roadside, there are road bumps that could become the final fate of a Hummer, whose driver is just a bit unconcentrated. In many places, children and wives stand selling soft drinks, baskets, fruit, wooden cars and what do I know, by the bumps. Very smart, apart from that, they all sell the same in each valley: For one hour in a row you can buy baskets, then there are two hours of fruit and so on.
Once again we have taken a mountain range along the way, and we are first in Palenque half past eight. Here are, for the first time on our trip, many backpackers. We find a small nice, clean AND cheap hotel. The city streets are reminiscent of San Francisco; the transverse ones are incredibly steep. We are otherwise in the lowlands; the temperature is not below 30 degrees even when the sun has set. We find a reasonable restaurant, but I hurry home to care for my stomach. Have never had trouble with it before travelling, but once must be the first.
30. Up at seven, so we are among the first to be closed into the Pelenque pyramid area, which was populated by the Mayans. The temperature is better for crawling around the almost intact pyramids, and the photos are definitely not inferior to non-brightly coloured tourists. There is a sea of staff from the gate, in the parking lot, toilets and to check tickets. There is only one who is alone: He is the one who writes the tickets - something of a needle eye!
Like most other pyramids in the areas, there is a collection (here are six or seven) of temples, pyramids and other administration / warehouse buildings. Around them, out in the countryside, people have lived in cabins that are long gone. At the top and in the basements there are rooms with classic staircase-shaped wall-ceilings and numerous stone decorations. Here and there; epiphytes, including cacti, grow on the trees. The surrounding primeval forest is echoed by countless bird voices, parrots crossing clearings and reportedly you should be lucky to see monkeys. However, we are not.
There are numerous merchants around the large area, with everything possible in souvenirs. Wash basin with the Mexican calendar, plaster casts of masks and statues, bows and arrows, skewers and everything else - except drinks. It repeats itself in all the pyramids in the country, perhaps because they do not bother to collect bottles? On the other hand, they have to pick up tourists. They do not warn about the missing drinks and the temperature is over 30 degrees, and the stairs of the pyramids are both insidious and steep.
We come out wildly dripping and soaked, and find a restaurant. In the girl's toilet, Rikke finds a medium-sized scorpion sitting in the middle of a wall, gnawing in half a cockroach. The spiders are gigantic, spinning at just over a meter, leg spans of up to six centimetres.
We drive east, across a completely flat and incredibly vast plain. Here are scattered trees, grass and swamps with water hyacinths. Large black iguanas often cross the road. The last 150 kilometres to the coast are a brand new and really good road, which ends at the Mahahual city border. Then it turns into a really bad sand road that is more holes than road. The city consists of a mile of restaurants and souvenir stalls, and has at least eight taxis! In contrast, there are only three small hotels, the two fully occupied. About 150 kilometres to the neighbouring town. Pretty strange, but we find out why.
We go diving and snorkelling here, out to the
world's largest atoll, and second largest coral reef. Driving past a
camp with tents where the compressors fill diving bottles. We'll
send Morten in! He gets an appointment with a skipper the next
morning. Then we need something to eat. It's pitch dark, the clock
is close to nine, and everything is closed, except the bars. Finally
finds a little local joint where we get chicken.
31. The others leave to make an appointment with the skipper. I've become too attached to my new friends. It turns out to be difficult to find a free boat, and even harder to find diving gear, so we snorkel all four. Sails with a small boat, and jumps in, with a guide. The first thing he does is break the "root" of a large deer-roofed coral and give it to Rikke. Here are many variations on deer stacks and other hard corals. Among them is a small number of soft, which with its amazing colours light up well. Some colourful fish, octopus, sea urchins and other life thrive among the corals.
We move to another place, but the flora and fauna are almost unchanged. After two hours we are ashore. Grab a shower and a nap. The city has completely changed its character. It is teeming with locals and tourists. A huge cruise ship with 3000 passengers has been added. Everyone has Hawaiian shirts on and wide smiles, it is teeming with golf carts and prices are top notch. The city has only been around for 10 years; it's simply a backdrop for the Americans coming with the cruise ships.
We drive back through the huge Everglade-like swamps; flat limestone areas with countless water holes and small palm trees and shrubs. There is one turn on the 150 kilometres back to Tulum. We book a trip to a large national park, and Jesper and the undersigned find a hotel. The other two are not so excited about it: The walls consist of thin branches clay-clad on the lower meter. It then slightly compensates for the lack of fan and light; one can see right through it above. Our room is fine; we have mosquito nets and bathroom. Meaning; there is, of course, only cold water, an anole sitting on the tap. The shower head, I find in the courtyard the next morning, and the toilet, which is hammered dirty by the rain of the last days, is flushed with a bucket. The floor is stomped clay, the residence an open disco. All in all, a fantastic cultural experience - which Morten and Rikke could have been without. It's called Diana's Cabanas, but quickly becomes known as Diana's Crappy Cabanas.
We get really good dinner, something with; what we save at the hotel ... My stomach is still not good, so I go to bed early and get one of the best night's sleep on the trip. The others are hanging out with several beers and tequilas. A heavy rainstorm hammered against the palm leaf roof, but it held very close.
1. One is well rested, the other pierced by insects in the morning, but the weather is fantastic so we head out to Sian Kaan - Where the Clouds Begin. Starts with a small lecture on nature conservation in front of the office, and then we drive. In addition to the four of us, there are two middle-aged Americans who are amateur ornithologists and a Argentine couple where she is a biologist.
At the park entrance we get another lecture about the park and its importance to the local population, the environment and more. We are also warned against the poisonous trees. As a common denominator, they have wavy leaves. On our guide's first tour, he took a couple of leaves in his pocket. The next morning his thighs were black, and then huge fire blasts came. He benefited from them for three weeks. The tree is otherwise beautiful, very similar to coffee bushes, with beautiful dark green shiny leaves and bunches of small high-red berries.
We drive off to a cenote; a place where the water seek up from the limestone and forms a lake. It is very deep and consists of different, clearly defined water layers whose temperature, salt content and colour vary. Then we drive out to their tourist centre.
An unusually cool hut, on the slope of the deep blue sea, has been home to a host of scientists. Now they are building a centre, with toilets, library, lecture hall, lounge and everything else. At the top, we struggle through the craftsmen, to enjoy the stunning views of the huge lagoon to one side, and the ocean to the other.
Down to the two boats, with English-speaking captains. Our guide sometimes changes boats, but we do really well without him. We sail through limestone mangroves. We have come to know the difference between gray, white, black and red mangrove trees, and see quite a few birds. What comes to the back of my mind, is the huge amount of epiphytes that grow on the low mangrove trees. In most places, they are no more than a meter or a half tall, but covered with huge orchids, giant bromeliads and epiphytic cacti that are up to 10 meters long.
There is a wide variety of wildlife, from fish eagles, vultures, signal-green iguanas, helmets agamas, basilisks, anoles, blue giant crabs, various fish, frigate birds, herons, cormorants, brown pelicans, small birds and singers, and butterflies and other insects.
We stop at a small ruin; a Mayan temple. Rikke finds small cacti and passion flowers on its walls. We sail up the three to five meter wide freshwater river that runs several kilometres through the mangrove forest of the lagoon. In some places, the limestone layer is far below a thick layer of mud, and the mangrove trees are similarly tall, up to twelve meters.
We stop, and jump in the 28 degree hot water. Drives with the current, lying on the lifejacket. The water is crystal clear, the bottom is mainly white limestone, and nature is beautiful. We drift for a little hour, but could have continued for a very long time. Returning to civilization, a great experience richer, but it also cost 450 kroner per person. The profits go to the operation of the park.
We stop at a cafe and get some freshly squeezed juice while we plan. Stays in the same city, but finds a new hotel. It is twice as expensive, but then there is also solid floor, hot and cold water, air conditioning, fan, TV, and door. Completely superfluous things ... After dinner, the others enjoy a beer and some tequilas - I head home to the bathroom.
2. This morning we all feel equal bad. The others got to try all the different tequilas and mescals, the bar had - and finish all bottles. While others are having breakfast, Jesper finishes sleeping in the back seat of the car. Then we return to the hotel with Rikke. Had actually checked out, but they had not cleaned the room.
We others drive out to the Tulum Pyramid City, another Mayan settlement where countless black iguanas thrive. The largest males are one meter, and weigh well a few kilos. One side of the area is bounded by a large vertical slope down to the blue sea.
We shoot some photos as we dart from one shadow to the other - it's hot! We see a centipede the size of a finger, some nice cacti and a bunch of small hermit crabs. Many of the buildings are well preserved, but it is also only 450 years since they were abandoned. Well, I do see more than the brothers, who still recovers....
Returns to the hotel where the brothers' room is rented out. Fortunately, we have two double beds, so we all four can have a nap, until we have to check out at twelve. I am awakened by a giant cockroach tickling me on the toes. It leaks out into the toilet and we sneak off.
The afternoon plan is a snorkelling tour through the world's largest cave. We find the company that organizes the tours, get wetsuits, snorkel and glasses. Then we just sit and wait, and wait. Finally, there is enough, and we crawl up the load of a totally chopped pick-up. Standing on a wooden mat for half an hour, wearing a wet suit, and then driving off an extremely poor, but also exciting road, out through the dense forest. Several times we see amazingly beautiful bearded birds / bee-eaters with very special tails. Here are many epiphytic cacti, Beaucarnea's and flowering trees.
We get to what looks like a well. Climb 20 meters down and a huge hall reveals itself. It is over 100 meters in diameter and tunnels lead out in many directions. Half of it is underwater, and it is clear: 100 meters visibility, more than any ordinary lake or sea can offer. Jumps in the cold water and swims around the edge.
The cave is lit, but only underwater. It's amazingly nice, and also a little scary when swimming across bottomless canyons. Here are some small fish, some tetra and some that resemble chiliads. I also spot a few large ones, about a kilo or more. Some places have bats under the ceiling, and somewhere I think I hear a frog quacking.
We end the trip in the cave and climb up. A longer trip over to another cave, where the majority are put off, and then we drive with two others over to Dos Ojos, which is another part of the at least 65 kilometre long cave system. We crawl down to a tree platform in Bat Cave, see the bats, and swim around a bit. Then we dive through a narrow channel and show up at Dos Ojos, which has two openings to the light. Here is a bunch of locals who use it as a bathing place - pretty noisy.
Another walk through a very narrow opening brings us into a small cave - above the water. By contrast, it is profoundly deep underwater, and beautifully lit like the rest. We swim and drive back, a great experience richer, and 200 kroner poorer each.
Trundling further through the endless stretches of five to ten feet high bushes having the unfortunate effect the rest of the landscapes are gone. Suddenly, a medium-sized tarantula wades across the road. I throw the car into the side, and run back to photograph. Creates a minor traffic chaos, as an oncoming flock of Dutch people must also have a photo of the beast. We see several at the following kilometres.
We arrive at Rio Lagartos at dusk. Half sized town and we don't have maps. Miraculously, we find the company that arranges night safari in the first attempt. They live in a restaurant that (the rest of the city) is closing. We agree to meet in half an hour, when we have found a hotel.
It's easier said than done. What we want is full, and so are the others we can find. A nice guy helps us. He ends up cycling around town, and in the end, we have two rooms - at each hotel. Then he asks if we should figure out something with some tours. Unfortunately, partner, we have a deal with your competitor. Then he was angry. Would have even liked to have given a 30 kroner for the help, but he disappeared.
We find our way back to the restaurant where they call after the chef, so the others can have a sandwich. Then we sail in a small open boat in the huge salt water lagoon. We are on a crocodile safari. The powerful searchlight makes their eyes glow red. I see the wake light several times a glow behind the boat, but don't think of it. Here are unusually many fish. They escape from the boat and not least the cone of the searchlight. The water is only half a meter deep, so it is natural to escape into the air. Of course, I end up with one on my lap.
We stop, and our guide takes a stage and leads it through the water. It lights up! Current conditions, temperature and more are optimal for infinitely many small creeps, which form morally when disturbed. A bit of a problem for the fish that flee / hunt: They draw a sight "flame" after them. It is the same phenomenon that makes the wake look as if it is illuminated from below behind the boat.
Along with the starry, moonless sky, it is an
amazing experience. The scent in the courage is not as pleasant;
albeit mild, then unrecognizable sulphur compounds.
We get close to a crock, and our guide jumps into the water and pulls it into the boat. After several attempts, he catches the beast and lifts it onto the rail. The stomach shows it's a freshwater crock. The tour lasts half an hour, which costs 350 kroner for the four of us. The guide probably had an equally good evening as us. We land at midnight and agree to meet with his brother-in-law tomorrow.
The last part is found in Diary 3