Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Somewhere in Latin America
34. Kicking It In Bacalar
After visiting the tonina ruins I hit up some waterfalls before making it into Palenque shortly after dark. There was a road washout which caused a bit of delay but no real problems. There are some pretty famous ruins in Palenque which make it a touristy little spot with big groups of people from China and Russia milling about. After such a great experience at Tonina I didnít have much interest for the hoards at Palenque so I slept the night and then pushed out of town in the AM. I heard that a place called Bacalar further north up the coast towards Cancun is supposed to be pretty chill. I like the sound of this so I pointed my bike that way. Russell said he might be heading that way as well so we figured we would bump into each other there at some point.
The road from Palenque up the coast towards Bacalar really isnít that great if you are a motorcyclist. Itís well maintained, groomed, and even had quite a bit of improvements underway, but it was just really boring. Straight, flat, every now and then a curve thrown in. All good though, canít have awesome roads everyday, they wouldn't be special then now would they.
To break up the monotony I stopped for some food and downed a small well cooked chicken..
Came across a sign I had never seen before. The speed through here dropped from 110 to 40 because of bats. Didnít see any though, was hoping for something out of an Alfred Hitchcock flick for entertainment.
Every now and then Iíd come cruising into a town. Usually slamming into the first speed bump that indicates thereís a town coming up at speed and then slowing down for the rest of them. They sure get your attention if you werenít paying any before.
As I was exiting a small pueblo I went cruising past a sweet custom chopper. I shot the kid a big thumbs up but then just had to double back to get a better look. This thing was the definition of ďchopperĒ. Every piece on it had been chopped off of something else to build it. The rear tire was a radial from a small car and the swingarm had been adjusted to fit it. The exhaust was held on with bailing wire and there was a harley davidson sticker on the crank case. The kid that had been riding was stoked I was so in to it but didnít understand why I liked it. He asked arenít there way cooler choppers in the US? I answered that yeah, there are lots of cool choppers. But it takes so much more ingenuity and creativity to make on out of the limited materials that he did. In the US you can just jump online, make a few clicks on ebay, and bam you got a chopper. To go to the effort he did to make this bike was much more in line with the ideas of creating a chopper, and thus I thought his was just as rad.
One of the kids friends showed up as well and then they asked a lot of questions about my bike. I told them I just chopped and modified it until I had what I wanted as well. Same process, just easier because lots of parts are readily available to modify with. They invited me to come kick it with their friends but I needed to get going as it was getting dark. I followed my GPS into town where I had mapped a hostel out to be. Apparently it was incorrect as it lead me into a weird part of town that wasnít even in Bacalar, but in the much larger city of Chetumal about 20 clicks before Bacalar. I asked a drunk man in the alley if there was a hostel anywhere in this area of town and he looked really surprised. He said there arenít any hostels here, just lots of bandidos with machetes that would slit my throat for my bike, or shoot me if I was lucky. He gave me wobbly and slurred directions on the best way to get out of the area and back towards a better part of town. I got the feeling that there werenít any hostels here, but not that it was a particularly sketchy area, in either case I took his advised route back out and went looking for the center of town where I knew I could find a place to stay the night. After checking in with a few hotels that were way out of my budget (60 bones a night is just not gonna cut it) I went looking for something more economical. I asked some locals where cheep places to stay are with no luck. Found the bus station so that I could ask some cabbies where all the dirtbag backpackers stay and they werenít any help either. Eventually I ran into someone who knew of a hostel and was kind enough to ring them up and find out where they were located for me. Thanks again random dude with a cute boxer pup. I found the place easy peasy lemon squeezy after that and called it a night.
The next day a short jaunt up the road I came into Bacalar and found the place I had originally been looking for on the northeast corner of town, Magic Cabanas.
They have camping here and I set up my tent for the first time since Baja. Found some La Paz sand wrapped up with it as well.
Itís a cool place with everything being open air and the atmosphere is laid back. It was still 100 pesos a night to camp though which seemed expensive for camping. Apparently itís officially the Ďhighí season now though, as last week it was 40 pesos cheaper to camp. Still a decent price though at around $8 per night. This area of Mexico, Quintana Roo, is known for being one of the most expensive as well so I guess it is to be expected.
After getting my shit squared away, I knew I needed to get my priorities straightened out as well. Time to find the local taco stand and see what we are working with here in Bacalar. The one I settled on is King Camaron.
This spot looked the most taco-stand-y and my sniffer had a hunch it was the place to grub down. I chatted with the owner/chef Tony for a bit and he told me the camaron tacos are his specialty. They had just opened up here a week ago and business had been slow. With these places itís a word of mouth game. He has opened one of these stands in several other locations around beach towns over the last decade. This is his new attempt. After tasting the food, it is the best prepared and tastefully (pun intended) balanced shrimp taco I have had. The bread and batter is the perfect density and texture, and the shrimp is cooked just long enough to put it in that delicate range of firmness. If you arenít a fan of creme though, go somewhere else, as the taco is first based on some sort of cream sauce, then also topped with some creme. If you are a chipotle fan, stay seated and ask for the sauces, because his chipotle sauce is a killer complement to the tacos. They have a great menu, or at least it had a lot of other stuff on it besides tacos. I canít comment on the other items though because Iím a creature of habit and tried nothing else besides those god damn delicious shrimp tacos. Went back again the next day and couldnít bring myself to risk ordering anything else.
After eating some tacos I went to check out the town. Itís a small place and mostly locals with some mexicano summer homes there. The roads are slow and windy as they fan out along the coast from the center of town.
Houses line the water, some are small and quaint, some are large and elaborate.
The center of town, as always, has a plaza, garden, and some sort of large circular cabana for people to gather in.
In addition to the plaza, this small town is also sporting fort. Back in the day this place used to get sacked by pirates periodically. The town would roll on into the fort for safety and ride out the tomfoolery and blast away at the pirates via canon fire.
Nowadays though life is a lot easier around here. When not slamming tacos into my face there is cenote swimming to be hadÖ
Local art hunting to be doneÖ
Local Amish spotting (donít know why they insist on wearing the denim suites in the heat down here, does their religion say anything about having to wear overalls?)Ö
And some pics with cop bikes to be snapped. This looked like a KLR, sounded like a KLR, but was in fact a Chino. Everything is Kawasaki in itís parts and design, but stamped out by the Chino motorcycle company. The cop seemed pretty displeased with the bike as he described it. I told him not to worry as there is an enormous aftermarket part market should the department wish to upgrade anything, you could basically build an entirely new bike :-)
Itís nice to snag the morning sun out on the lagoon too.
Bring your own chair though as the local birds usually have first dibs on the ones out there.
If you dip in the water you can save the $100 dollar spa treatment and have the little fish groom your body instead.
Good crew here with fun people. Russell excluded of course (on left).
Where to next? I am antsy to head south, I think Iíll go kick it with the the guys in one more spot before pushing on. Tulum? Yeah letís do that.