Subject: Mexico Travelogue IV Ed and Edith Gray

We are at the halfway point as it is day 31 of our 62 day RV Caravan tour. Tomorrow we will be at Chetumul and the next day go to Belize so that will put us as far away as we will be on our trip. We have been on the road 48 days since leaving SD. From Merida we went to Chichen Itza which is the best restored site we have seen. So far based on what we have seen if you go to Cancun and want to see a Mayan site I would definitely recommend taking a bus tour out there. It would be about 2 hours out and 2 hours back and it is a good toll road. Having a guide that speaks good English and has some pictures is important. Our guides name was Abel and if you can get him he is well worth the money. Spend sometime reading about the site before you go in the Mexico Handbook either published by Moon Pub or the one by Lonely Planet. I think these two are best. From there we went to Cancun. Cancun IS NOT Mexico, what I am saying it is absolutely not like the rest of Mexico at all! It is a nice place to go for the weather and for the ocean and is very pretty but also very expensive. We also went to Isle De Mujeres and took a golf cart tour around the island. It has nice beaches. We also spent some time in down town Cancun but even the markets are far more expensive than elsewhere in Mexico that we have been so far. Edith and I rode the buses twice. The most challenging was getting from Market 28 back to our RV park. Without my poor Spanish it would of been a long adventure. I found out we needed a bus with number 13 on it that said Punta Sam which is just beyond our RV Park. After waiting awhile and no number 13 I started asking if buses with number 13 stopped at this bus stop. Remember all this is in Spanish. I find out it does not so then I have to find out how to get to a bus stop where a number 13 bus stops. I get directions and it seems to be in walking distance so off we go. After a few blocks I talk to a fellow and he confirms that there is a bus stop just around the corner where buses with 13 stop. We get to the bus stop and I talk to another fellow and he indeed confirms that buses with 13 stop here and also that they do go to Punta Sam with no transfer necessary. We wait awhile and I am about to ask him how long he thinks it will be and just then he motions to me and tells me bus 13 is coming. I look and see another bus but then I see bus 13 just peeking around the corner about 2 blocks away. This guy obviously is better at spotting buses than I am. I have been around buses in Mexico enough you DO NOT want to assume they will stop so I step out in the street and wave at the bus and he pulls in and we give him 4 peso's each. After a few blocks I see something's I think I recognize that were not to far from Wal-Mart and Sam's so I ask the fellow ahead of us and he confirms it so I have a pretty good idea where we are at. I next ask the if my Spanish phrases to ask to get off the bus at the RV park was correct and he confirmed that and congratulated me on doing a good job with my Spanish. The bus fills up with barely any standing room left. As we start to head north out of town toward the RV park it empties out. I walk up and ask the bus driver to tell him we wanted off at the RV Parque. First big snag, he does not have a clue what RV is and I can not remember the name of the park and I am trying to tell the coche mobile (car mobile) and still nothing. Fortunately there was a Norte Americano on the bus and he tells the bus driver the name of the park and he instantly knows. WOW! Lesson UNO when you leave be sure you know the name of the place you need to get back to. If all else fails you can get a taxi! I could of survived by just standing up a little ahead and telling him here as I recognized where we were. Anyway there are no bus schedules printed, etc. so riding the local buses in Mexico takes some asking! I asked Edith if she could of made it and she said no way. She could not of done the Taxi thing unless he would of known the RV park but she did know Punta Sam so she likely could of pulled it off that way. Anyway I am pretty confident I can ride the buses in Mexico and get where I want. It is a bit breath taking though trying to remember what Spanish you do know under pressure! The money that has been spent in and is spent in Cancun is out of this world. From Cancun we headed south to Palmul RV Park which is just south of Playa Del Carmen. What has happened with all the people coming to Cancun they have went to resorts south of Cancun all the way down to the Tulum Mayan site. There are also the parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha and some other attractions. They have rides, snorkeling, diving, golf, beaches, fishing, you name it. Of course there is the island of Cozumel. We went to all of these and at Cozumel we rented 100 cc bikes and rode all over the island and also seen an hour long carnival parade at night. The costumes and floats are beautiful and lots of music. They use generators to power the sound equipment and lights. BTW the internet connection is Playa Del Carmin is only $1.50 per hour so that was the cheapest yet. We checked out a time share at the Mayan Palace just for kicks! WOW! the RV lifestyle is for me. They want some bucks!!!

They are building a Sam's Club here, but we found a good Mexican Mall here today with reasonable prices and the cheap Internet connection. The Ladatel phone cards work great for calling my Mom just a bit expensive. It is supposed to be about 50 cents a minute but it seems like it works out to be more like 75 cents because there seems to be an up front charge. We did go to a bank today and were able to cash $400 of travelers checks for Peso's at an exchange rate of 10.80 which is fair. The Spanish paid off as I was able to find out the rate before standing in the line. A lot of places in Mexico you can not cash travelers checks and the signatures have to match perfectly. Here as other places you needed a picture ID and he looked pretty closely at the checks to be sure they were not counterfeit but he was not fussy about the signature at all. I don't think we will need the extra peso's but I thought this would be the best place with all the people from around the world who come to Cancun and the Playa Del Carmen to go to Cozumel.

Tomorrow we enter the jungle and stay in the Jungle pretty much until we get to Acapulco. Supposedly there is some good shopping in the free zone between Mexico and Belize. We are going to check that out on our free day after going to Belize. We hear the traffic is terrible so we will have to check it out and if need be ride the bus down there. Belize uses English as the official language but that may not mean it is used that much!

Some of our group did swimming with the dolphins at Xel-Ha. It was pretty spendy but one of the neat things is that two dolphins came from behind the person and each got on a foot and pushed them upright out of the water. They got video's of that and other things they did with the dolphins and I got some good digital pictures. The looks on their faces as they came shooting out of the water are something else!!!

There are quite a few winter long residents from the USA and Canada here. There are a bunch of SD Clay county plates here but is turns out someone there gets license plates etc. for people out of Clay county and none of them live in SD. Anyway you can stay here for about $16 a day if you stay a month. If you want to lease a spot you pay $5000 a year which includes electricity, water and sewer and you can have a palapa built over you rig for about $5000. A lot of them have built a tile floor which is on cement about 2 feet off the ground along their rig and put in a kitchen, bathroom, etc. so they have a large area outside their rig to live. There are not many bugs so you can spend a lot of time outside. The big thing here is snorkeling along the reef the third longest in the world, diving and fishing. Everybody is friendly here, there is a laundry mat close by and plenty of supplies is Playa Del Carmen about 8 miles north and as I said by next year there will be a Sam's Club. Right now the biggest downfall is the 15 amp service. By next year it will be upgraded to 30 amp and then people can run air conditioning during the hot part of the afternoon. With a palapa it is not bad but if you put a rig out in the sun they are like green houses and get hot. It gets into the high 80's but toward evening there is a sea breeze but after that quits it can get muggy and plenty warm for sleeping. Again under a Palapa the rig does not heat up so then it is much less of a problem. Of all the places we have been this comes the closest to a place one could spend a good deal of time at once they get the 30 amps in. The downside is that it is a long ways down here. A lot of people purchase a palapa with a trailer in it and then just fly down and buy a car or old pickup here and leave it or some drive on down and fly after that. It is about 55 miles south of Cancun. Most days there are guys playing horseshoe and men and women playing volley ball in the sand court. Lots of visiting and running around and spending time on the beach. There is a reasonable restaurant here. They use Star Choice out of Canada for satellite TV and they can get PBS and the 4 networks on it. Actually you can have up to 4 receivers on one subscription so they subscribe to everything and then four rigs split the cost 4 ways and each has a receiver.

We also met a couple from BC who have a motorstat dish for the Internet. He does his business from here. It costs $3900 for the unit and $600 to install. The ISP costs $100 per month. You get several e-mail addresses but no web space. The speed is real decent and of course best on downloading.

The biggest downside about Mexico so far is that people really liter badly which really takes away from the beauty. The air is very clear so air pollution is not a problem. Things are not expensive but not cheap either. The food in the market places are the best deal. Everybody is always trying to sell you something but we are getting used to it and you just say no thank you and keep on doing what you are doing. It makes it hard to do what I would call looking shopping because if you lock at something you have an immediate sales pitch but again you learn to be nice be basically ignore it and shop. We are looking forward to getting out of the Cancun tourist influence and back into Mexico. I would say probably about 5 more travelogues from Mexico.