February 23, 2011

These next few posts will be going back in time a bit.  Quite a bit, so please bear with me.  I also don’t have many notes from this time, so I am trying to convey everything from my pea brain memory at this time.

Having left Isla Blanca and our dreamy existence there, we headed back to Cancun to deal first hand with the prospects of flying (yes flying! the one thing we said we really didn’t want to be part of this trip) to Cuba.  Days passed, and each time we visited the travel agent and discussed further the possibility of getting us and our bikes over there, our hearts dropped more and more with the mention of cost.  Things really started to add up.  Not only are there tickets to contend with, but bike boxing, storing stuff in the meantime, purchasing insurance to be covered while your over there (oh yes, that is now a reality of Americans looking to “sneak” into Cuba).  The list goes on and on.  I’d be happy to answer any specific questions one may have with bike travel to Cuba, as I did take notes the whole time.  To list them here would take up too much time and space.  If your curious, please email me directly.

In the long run, there was an ixne on Cuba-ey.  We sat in the travel agent office and I peered up at the world map on the wall. My eyes couldn’t stop looking at Mongolia.  Yup.  Mongolia.  So large, so far away.  And yet, a place I want to spend some serious time and effort bike traveling around.  Our funds only take us so far, so indeed every penny counts.  We will have to work long before reaching Mongolia, we both know and understand, but thinking about it so early in the trip does help us make certain decisions.   These helpful thoughts are what encouraged us to decide against a month in Cuba.  To read Kurt’s excellent (and much more detailed) account of this same experience, please click here.

So…. dear American embassy, let it be noted… Kelly and Kurt did not go to Cuba this time thanks to all the regulations put into place. (As I am writing this very much after the fact, I must add that it is a huge relief we did not go to Cuba.  As most of you know, Kurt and I needed to leave and head home very unexpectedly and as fast as possible from Belize a week or so later.  Had we been in Cuba, this all would have been an even bigger nightmare that it actually was.)

Instead we spent a few days with the amazing Gaspar and his cousin Michael, both Couchsurfer hosts living in a small Cancun apartment.  These two are Angels in true form.  When Gaspar agreed to meet us at 12:30 one night, he was taking us back to an apartment where 7 people where already sleeping, crashed out in hammocks, cots and on every inch of floor.  The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

From Cancun, we began our leg down the coast, heading for Tulum and further for the border of Belize.  Tulum was uneventful, as we did not go in to see the ruins.  We’ve had our share for a while.  We did however have the pleasure of meeting not just one, but several bike tourists.  After months of hardy running into any other traveling cyclists (our route and the current misconceptions of traveling in Mexico have a lot to do with that), there was a funneling effect of all those that were out there, now heading for Belize.  We initially met Silke, a solo-traveler from Germany, who we immediately decided to wait for and head south together with the next day.  Later on in the day we also met a French man who was finishing his 6 month trip down for Alaska in a few days.

After running errands around town, including falling headlong into the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, Kurt and I slept soundly next to the waves and under the cover of the coastal mist.  The next morning, we met Silke early and the three of us continued our journey south down the coast.

The coast close to Tulum is riddled with small bars, restaurants, guest houses and nicely designed eco-homes. We watched the sun disappear behind the clouds and rain, before watching it disappear behind the edge of the ocean, signaling the end of another day. We then nestled in the nearby mangrove and slept anticipating our ride with Silke the next morning...

One of my favorite cycling snacks. If looking at this picture makes you uncomfortable, I completely understand...

A 5 kilometer jaunt off the highway affords us this pleasant lake to post up at for the evening...

Lake Ocom....

The day starts with a beautiful sunrise...

The inevitable effects of our time spent on the coast...


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