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Yucatan Travelogue, March 19
For the next four days we are staying in the Rio Bec area of the Yucatan. This is the southern part of the peninsula, just north of the borders of Guatemala and Belize. We’re here to see some of the famous archaelogical sites in the Rio Bec area.
The trip from Cancun to Xpujil was uneventful, although long. There are large highways all the way from Cancun to Tulum, although it can be slow going as they pass through all the towns along the way. South of Tulum the highway narrows to a paved two lane road as it passes through the Sian Ka ‘an biosphere. On the southern edge of the biosphere there is a prosperous town called Felipe Carillo Puerto, where you can buy gas, which is a good idea before continuing on. About an hour later the road becomes a four lane divided highway again as you reach the turn-off to the cruise ship terminal in Mahajual. This is the beginning of the new Costa Maya tourist zone, down to Quintana Roo’s state capital, Chetumal.
We passed by Lake Bacalar on the way. This is a 60 km long fresh water lake, dotted with cottages and houses. Its turquoise blue waters and white sand bottom attract vacationers (including Canadians and Americans), and presumably those seeking to escape from Chetumal for a little R’n'R. Cottage country, Mexican style.
Just north of Chetumal we turned west toward Escarcega, and the Mayan site called Kohunlich, which is about 40 km from Chetumal. Kohunlich was mostly built between 500 and 700 AD, and is most famous for a marvelously preserved set of stucco "masks" flanking the steps of the Temple of the Masks. The site itself is at the edge of the rain forest and boasts massive palms, and other kinds of jungle flora and fauna. For example, the kids found a colony of ants busily moving detritutus from one location to another in a long long line, including columns of worker ants guarded by massive-jawed soldiers.
From Kohunlich we headed to our final destination, a tiny eco-resort in the jungle called Rio Bec Dreams. It boasts four "jungelows", and a cabana, plus a delightful restaurant and bar. It is set in the jungle amidst flocks of birds (there are over 200 resident parrots), orchids, and bromeliads.
Owners Diane and Rick are transplanted Canadians (Diane is really more of a world traveler than just Canadian) who fell in love with Mexico, and decided to make it home. Diane’s encyclopedic knowledge of the various archaelogical sites, and well-worn library of books and magazines are a great resource for those interested in exploring the various mayan sites throughout southern Mexico. It doesn’t hurt that Diane’s capable kitchen staff serves the best food in the area, either. They organized a welcome party for us with a big chili feed, drinks at the bar, and a fire later in the evening. You can see a photo of their al fresco dining room, complete with napkins, and flowers on the table. It made me feel positively Victorian to be tramping around the jungle all day and then return home to that kind of luxury at night.