We were on our last leg. From Tikal we retraced the road I’d taken 23 years ago and crossed into Belize, caught a nail in the rear tire, crossed Belize, then back into Mexico with not too much difficulty. This time I actually got an import permit for the bike, that didn’t really sit well with me but I'd had dreams of running into that police lady again and losing the bike to Mexican authorities.
After staying the night in Chetumal we scooted up the coast to Playa del Carmen and if Tikal had changed the least in my 23 year absence, Play del Carmen had transformed itself into something totally unrecognizable. I remembered it as a quaint seaside town the last time I was there, now it more resembled a mini Las Vegas strip by the sea. I couldn’t believe how it had changed. Our last three nights were supposed to be chilled to recover from the 3,000km trip, instead we were on high alert. I’ve never seen as many gun yielding policemen in my life, all dressed in battle gear with fully automatic weapons. They were literally everywhere and add to that the fact our hotel was half a block from an intersection with a disco on each corner competing nightly for tourists and… well, let me just say I won’t be going back. Cole loved the shops though as he checked out the latest merchandise from his favourite brands.
All those changes aside there was one thing that hadn’t changed however, police graft. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining as I’d rather pay an officer a little something roadside than pay a visit to the station, but to be shaken down within an hour of arrival was quite impressive in the wrong way. I won’t make excuses for what I did as in fact I did break the law (I think) and the cop had me dead to rights. At first I thought I might be able to wrangle my way out of it as he was a motorcycle cop but it turned out he didn’t appreciate our fraternity the way I did so no such luck, then again it was New Years and I imagine there were some bills to pay. He started off at $300US and we finally settled on $100. Problem was I only had 40 so Cole chipped in the other 60! The cop was actually a pretty cool guy and we ended up having a bit of a laugh and shook hands at the end of the transaction. You see in a way I was happy about the whole thing as Cole had experienced another lining to our adventure together.
Our last full day together we rode south a bit and visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum. They are small compared to the others we’d stopped at on our journey but what set them apart was their location. Perched on a cliff above vividly blue Caribbean waters Tulum offers a stunning back drop. Yes, there were hoards of tourists and designated walking paths ruled traffic patterns but nothing could detract from the waters below. After taking in the ruins we descended the stairs to the beach so Cole could retrieve a bag of white sand to compliment his Monterrico stash from the Pacific Coast, then it was off to the Gran Cenote.
There is a notable absence of lakes in the Yucatan and in their place are cenotes, thousands of them. A cenote is like a sinkhole filled with water and there are three kinds, fully covered, like a cave, partially covered, and open. Cenotes play a valuable part in the life of the Yucatan for they supply the precious fresh water we all need, plus they played a huge role in the Mayan world as they provided that same drinking water and some of them were even used for sacrificial offerings.
We paid our dues and entered the Gran Cenote and went for a dip. Bathing in the cool water and passing between cenotes by swimming through an open tunnel was really a great way to finish the day off and as I’d not visited one on my last visit Cole and I got to do a ‘first’ together so that added a bonus to the experience.
The next morning it was departure day for it was time for Cole to fly home to Canada. We were up at 4am so I could get him to the Cancun airport on time. We arrived on time and there weren’t too many questions concerning his passport this time and before I knew it he was through the security area with his two bags of beach sand heading for the Great White North. It was a bittersweet moment for me, our trip was over, mine would carry on, but it would carry on without my son and that reality made me feel a little melancholy and a little nostalgic at the same time....but we had some sweet memories.
I fired the bike up and headed back across to the city where our trip together had begun, Merida. I needed a few days to rest up, I’d been hard at it for a month without a break, decisions had to be made, the bike needed attention, and I needed to think about not thinking about riding for a few days. I was tired.