My original plans had called for me to return to Guatemala after dropping Cole off at the airport, but I was rethinking that whole scenario. To be honest I didn't feel like faffing around with border crossings anymore and Mexico and Central America weren't as cheap as they used to be, plus I had to get back to Canada at some point to get the B&B back up and running. With all these realities running through my head I decided to head home at a leisurely pace instead of going further south only to turn around and rush home later.
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.
From Palenque it was time to head up into the mountains of Chiapas as we directed 'The Muskox' toward Guatemala. To push through in one day would have been possible but there were a couple of stops along the way we wanted to take in so settled for a more sedate pace. The first stop was Agua Azul, a spectacular series of waterfalls I had visited in 95, that I wanted to show Cole. Unfortunately it wasn't much as I remembered. In fact we didn't even make it to the falls as the crowds were nuts. I couldn't believe how different it was from the relaxing visit I had had there in 95. This time the parking lot was chock full of giant buses and crowded restaurants and vendors were jammed in everywhere between the trees. It was quite disheartening so Cole and I had a quick bite to eat then decided to push on as neither of us were in the mood for the crowds.
From Merida we started our trek towards Guatemala by way of Palenque. There are only so many border crossings into Guatemala from Mexico and as our first stop in Guatemala was slated for Antigua the road through Palenque made the most sense. It was going to be a long day on the bike, around 550kms so we took the toll roads to make time.
Cole had left Canada on the 23rd of December and arrived in Cancun on Christmas Eve so things were busy. Merida has a lot going for it, history, cuisine, Spanish architecture and an atmosphere unmolested by tourism. That doesn’t mean it’s not a busy city, 800,000 people make for some hustle, but it’s a natural fun hustle. With the largest Mayan concentration of any city in Mexico, or Central America for that matter, it was a good place to start our Mayan loop. All one has to do to get an idea of the Mayan people’s journey and Yucatan’s bloody history is explore the Governor’s Palace on one side of the square. It is a beautiful building, but what makes it even more interesting are the paintings inside that depict the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent plight of the Mayan people as they were eventually conquered and forced into slavery. It is a sobering collection to say the least but one that portrays what happened.
So the prep was over and it was time to pull the plug. The plan was to ride to Merida, capital of the Yucatan in Mexico and pick up my son, Cole, who would fly down from Vancouver during his Christmas break. After a couple of days in Merida we would do a lazy loop through southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize loosely retracing a trip I had taken in 95. That was the plan at any rate.