Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Culture Shock

Holy cow, we’re in Mexico.  After about 6600km of riding from Vancouver, BC to New Orleans, LA, we’ve finally made the jump to the Yucatan in Mexico. 

It’s been a huge shock to instantly transition from a familiar routine to being completely out of our comfort zone in some of the big towns.  But we’re getting better, trying to look less like gringos, and starting to soak in some of the culture.  Here are three of our favourite things the Yucatan has to offer:

Caribbean Beaches: We spent a few days lazing on beaches in Playa del Carmen and Tulum.  In Tulum we camped right on the beach for two nights!

Jenn in the Caribbean in Tulum

First taste of the Caribbean

Drinking coconut milk on the beach in Tulum

This coconut fell on our bikes in the middle of the night … so we had coconut milk with breakfast!

Fulfilling Jenn's dream of serving guacamole in half a giant avocado

Fulfilling Jenn’s dream of making guacamole from a giant avocado and serving it in the shell.

Mayan Ruins: These are spread over the Yucatan. So far we’ve been to the ruins at Tulum, Coba, and the famous Chichen Itza.

Mayan ruins at Tulum from the beach in front of our campsite.

Seaside ruins in Tulum

Seaside Mayan ruins in Tulum.

Tulum would have been a good place to be a Mayan!

The famous El Castillo in Chichen Itza

The famous El Castillo at Chichen Itza … almost with no tourists in the photo ;)

Cenotes: The Yucatan doesn’t have any groundwater. But limestone sink holes called cenotes provided Mayans with year round drinking water … and they make great swimming!

Jenn swimming at Zaci Cenote in Valledolid.  It just disappears into blackness below.

Jenn swimming in Zaci Cenote in Valladolid

Looking down into Zaci Cenote in Valladolid

Looking down into the Zaci Cenote in Valladolid.  Some of the fish which live in these don’t have any eyes because they spend their entire lives underground!

So how did we get here? Our plans of taking a cruise ship from New Orleans, LA to Progreso or Cozumel, MX fell through, so we had to resort to an airplane. I didn’t know a bike on a cruise ship could be a threat to US Homeland Security, did you? The main cruise ship operator out of New Orleans wouldn’t make any exceptions about carrying a bicycle in any form, even disassembled.

Can you tell which box was inspected and repacked by the TSA

Which of these bikes has been inspected and repacked by the TSA?  Unfortunately, they didn’t repack the bike properly, so we ended up with a few damaged parts on Jenn’s bicycle and our gear.  Jenn’s bike was actually selected for three random searches during our flight!  Fortunately they failed to find our stove (not allowed on airplanes) which was packed right on top!

We have heard all sorts of horror stories about traffic on the roads in Mexico.  But so far it’s been pretty good outside of the cities.  Actually, it’s been less dangerous than many parts of the US.  That’s because drivers in Mexico actually pay attention to what they’re doing … driving!  To top it off, most places have had 3m shoulders.  Surely it can’t be this good all the way through Mexico … or can it?



  1. OH.MY.GOSH, I AM *WROUGHT* WITH JEALOUSY AND WISTFULLNESS (is that a word??) WISHING I COULD BE THERE WITH YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Great to read that you made it to Mexico, even if not by the hoped for route. I had no idea that bicycles were a threat to the national security of the United States. How bizarre. I look forward to reading ever more of your travels.

  3. That water looks so clear, and I'm guessing warm! Have a good time in Mexico!

  4. Great to see you're having a good time in Mexico!

  5. What a life. It's especially interesting that bikes would be a US security issue when leaving the US. Maybe it throws off the balance of trade or something. 18F low this evening so we'll be thinking of you in warmer climates! Vicki says hi. Take Care .... JPP

  6. Thanks for the thoughts and comments everyone. Mexico is treating us pretty good so far. It's a good bang for you buck kinda place, and no stomach problems yet (knock on wood). As for the bikes I would hate for the US to think I'm some kind of bike terrorist especially with that new detention bill looking like it might pass :S

  7. Howdy Dave,
    Glad that you've made it that far! I'm too surprised that they wouldn't let your bikes into a boat.
    Looking forward to reading your entry on your cycling adventure deep into Central America. Where are you planning to spend your Christmas/New Year holidays?

    Wesam (your PMC/Toastmaster colleague:))

  8. Hi Wesam,
    It's good to hear from you. We are spending our Christmas in the colonial city San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico, and our New Years at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
    Hope you are doing well!