In one of my two previous trips to Mexico, before this trip, I flew into Cancun with two friends and the 3 of us girls caught a collectivo to a resort south of Playa del Carmen. I never really had any desire to see Cancun. It all sounded to “spring break” for my taste. But the resort between Playa del Carmen and Tulum was a paradise, and it was just what I needed at the time. Work had been hectic and stressful and I needed a little time to renew. I’m headed back there now, to Playa del Carmen, but under entirely different circumstances.
Brian and I are heading east on the Yucatan toward this resort town in hopes we will get the chance to meet up with some friends from the road. Ken and Carol Duval have been on the road for several (is it 7?) years (and that’s just for this trip…there have been others before). They are preparing to put their bike on a boat to Cuba and add that to their “been there” list. Brian and I met them in Canada at a Horizons Unlimited meeting a couple of years ago and have kept in touch ever since. They are incredibly nice people, with fun stories and a wealth of experience and good ideas to draw from.
Little did we know that we aren’t the only riders descending on this part of the world right now. And lucky for us, Ken and Carol are the common link that connects us with several new friends. Simon and Lisa Thomas are here as well. We’ve met them before – I think at an Overland Expo. They have a new friend Christine who is riding pillion with her husband who sadly was back in the States working while we were visiting so we didn’t get to meet him. Kevin and Kathy, another couple, are in the area and thankfully we get to meet them as well and an Englishman named Peter, who is headed south like us. Ken and Carol host us for a few days (we hadn’t been planning on it but Ken and Carol took us in like the weary travelers we were) and we enjoyed a wonderful bit of time together. One morning a local rider from Mexico left a note on one of our bikes inviting us to stop at a local restaurant bar, Latitude 20, for a beer. And then there were 12 (or something like that)… He and his wife, Pamela, became fast friends of this informal biker gang and we all enjoyed a great night of great food and conversation, swapping stories, shooting Muppets (it’s a story in itself), and stargazing.
One afternoon we walked around this gated community and I discovered there was a marine center here. You can swim with dolphins, for a hefty sum, or manatees. I’ve always wanted to do that, but never at a place like this. I mean no disrespect to people who run those places and help injured and rescued animals, or to the people who have supported them. But I’d rather swim with them in the wild, if at possible, which might explain why its still on my bucket list.
On the morning we plan to leave and head south toward the border with Belize, Dan, our new local friend and restaraunteur extraordinaire, takes us to the southern end of the development to a secluded lagoon. There are ruins here, a Mayan port of sorts.
I stroll around the ruins, like its just someones garden shed, and then out to the water’s edge. There is a narrow crack of an entrance to a cenote, but it’s not open for divers any more.
The sand gives way to a rock surface underneath and when I look closely I see I’m walking on old coral.
I watch the waves roll in and out for a while, and then realize as I look up that the tall building just ahead is the theater of the Barcelo Maya Resort where I stayed with my girlfriends just a few years ago. Small world…and yet, so very big. I’m just really glad to know it’s filled with fellow travelers, and friends. Riders are genuinely the best people I know. Thank you so much, Ken and Carol, for your hospitality. And to Dan and Pamela, Simon and Lisa, for yours as well. Brian has always said when people ask him what the best part of his traveling has been he replies that it’s the people. Amen to that.