I ‘habe mir mehr Arbeit ans Bein gebunden’ [German saying; 'tied more work on my legs' meaning to give yourself more work than you already have] and decided to do that blog in two languages ;)
Have fun with that!
Yucatan. Fiiiiiinally flat. We're breaking new records in our daily mileage. The landscape isn't very varied, but that doesn't bother me at all. Some find Yucatan for cycletouring too boring. For me it's somehow a nice change after all these lookouts and climbing to just simply cycle. Mostly on backroads, so we're alone. And I start dreaming, find peace, the thoughts are flowing and I'm getting ideas. I start singing as soon as I have enough distance to my travel partners (I always hope that no Mexican is hiding anywhere in the bushes and have to listen to this) or try to learn Spanish with podcasts. And somehow you also feel rewarded, after all these ups and downs of the highlands. But we got happy too early. Sweating climbing parts got replaced by sore butts. Really sore. After 4 days we had to take a break. Jesse and me can hardly walk and want to eat our food while standing up. Where ups and downs bring variation in the seat angles, riding in the flat is monotonous for the sitting position. Once again, I wonder how other biketourers make twice as much in the day?
But we don't want to cycle all day anyway. There are too many cenotes to discover. Limestone holes filled with turquoise crystal clear water. Refreshingly cool and one is more beautiful than the other. Our daily itinerary always included at least two cenote stops. I found this almost more exciting than the Caribbean beaches.
And then there are also the ruins. And they enchanted me very much. Every of these had something unique. The smaller and less restored were even more accessible and climable. This invoked spontaneous testing of the sacrificial table. Uxmal as one of the big great ruins had a strong sublimity to me. After a spontaneous dance with one of the most renowned Mayan archaeologists including audience, he invited us for a sandwich. I was able to ask some questions. But then there was supposed to be THE ruin of all.
Chitchen Itza. One of the modern seven world wonders. The crowds are annoying. At the same time they are fascinating. Where do they all come from and over all: Where are these masses when they're not here? Probably in one of the many hotel areas around Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. I have compassion for them. I'm sorry for them. Traveling back home and telling of Mexico? What Mexico? That of the white beaches, the great resort, the majestic ruins. Presumably they report from a different Mexico than the average Mexican would do. And they're losing so much. Even if this isn't always picturesque. But it's authentic. Even an average individual traveler shouldn't have a final judgment. He normally doesn't experience any real everyday life, doesn't stay for a long time in a place, doesn't work. But he still sees more, learns more than the average tourist. Does the average tourist see them at all? The hundreds of Mexicans dragging heavy carts loaded with souvenirs for miles into the ruins, and then rebuild their tables every day, putting on the masks, ornaments, magnets and co. They miss the Mexico, where children carry heavy wood by forehead band, where they cook on fire and shower from plastic buckets, where they work for low wage. And the worst: they miss the humanity. The compassion that is given to you when you ask for a campsite and the respondent immediately invites you to his home. The happy laughter. The radiant eyes.
These thoughts are going through my head and two hours later we pass a hotel complex. And this really happened. Suddenly I hear the speaker talking German. I stop riding and listen to the moderator and his 100 listeners:
“How great that we could see Chitchen Itza today. I mean - well, we all enjoyed the great two weeks at the beach but this was a nice change. The trip was worth it. Now we have seen the true Mexico. We can fly home and tell we know Mexico. "
Tulum. A wannbe-hippie-city. Or let's say hippie, but please not without luxury. Next to countless yoga resorts, there are yoga drinks, yoga food, yoga bars, yoga electro parties and yoga aventures you can book. With zipline tours and all sorts of other adrenaline stories. Although I would not call myself a yogi, I know that yoga has nothing to do with that. But it seems to sell better. But admittedly, if one would have given me a week in a resort for free, I'd not have declined.
After a small shock in Tulum (which should supposedly still be the relaxed city on the 'Riviera Maya') we found after endless resorts a campground, on which we paid more for tents than in most hotels till now. And that was literally sleeping tent next to tent. Leaving as fast as possible. Over half-soaked Dirtroads into the next fishervillage, where only a few tourists get lost. We spent Christmas there with a great group (including Anna + Michael, with whom I was already traveling together before) and Kieran, the Australian with whom I had already traveled with Jesse. Photos coming the next time.
Mexico is coming to an end. This invites me to consider:
Issue of security. Reflectively, I felt more unsafe in the US. This may sound absurd to some, but it's my subjective opinion and also the from other biketourers I met. There wasn't a moment here in Mexico where I felt threatened or frightened. In contrast to the USA. I don't want to argue now, but the whole 'weapon' theme is known. Questions like 'HOW MANY weapons do you carry with you?' made me think. In addition, there were signs in wooded areas and meadows which gave dire warnings to all trespassers. One evening we camped in such a piece of forest because we could not find anything else. And we felt uncomfortable.
In contrast, we camped free under the sky in Mexico. Or next to small restaurants. Or even in the middle of a secluded little village. We got invited to stay there. In the evening the children of the village came and spied on us. The guys (unfortunately very unmodern) to Jesse and Kieran - the girls to me. For the next two hours we could not take a step without observation. At first they were shy, but then they showed us the public toilets, Kieran played baseball with a few of the guys and the girls gazed at my blond hair and our tent. They had never seen anything like it. When we finished building it, they applauded and everyone wanted to sit inside. The next morning the local sheriff came and invited us for breakfast together with his family. Our tents stood open including our complete equipment in the middle of the square.
Of course I know about the crime in Mexico. But luckily I haven't encountered it. And I could talk longer about this. But I won't now. I found friendly, incredibly helpful people. People who share and who are very hospitable. People who laugh and give. Even though they do not always have much to give themselves.
Thanks to Kieran for the 3., 5., 12. and 17. picture
What is typically Mexican?
Here again, first the answers of others.
At first I didn't understand the answer of a warmshower host in Guadalajara. Mexico is surrealist, he said. I asked for explanation. He replied that I'd see it myself soon. And he was right. It's not the dreaminess and unconsciousness which is used in the surrealistic art direction. Rather the paradox and the absurd.
When I paid at the cash desk of a large 'western' supermarket, I once again refused the packing in plastic bags. They usually don't understand this. And I always wonder whether it is my Spanish or that they simply don't understand. I took the three or four things in my arms and wanted to walk out as three security guards suddenly threw themselves on me. They thought I had stolen, because I had no plastic bags around the stuff.
Another absurdity: the garbage. Everywhere and in large amounts. People just drop everything or throw it over their shoulder. Garbage disposal unfortunately means to drive in the next forest and unload. But when it comes to the own sidewalk in front of their own little shop they clean for ages and with a lot of effort. With scrubber and chemicals. For hours. Or the daily front yard raking. Leaving no leaves and only nice looking strokes. I sometimes ask myself if they even think about all that.