Moving on from Palenque, we found ourselves headed back towards the coast, and the colonial town of Campeche.
It wasn’t actually the town itself that drew us there, rather the lure of more ruins (in this instance, the remote city of Calakmul) for which Campeche was apparently the best place to try and find a tour to get there.
On arrival in town, it was hot. Not that humid jungle heat we’d experienced for the past few days, but a drier, simply hot temperature not felt since Veracruz.
Now a quick update on recent happenings is necessary, otherwise what I was about to write probably would not have made much sense.
On our last night in Palenque, walking back to our dorm (which was set back in the depths of a lush, and at night rather dark, garden) I’d smashed my right big toe on a rock, splitting the nail in half and causing a fair amount of bleeding and discomfort.
So with this impairment and the intense heat, we opted to take a taxi to our hostel from the bus station…
Given how we usually suck it up and walk if possible, even with the heat, I feel pretty soft looking back with hindsight!
Still, after a series of one way streets, we got into town and checked into our rather sterile feeling hostel. Imagine a medical clinic and you’d be pretty much on the money. At least it was clean!
This was in complete contrast with what we’d seen of the exteriors of the buildings in this historical centre.
It was reminiscent of Guanajuato, a sea of colour, flanked by quant cobbled streets. Give us a cool breeze and some beers (possibly with some food, as we were pretty hungry by now) and it would have been lovely.
With my toe bandaged and our flip-flops on we began to wander, hugging the shadows wherever possible to avoid the blazing sun.
Our exploration had a dual purpose. Seek somewhere for food and refreshment, whilst investigating the possibility of getting to Calakmul the following day.
Making our way to the main plaza got us oriented, and from there it was less than a block to reach the tour company our guidebook recommended for our proposed trip.
As we gazed through the empty shopfront window where the office obviously once sat (their website was also no longer active), we began to wonder how difficult a task this may be.
Even finding somewhere to eat proved harder than expected, eventually finding a place that apparently also doubled as a hostel (although where the hostel entrance was we could never tell).
Still, it sold cold beer, and having never had it before, we thought it a good opportunity to try a Superior Rubio which we actually really enjoyed.
Their menu also gave us a chance to try some local specialties, Pan de Cazon (shark) and a chicken dish for Sarah. Both of which were filling and pretty tasty.
Our earlier wanderings had taken us down to the waterfront, which was actually very disappointing, but there were still a few splashes of colour outside of the centro historico.
Our search for a tour to Calakmul was also not bearing much fruit, the only 2 operators we found that offered transport there (that is just transport, no entrance fees or meals) were at $1200.00 (pesos) per person and $1250.00 per person respectively.
We eventually baulked at the price, hoping to try our luck one last time when we get to Chetumal, likely our last stop in Mexico before crossing the border into Belize.
The later the afternoon wore on and the longer the shadows, the nicer the town looked, although for a place that was heading into a Saturday night, it never really got lively.
Parts of the original fortified wall is open to be explored, although by the time we found the entrance, it had actually closed for the day.
We were impressed when we found one of the ancient stone forts, walls still intact, now re-purposed as a home for the local botanical gardens.
It certainly looked pretty cool seeing these white stone walls, with palm fronds hanging over its battlements (again we got there after 5pm to find it closed).
Our efforts to get to Calakmul thwarted, we made ready to proceed on to Merida the following morning (this time foregoing the taxi and walking to the bus station).
A gorgeous historical centre which is worth a visit, but sadly not really much life to it…
* We got to Campeche directly from Palenque’s ADO bus terminal. The cost was $360.00 pesos per person for the roughly 5 hour trip.