By Lydia Linton Pontius (January 2012)
Many of the links below will take you to short videos.
We left you last article with our leaving La Selva Mariposa where we had breakfast (see breakfast review video) after a morning walk through Macario Gómez's market and a tour of La Selva Mariposa's property. When traveling, be sure to take the time to really see and experience your surroundings. You never know what you might see; nature is full of fascinating creatures from a simple spider making its web to some of the most unusual insects. Alas, it was time to load up the car and move on.
We took the Tulúm–Cobá road back to 307 and headed south to the Costa Maya. The roads are great and be sure to take the time to notice the flora changing ever so slightly. Reading these stories you may begin to see a theme: our son Matt's fiancée, Lisa, is a chef and he is quite a foodie. Needless to say we are becoming converts, so you will see that meals were a big part of our trip. We made a stop at Felipe Carrillo Puerto. This town is full of history and is well worth spending some time wandering around and checking it out. It is named after a former governor of the state of Yucatan. It was formerly known as Chan Santa Cruz or U Noh Kah Balam Nah Chan Santa Cruz.
We stopped at El Faison y Venado, a place recommended by Caroline at Casa Carolina. She had been kind enough to send us a message letting us know that Toby's was closed due to a death in the family and we should stop for a big lunch before arriving. You can't miss this place; it is right in the center of town. It is also a small hotel. We chose the Mayan Platter which allowed us to try a number of great tastes, plenty for the four of us, and we were even able to take some with us for later. We also took advantage of the stop to get some more supplies for the trip.
With a full stomach we headed back south turning off 307 just south of Limones and we headed east to Mahahual and Xcalak. We were waved through the military check point and not far past that we made our right-hand turn to Xcalak. If you get to the Pemex station, you have just missed the turnoff. This road is in good condition but you will find more animals than you will cars on any given day, especially in November. It is just south of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. It is amazing to think about the vastness of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere which stretches along the coast this entire way from just south of Tulúm to north of Mahahual, and by highway it takes hours to drive.
Arriving in Xcalak the road becomes a sandy, unpaved beach road. There are just a couple of small shops and restaurants and some supplies are still delivered by truck. The beauty of Xcalak is that it is a place where time seems to stand still, whether it has been a year since your visit, as in my case, or 11 as in Mike's, you will see very little has changed. The setting is peaceful and beautiful and the people are laid back and extremely hospitable. We returned to Casa Carolina (see video or read the review) to stay with our friends, Bob and Caroline. This trip we were lucky because their son and his wife were also visiting.
We settled in our rooms and wandered around the property taking photos, just relaxing, and taking it all in. Bob was kind enough to give us updates on the Giants' win over the Patriots. We were able to check our e-mails thanks to their WiFi. The four of us decided to just relax on our balcony, take in the gorgeous night, and enjoy a few drinks and leftovers.
Up early with a beautiful sunrise, we met in the palapa for breakfast before our tour guide, Fernando aka El Gallo (the rooster), from XTC picked us up for our day trip to Bird Island. The Bird Island tour, which Caroline had recommended and arranged, was wonderful. We boarded the panga boat and headed south to the cut between Mexico and Belize. We saw a mother manatee and her baby, eagle rays and more. Fernando took us through some of the most amazing mangroves, taking the time to point out sinkholes, the old steam engine from the '50s when they were building a canal between the capital, Chetumal, and Xcalak, which at the time was a booming place. But today the only other traffic is the occasional fly fisherman.
Once we arrived at Bird Island we were not disappointed by the display of birds, and were told that different birds live there during different seasons. We tucked into the mangroves to get away from the sun and enjoy our lunch.
On the way back were were able to see the Mexican Navy in action patrolling the coast. We also enjoyed two great snorkeling sites. The first was very calm and protected The second was at the edge of the bay and we were able to see the wall and coral reef.
After a full afternoon we headed back to Casa Carolina in time for Happy Hour in the palapa. We showered and headed to Toby's for dinner and Monday Night Football. Toby has figured out that it makes sense to provide football and food for vacationers and ex-pats alike. Toby's place looked great and his limited menu is fresh and amazingly good. We enjoyed cerviche, conch fritters and fresh fish sandwiches.
Tired from our day in the sun, we headed home at half-time and called it an early night. Tomorrow, sad as we are to leave Bob and Caroline, we have a short drive to Mahahual. Next month we will cover our visit to Mahahual where we found the best Bloody Marys, got a lesson on tequila, and more.