Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hunting for the Elusive Hammock


Helen has had the hots for a hammock for much of the time we’ve been at Xpu-Ha. Several other campers have them and seem to completely enjoy their time in the hammock, reading a book, while the wind breezes in from the ocean. In particular, John seems to absolutely revel in his hammock time and Helen has noticed. It’s not that Helen hasn’t looked, because she has looked at dozens, but none have the quality and feel of the hammock that she wants. So……..Sunday we headed out on a 180 mile round trip to the ONLY place where one can purchase the hammock of one's dreams.  90 miles one way……a trip that would be nasty on the west coast where we were last year was a dream by comparison. All the roads are in great condition and if I hadn’t run afoul in Valladolid it would have been a snap. Of course, those who know me know the route I eventually take is not the best.

We drove down to Tulum and took the road to Coba. Long before we got to Coba, our journey came to a halt as we came upon a large display of ceramic goods. OK, Helen wanted a hammock, but she also wanted a Talavera Water dispenser, what she referred to as a ginger jar.


This is NOT it. This is a picture I got off the internet because I didn’t want Helen to hunt down and unpack the one she bought, which is mostly blue and white……..I think.

DSC05402 (Small)

A  SMALL part of the display.

DSC05403 (Small)

More of the display. Helen has looked for the container at dozens of places and now she has what she wants. So now it’s off to Valladolid, or rather the prison just west of Valladolid.

The directions from John specifically stated that I should take the bypass around Valladolid and when the bypass rejoins Rt 180, the prison would be on the left 1 and 1/4 miles on the left. The sign for the bypass actually says Chichen Itza and Merida and I ASSUMED that this was the entrance to the Cancun-Merida toll road, so I bypassed the bypass.

DSC05406 (Small)

One of the BEST roads in the city, and we drove over almost all of them trying to find our  way to the western side of the city.

DSC05407 (Small)

The streets were wide open and there was little traffic, it was just that I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or how I was going to get there. Eventually, we stumbled on a sign for Rt. 180 heading east. I made a couple of left turns and was heading WEST on 180 and soon we were out of the city. Very soon we passed the other side of the bypass and up ahead was the prison.

DSC05408 (Small)

A bonanza of hammocks awaits the discerning buyer.

DSC05409 (Small)

There was every color and size combination and I’m very happy to report that Helen found one that she is comfortable with. Placed in the Jeep, we were soon on the way home, via the bypass this time. One thing to note about the route is that the road we took from Coba to Valladolin does not exist on MS Streets and Trips or my Garmin GPS. During the period we were on that road my Garmin showed that I was “Off Road”.

It was a quick ride home except for one more unscheduled stop at a place that sells gourd lamps. Helen bought one (most everyone here has at least one) and later bought a second. However, Ann told Helen about a place on the road to Coba where they were cheap. So we stopped and now Helen has three………so far. After that it was a quick stop for groceries and then home. Phew!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Snorkeling the Reef at Puerto Morelos


Eight intrepid snorkelers left the campground early today to sample the reef off Puerto Morelos. Pat and Mike rode with Elaine and Reed while Rob and Shirley rode with Helen and Me. It’s only 38 miles or so to P.M. and we were there in no time. The weather forecast for today was for 70% chance of rain and I was concerned. Around 3:00 AM we had some rain and at daybreak we had some heavier rain and I started to worry a bit. Actually, the weather cleared and we had bright sun but breezy weather for the trip.

DSC09407 (Small)

Here the group is preparing to board the boat under the watchful eyes of Juan and Julio.

DSC09409 (Small)

Helen is looking happy to be doing something other than reading. She’ll get her time in the water today!

DSC09420 (Small)

Most of the group is ready to go!

P1000898 (Small)

A very nice picture of a trumpet fish courtesy of Elaine. She seemed to see a lot more fish than I did, and she was able to document her find with pictures. I did see a trumpet fish.

P1000904 (Small)

Here is another of Elaine’s pictures and I never saw this triggerfish. Nor did I see the barracuda or many of the fish she saw.

P1000909 (Small)

Miscellaneous colorful fish hanging around the coral. No, I missed this, too.

DSC09461 (Small)

After the dive we gathered for lunch. Checking out the menus around the square in Puerto Morelos, we found the prices very high. The restaurant “Amor” was recommended to us and I asked for directions from one of the guys at the snorkel kiosk. He told me where “Amor” was and asked if we really wanted Mexican food or seafood. When I replied “seafood”, he told us about a little restaurant right on the beach just a short way. We ended up at “La Playalita” where the food was very good and a fraction of the price “downtown”

Not shown are a bunch of pictures I took of everyone getting back on the boat. Since I do not want to make enemies of this group, those pictures will never see the light of day. I hope that if anyone has such an unflattering picture of me, they will do the same.

All in all, I think we all had a good time. The current at the first location was brisk and it took an effort just to hold a place in it. To make actual headway required an extra bit of work. We all survived, so it was never that bad. Just one more interesting day out of Xpu-Ha.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Rainy Day at the Beach


It has been unsettled for the last few days with occasional rain some areas of sunshine. Last night the weather changed as we had rain all night, sometimes coming down in torrents. I’m glad! No, I’m not against nice weather, but for nearly two months we have been subject to the salt air and mist that blows in from the Caribbean. Each time we drive off in the car, we have to use the windshield washer to get the salt off the windshield, even when we use the car every day. So what this great rainstorm has done is rinse all the salt off the motorhome, and that is a good thing

I took a walk to the beach and it was a view I hadn’t seen since we got here.


On a normal day this area would be crowded and the restaurant would be extremely busy. Today………..nothing.


Looking north, there would be scores of tourists walking the beach. It’s an ill wind that does no good, and this cool weather makes it easier for the guys on the left to sand the hull of their boat.



This picture was meant to show the bleakness of the day. There are no people in the water, no snorkelers, no jet skis, nobody at all.


Even the empty parking lot of the restaurant doesn’t tell the whole story because not only is the parking area normally full, but so is the entire area. Every possible place to park a car is usually occupied and management had to rope off the access to the campground to keep people from driving in and parking with us. One day, a tour bus parked in the campground when there was no room anywhere else. Now the extra vehicles are forced to park on the access road and the line extends well up the road.


This is Leica, one of the campground mascots. This was taken today during a lull in the rain, but it could be taken almost any day as Leica enjoys chilling out in any depression in the sand. We have to be careful backing up as she is generally someplace  in the parking area.



This is one version of the panga, a style of boat found all over Mexico.


As you can see, this one had a deck, center console, and dual engines. It also has the wood trim along the gunwales, making it something of an “upscale” boat. The hull is basic, but the way it’s used will determine how it is fitted out. There are dive boats, with racks for air tanks, fishing boats with outriggers, there are plain open boats, and boats with an awning for shade. We took a trip up the coast in one last week to snorkel near Puerto Adventuras. Although the sea was rough, the panga was very comfortable and handled the waves very well. In addition, the ride was MUCH drier that I would have though with the wind and waves,


This panga is behind our camper. Is this the end of the line? Not necessarily. There is an enormous amount of fiberglass on one of these boats and when I knock on the side, it’s like knocking on a piece of granite. Since there is NEVER a frost down here, there is little damage from letting it sit a while. One day this “relic” will be repainted and re powered and be put back to use.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

JEEP Thrills


I suppose that if you want some Jeep thrills you have to have a Jeep, which is not to say that it is the only way to have thrills. I reported last night on a slight aberration I was having with the electrical system of our Jeep Cherokee. We’ve had it for a long time and it has really been a workhorse for us. With almost 140,000 miles, we have not had any real problems, yet. last night it caught my attention when we started down to Leo’s Pizza. The “check engine” lamp was on and the voltmeter was showing about 8 volts, but everything else seemed to be working properly. I put on the head lights and A/C and all worked well. There was no indication that the voltmeter was correct. Shortly the “check gauges” lamp also came on and I again checked ALL the gauges. Everything was functioning fine. After stopping and restarting the engine, the “check gauges” lamp went out and the voltmeter showed nearly 14 volts. The “check engine” lamp remained lit then and all the way home.

Back at the campground I got out my battery charger and connected it to the Jeep battery. It showed a voltage of 12.6 volts. That was about what it should have been. With the charger plugged in, it was showing a trickle charge rate and I left it on all night. In the AM, I again started that car and the darn “check engine” lamp was still on. Since we were going to Playa Del Carmen in the afternoon, I planned on a visit to Autozone and a free scan. However, I had one last thing to try, disconnecting the battery and turning on the headlights to drain any capacitors. After an hour or so, I reconnected the battery and started the car………no problems……..none. We made the run to Playa and encountered no other problems. I ASSURED Helen that he car is OK to drive for a shopping trip in the next few days. I’d better be right!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Different kind of Pizza Night


Friday night already and time to head down to Leo’s Pizza for our weekly treat. Peggy and John joined Helen and me, making it a small group this time. I was all set to enter my plea for a pizza with Italian sausage, green peppers, onions and mushrooms, but Helen threw me a curve by wanting Lasagna. Our last trip out, Gerry ordered the lasagna and raved about it and we also heard great things about it from others, so Helen and I BOTH ordered the beef lasagna. Peggy and John ordered the extra large Leo’s special, jalapeños on the side.

Who would have thought that one could get lasagna THIS GOOD in Mexico? It was not just good, it was EXCELLENT!! If that were not enough, Peggy made brownies and promised us a few in the morning.

This is just one more of many, many reasons to return to this area next winter. The proximity to the beach, shopping, a fairly large city, lots of varied activities, very fine people ( local Mexicans as well as fellow campers), clinics, dentists and more make this area a most logical choice for another year.

We had one little glitch on the way to Leo’s. When I started the Jeep, the volt meter showed voltage quite a bit lower than normal and I got a check gauge light. Then I got a check engine light. Trying the lights, horn, and Air conditioner, I knew that the gauge was wrong and continued on to Leo’s. Pizza is pizza and we would get back somehow. At Leo’s, I shut down the engine and paused for a moment, then restarted. The volt meter was in the normal area, but the check engine light is still on. Oil pressure, temperature, and all other gauges are fine. Tomorrow will find me at Autozone having them put a scanner on my system to find the problem.

Tonight, I’m going to digest my supper and get an early start to bed.


A Change in the Weather and a Night in Akumul


In yesterday’s blog I remarked about what a great day we were all having at the beach, snorkeling, swimming, basking, and kayaking. It was all true as it was a most beautiful day, but as I was enjoying my little trip off shore a few hundred meters, the wind speed was increasing and a cloud bank was moving in from the north. When it was time for Happy Hour it was COLD, definitely COLD by my standard. Helen quickly headed back to our camper for a sweatshirt and I had her bring my fleece lined waterproof coat and I was warm at last, cozy warm, not hot. Over the course of several hours the temperature had plummeted from the mid eighties to the very low seventies.

IMG_3016 (Small)

Here Helen and I are “enjoying” the brisk evening breeze! Next on MY agenda was a HOT cup of coffee…..aaaahhhhh.

Later a group of eight of us trekked down to Akumul for an evening of dining and entertainment. Pat and Mike drove down with Rob and Shirley while Reed and Elaine rode down with us.


I was not sure where we were going so I just followed Mike to the proper location. As you can see, it was “Imelda’s” right by the entrance we use when we snorkel Akumul.


There was a limited menu but it was served buffet style and it was all good. Knowing the Gringo tastes, all the food was NOT spicy hot, but there was a hot green sauce if anyone wanted it. I’m not sure what the different foods were called, but I recognized “flan”, which was very good. All the dishes were tasty without being hot so I enjoyed every morsel. Also served was a drink using hibiscus flowers, a dip using pumpkin seeds, and a chicken main dish. Again, all was very good and Imelda seemed pleased that we went back for “seconds”.




We were treated to a medley of different dances from Mayan historical to Salsa. All gave a very spirited performance and we were taken with the Niño and his participation.


Then the floor was turned over to the Gringos and Rob was one of the first to take the opportunity. I believe that Reed, Mike, and I were able to pass on the opportunity to dance with the pretty Chicas. We certainly would have except for the back, knee, hip, and other joint problems. Getting old isn’t for sissies.


Here Pat is showing more activity than we normally see form our group. I’m sure that we all had a great time and got home just in time for bed. It was a full day for all of us starting with beach adventures in the morning and dinner theater at night. Whew!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Beach of a Day


We’ve been having a grand time at the beach. A couple of days ago a group of us took a trip with Tacho to a lagoon just south of Puerto Adventuras. You can check it out on  Brenda'sBlog  http://turtleondowntheroad.blogspot.mx/2013/01/snorkeling.html

It was a unique experience as the lagoon is where the fresh, cool water of the cenotes merges with the warm, salt water of the Caribbean. The lighter fresh water floats on top of the ocean water, so the surface is rather cool (COLD to me) and as you dive down a couple of feet you get into the nice warm Caribbean Sea. That was a few days ago.

A few days ago, which means two or three days or possibly a week or two, I bought a small kayak at the local City Club, a store much like Sam’s Club, only cheaper. I have been looking at kayaks for quite some time, wanting one to use back in Florida, but I never got around to getting one. This was so cheap during an after Christmas sale that I couldn’t refuse. Since I brought it home, we have had nothing but high winds and high surf, not where I want to try out my new toy. Yesterday afternoon the winds died right down and it looked good to go. All I had to do was wait until all the tourists left the beach so I could save myself the embarrassment of failure. Just before dark the time was right. I took the kayak to the beach and floated it out. I got on and headed out, only to be completely upset in the shallow water. On my second try, I was able to keep the kayak heading directly into the surf and actually got through.  After paddling for only a few minutes I headed back in, making sure that I was perpendicular to the waves. In about half a heart beat the kayak slid sideways and overturned. The waves took it right into shore and left me in a foot of water and covered with sand. Oof!

Today was a completely different story.

DSC09351 (Small)

With my eyes on the waves, I managed to get through the raging surf without incident. It’s a LOT easier in the daytime when you can actually see the waves. Last night I was a bit impetuous, trying my luck in the near dark.

DSC09362 (Small)

This is John Kobak and he is a kayaker on the other end of the spectrum. You might notice that I ride ON TOP of my kayak while John rides INSIDE his. He is qualified to run Stage 5 rapids, which are the most difficult that are considered passable. He can also do that roll over and get back up stuff. If I had a kayak like his, my trick would be the roll over and drown stuff.  John has helped me with some words of instruction.

DSC09364 (Small) 

Here we are together for a moment as John is telling me how to lean into a wave. I paddled a few hundred yards and returned to shore. John REGULARLY paddles several miles to Puerto Adventuras and back. In time, I will work up to……..400 yards, maybe 500 yards. I’m out to have fun my way. John is way too experienced and fit to go at my pace. Check out John’s Blog at: http://khmexico10.blogspot.mx/

DSC09378 (Small)

Coming back through the surf, I was the model of concentration. There were people on the beach now and I really didn’t want to look too stupid.

DSC09382 (Small)

LANDFALL!!! I did it and I didn’t roll over. Time to quit while I’m ahead.


DSC09348 (Small)

Reed getting ready to do some snorkeling. It turned out to be a busy beach day for the campers at Xpu-Ha.

DSC09355 (Small)

Here is Reed’s better half, Elaine, making sure that he has the right fins on the right feet.

DSC09385 (Small)

Ann is REFUSING to go for a ride on my kayak….imagine. She didn’t pass up the chance to go snorkeling with Helen, though.

Pat and Mike were also out there snorkeling on the first reef. From the view in the kayak, the water looked very clear. With little surf there was not a lot of suspended matter in the water, unlike the day Helen and I went a few weeks ago. In fact, when Helen returned, she mentioned the fact that thee were a LOT more fish to be seen, including some good sized parrot fish.

I cut today’s trip a little short because I am new to the sport and the wind was starting to pick up. As I sit in my camper, I can hear the wind worrying the awning and I’ll have to look into making a change.

Now I can look forward to taking my Kayak up the Rainbow River back home instead of just looking forward to all the work to be done on the house, motorhome, Lincoln, Jeep, etc.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The New Mayan Ruins


A couple of days ago I re-visited the resort just a short way down “our” beach and I did so with a fresh outlook and additional information. We have become anesthetized by the sight of Mayan ruins all about the Yucatan Peninsula. Seeing this once beautiful resort decay into ruin right before my eyes was both awesome and oh so sad.


Fullscreen capture 1162013 85544 AM.bmp (Medium) (Small)

This picture I got from Google Earth and shows the resort in its prime. You can note the view that one has all the way to the Caribbean. The pool is, to me, very exceptional. Toward the right there is a small half  round wading pool, 14 inches deep and it flows into the main pool. Barely visible in the lower left corner is another half round wading pool 2 feet deep which also flows to the main pool. You can see chaise lounges and small palapas on the patio. The area in light blue is actually part of the pool apron and is about 1 inch deep and there are people in the picture walking through the shallow water.

IMG_1316 (Small)

This is a picture of the pool today!

Fullscreen capture 1162013 85359 AM.bmp (Medium) (Small)

One of the landscaped waterways that surround the resort as it was around 2006.

IMG_0992 (Small)

As it looks today! The “jungle” does not sit idly by waiting for a chance to grow. It has to be beaten back constantly and I can now see how the great Mayan ruins were regained by the jungle once the population was gone.

Fullscreen capture 1162013 85151 AM.bmp (Medium) (Small)

This is what the  resort suites looked like in the mid 2000s. I do not have a current picture because all the growth is in the way.

Fullscreen capture 1162013 102535 AM.bmp-001 (Small)

This picture was taken in 2009, well after the hurricane that supposedly devastated the whole area. Obviously, the pool is in need of service, but the palapas are still standing. There is some incursion of weed growth, but not excessive at this point. Most important, note that the windows and sliding doors are still in place. There are railings on all the patios. It is certainly deserted looking, but does not appear to be ruined.

Fullscreen capture 1162013 84246 AM.bmp (Medium) (Small)

This is what a patio would have looked like back in time. Now, there are no doors, there are no windows, there are no railings. Inside each room, ALL electrical plugs and receptacles have been removed and all the copper wires removed and stripped of their insulation. Ceiling fans were all removed, the fan blades discarded and the electric motors taken for their copper content. Only in the theater did I see ceiling fans, far too high for the casual vandal to access.

IMG_1304 (Small)

Heading for the second floor, I found this striking mural on the wall at the stairway landing. Of course there is no practical way to tear a painted mural from the wall for resale, so it sits.

I was heading up to the second floor to find the source of the hammering and deconstruction noise, eventually finding myself in what must have been a main kitchen, complete with a walk-in freezer set for 4 degrees Celsius. Four men of Mexican appearance were in the process of removing a large, insulated air duct from the ceiling. The looked to be a bit upset with my being there, so I did not try to take their picture, but I did notice that this was not a ragtag group of vandals as they had a number of tools and were using and oxy-acetylene cutting torch to remove the duct without damaging it.

IMG_1285 (Small)

This chandelier is still hanging from the reception center. Too much work? Too little copper? I have no idea, but it still hangs today.

The last two pictures were taken at the same place. The first was taken from the gate area looking toward the reception area.

Fullscreen capture 1162013 90028 AM.bmp-001


This last picture is taken from the reception are looking toward the gate.

IMG_1283 (Small)

I can understand the capriciousness of hurricanes. I have lived through several in coastal Massachusetts. I have seen the massive amount of damage that one can cause in Florida. This is not hurricane damage. This is not damage from the tornado offshoots of a hurricane. This is a resort that has been ravaged by the vandals that came after the resort had been abandoned and by the ever encroaching jungle-like growth.

Once so beautiful, now so soiled……and so very sad. Mayan Ruins, right at my feet!

If you are interested, you can investigate more pictures on Google Earth, coordinates 20 deg 28 min 11.09 sec North and 87 deg 15 min 40.81 West.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tulum, Akumul, and Bonampak Resort


Truth be told, it seems that some bug has been making the rounds of the campground, or the area in general. I doubt if anyone has escaped and that includes the guests that have flown down from Canada or the States. Even when I’m “well”, I’m never really up to snuff.

A few days ago several of us wanted to go snorkeling in Tulum. When I use snorkeling in this case, it may as well mean “Shopping”, as that’s what it became. Brenda first mentioned snorkeling and I didn’t give it a thought and I was along for the ride, along with Helen, Rob, and Shirley. We didn’t find snorkeling but we did aid the economy of Tulum. On the way back north, we stopped at Akumul, where we snorkeled with the turtles once before. I chose to stay behind and “guard” the shore equipment, cameras, purses, and such. I was tired, but I had a great time anyway.

IMG_0884 (Medium)

IMG_0874 (Medium)

These birds were everywhere in the palm fronds and they were VERY attentive to what was going on around them. I’d watch, and when some person would leave their beach towel, even for only a moment, one of these birds would swoop down and grab a chip, any morsel of food that was unguarded for the moment.

There were many other birds on the beach and I was able to quickly snap the picture below.

IMG_0898 (Medium)

Please note that the picture has been cropped to get past the blog censor (Helen).  This girl was not the least bit embarrassed, but that’s OK, I was embarrassed enough for both of us.

IMG_0995 (Medium)

On a different note, today I finally felt like taking a walk down to the south point of the beach and the Bonapak Resort just a few hundred meters from our campsite. Gerry, our next door neighbor had written a blog a while back and I was impressed with his work. However, I was unprepared for the total wreckage to the resort.

I don’t even know what hurricane caused the initial damage to this fine resort. The wreckage along immediate coast is very bad, but the main part of the resort looks almost untouched by the weather, as much as I can tell.

IMG_0987 (Medium)

This is looking out of the beach-front restaurant. All the doors and windows are gone. Floors are buckled from the water and the inside is totally devastated

IMG_1000 (Medium).

Walking away from the water, the resort SEEMS to be structurally sound, but the devastation caused by vandalism is much, much worse.

IMG_1003 (Medium)

This is all that is left of breaker panels. If it is copper, it is GONE! In each room, electric switches and receptacles have been rent from the walls and and the plastic coating on the wires were often stripped on the spot. In other areas, there ate PILES of plastic where the wires were stripped production style. Door hardware is gone! Ceiling fans were removed only for the copper content as in each room, the fan blades were left behind

IMG_1004 (Medium)

For all the damage, this is still a beautiful place. The walls are, for the most part, intact, as are the roofs, floors and ceilings, except where the A/C ducts have been ripped out.


The growth is lush and green and needs trimming, but not a lot of landscaping.


The central courtyard, or one of the central courtyards has ficus trees three stories high, shading the areas below.

IMG_0990 (Medium)

And finally, I found this small body of fresh water, with a small rivulet running under the walkway. I dropped a wood chip into the water and watched as a slow current slowly carried it toward the sea. I could not see anyplace where it actually connected with the shore, so at some point is must just sink into the sand. So sad to see such a gem ruined so needlessly.