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Published: November 4th 2012
After Campeche, it was time for some more serious driving back to the east coast again, about 5 1/2 hrs in total. On the road we experienced our first rain so far - not so bad, given that it's supposed to be the rainy season now! The rain stopped just in time for us to pause our journey at the Becan ruins. Much less visited that the Tulums and Chitchen Itzas in the world, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, and we could climb the temples freely. When I was slightly hesitant about climbing one of the (still somewhat wet) temples in my sandals, Steve declared very encouragingly 'you'll be fine, these steps are no steeper than the stairs at your parents place!' So mom, dad, thanks for raising me in such an adventurous way 😉.
Distracted by the beauty of Becan, we unfortunately got back on the road a little bit too late, and we ended up driving the last bit of the road in the dark. The concern was less about any attacks - so far, all roads seemed very safe, and the police check points haven't caused any hassle. It's more about the 'topes' or
speed bumps, which make any of the European speed bumps look like a joke. Apparently it's needed to make the Mexicans stick to somewhat acceptable speeds, but if you'd miss them, you'd be pretty much launched in the air like a missile. Anyhow, we survived the bumps, and in time for dinner we arrived at Lagunas Bacular.
Lagunas Bacalar was not originally top of our list of things to see, but it seemed to provide us with the perfect stop between Campeche and Belize. It's only half an hour from the border, and much nicer than Chetumal. Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo, but a rather uneventful city other than for the Plaza de las Americas mall, where we did some errants, and the Museo de cultura Maya, which is supposed to be really good, but turned out to be under renovation when we got there.
Lagunas Bacalar, or Lago de los siete colores (lake of the 7 colors) is the second largest lake in Mexico, almost 50 km long, and fed by underground cenotes (underground waterstreams/rivers, which were also believed to have a divine meaning during the Mayan time). Bacalar definitely proved to be a more
attractive location, so we decided to spend 2 nights here and relax after the somewhat long drive from Campeche. It seems like the lake has not been discovered by the majority of the tourists yet, else it'd be so much busier! Quite a few of the houses directly at the lake are badly maintained and some even seem completely abandoned.
We stayed in a little B&B (Amigos) right at the lake, in a somewhat musty smelling room (seemed to not have been aired properly for a while). But the effectively private (hooray for low season!) direct access to the lake, and the breakfast on an outdoor patio with lake view, more than made up for the smell, at least in my opinion.
Other than the lake, sights are somewhat limited.. We paid a short visit to the Fuerte San Felipe Bacalar, built by the Spanish in the 18th century to protect from the pirates (some of whom were apparently even sponsored by the Dutch government, oh my, our glorious history). And we had a swim in the cenote Azul, which is 90m deep and apparently has a visibility of up to 60 m (hard to test, so we'll
believe the guide book on this). The cenote can only be reached through the closeby restaurant, so it took us a few visits to actually find it open for business.. The less great implication of low season is namely that all restaurants seem to be closed in the evenings. None of the guidebook recommendations were thus of any use. After a not so great meal at a snack bar type of place the first evening, we got smarter the next eve, and enjoyed a meal of takeaway pizza and a bottle of Malbec wine bought back in Playa del Carmen, on the patio of our place. Overall, 2 not overly uneventful but very enjoyable and relaxing days!
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