Day 15: Merida to Progreso - Grampies' Road to Ruins - CycleBlaze

January 18, 2018

Day 15: Merida to Progreso

Our time in downtown Merida turned out to be very pleasant, and it helped to forget the fairly tough traffic conditions we braved  to get to the centre. But in the back of my mind I was worried about getting out of the city.

We started off on a good note, finding the second main downtown church now open. So there was a chance for a quick peek inside.

The second main church in Merida
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The inside is a little more decorative than the church we looked in yesterday
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We also spotted this chapel.  Churches here however do not appear to be as big a phenomenon as they are in spain.

A little chapel in the middle of Merida - from 1730
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I was watching closely for dangerous traffic as we headed north within Merida, but halfway to the ring road things were very calm.

Streets half way between downtown and the ring road were ok for cycling.
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We came to a roadside fruit stand that had very nice stuff. This included containers of cut up pineapple, papaya, and melon that was top quality. When we pulled these out around lunch time we found that out packages also included a fork and a little envelope of granola.

We stopped at a roadside fruit stand, and got this fruit still life.
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Horchata is quickly becoming one of our favourite drinks.
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Things got a lot tougher as we approached the ring road. In that area there is American style development, including several of the big chains. There were also a number of  turning circles that for a bicycle are really meat grinders. We did manage to sneak under the ring road, but soon encountered another type of problem.  On a big road, entry and exit ramps are always trouble, because the cyclist suddenly find traffic on the right, entering the motorway, or cutting from the left, to exit.  At the overpasses, if we were to continue straight over, there would be traffic crossing us from the left. But if we stayed down and kept right, would we lose our route?

The choice was made for us, it turns out, by signs saying no bikes on the overpass. It was ok, though, because it was easy to make our way back onto the main road after the overpass.

At the ring road, Merida looks a lot like Seattle. There is even a Costco.
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Here we get to sneak under the ring road
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The overpass and "scissors" problem
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The decision is made for us, no bikes on the overpass.
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The tourist maps identify several thematic routes around Yucatan. There is the Culture Route, the Archeology Route, the Flamingo route, the Mangrove Adventure, the Emerald Coast, Cenote route, the Puuc (region south of Merida). Right now we are heading for the Emerald Coast, but we are still hoping to spot some Flamingos and Mangroves!

The Emerald Coast is the stretch along the Gulf of Mexico. See the Flamingo symbols? We hope to see some!
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This shows the route we are heading for.
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This is  a  governor's election coming up in February, so there are a fair number of posters around. Sahui is the party of the PRI,  which I think is, or was, the right wing corrupt party. It is certainly obvious from the number of posters that Sahui is outspending everyone else.

Somehow I mistrust this guy. Maybe 'cause he's from the PRI.
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This candidate for governor is being far outspent. He is the mayor, or former mayor, of Merida.
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Have a look here for a little more on the election.

Because we had a little time, and because this is the Road to Ruins, we detoured a bit to Dzibilchaltun. This is a former Mayan city that began about 3000 B.C., and reached its peak about 600-800 A.D..  At the peak it is believed to have had about 20,000 inhabitants.

As at Chichen Itza, we encountered a cuckoo arrangement at the ticket booth, where two government agencies are each charging admission. So you need to pay them  each, separately. The cashiers sit side by side. Go figure.

Dzibilchaltun has four main points of interest - a square with very long steps or bleachers, a cenote, a chapel, and a unique building called the Dolls' House. Have a tour around these in the following photos:

These are the longest steps in the Mayan world
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Climbing the steps revealed a little of the surroundings.
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Looking down it's another "better not trip" situation.
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A rather large group and animated guide. The guide's stories sound interesting.
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This cenote was a surprise. We could have gone in, but then would have had to cope with wet stuff while riding.
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This chapel on the Mayan site is a post-Spanish thing.
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What the chapel would have originally looked like.
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The so called Doll's House, named for seven doll like figures discovered there. This is also th eonly Mayan structure discovered so far with windows. The windows are in astronomically strategic positions.
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The seven dolls, each with a deformity.
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To leave Dzibilchaltun and go north to Progreso and the Gulf of Mexico we selected a nice looking quiet road. But it turned out to be so quiet because of being a dead end. We reversed our way and got onto highway 261, a broad Interstate type thing, that nevertheless had a good shoulder. It was noisy, but it worked.

We took this small and quiet road north toward Progreso.
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The road even had sheep.
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But it all came to a bad end.
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In the end for most of the ride to Progreso we had this four lane super highway.
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We saw this roadside. Any opinions on whether it is real or a toy?
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Laurie MarczakI know exactly nothing but the wires at the end make me think toy, as do all the visible plasticky looking screws. I’ll find a nearby American to ask though...VERY happy you seemed not to picked it up for a closer inspection. Good Grampies!
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakOk let us know if any update. We feel way safer here on the fun side of the "wall".
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1 year ago
Laurie MarczakTo Steve Miller/GrampiesMy pet American confirms - toy!
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakGood pet!
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1 year ago

When we got to Progreso we expected a Playa del Carmen type situation, in which the common people would be living away from the beach, and where the beach scene would be a wholly separate tourist world. But Progreso is not like that. The beach thing is limited to the one street by the beach, and in fact it seemed like the main people on that street were also locals.

We checked in to our hotel Playa Linda, where we found our room to be quite decent, but with the exception of no windows to the outside, though there is a window to a breezy corridor. Otherwise the beds and decor are a giant step up from yesterday's Hotel San Jose.

Just down  the street we found a restaurant, by the usual means of the waiter standing in the street with the menu. had a look at it and it seemed good, but I told the man we would like to look on down the street a bit. Dodie, though, saw no reason to prolong matters, and we just dove in to this first place. It was a good choice. Not only did we find the food and prices excellent, but the waiter was really nice as well. It turned out his son is in Canada, running a fruit import business, shipping from right here.

The waiter pointed out that Canada was a good place for his son, because the Land of Trump = yeeecch. We of course agreed, which is why we liked this waiter.

A street in the middle of Progreso. We expected things to turn touristy toward the beach.
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At the beach we found strong winds and little tourist stuff.
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Most people beach side seemed to be locals
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The aquatically decorated "Pulpo Loco" (Crazy Octopus) restaurant
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This was a slightly pickled somewhat cucumbery thing - good, but too spicy.
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My fish a la "plancha". Plancha is grilled from above. Asado is BBQ'd from below.
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Dodie's Sopa de Lima. It is a chicken soup base with heavy lime flavouring.
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The road ahead, as we continue with this "Emerald Coast" looks increasingly barren and wind swept. That is, exciting!

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 656 km (407 miles)

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Douglas LotenGreetings from Doug on the Coast Road near Uaymitun! Safe journeys and I’ll look forward to your blogs!
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Douglas LotenHi Doug, as you will soon read, that restaurant tip was great!

If you feel like sending us an email at shadybrook@shaw.ca we will stay in touch, at least sending updates on where in the world we are cycling.
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1 year ago