Day 6: San Miguel to Tulum - Grampies' Road to Ruins - CycleBlaze

January 9, 2018

Day 6: San Miguel to Tulum

We decided to catch the 7 a.m. ferry back to Playa, to allow an early start on the long hot road to Tulum. That meant getting  up early and setting off for the ferry in the dark. We passed through the normally thronged tourist area, now pleasantly deserted, and looked at our restaurant from yesterday, not open yet. We had noticed that they had nice breakfasts too, but oh well. The same problem applied to the German bakery, which only opened at 7.

Sleeping San Miguel
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Now that we were old pros, we easily boarded the correct ferry and gave the correct people our bikes to stow. Soon we were seated and hoping not to throw up as the boat sped over the waves. Fortunately, as you understand, there was nothing in our stomachs.

The familiar harbor of Playa soon appeared, now fully sun lit. The pelicans were thinking about waking up, while we assume there was no action yet at Senor Frog's. However a fair number of tourists were beginning to slowly swarm. 

Wake up time, Mr. Pelican
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Nothing doing at the Frog's
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Lamenting the lost bakery chance in San Miguel, I said to Dodie "We really need a bakery, but where in all this could one be?". I looked over at her, and then past her, to the apparition of a French Bakery, right beside us!

The sign said "pains de tradition". Say what? Are we still in the correct blog? Dodie went in just like in the good old days (like, last Fall) and came out with baguette, croissant, pain au chocolat, and so forth. We felt pretty smug, expecting a lot of European style power now in our pedalling. And while it was true, we also soon passed locals finding their breakfasts at food trucks and bicycle powered carts, and it all looked pretty darn good too!

Like being back in France!
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Wow, baguettes
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Deserted Playa
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Highway 307 is quite tough for bicycling for about 10 km on either side of Playa. It's the common problem where the shoulder disappears or at least comes and goes, in favour of extra car lanes or turning lanes. The traffic on 307 is also lots heavier than what we remember from ten years ago. I guess that is to be expected. Though annoying, the traffic volume did not feel super dangerous. Drivers here are much more cautious on average than we have seen in most countries.

The points of interest along the road comprised first one then another giant (but hidden) housing complex, golf course, adventure park, cenote park, or dolphin encounter experience. Of course we are not into buying too much luxury gated housing, but we cruised by the other activities too, both driven by a cyclists' desire to get on with the ride, and generally feeling we could not swim or do other stuff and have a safe place for the bikes and gear.

One of the activities seemingly favoured by people is to be driven to a souvenir and/or tequila and/or jewelry factory stand alone store. It was a place like that yesterday where we had our little dust up with the hovering attendant. We passed one just as a break would have been nice. It had eight identical white Toyota vans in front of it, plus one tour sized bus. Should we go in? Naw. (Not unless, of course, they want to sell one of those vans!)

Standalone shop - but not selling vans!
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One thing we really did want to see was the Monkey Sanctuary in Akamal. So there we did hang a right, passing through the town to the site at the far end. We found that viewing is by a two hour guided tour only, with a cost of $US65. We actually could have been ok with the cost, we would have had to wait an hour for the next tour time, and then use two hours in it. Three hours was more than our time budget could allow.

Still life in Akamal
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No refrigeration here!
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We carried on, and began passing signs that simply said "Oscar & Lalo" , with a restaurant symbol and a distance. This began to intrigue us, just like Bermashave signs. Easily we were hooked, and just wanted to make it to Oscar & Lalo. Before that came up we passed what at first appeared to be the sort of adventure complex we had been passing over, at Xel-Ha. But just beyond the complex was an archaeological site, and it was one where they were ok with us bringing the bikes around with us.

Old turkey farmers like us could not resist this shot.
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These are white flowers - near the eco adventures
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So Grampies' Road to Ruins made its first official stop at Xel-Ha. How super it was. Set in the jungle, it comprised dozens of buildings, or the foundations of buildings. For many the use was not known, but there was also a palace and a temple. 

The temple overlooked a cenote, which offered our very first encounter with this Yucatan phenomenon. Beneath the thin soil, the land here is limestone, much weathered by water. In the limestone are numerous sink holes - cenotes - and underground cave and river systems. That's the basic geology, but we see (in the billboards) the idea that there is something ultra natural and ecological about it. Now maybe we know why. Our cenote at Xel-Ha was a deep jade green. Surrounded by jungle, it was very beautiful indeed. As a green coloured lake type thing, it was similar to the amazing turquoise rivers and lakes in our own Rocky Mountains.

A Grampie on the real road to ruins
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Xel-Ha Palace
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A palace guard
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Bill ShaneyfeltSpiny tailed iguana

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctenosaura_similis
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1 year ago
There are dozens of bits like this all over the site
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Road to the temple
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The Cenote
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Colours of the cenote
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Also near the temple, the ever alert Dodie spotted what turned out to be a wild lemon tree. The little lemons were lovely to bite, and a big thrill for Northerners like us to find!

Dodie spots a wild lemon tree
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The lemons are really good!
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In a couple of hours we resumed our quest for Oscar & Lalo, which now loomed as important as the road to ruins. We were distracted temporarily by a thatched roof being re-thatched, but soon we came to the restaurant.

Roof re-thatchers
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Oscar & Lalo at first looks pretty fancy, set back in landscaping, with a fish filled stream in front and hardwood chairs and tables. But they invited us complete with bikes into and through that, and put us in a beautiful palapa. On the menu we found some great choices, at reasonable prices! Dodie got Enchilidas with cheese and chicken, in mole, and I got "Yucatan" chicken. 

It was the first time I had actually tasted mole (Dodie graciously shared a bit), though some years ago Dodie's sister gave us a book describing seven distinct recipes. As I recall the book, every family has its own version. I found this one very interesting and delightful, as did Dodie.

I would guess my chicken had some achiote to it, but otherwise I only identified "yummy". And fried plantains - great!

The cost for this was $US 25 . Well worth it, we thought.

Rolling in to Oscar & Lola
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Those prices are pesos, of course
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Our palapa
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Ginger near our table
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My Yucatan chicken dish
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Mole!
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Tulum is unlike the other towns on 307 in that it's main drag is 307 itself. It also seemed different in that the white tourist vans seemed gone, and the style of tourist was changed to public bus taking backpackers. We did not pause to scope it all out, but followed our GPS to the outskirts of town where we had found the Hotel Iker.

The tour bus tourists must not come this far
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At the Iker our room is a touch more run down than others, but it is super huge and has a fridge and stove, plus table. The wifi is good and there is a central courtyard where our bikes are very safe. Plus as in each and every other place we have stayed, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. That extends to us insisting the price would be 800 pesos (based on the booking) while they only would take 700.

Tomorrow, we follow our road to ruins to the Tulum Ruin!

Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 247 km (153 miles)

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Sue PriceLooks like you are feeling better, Steve! Glad to know you are both enjoying your adventure. Sure wish we could catch a bit of that warm sun right now!

Sue and Jim
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1 year ago
Laurie MarczakI’m jealous of the fruits! And the mole for that matter.
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1 year ago