It’s been one month since we left Oakley California heading towards I-5, and then quickly turned around 6 miles down the road because I forgot my wallet and Nathaniel forgot his malaria medication.
Today we find ourselves hanging out in a hotel we don’t remember the name of in Chetumal Mexico watching the rain drip till monday morning when we can cross the border to Belize.
When you drive a motor vehicle as deep into Mexico as we have from the United States your are required to leave a sizable deposit with the army bank Banjercito to pay for its temporary importation.
Once you leave Mexico the money is refunded to you in either cash or on your credit card (depending on how you first paid) and like the US most banks are not open on Sunday. We could technically leave Mexico today but it would mean giving up our $400 deposits.
Unfortunately, Chetumal is not a city I am enjoying very much. It’s the largest Mexican city to the northern Belize border and it doesn’t have a true Centro that we’ve seen with an adorable plaza and strolling families.
Chetumal is the seat of government for Quintana Roo (Our 18th state we’ve passed through) but the blocks near the water are an endless series of shoe stores, auto parts stores and Mini Supers – rinse and repeat.
This city it was almost completely destroyed in the 40’s and 50’s by three major Hurricanes. When they rebuilt they rebuilt for the next big one and I think it stripped the city of its charm.
Because of the time we killed in La Paz getting paperwork done we had to blow through a large portion of Mexico that we originally had plans for. So, we are both looking forward to getting to Belize, slowing things down a little bit and absorbing the places we see. -Alex
It is sometimes mind boggling that we have been on this trip for a month and have been primarily in one country the whole time. I never fully appreciated how expansive Mexico is till driving across it, and looking at the distance reading on my speedometer.
What some may not realize is that Alex and I have now already traveled further in Mexico then we are going to travel to get through all of Central America. And thus, the reason for slowing down a bit to really absorb the places we travel through.
As we get ready to exit the country that has been our home for the last month, I look back on our time here.
Most of the concerns about this trip were over safety, with many remarking that Mexico is not a safe country to be in (Alex’s Mexican family were shocked we hadn’t had any issues with police on our ride).
Knocking on wood now, we haven’t had any issues with police, drug cartels, or petty theft and I have found the Mexican people to be overwhelmingly warm and hospitable. At a random intersection outside of Tuxtepec, a man on the side of the road saw we looked confused and told us how to get to the main city. All of the people we have asked for directions have been more then willing to help these two intrepid motorcyclists.
Many construction works and pedestrians by have waved or flashed peace signs as we have ridden by. Questions of safety ring true for any country (we did purposely ride through Baja to avoid certain parts of Northern Mexico, as much as for the beautiful scenery) as there are many areas of San Francisco I wouldn’t want to walk through after midnight, common sense goes a long way in any travel situation, even when that travel is to a local store for milk at night.Outside of safety concerns, what has struck me most about Mexico (and something I have mentioned to Alex several times) is the natural beauty of this country. Mexico is beautiful! I have seen California, Arizona, Scotland in its countrysides and experienced high deserts, forest capped mountains, and tropical beaches in its scenery, to mention a few. Mexico has a diverse topography I never knew existed (I pictured it as mostly desert and cacti) that makes road tripping a visual delight.
All I can recommend is getting away from the tourist traps along the coasts and diving into the rich landscape, culture, and amazing food that Mexico has to offer.
I am looking forward to Belize, and finally getting to the third country of the trip, but it is bittersweet to leave Mexico as it was the proving ground. We have spent a lot of time and sweat in this country and I look forward to returning someday.
For now, we look toward the ocean and a whole new country to explore! -Nathaniel