Friday, January 30, 2009


The walled city of Tulum (AD 1200 – 1521) was built and occupied in the declining period of the Maya. It might well have been the last major city built before the Spanish Occupation. It is in a spectacular location perched right on the edge of the cliffs looking out over the Caribbean, protected on three sides by high walls and on the forth by the sea itself. It’s people traded in products of the sea and used the sea for transportation in canoes.

Imagine the city at it’s finest with buildings painted a vivid red, blue and yellow. When visitors were expected or perhaps if it’s people were out at sea at night, a huge fire was lit atop the tower on the edge of the sea. It would have been an imposing sight!




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Pole Dancers

No, not the ones you are thinking of! These guys were putting on a free show at the visitors area of the Tulum Ruins today. As they circle the pole, the ropes play out until they touch the ground. The man on top keeps the beat on a drum.


Iguanas In The Ruins

The Tulum Ruins are overrun with iguanas! They have no fear of humans and stand right there while thousands of photos are taken every day.




Thursday, January 29, 2009

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Mexico anymore

Rolling up the highway into the Cozumel area was a bit of a culture shock! We have been in Mexico for almost three months and suddenly we are not there any more! The roadside signs suddenly turned into English and the guy at the gate spoke perfect English! Where are we? Did I make a wrong turn? I don't like this.

We checked into the Paa Mul RV Park and were shocked at being charged over $400 Pesos a night! WIFI is an additional $38 USA per month or portion thereof. We will do without.

We went to the on site restaurant for dinner and I ordered the fillet of Fish stuffed with shrimp sauce. It was delicious! It was $150 Pesos but it was really good.

Tomorrow we will visit the Tulum Ruins about 50 kilometres back down the highway and have a late lunch there. Sunday we will catch the ferry to Cozumel, spend a night in a hotel and see the island. My sister used to go there quite often in years past and I want to see it. I do not hold great expectations. I probably will not have to use my Spanish skills very often.

Toto, this is not Mexico!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jim Fulton

We recently lost our old friend and colleague, Jim Fulton (January 22, 1950 – December 21, 2008) to a long battle with colon cancer. Jim was the NDP Member of Parliament for Northwest BC’s Skeena Riding and was a good friend as well as being Norma’s boss. As is pointed out in this Terrace newspaper article, Jim was a larger than life figure and a tireless worker for his riding. He was elected four times and retired undefeated. Norma and I worked on all of his campaigns and Norma worked in Terrace (with the odd trip to Ottawa) as his Constituency Assistant. He was a good man who will be missed. This is a 1980’s photo from that story of Jim and Norma on the job:


As Jim was fond of saying the last few years, "Get your a$$ checked!"

Oxtankah Ruins

I took a drive about six kilometres up the road past the RV Park today to visit the Oxtankah ruins. These ruins are named for the archaeologist who discovered them as the original Mayan name is not known. It is known that the city engaged in trade with people living by the nearby sea.

I was the only visitor during the time I was there so I had the full attention of the  on site archaeologist who explained that some of the paint on the carving of the jaguar and the accompanying hieroglyphics is original while some (on the jaguar itself) has been added as part of the restoration process.

I ended up almost running through the final part of my visit as the mosquitos were getting really bad. REMINDER: take repellant!






Chetumal’s Maya Museum

There is a nice Maya Museum in Chetumal. While a little short on actual artifacts, it contains a lot of information on the history of the Maya, both pre and post Hispanic.







Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meeting A Cyberfriend

One of my goals when we arrived in this part of Mexico was to meet Kathe. Kathe is an American who has moved to Mexico and has bought a very nice piece of waterfront property just outside of Chetumal. It was following the RV adventures of Kathe and her partner that planted the first seeds of Mexico RVing in my mind. She has been very helpful over the years in answering questions about Mexico for me and other RVers.

We visited Kathe at her Maricasa development the other day and as luck would have it, she was home. She showed us around her property which actually includes an undeveloped Mayan pyramid!

Today Kathe and her friend Penny from Santa Fe, NM stopped by to say "Hi" and to give us some help in locating an upholstery shop to repair a torn tie down strap from the car dolly. Two more days here and we are on out way. It is raining on and off but we are going to try visiting the tax-free zone between Mexico and Belize today after we drop off the laundry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chiapas Massacre

As promised, I have researched the massacre of Zapatista supporters in Chiapas and have updated the original post. Here is a link back to that updated post.

The facts I unearthed are even more unsettling than in my original post.

Visiting Belize Is Not That Easy

There are a couple of rigs parked here in Chetumal because they have been unable to cross the border into Belize. One, a very nice couple of retired teachers from Arkansas neglected to bring the original ownership documents for their truck and trailer with them and the copies they did have were refused. They are waiting for the originals to be couriered to them here.

Another couple changed their minds because of the costs and difficulties involved. These include paying $100 Pesos each to have your FMT's stamped and then paying to have your vehicles sprayed for bugs. On top of that you are not allowed to bring hardly any food into Belize and are limited to one litre of booze. Another difficulty is the lack of availability of Collision Insurance. Evidently only Liability insurance is available in Belize.

Another group got turned back for inadequate paperwork but somehow found a Notary willing to notarize the copies they did have. Our visit to Central America will wait for next year. Belize is a beautiful country but they do not go out of their way to make it tourist friendly.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Chetumal was completely destroyed by two hurricanes in the 1940’s and then again in 1955 by the Category 5 Hurricane Janet which left only four buildings standing. It has been rebuilt on a much more solid footing, using lots of concrete. Because of this the city was able to withstand the onslaught of Hurricane Dean in 2007. The city is at the mouth of the Rio Hondo which separates Mexico from Belize (the old British Honduras).

The sign at the bottom is on the side of a building downtown. It shows the high water mark during Hurricane Janet in 1955. Most of the city was under seven feet of water!

We are in the Yax Ha RV Park a little East of town. This park is right on Chetumal Bay. The photos speak for themselves!

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The exploring begins tomorrow!

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Photos

A couple of generous folks have left kind statements either as comments to my posts or as Guestbook entries about how they liked my photos. All the photos on the Blog were taken with a Nikon D70S SLR Digital camera. It has been dropped, lost, found and abused all across Mexico twice now and is still functioning perfectly after over 10,000 photos. The lens that came with it, a 28 - 70 "Kit" Nikon Digital Zoom, has been put aside and replaced with my old dependable Tamron 28 - 70 that I used with my old film Nikons. The reason for this is the Nikon lens acts like a vacuum cleaner when it is zoomed out in a dusty environment (read "Mexico"), sucking bits of dust into the lens. I sent it to Nikon for cleaning and they sent back an estimate that was higher than the cost of replacing the lens. Because of the complicated mathematics involved when figuring focal length as a function of sensor size, this non-digital 28 - 70 becomes effectively a 42 - 105 when used with the D70S.

I also had a Tokina 70 - 210 zoom (105 - 315 when used with the D70S) that I used the odd time. Unfortunately I lost this lens in Palenque when I set it down to put the shorter zoom back on the camera. I am not too upset as these "non-digital" lenses are very cheap on eBay these days and will be replaced ASAP.

Photos get a quick crop (if necessary), levels correction and sharpening in Photoshop before they are published.

Thanks for the compliments and please continue enjoying the sights of Mexico with me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Becan Ruins

We got up at 8:00 this morning and I walked the kilometre or so to the Becan Ruins (550 BC to 1000 AD). They are very impressive but much less developed than were the Palenque Ruins. I had the entire city of ruins to myself and was very impressed. Just to sit back and feel the presence of these ancients is a very humbling experience.

I am by no means an expert on pyramids but these were the first rounded corners I have ever seen. Some of the original red paint was visible as well. It must have been a very imposing sight to see these buildings in their original coat of blood-red paint!

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Original red paint unearthed

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You can see rounded corners here

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Detail of rounded corners

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Original artwork (behind faded Plexiglas)

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The Road To Chetumal

Today we are leaving Palenque and heading towards Chetumal on a bay off the Caribbean Sea near the Belize border. While there we might get a chance to visit with sometimes Blogger and old hand Mexico RVer, Kathe Kirkbride. Kathe is presently working on an ambitious project in her Maricasa development on the beach a few miles from Chetumal. I have been keeping track of Kathe and her land development project for some time now and will enjoy meeting her and seeing her project first hand. I hope she is home.

We did not make it all the way to Chetumal today and are parked for the night in a roadside restaurant in Becan, near the Campeche / Quintana Roo State Line. I noticed a sign pointing to some ruins only a half a kilometre off the highway and just might go for a walk there in the morning. We are only a couple of hours from Chetumal so I will have some time to spare in the morning.

Our parking place is very interesting! There is a large tope on the road beside us and it is amazing how many people do not see it! There is often a squeal of  rubber and a crash as someone hits the tope at high speed. A large truck hit it an hour ago and he is still parked down the highway with his flashers on. I suspect he blew a couple of tires. Luckily, there is a 24 hour tire service right beside the tope.

Howler Monkeys

I was awakened this morning by a strange noise at around 5:30 AM. At first thought it was heavy traffic passing on the adjoining road and thought little of it. After it kept up for a while I realized it could not be traffic so I sat up to listen. It was the Howler Monkeys that live near the ruins up the road! If I listened carefully I could make out the calls of individual monkeys but generally they all blended in together to sound almost like surf rolling along a beach. It is a very unusual sound.

Tonight at around 9:30 PM I heard them again through the sound of the singer performing in the restaurant in the park. I walked over to the swimming pool where I hoped the sound might be amplified by the surface of the pool. It seemed to be further off in the distance than this morning but individuals were still discernable. Maybe they will perform again tonight.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama’s Inauguration

Well, here I am, a white Canadian in Mexico watching with pride the Inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th President Of The United States. What gives? Well, everything the USA does affects every one of us on the planet and it was a great pleasure to watch the USA rejoin the Twenty-First Century. You missed eight years of it folks but welcome back, it is time to catch up!

We had the pleasure of sharing this historic occasion with our American neighbours here in the park. Tears were shed (by me anyway) when Obama gave his speech and Bush was wished a speedy exit with the advice to not let the door smack him in the a$$ on his way out.

Can Obama produce the change he promised? He is in a better position than many in the past. He is young, energetic and has the support of more than 80% of Americans so he has a chance. He is the guy who wants the ball with three seconds left in the game and his team down by two points. Like they say, “He’s got game”!

The sad part of the day of course is thinking about the people who were not there to see it: Dr. King, JFK, RFK, Lyndon Johnson, Malcolm X among many others. Missing also were the brave people who dared sit in the front of the bus or at the Zellers lunch counter, the fearless children who braved jeering mobs to walk into their schools and the heroes who marched into the police dogs, billy clubs and fire hoses in Alabama for this is their day too! Now, instead of two paths into the future, these paths are merging into one. The Country is one step closer to fulfilling it’s Constitutional promise of equality for all, but there is so far yet to go.

But for now, you may ask, what has changed? Everything! Everything has changed.




Palenque is a Myan city that was inhabited from around 100 BC until AD 900 when it was abandoned.  As it is in the area of Mexico that receives the greatest rainfall, the jungle quickly overtook the site and it remained lost in time until 1947 when Myan hunter’s tales of a “Jungle Palace” were investigated. Since then the site has been subject to almost constant exploration and to date several hundred buildings have been discovered on the main site and in the immediate jungle area.
Palenque is awe-inspiring and is worth a trip to Mexico on it’s own. It is almost a Spiritual experience to walk in the footsteps of these ancients. People in the RV Park here have been back three times and say they still have not seen everything. Here are a few of the three hundred some photos I took there.
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