December 15, 2015: Leaving Frontera we had almost 9 hours of driving left to reach Akumal. In order to get that done in one day we had to get an early start. We left the hotel after brief and chilly showers to retrieve our house from the taxi lot around 6:00 am. Taxi service was just getting started and the gate was open and ready for business. We got on the road.
The beginning of the drive continued along the Tabasco lowlands near and along the southernmost part of the Gulf of Mexico. The water and the beaches in that area are beautiful, and little developed.
Once we left the coast to bypass the city of Campeche, we began climbing into gentle hills.
At about that time, we encountered another small RV that looked a lot like ours, but older, more run down, and with Florida plates. This was the first RV we saw on the road in Mexico. After trailing the other van for a bit, we passed them, and saw the driver, who looked pretty young and quite bearded.
At about the time we passed the other van, we arrived at a Federal Police checkpoint, one van after the other. We were both pulled over. (In fact, we’ve been pulled over at virtually every checkpoint we’ve encountered. I guess we’re a source of curiosity for bored cops.) When asked whether we were traveling with the Floridians, Michael pointed out to the young cop that the fact that the two vans were together was a coincidence. The cop seemed to like this, but gave our paperwork a serious review before sending us on our way. As with all such stops, after a few friendly questions, maybe a glance at a piece of paper and a drivers license, we were sent on our way with good wishes for our journey.
The other van passed us just in time for the cops to see us coming in together at the next checkpoint. We wonder what those guys were thinking. Oh well.
We arrived in Quintana Roo, the state containing Cancun and the rest of the Caribbean coast of Mexico, about an hour later than our friends were expecting, as we had forgotten that Quintana Roo changes from Central to the Eastern time zone for the winter months, as of last winter. We probably should have remembered, as we were in Q. Roo when the change happened last year and it was quite a source of discussion.
Our friends were waiting with welcome margaritas. (Fresh. I wonder what happened to the drinks they said they prepared for us an hour earlier?) They were renting a condo on Half Moon Bay, and we, being no longer the kind of people who can afford to rent condos on nice beaches, had to figure out where to park our house. Ideally somewhere where we could plug in to electricity, but simply finding some place where we could sleep undisturbed and not get booted during the day was our goal. Arriving an hour late and after dark made us a little apprehensive about our prospects. We had a few places in mind to ask, but luckily the manager of the condo property let us park right behind the 4 story building, next to the sign, where were were allowed to plug into an outlet. We felt a little guilty that our giant van completely blocked the view of the condo’s sign, but he didn’t seem to mind. And we weren’t charged for electricity. The plug in made sleeping in the still, humid air off the beach bearable. Comfortable, actually.
We have been to Akumal several times in the past decade or so. Like much of the Caribbean coast of Mexico, it’s a really beautiful place that has experienced significantly increased traffic over that period of time. Its claim to fame is a beautiful sandy bay that green sea turtles call home.
It’s an amazing snorkeling destination. Unlike most places where it’s necessary to take a boat to a reef to experience good snorkeling, in Akumal you can just swim out from the beach and see an amazing assortment of tropical fish, sea turtles, rays and other marine life.
But this would not turn out to be a typical visit to Akumal. On Thursday, things got weird.