January 22, 2016: After Champotón, we made a short drive up the coast to the city of Campeche.
We arrived in Campeche on Monday, January 11th (yeah, yeah, we know we’re a bit behind in reporting the adventure). We were thinking we’d spend a night or two; we ended up staying for 6.
We found a very comfortable and reasonably priced place to camp at Ecovillas Kin Ha. Our site had some electricity (137 volts, no ground), water and tank dumping facilities for our house.
It definitely didn’t hurt that we found a really good taqueria nearby.
3 tacos, as good as any you’ve ever had, on made-to-order fresh tortillas, served with a couple of really good salsas on the side, all for about $3. Great deal, right? Well, actually the price was 20 pesos, which is $1.08 at today’s exchange rate. So cheap we almost felt guilty. (Not so guilty we didn’t go back, of course.)
They were advertising a party pack: tacos for 100 people, including all the fixins, dishes, napkins, plus servers to take care of your guests. 1700 pesos, or about $0.92 US per person.
We were last in Campeche in 1996. The city has made great strides since then in making itself more appealing and accessible to tourists. They have done helpful things like putting up signs all around the center, in English and Spanish, that tell you what you are looking at.
There are hints of a Pirates of the Caribbean theme park just waiting to emerge from the picturesque walled old central city.
Campeche is on the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish “founded” the city in 1540. (Like most of Spain’s Mexican colonial towns, Campeche was established by co-opting an existing indigenous settlement.) It has a rich history of shipping, pirates and military might. You can tour original walls, forts and bastions that defended this colonial city.
There are several very good museums in town, many in the forts and bastions, others in former homes and government buildings. On one of our first days in town, we walked around the city center. It reminded us a lot of Old San Juan.
Outside of the walled city, on high ground overlooking the approaches, sit two historic forts built in the early 18th Century. South of the city, the Fort of San Miguel, houses the Museum of Mayan Culture with an impressive collection of Mayan artifacts from sites in the state of Campeche. Oddly, many of these artifacts lack any specific detail regarding their origin. We suspect they may have been “recovered” from individuals who were not keeping meticulous records of their provenance.
Outside this museum there is a cave. Our cab driver told us that there were caves all over the city and that pirates used them to get around unseen. He claimed that you can get from here all the way to the other fort, miles away, inside the caves.
North of the city, the other fort features incredible views.
The city center is also home to a couple of craft beer bars (called artisan beer here), which we didn’t mind a bit. Hops, how we have missed you!
On Friday the 15th we took a day trip out of the city and went to the ruins of Edzná. Based on the very large population we encountered, we assume Edzná means “City of Iguanas.” They were everywhere!
This is an impressive site, well worth the drive. Its most impressive feature is a huge central plaza with a massive raised acropolis on one side. At the center is the five-story main temple with many rooms and unusual rolled sides. Click on individual pictures below.
Before leaving Campeche we visited its market. It’s not as large as the one in Mérida, but just as busy.
We found Campeche to be beautiful and user friendly (if hot). It’s well worth a stop if you’re on the Yucatan!