We spent the next day (we are now up to 17th January) traveling. Early morning bus (we watched the sun come up through the bus window) to Chetumal. Grabbed a quick lunch in Subway (which is a big thing in Mexico) at the ADO bus station then onto the second class bus headed for Escarcega. This bus had no movies but it did have Village People. Quite loudly. All the way. We asked to be dropped off at Rio Bec Dreams. Apparently there is usually no problem with that but… We got some very helpful passengers and a driver who dropped us off at Becan. Which is about six km from Rio Bec Dreams. We walked it.
Rio Bec Dreams is a jungle lodge just off the main road in the Calakmul bio reserve. It’s run by a very knowledgeable and interesting couple – he’s from Canada, she’s originally from the UK but has lived all over the world. It is a lovely place, a little spot of paradise with hummingbirds and more. They have about five bungalows, a bar and a restaurant serving international cuisine. At that point in our stay, I was not in the mood for international cuisine (with vegetables) because I was not yet sick of Central American food. The goats cheese salad was, however, amazing.
The main point of our staying at the lodge (apart from enjoying the garden and the wonderful wildlife inhabiting the garden) was to visit Calakmul – a somewhat remote site which is supposed to be totally wonderful. Calakmul is not the easiest site to access, we’d been led to believe that the owners of Rio Bec Dreams would be able to help us get there, even if only help with organising a taxi to get there are perhaps a guide. It got better than expected, they helped us hire a car so we drove ourselves.
The drive was epic. First an easy half hour down a modern highway. Then you turn off to the left and drive about 60 Km. The first bit is on an almost intact road. Not a modern highway, but easily negotiable. Then you drive 30 Km down a rough track full of very deep potholes. We mostly managed to dodge them. We hit one on the way in and one on the way out. And the car was returned to the hire place undamaged so clearly it had withstood the trials of the road.
Calakmul itself is a very large site and, I thought, presented in a highly confusing manner. First of all we saw a very large and easy to understand residential complex. That was lovely though all the frescoes had been removed to somewhere we didn’t go. There are some very high (for Mexico) temples and, of course, a lot of the visitors think that the whole point of the site is to get exercise by climbing them. I found it a bit disappointing, to be honest. I think I might have expected too much. I’m not sure why but the lack of Stellae and relief work on the walls might be a partial explanation. On reflection, even though the well thought out route and notes provided from Rio Bec Dreams helped , perhaps we should have taken a guide or visited later on our trip when our eyes were more in. So, the ruins were somewhat disappointing but the wildlife was sensational. We saw spider monkeys, ocellated turkeys (some of whom like to walk in front of your car for considerable distances), red throat ant tanager, black cowled orioles, I’m pretty sure I saw a peccary and I definitely got my first sight of Montezoma’s oropendolas. These birds were to feature frequently in our future.