During the end of our stay in Belize I somehow managed to fall and chip two teeth and put a crack in one. For days the sensitivity was excruciating and my jaw was extremely sore and since neither Andy or myself had any experience with this before we decided that the best thing to do would be to get to a place where we wouldn’t mind spending a week or two in case repeat visits to a dentist were necessary. This meant that instead of wandering through the Mexican state of Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula we would be taking two overnight buses in a row to get to Oaxaca, a place we knew we loved and has plenty of good dentist recommendations on Internet forums.
We felt like we were traveling in luxury during the two hour boat ride from Caye Caulker compared to the rejected U.S. School buses we had grown accustomed to in Guatemala and it seemed like in no time at all we were docking in Chetumal, Mexico. We got our passports stamped as a trained German Shepherd police dog sniffed everyone’s bag, then took a taxi to the bus station. It was easy enough to find the ticket stand and we found ourselves with the entire day stretching before us until the evening departure of our bus to San Cristobal, the first leg of our overland journey. Thank fully we had done a little research into things to do in the area and were able to leave our backpacks with a store in the bus station for the day.
From the station we took a local bus to our first stop, the Cenote Azul outside of Bacalar. A cenote is basically a limestone sinkhole that exposes underground freshwater caverns. They are often very deep and circularly shaped and were an important source of drinking water for the Mayans since the Yucatan has only a few marshy lakes and almost no rivers. We found that the only way to get to the Cenote Azul seemed to be through the bars and restaurants that are build along the sides of the pool. We walked to the waters edge and thought it was pretty but without any great places to lay out and sunbathe we decided to move on before being pressured into buying drinks. More incredible than the actual view of the pool was knowing how it was formed and wondering how deep it was.
Our plan was to walk along the highway to the Laguna Bacalar, a beautiful turquoise fresh water lake where we had heard that it was possible to rent kayaks. It didn’t take very long for the sweat to start running down our bodies and the smell of exhaust to become a little overwhelming so we decided to stop at the first swimming hole we came to. It so happened that next place we saw was a semi-swanky looking place called Hotel Laguna which looked completely deserted except for a few employees. The hotel had a swimming pool and a diving board off of a dock into the lagoon and was so perfect looking that we took our chances and asked what the day use fee was. We couldn’t believe our luck; use of all the hotel facilities was free with the purchase of something from the restaurant. It was a perfect afternoon spent splitting a plate of nachos and drinking Pacificos interspersed with swimming breaks in a beautiful fresh water lake that was the most perfectly cooling temperature.
Eventually we pulled ourselves away from paradise and continued on to Bacalar. We took a quick walk around town and saw the Fort of San Felipe which was built in the 1700’s to protect against Caribbean pirate raids. Pretty soon the sun was setting and we caught a ride back to the Chetumal bus station in a collective van. We brushed our teeth in the bathroom and settled in for a 13 hour overnight bus ride.