At the end of the trip we ended in Puerto Morelos, a tourist ghetto tucked b/w ugly Cancun and scary Playa Del Carmen, that was Puerto Morelos. You almost felt like you were in Florida, and Mexicans were visiting here for their vacations. The whole coast of Riviera Maya is weird and Puerto Morelos is no freaking exception. The beach doesn't have the nice tree cover of the rest of the coast south of here, like Tulum for example, but at the opposite of Tulum you don't have to park in a gringo restaurant to access it. It's slightly more civilized and in control of real estate in Puerto Morelos. Every block there's a whole street that gives you access to the beach, so even the poorest tourist can enjoy the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. It's a good place to take a break, enjoy the beach, and to go explore the cenotes along the Cenotes Highway towards the West. We stayed in a semi hotel/hostel/B&B, with our pleasant and ghetto style (it's Puerto Morelos, don't forget) hosts. The woman is from Québec and her dude is from Veracruz on the Golf of Mexico. They were cooking nice breakfast in the morning, and we had access to the kitchen to cook our own meals the rest of the day, cutting our food expense by 4!! They also told us about their Hurricane story back in 2005 maybe. But sadly their closing down the house 'cause they aren't enough tourists anymore. If only they had left a little bit of Mexican charm to Riviera Maya and some authenticity, but hey tourism kills culture, maybe these guys could remain in business.
After 2 great days in Rio Lagartos we took the road and did our longest stretch of road.. Maybe 4 hours. Instead of taking the freeway we took the small(est) roads and took some detours. Our first stop, at El Cuyo, another village on the North coast, was definitely not a tourist stop. No estuary with nice flamingos, but a long stretch of white sand beach, unfortunately spattered with trash. It's too bad people don't want to bring their trash home, that's where they live. The tourist areas are cleaner, because that's where they work I guess. Anyways after being seriously stared at by the locals, we left a little uncomfortable. After that, we drove through the farmland of northern yucatan. The whole place probably used to be jungle. They seem to first burn everything to the ground before the rainy season, and just allow the grass to grow back. The soil looks pretty poor though so after a couple years of doing that the soil may be running out of nutrients.. Hard to say though. It looks like a savannah with skinny cows. It's nice to have the landscape open though to see beyond the usual endless lines of trees that most roads more south of there in the jungle are like. Later we got back into Mayan territory, in the middle of the jungle. The descendants seem really poor, still living in wood huts, with no farming going on. Don't know how they make ends meet. Then the trip got interesting for us. All of a sudden the road stopped being paved! It looked like they were re-building... it seemed to be going on for a while, we had to drive 15mph. As I was getting worried about the shitty tires of the car, the gas gauge turned on. We looked on the map where we could possibly be. The closest gas station could be 25 miles away. We started to seriously stress out. We kept going, and finally hit the paved road, but as I was trying to accelerate the car didn't respond... Then we all died of thirst. Well I guess we were hitting bottom on the tank, the car only wanted to go slow. We kept driving and made it to a small village. We stopped to ask some guy where was the next gas station. Another 12km, so we're like "where can we find gas to buy from someone" he points at a house at the end of the village. The woman there was kind of laughing at us in a friendly way. "ah those funny gringos!" anyways we made alive, no big survival adventure that ends with some indigenous people eating us, but we were quite relieved and my marriage is still holding up strong! ;)
Nice and remote area of the estuary called Rio Lagartos in Northern Yucatan. Pretty amazing place. The town is mostly a fisherman's town and the few tourists are mexicans. The town has a nice promenade with all the fishing boats aligned next to each other. The big attraction here is another Reserva de la Biosfera, with the famous pink flamingos, thousands of them. It's a large area with mangrove... If you're lucky you can see crocodiles.. We only saw crocodiles later when hiking in the jungle. During our boat trip to see the flamingos we got a real mayan mud massage, in the wild!!