Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Journey's Completion

Ever seen a monsoon? I promise you you haven't, not until you've been in the middle of a driving Mexican rain. Rain is not the right word. Even flood doesn't cut it. Think a vertical river, coming straight out of the sky, and you've kind of got the idea.

We got caught in the middle of it, a tropical depression that brewed along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula for a few days. Joel, Jordan, and I spent twenty-seven consecutive hours in buses riding up through Guatemala into Belize, into the Mexican border town of Chetumal, and finally into Tulum, Mexico. The rain started there - just a bit at first, enough to be annoying, then departing for a few hours at a time.

Rather convenient timing, really, as it allowed us to photograph the Caribbean Sea, emerald waters and white sands, and explore the coastal ruins north of the city. Hardly as impressive as Tikal, but stark and striking nevertheless: austere stone formations speckled the coastline, perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the sea. Enormous iguanas, not a bit scared of human activity, bathed in the sun as tourists from all over the world wandered throughout the park. The crowds were a bit large and made good shots difficult to find; still, we managed.

We departed early in the afternoon, arriving in an incredibly humid Playa del Carmen, 30 miles or so south of Cancun. The skies were bruised and grumbling, enormous black columns in the sky... rain, and lots of it, was imminent. We managed to get in a game of volleyball on the beach with a couple of travelers from Chile before the skies opened up... we retired to our extremely cheap and sketchy hostel on Avenue 10 Norte, anticipating a few sweet hours of sleep before I rode with Jordan to the airport at 5:00am (she'd be leaving two days before Joel and I.)

At 5:00am Jordan and I walked through six inches of water in the hostel's reception room, letting in another three or so when we opened the front door, and slogged through the shin-deep rapids that was now Avenue 10 Norte. Ten minutes later and drenched to the bone, we arrived at the bus station... the fact that an opportunistic taxi driver hadn't hailed us from the curb was a testament to the severity of the storm. No amount of pesos was worth the risk.

Mercifully the rain eased up by the time we arrived at Aeropuerto Cancun, and after dropping Jordan off at the terminal I was able to make my way into the Cancun bus station. I inquired there about my beloved travel guitar, which I'd mistakenly left on the bus from Tulum... no luck. RIP dear friend.

Joel and I spent the last two days in Playa del Carmen, watching the FIFA tournament and taking pictures. The rain let up on our last day so we were able to get in a bit of beach time... we flew back to the Estados Unitas on Thursday morning hundreds of Pesos, Quetzales and Belizian Dollars poorer.

But since when has true worth ever been measured in dollars?

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