2-18-09 Balneario Cocalitos, Laguna Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Dropping the wire across the entryway at dusk, we krept into the well-kept lawn of the Balneario Cocalitas. Greeted by a woman of Mayan decent, we agreed upon 200 pesos for us to spend the night. Dave skillfully parked Philomena under the coconut palms along the shores of the Laguna Bacalar. Hot and tired, we dusted off the day’s long 320 mile drive across the center of the Yuctan Pennisula.
Before arriving at this lovely spot, we stopped at a restaurant for directions and ended up staying for a delicious seafood supper. The patio dining area sat overlooking a 175 foot deep cenote (natural limestone pool) where several others swam and some jumped 30 feet from rooftop into the deep waters below. Recalling similar plunges into the Dorset marble quarry during my youth, I considered jumping but chose instead to enjoy my beer.
Cenotes are deep circular pools of freshwater dotting the entire Yuctan. Allegidly formed back in the days of the dinosaurs when a huge meteor several miles wide slammed into the Yuctan. The insuing explosion sent giant chunks of space rock deep into the Earth and, eventually millions of years later, these deep depressions filled with water to form the maginifcent cenote swimming holes we find throughout pennisula today. It is said that it was the giant dust cloud of dust resulting from the impact that blocked the sun, ending the reign of the dinosaurs.
Settling into our campspot, Kim bustles with excitment about the prospect of swimming in the shallow lagoon, different from the cenote. Our hostess calls it “agua dulce” (sweet water) and the guidebook calls it “Las Lagunas de Siete Colores (Lagoon of 7 colors). The shallow, light reflecting bottom, changes shades of aqua blue green depending upon the light conditions and time of day. Exquistly beautiful and delightfully warm, it was not surprising to see that many expensive new homes have sprung up long the gentle shores. Across the water at night we can see the light of the Belize border “free zone” shining brightly on the horizon and we sit under the stars talking about the universe, space travel and other assorted topics until a respectable time to go to sleep. Kim, my bunkmate for the night, and I settle into the tent. I read a few chapters of “Moby Dick” aloud and we nod off to sleep.
The thick dew of the Yuctan settled in around us and everything is drenched in the morning, quickly drying with the rising sun. “I might tip my toe in,” reports Will, inspecting the clear blue waters in the morning light. Kim and I happily wash body and hair with Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable peppermint soap and, with a sudden SPLASH, he joins us. I excavate the snorkles and fins from the bottom of the van closet, and the three of us attempt to swim long enough for Dave to get the entire van packed. It is a memorable morning , chasing little fish in paradise swim.
As we finish packing, neighbors in a Westy come over to say hello and “What year?” (this is the standard Westy greeting.} They, it turns out, are living, for 10 years now, in their van. As if reading our minds, Kim informs Dave and me, “That may be fine for you both, but count me out.” Before heading off, we get a tour of their meticulously maintained vehical with many impressive and practical modifications for daily living. Hum, maybe someday... For now, we are headed to Tulum, where we’ll camp on the white sands of the Caribbean for four nights, waiting for my sister Carrie to arrive at Cancun airport on Sunday!