White (sand) Chrstmas in Mahahual
The weather here has been odd, at least for what we’ve come to expect of mexican beaches. Its almost as though a cold front moved in and has been sitting over Mahahual the entire time we’ve been here. Still warm in the heat of the day but early and later on we are in hoodies and the wind gusting in from offshore keeps things chilly. Chilly enough that in our 3 days here we haven’t once felt like being in the water long enough to even pull our snorkel gear out of the bag.
Christmas never really feels like christmas on the beach, but this entire group is in the same boat as us. They’ve been downsizing and saving for long enough that gifts are no longer part of the holiday. Combined with the odd bizzarro-world that evolved as the cruise ship dumped 1000s of gringos onto the malecon and we all opt to not wander far from camp. We spend hours (while huddled around the internet hotspot) discussing holidays of old and researching our next destinations. Beside us on the malecon, swarms of tourists pile into Senor Frogs and others buzz by us in tour groups of jeeps, bicycles and segways not allowed to venture offpath and herded like a groups of schoolchildren holding onto the string that their teacher tied to each backpack before leaving the classroom. We can only imagine the stories these groups must tell about how they “braved” mexico for a day, and reassure each person we meet as they ask wide-eyed about our trips, “haven’t you been robbed?”
My back has been in rare form here. Probably the immediate return to long days of volleyball (and doesn’t help that we are playing/diving on what feels like concrete covered with a 2” layer of fine sand. I treat myself to an hour of massage/chiropractic/reiki from the guy who hangs around the resort (a steal at $23) and then we volleyball right through sunset. After our last game the colors glowing from behind the trees beckon us over for a group shot on the beach and we all borrow the boys’ santa hats for the requisite family christmas card photos.
Later in the evening we all make the walk back down the malecon for dinner and huddle under the makeshift fishnet christmas tree in the sand to share a pizza and calzones. It may not be traditional, but a christmas we’ll remember nonetheless. After the navidad teams begin departing for their separate journeys. Team astrid for the long road home and the rest of of for our random paths south.
Growing itchy for exploration, Jen and i packed up and said our goodbyes before heading south down the peninsula to Xcalak. The whole peninsula is so intriguing to us as we thought we had driven all of the southern coast and somehow didn’t even realize that the “costa maya” even existed. We pull into Xcalak and its a complete opposite to the cruise ship destination we just left. An almost empty town with dilapidated buildings and ruins of a past society. Apparently Xcalak was the largest city in Quintana Roo until a hurricane destroyed the city and killed most of its residents in the 50s. Those who survived moved away, and the city hasn’t done much since. We drive around the ghost town but cant find food or water and settle for lunch that consisted of chips and a bag of beans. North of town we stop into a dive shop that gives us the background on the city and explains that most of the southern tip of the peninsula is protected by marine park- our kind of place.
We also see la Cucharacha and Anna as she and Pablo are camped out somewhere north of town and consider staying, but our fridge is empty and we simply aren’t prepared to boondock in the middle of nowhere (as much as our budget and snorkels would love it). On the way back north we take the dirt road closer to the water and marvel at lot after lot of perfect ocean views and the short snorkel out to a reef...exactly the type of place we would buy as a vacation home (or permanent home). Problem is, since the cruise ship dock, everyone that has come here had the same idea and for 10 years have been holding onto properties at US prices waiting for this to turn into the the next cancun-tulum strip. Sadly they are probably correct (although they may need to wait a few years/decades for it). We actually prefer it the way it is now...
We once again talk ourselves out of camping on any one of the vacant lots and roll back into Mahahual for a final evening with the few remaining ralliers. We are forcing ourselves back onto budget as jen ran the numbers earlier today...no walk down the malecon and dinner out- its back to homecooked meals in the bus. We devour our sombrero shaped pasta and crash after a long day of exploring.