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jueves, junio 30, 2011

A Short Walk In Honor Of Michel Peissel

Michel Peissel is a French explorer who in 1956, long before there was Cancun, long before there were paved roads, long before the Riviera Maya was a tourist destination, long before there was Highway 307 running from Cancun to Chetumal, walked from where Playa del Carmen is now, down the coast of Quintana Roo, all the way to Belize. His purpose was to explore the area and he ended up finding 14 Mayan archeological sites. His adventure is reported in his 1963 book, The Lost World Of Quintana Roo, which is now sadly out of print.

Peissel walked down the beach in front of my house, down the sand of Bahia Soliman, headed south. So today, in his honor, when the sun was finally shining, I pulled on my water sandals, jammed a few pesos in my pocket, and I headed out for the territory, south, down the beach, following Peissel's route. Some of the walking was easy, on sandy beaches with the most gentle waves. It's easy to walk in the water. Midday today the tide was incredibly low. Soft sand can slow down walking, but the beach walk was easy.

At the point, at the end of Bahia Soliman, where the land reaches out to touch the coral reef that runs from Cancun south all the way to Panama, there is rock. The going there is a good deal rougher and a good deal slower. Peissel wasn't well equipped: he had hot clothing, bad shoes, a jacket (don't ask), and no water. He walked it anyway.

On all of these rocks, it's hot. And it's windy. There are a zillion fossils in the rock. There are tiny sea creatures living in tidal holes. And the plants tenaciously hold on to whatever sand or drift wood there is for dear life. There's not a lot of rock. It doesn't go on for very far. Eventually you come near the end of the point and can see the far south side of the bay in Tankah 3.

And then you walk on sandy beach again. Down Tankah 3. Walking in the water past the houses. If you wanted to, you could walk all the way to Punta Allen or Belize. I don't want to.

The destination and turn around of this walk? Casa Cenote, where the beer is cold, and there is shade and service:

And there's a special treat. Not the beer. That's a treat on a hot day, but not that special. Outside Casa Cenote ever so slightly inland is a cenote. A cenote is a pool of fresh water where the limestone of the ground has given way. It could be a deep sinkhole, or as in this case, it could look like a pond. It's the Manatee Cenote. I have no idea why it is named for a Manatee. As far as I can tell, there has never been one in it. Yes, all the furniture from Casa Cenote was deposited in there by Hurricane Wilma, but alas, no manatee. And nobody seems to claim there was.

And then the trek back, north. I choose to follow the road past the mangrove, which right now is full of water, frog choirs, birds, snakes, and flowers. This cuts the time of the trip significantly, but the road is much hotter than the beach. As I walk, I conclude that we should all support our Local Mangrove. How do we do that? Best answer: leave it alone.

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