I keep thinking that eventually we’ll stop having holy s@#$ moments on our adventures here in Mexico. I mean, obviously I don’t want them to stop happening, but you eventually become desensitized to where you are living, right? I love Kansas City, it will always be our hometown. But I think we took it for granted a bit when we lived there (I’m thinking it will be a lot more special when we visit). So I keep waiting for the same thing to happen here in Mexico. But just a couple nights ago I was standing outside staring at an unbelievable night sky in the middle of nowhere and had another holy s@#$ moment.
But let me back up just a bit to tell you how I got there. After a few long days of being cooped up inside for work and a variety of other reasons we were going a little stir crazy and looking to go a bit further than the beach behind our place. Having a car here has opened up all kinds of possibilities for exploring and we decided it was time to cross another place off our list so road trip time!
The Sian Ka’an biosophere, is a large protected ecological reserve located about 100 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen. It is Mexico’s largest wetland nature reserve and an extremely popular spot for fly fishing and ecotourism. We decided to take an overnight trip to the small town of Punta Allen that has about 300 residents and is situated on the far end of the biosphere on a peninsula about 50 km south of Tulum. In theory that’s a relatively short drive but because of the infamous “road to Punta Allen” it can take anywhere from 2-3 hours to travel that distance. The road is, to put it politely, horrible. As soon as you exit Tulum and enter the biosphere on the one and only road you can take, the bumps start. And never, ever stop. To be fair, we were told that once or twice a year the roads are ‘fixed’ and they are gearing up to do that in a couple weeks. So yeah, timing.
Our plan was to take our time, “enjoy” the drive and stop whenever and wherever we felt like it. The taking our time part wasn’t really an option, most of the time we didn’t get above about 15mph. But we actually did enjoy ourselves a lot and had quite a few memorable moments. Much of the drive winds through extremely dense jungle.
Several times we stopped, walked along a relatively clear path through the jungle and emerged on a completely deserted beach.
Another time we stopped on the one bridge we passed over and watched a fisherman at work.
And eventually we made it all the way to the end of the road, just past the town of Punta Allen, and found a deserted (but still functioning) lighthouse.
After spending a bit of time exploring around the lighthouse and in Punta Allen we backtracked a bit to our hotel. There really aren’t a lot of choices if you want to stay overnight in Sian Ka’an. There are a couple of campgrounds along the way and a few hotels in Punta Allen that cater to fishermen. We did find a place to settle for the night a few kilometers north of town called Sol Caribe. To minimize the ecological impact there is no air conditioning, cell towers (so no cell phones) and you are enouraged to minimize your electrical usage, for example hair dryers and electric razors are banned.
It was here after taking a swim in the ocean and walk along the coast where we didn’t see another soul, and after a fantastic dinner served to us by the chef himself where we were the only two customers in the restaurant, and while sitting on our balcony and looking up and seeing a night sky unlike any we’ve ever seen before that I had my gazillionth holy s@#$ moment of this adventure. That sky. We didn’t even bother trying to take a picture because it would never do it justice. But the remoteness, lack of people, lack of structure and lack of electricity in all directions meant that we were seeing something that you truly have to travel to the ends of the world (or at least the road) to see. I had to catch my breath reached out for Jason’s hand and told him thank you yet again for being willing to experience all this with me. And by the way, holy s@#$!
The next day we had to reverse our bumpy route. In the end our car and butts took a beating, but our brains? They got an amazing, fantastic holy s@#$ moment. Road conditions bad or good we’d still take that trip all over again, and still might, but there are so many, many more places to cross off the list.
Jason put together a video of our trip, it gives you an even better sense of how rough the ride was. Take a look:
So tell me, could you part with your cell phone, hair dryer and a paved road for an experience like this?