Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Paa mul
The van started making a funny noise when we left Chichen itza. We were on the road to Cancun and it started getting louder. Wil was visibly worried and his thinking was that if we were going to need a new bearing that it would be good to be set up somewhere where we'd be happy to be for a few days while we ran around looking for the part and we knew Cancun was not that place. Paa Mul, near Playa del Carmen, and even nearer our friends Mike & Véro, seemed like the obvious choice so, rather than head further east we headed south to Tulum and then up the coastal road. Paa Mul is a campground/trailerpark where Mike & Véro and their daughter, Soline, spend most of every winter. The place was teeming. It was a bit of a culture shock to be in such close proximity to so many white people and to hear so much English and Québécois spoken around us. The setting, however, was idyllic. The Caribbean is so very clear and manages to cover every shade of blue and every shade of green and every possible variation in between. Our friends have included us in their very busy social schedule. We've been to dinners and birthday parties and volleyball tournaments, each one at a new and better beach. The sand here is like Maseca, off-white, fluffy, the water is warm, the waves mild.

The day before yesterday we went to a beach a half-hour south of here. It is a protected sea turtle reserve where people are permitted to come enjoy the beach for the day. The sun was hot. The girls bobbed happily in the waves with Soline while Henri tackled the bigger surf with a whole pile of boys. After a few hours, we wandered down the beach and cut inland through a narrow, vine-covered trail which opened up onto a gorgeous freshwater cenote. This coast is riddled with cenotes. The unstable ground and the presence of the turtles are perhaps the only thing that have, to date, kept this stretch of beaches from the likes of Club Med.

Yesterday, we walked along a quiet beachside track northward, the plants and trees so lush and full of life that it felt like they were straining to cover the track behind you. We found a group, the extended family of Véro & Mike's friend, who had a birthday party for 7-year-old Castor, set up on another perfect stretch of beach. The food was lovely, the company interesting and the setting ideal. The kids are in heaven, especially Henri who has boys dropping by to ask if he wants to kick the ball around or go swimming all day.

Wil spent much of his time here trying to figure out what is wrong with the wheel. Fortunately, Mike is conversant in mecánico. Even more fortunately, one of our camping neighbours, the charming Salvador, turned out to be a mechanic from Mexico City. After consulting with Wil, and going for a test drive, it appears we don't have a problem except for two very large nuts that need tightening. We spent the cloudy day today going from garage to garage in Playa del Carmen hunting down a 44mm socket. Finally found a man on a back road who had one and also changed the oil (for 5$).

The highlight of our time here was our family snorkelling outing straight off the Paa Mul beach. Watching the girls' eyes light up as they found themselves in a school of rather large yellow fish was absolutely magical. Instead of the hysterics I half expected from both of them, there was wonder and fascination. I so remember that moment — when the unknown and impenetrable world beneath the surface of the ocean became as colourful and surging with life as the world above. Seeing that awe overcome the girls for the very first time was simply amazing.

One more night and then we go south to Tulum, Mahahual and then inland to Chiapas and beyond.


Annabelle said...

sea turtles, snorkelling amongst yellow fish, a sea carpet of greens and aquas, a $5 oil change - wow, what a charmed existence .. nic and i are off now to shovel the driveway! sending kisses to all of you

kelli ann & lorie said...

oh, lovely. thanks for sharing the kids' reactions and their experiences. elliot says he is missing henri!

Jenny Wren said...

Snorkelling - one of my favourite things. One of the wonders of life for me. We are incased in ice up here. This too has its beauty, all the trees are bowing down and are incased in ice. Sometimes an effort to get out, but worth it every time. It is a frozen wonderland in the woods. Lots of love to you all from the literally frozen north.

PK said...

what do I have to do to gets some pics....

Margaret said...

It sounds wonderful (I know the bad bits are edited out!) and it will be something the kids will keep in their hearts. You're probably creating eternal wanderlust as I write! It's a sea of white here, but at least the sun is shining today and we start back at choir next week. I need those singing endorphins. Take care!