Those thinking that livedeleven.com is purely about motorcycle travel best check themselves before they wreck themselves. Living de leven is about more than getting on a motorized horse and galloping through toll ways, crashing more times than any parent should be made aware of. Yes, the bikes, and our adventure keeps going, in different forms and through different mediums. Connections made on the last journey from Vancouver to Buenos Aires live strong in both of us through an intertwining and shared experiences of events. I have been following -as i hope most of you have as well- the trials and tribulations of my partner in crime Mr Thomas Kuipers.
The great man in Bolivia
Yes that’s the one. For the moment, he is the one carrying the livedeleven torch proudly having successfully puttered his noble steed down to Ushuia. We are all living through him at the moment blazing through the red-lit eyes of the goats skull welded onto his battered and bruised but not yet dead mighty KLR 650.
The beast lives
He has sold this bike, may it rest in peace. May the next rider have half the adventures we had with this crazy beast named Joe. As most of you might have guessed by now, I’m not with him at the moment. My black thunderbolt with the dead battery is sitting in the same garage as the red-black dragon ghost of Joe “the Duck” Harvey once sat, in a suburban garage in Montevideo Uruguay in the capable hands of our bike guardian and official friend of livedeleven.com Kevin.
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, July 2015
So what am I doing then? I’m not sure if i can even answer that question. As you might of read in Thomas’ recap post, we both flew back from Montevideo to Amsterdam where we both spent time living on couches and caravans and I spent additional time visiting my parents in the south eastern corner of France. From here I went to the United States and I find myself now sitting on a tire found by the side of the road supporting bits of wood arranged in a way one might call a chair, around two kilometers from a town called Bacalar in Mexico. I ask at the moment that you hold your questions about my greater direction in life and similar aspirations for the moment. My story in the United States has only just begun. Rest assured that you, dear reader, will find all the answers you seek in due time, in the form of a featured livedeleven piece or some other purchased eBook which admittedly would only serve to prolong my random, unorganized, and poorly planned world tour.
So why Bacalar? Well for starters, this would be a good time to bone up on your livedelven content (read it, seriously).
A typical “rest day”
You can see here why I chose to come to this particular spot in Mexico after spending time in the United States. In short, I was looking for Miguel. My own Dean Moriarty. A 60 something year old Englishman whose personality is unjust to attempt to describe in one sentence. He is the reason we even stayed in this town in the first place. His thoughts are a rambling concoction of his two decades living in Mexico combined with an innumerable mix of whatever he has lived before which at this time I still have no idea nor hold any aspirations to knowing in the future. The fact of the matter is that Miguel is a guy that you want to meet. That’s all you need to know for the moment.
You might not like him, he might not like you, but no-one has ever met him without knowing who Miguel is. He sits atop a blazing saddle riding the lightning rod of life, nothing matters to him except the amount of stolen cigarettes sitting in the left pocket of his worn track pants and the future prospects of more cigarettes or beer in he near future. In his pocket is probably your lighter, taken with a smile and a wink and you dare not ask for it back lest you feel bad for hassling the poor old Englishman who will undoubtedly lead you in a field of circular logic before you forgot what you were even asking about. He knows what he’s doing, and you might even convince yourself that you know what he’s doing but you don’t. This bird was not meant to be caged, but to fly free and aimlessly before likely dying poor and unknown with nothing but a used and battered overloaded passport left under his head to be used as a pillow.
All of this is a long winded way of saying that I needed to find my Dean in Bacalar, Miguel. I landed in Cancun from San Francisco with no clue where I would find him except for his last known location near Bacalar Mexico. This is not the sort of person who you can contact on Facebook chat or send an email to. My last contact with him occurred when Thomas and I drove towards Belize with Miguel standing shoe-less in the campsite we were working at smoking an joint, no doubt thinking about who would be the replacement travelers who could make shopping runs to Bacalar to buy his cigarettes. I arrived at the botadero to no avail. After walking through 1.5kms of jungle I was informed by Ramiro that Miguel was not here, but rather somewhere on the outskirts of Bacalar doing his thing with some sort explanation too complicated that even myself or Ramiro himself could even be bothered to explain or understand.
I spent new years at the botadero, with nothing better to do and determined to continue my quest to find the lunatic that I had spent so much time with a year ago. He arrived unexpectedly that night with Benji and Gerry, two doctor friends from Chetumal who had come by to spend the New Year with Alejandro, who owns the Botadero San Pastor. Gerry I knew already, he had was a regular last year at the botadero who had cured an eye infection of mine and with whom I had taken a powerful dose of DMT in Alejandro’s straw hut by the lagoon.
I was beside myself with joy as I ran towards Miguel to salute the warrior of blurred colors. I hung around him for the new year in the botadero and soaked up his energy and he wandered around the place oblivious to everything yet taking in everything. At one point I led him to the jungle where he wanted to be alone to experience perfection and he lay down among the sticks where various ants and spiders crawled over him for an unknown amount of time. I walked away and continued talking to the middle aged Swiss cyclists, picking up once again our conversation on the origin of life and the spirit of travel.
Which goes a little something like this
I learned later that he had taken eye drops of liquid LSD with Benji and Gerry and the whole crew had been completely in outer space. It just seemed like normal Miguel to me. I went to bed relatively early, drunk but not much more and in the morning Miguel told me to come and crash at his place which I did several days later. The botadero had changed, Miguel had been thrown out in a confusing power struggle involving Alex (Alejandro) as well as Ivan from Mexico City and a gang of french volunteers, one of which Alex had been having sex with with but now were long gone. None of it reality mattered. I tried my best to understand the situation as Miguel’s mind back flipped and somersaulted around the topic and eventually resigned myself to the fact of things as they were. The botadero with Miguel was no more, but another adventure was just beginning.
The jungle road to the botadero
When I arrived at Miguel’s house which he had always held since he was working at the botadero yet never talked about I descended into a world that I had been a part of a year ago yet had taken a form of which I had never experienced before. The struggles were still present. I need two packs of cigarettes a day, my pan dulce, my coffee, and my weed every single day, that’s what I need, my parachute. The parachute he referred to was his travelers pouch he wore on occasion through his journeys through the streets of Bacalar where he wandered into every store he could find and would always came out with something.
On one such occasion, I was in an internet cafe while he was sorting out some sort of deal to smuggle cigarettes from the free zone towards Belize and sell them to stores in Bacalar. He was meeting with a buyer out the front and I could see them crouching on the sidewalk. At one point I overheard “El Caballo Loco” as he is known in town, getting mad and wandering off. He came back 10 minutes later and walked into the internet cafe, barefoot as always, and holding a hamburger. He hugged everyone in the cafe and pulled me out so we could sit down and have a meeting. It was a matter of great importance, much more important that whatever I was doing. We sat down out the front of a bank and he ripped the hamburger in half. There was no point in me asking where he got that from or even trying to understand what happened with his smuggling operation. He’d tell me when he felt like it and I probably wouldn’t even understand when he did.
Sitting in the dirt and being confused since 2012 (photo in Bulgaria)
It is like this that I found myself scrounging through my backpack for loose cigarettes, sitting in the dirt while Miguel anxiously waited his morning fix. Of course, I had the money to pay for pretty much anything that he wanted, but rather I chose to tell him I had no money and to enter the game with him. Ok, here’s the sketchy plan… he would say, which always prefaced a rambling idea that usually involved hitting up some hostels for some free beer and the chance to steal some lighters. We’ve gotta go hit up Marco, that way we can sort out the sink situation, he’s got a part for me that I need to finish the snake…(two months later, the sink situation is not fixed, his “snake” he is decorating the sink with is in the same situation)… he’s said he can let us use his boat to take some girls on a tour of the lagoon if they buy us a six pack then we can make a few hundred pesos on the side for ourselves how does that sound? Sounded like a good idea I guess, although I only half understood what he was trying to say.
As usual, it was hard to tell if even he knew what he was talking about. There was never anything set in stone except the prospect of pan dulce, cigarettes, weed, and maybe the errand beer or two along the way. This mission ended predictably, Miguel made a date with the girls who never showed up. Marco’s boat wasn’t there, neither was anyone in the hostel we knew to steal their boat for a joyride on the lagoon. We wandered the streets towards more friendly territory, Casa Lulu’s where Miguel managed to get both of us drunk for free by convincing the entire hostel that it was my birthday. On the way back we ran into a french couple out the front of the bus station who had arrived late in Bacalar from Cancun and didn’t have a place to stay. They spoke no English but I served my role as Miguel’s French translator by wrangling them off the streets and giving them a free place to stay at Miguel’s house in the simple exchange for paying the taxi ride for the four of us and buying a six pack of beer.
I came to realize that nothing had really changed and that our experience in the botadero had been one which had wholly to do with the experience of having Miguel there. I followed him where he went our of sheer curiosity like how traffic inevitably slows down to look at an overturned car by the side of the road. A “Haight Kid” (a term referring to young homeless people who wander around Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco) whom I met hitchhiking back from Willits in Northern California to Oakland had told me that Money is Free and I was starting to realize how right he was. Miguel didn’t need to be told that, and bringing that conversation up with him would only succeed in being labelled as a hippy.
The simple exchange of goods or services for other goods or services was all that was needed. Martina didn’t agree of course. She had been living with Miguel on his property and was outraged that we had invited the french couple to put up the tent on the grass for only a pack of beer and a taxi ride. Her protests fell on deaf ears. Miguel didn’t understand her argument and I didn’t care. I avoided a long walk back to Miguel’s house and earned three beers for the simple cost of having spoken French for a bit and meeting people that I found interesting enough to write about in a blog post two months later.
Poco a Poco, that’s all you can do
Santiago, the Negro, and Tarzan came over from time to time, sitting on crusty old stumps of wood and smoking joints with Miguel and I at any old time of the day or night. They were Miguel’s old friends, the originals, of which I have no doubt have a deeper and more profound understanding of Miguel that I could ever hope to attain. Santiago is a 72 year old native of Quntana Roo who speaks more Maya than English although has a burning desire to learn he whatever can from everyone he meets. For myself, it was to speak English and I would spend many an hour with the man drawing out sentences in the dirt and getting him to repeat phrases.
He had a part of his foot blown off by a shotgun which had fallen out of a tree a few decades ago which he has remedied by melting bits of rubber onto his shoe to account for the different heights of each leg. One of Miguel’s plans once he has money is to take Santiago to Chetumal to get special shoes made for his friend. The cost would be somewhere around 2,000 pesos, or around $110USD which neither Santiago or Miguel have any chance of having any time soon. It’s a distant project which is unlikely to materialize. Santiago doesn’t care, and even if he had the money wouldn’t be spending it on fancy shoes for himself.
Artwork at the campo
This is Miguel in Bacalar. He admittedly says he has no clue who anyone is. Don’t ask them what their names are; that way you don’t have to remember them. This being the case, there are a small group of people of which he has taken the time and the effort to remember their names. I guess I’m lucky enough to consider myself one of those people. Those who make the list generally have known him for years and include the likes of Santiago, The Negro, Tarzan, the Gordo and Linda. Most of which are not actually their real names but have been insisted by Miguel such that family members of those people call them by their honorary Miguel-appointed names.
During this time, there was an anxiety that floated around in the air as Miguel spent a large part of the day planning his departure. I had been living with him at the campo for around two weeks and he was planning to see the full moon at the mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.
This is Tikal
His land situation was confusing at best and I tried my best to understand. On the Yucatan peninsula, foreigners are not permitted to own land that is 50kms from the coast or 100kms from any border. It rules out a large part of the peninsula, places such as Tulum, Chetumal, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, San Cristobal, Palenque, and of course Bacalar. As with most cases in Mexican bureaucracy, there is a way around it. Foreigners are allowed to “start a company” anywhere meaning all you have to do to own land is to say its a company. This is what Miguel has done, but he was running into troubles and growing tired of the whole ordeal. He had come to the conclusion that he needed to move on and was running around frantically trying to sort out deals to get rid of his land so he can make his way further south.
In the mean time, I continued my own sketchy plan by heading to BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen for my second year in a row to get a healthy dose of techno before heading back to Bacalar. I managed to hitch hike from Bacalar to Tulum in one hit and then took a collectivo straight to a liquor store before heading to my hostel to prepare for my most anticipated night of the festival and the only event for which I had bought a ticket in advance, Keinemusik. I went to two other parties there before deciding to head to Tulum to see Maceo Plex play in a cenote on the outskirts of town. I showed up at a hostel and bought a bottle of Mescal and got to work before wandering off down to the road to try and hitch hike to the party which was about 5kms away from town. In drunken confidence, I felt that I could walk that distance if need be but I stuck out my thumb anyway in the hopes of getting a ride.
BPM Festival 2015
It didn’t take too long before someone stopped, although it wasn’t the free loving hippy van I had been hoping for. It was the Tulum Municipal Police arriving in a pick up truck. Great! The cops are going to give me a ride! I thought but I was quite wrong. They came out aggresively and started shouting at me, asking what I have. COCAINE?! ECSTACY!? WHAT DO YOU HAVE! WHAT HAVE YOU TAKEN?! They shouted. I had nothing, and I told them that I was simply drunk, and on my way to a party. They handcuffed my hands behind my back and threw me into the back of their pick up, lying me on my back with my body weight crushing my hands and the cold steel digging into my wrists. They rummaged through my pockets and seemed to get even more angry when they realized I had nothing. They drove me to the police station for additional questioning as I protested, shouting that I just wanted to party. I’m just drunk, I want to party! I shouted to no avail.
We arrived at the police station and they un-cuffed me, and soon the prisoners were leaning through the metal bars to get a look at the scene which was unfolding. They asked for my name and my date of birth, pointless information that I was happy to give up if it meant that they would let me go. I stumbled over to the wall and sarcastically asked them if they wanted to read my height too and a confused rookie walked over and noted how tall I was. I kept on asking them if I could smoke a cigarette but they told me I wasn’t allowed to smoke in the station. The prisoners started yelling at me, asking for me to throw them cigarettes. I managed to sneak a couple to the cells by flicking them while the police weren’t looking but on one occasion I was caught and the officers decided that I probably wasn’t worth the trouble. I was making too much of a scene. I had noticed that while they were rummaging through my pockets they had taken 100 pesos from me as well as my sunglasses. I pointed at the man who took it and told everyone what he had done. They police just laughed. I got progressively more angry and the captain eventually grabbed me on the back of my neck and threw me to the curb. I foolishly threw my only lighter to the ground in frustration and I lost it in the darkness. It was now around 2am. I had wasted two hours, I had no more money, no lighter, and I had been driven around in circles and no longer had any clue where I was. I just wanted to get to the party.
I didn’t know what else to do so I stuck my thumb out. The first car that stopped was a young man who amazingly was heading to cenote dos osos as well to see Maceo Plex. He could take me there, the only catch was that he wanted to stop by his house first to drink a beer and smoke a joint. That seemed fine by me. I arrived at the party finally and managed to meet up with Federico who I had met at Playa. Maceo Plex was still playing and Agents of Time would play well into the morning. I stayed there until around 11am and hitch hiked back to Tulum where I already overstayed my check out time but decided to just fall asleep there until I was kicked out. They never came and I stayed an extra night in Tulum and secretly slipped out of the hostel without paying the extra night. I got a ride back to Bacalar in an 18 wheeler and before I knew it I was back among the Miguel madness.
By the time he left on the 20th of January, nothing was sorted out of course except that he would be heading to Tikal. He picked up his army rucksack which must have weighed close to 40kgs and hopped in the back of Teresa’s truck to be driven to the intersection for Escarcega where he could hitch hike to Palenque and from there cross the border to Guatemala. This is your place now, you can do what you want. I suggest you get some guests, charge them 50 pesos a night, then you got your cigarettes and your pan dulce if you know what I mean! Alright then, Chingaroo was the last scattered phrase he told me before leaving. I was at the campsite with Martina and now there were just two of us.
Within a few days, some friends of Martina came over and about a week later there were seven of us. Kia was from Chile and traveled around by making jewelry and selling it to tourists. Hugo was Martina’s boyfriend and was a painter also from Argentina. I had been sitting in a cafe in Bacalar when a Canadian girl called Cheyenne walked in saying she had recognised me in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, apparently we had a conversation which I had forgotten. I invited her over for 50 pesos a night. Two Mexicans were there as well, Juancho and Jarocho (pronounced HA-RO-CHO), who lived in Bacalar but needed a place to stay.
Myself and Jarocho at the campo
Here is where I would assume my de-facto role along with Martina of being a sort of a land owner and camp site manager, with all the ups and downs that come along with it. We never intended to make any profit from the site, but merely make enough money to feed ourselves and others. Much like Miguel would do at the botadero, never having any cash on hand but always having something to eat, smoke and drink. I did a lot of writing in this time, heading to the lagoon to work on my book about my time in California and I also hung around with Juancho and Jarocho, sinking cawamas and distilled sugar cane at the camp site.
Daily tasks revolved around the simple things. Working the machete to clear up more land for campers, collecting fire wood, making sure we have water, and general cleaning. I took a particular liking to the machete, clearing jungle in the sun and taking breaks to drink some coffee or to write a bit. Martina mostly stayed to herself and hung around with Hugo, while Kia spent a lot of time towards the lagoon at Casa Lahar, a hostel where she had friends. Cheyenne helped me with the machete and sung songs while we worked. Jarocho had several bits of land where he spent time working and Juancho had his friends in Bacalar where he spent a lot of time during the day.
All business Jarocho
Like at the botadero, every day was Sunday in the campo and the daily missions took up most of the day, with the remaining time being spent chilling out and taking it easy. Like any place where there are more than one person living together politics took hold after a while as Martina attempted to assert her dominance among the group, which didn’t take kindly to her outbursts. Juancho, Jarocho and I dubbed her mama Martina as her most common outburst revolved around trivial placements of items such as where we should keep the water jug and how to stack the pots and pans. It didn’t really matter, and after arguing with her once I quickly gave up and decided she wasn’t worth it.
Juancho agreed, he would rather get shitfaced and wreck shit.
One day she brought back a French couple from the cafe in town where she worked who would be staying with us. Their names were Charlie and Steph and they were wholeheartedly on board with our idea of working for your stay. Charlie was energetic and got to work with trying to fix the roof of the ktichen/dining room/living room which would leak badly when there was rain. He found bits of scrap metal and hammered them in place and ran around looking for his next project. Steph was outgoing and eager to learn Spanish, and spent a lot of time with Kia learning how to make crafts.
Carefree Steph dancing away in the sun
It was beginning to be a big group living at the campo, and surprisingly it all worked out quite nicely. Large group meals were cooked in the fireplace every night and we ate well. I spent a lot of time talking with Hugo, who at first I didn’t like but after a while I grew to consider him a friend. He was an interesting character who would at time walk off from a conversation to sit in a chair and think silently before coming back 20 minutes later and continuing where we had left off with a new idea to contribute. He thought deeply about everything and he taught me to do the same. Thomas hit the mark when he wrote that travel never answers pre-determined questions, but rather, opens the door to answering questions you had never thought of before.
Through Hugo, I was learning that through travel you can also learn the ability to question the known answers, as well as answer the unknown questions. I downloaded for him The War Against Cliche by Martin Amis and we read it together and discussed the book. He would read excerpts and, not being a native English speaker, would ask me what they mean and I found that I wasn’t even quite sure myself. We discussed phrases such as “It is the summit of idleness to deplore the present” going back and forth and repeating it to each other until we came to an understanding. Once the light bulb flashed and we understood the phrase he would gleefully skip over to Martina and explain the concept in Spanish and seemed frustrated at the blank stare she gave at his explanation. He would spent the rest of the day repeating that phrase to himself while painting, and reading more pages with intense concentration.
I feel well, also I am seated well.
The time came however for Martina and Hugo to leave, along with Kia. Kia was, as most travelers in Bacalar, heading to Palenque and San Cristobal while Martina and Hugo were heading to Tulum where Hugo had his apartment. I got the impression that Martina was finally caving in to pressure from myself and the others who had been largely ignoring her for the last few weeks. As a last act, she charged Charlie and Steph 500 pesos for staying at the camp site which she slid into her pocket and told them not to tell anyone (Charlie told me as soon as it happened). As she left, we decided we would be having a bonfire and a party which we did later that night.
We opened “The Bar” when Martina left. Every beer must be opened with a machete.
Things have a tendency of simply happening without cause or reason in the campo, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much. One such occasion occurred when Charlie, Steph and I were having a tea at around 10pm and Juancho arrived on his bike roaring drunk. MY FRIEND HAS A BOAT, LETS GO ON A BOAT RIDE!! He exclaimed. I saw no reason not to so we broke out the cana and started loading up some pre-drinks while Juancho spent the next hour on the phone drunkenly confirming his plans. By the time it was more or less organized it was close to midnight and Jarocho graciously offered to drive us to the lagoon to go and collect the boat.
Discussing further boating operations
Of course, Juancho’s friends never showed up so it looked like we were the ones who would be captain of the boat. We loaded up six cawamas and zoomed off into the lagoon. We took turns driving the boat at full speed, myself foolishly trying the sharpest turns I could in a stupid plan to capsize it which I thought would be funny. We arrived at an abandoned building and walked around before getting back in the boat and gunning it further down the lagoon, twice getting it stuck in shallow water.
Easy does it now…
We kept driving and drinking and shouting when the motor came to an abrupt stop. We had predictably run out of gas in the middle of the lagoon, around 6kms from where we were meant to return it. Without much choice, Charlie, Juancho and I stripped down and started swimming, pulling the heavy boat around 2kms back to shore where luckily we ended up at the Casa China, where we knew the owner Dario.
Officer Charlie taking matters into his own hands
An angry German got out of bed and stormed down to the dock telling us to be quiet and I calmed him down before loudly laughing as soon as he went back to his bed. Juancho got on the phone to Dario to see if we could steal some gas from him. He gave the OK and we began to siphon gas from his boat, using empty beer bottles to move the gas from Dario’s boat to ours. During the process, one of the bottles inexplicably broke inside the gas tank but we decided to plow on.
Gas tank full of broken glass? No worries here mate
Once we left we ran into Juancho’s friends who had come out looking for us since we had been gone for hours. We were once again on the verge of running out of gas and they decided to tow us back to the dock. Stumbling back to the campo, we got back at day break and had a last beer before heading to bed.
Juancho, myself and Charlie taking the HMS Campo on its maiden voyage.
At any given moment at the campo, anyone can arrive a point which illustrated with the arrival of four people at some point in late February. Two Italians Davide and Gianluca had met with Miguel where he was staying in Chemuyil and had been sent our way by the man himself. Along the road they had met two Argentinians, Flor and Julia who arrived along with them. I didn’t even bother trying to ask them for money, they seemed like people who would get it and they did. With Steph, Charlie, Juancho, Jarocho, and myself we were once again nine people and without the cloud of Martina looming above us, the campsite ran as smooth as ever. The company was very welcome, however life pleasantly remained the same. Everyone seemed to have something to teach one another, whether it be juggling, crafts, cooking, solving a Rubik’s cube (my skill), language, job opportunities, singing, dance, building or simply thinking.
Juggling, dancing and general derping about
In this time, contrary to when Kia, Martina, and Hugo were there, we stayed mostly at the campo and chilled out together. Davide and Gianluca were an impressive couple, they had been living in Berlin for the last few years working for a French call center and spoke English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian fluently. Things we did, we did mostly as a group. One night we decided to support our local crew member and go to the local bar where Juancho was playing with his band. We arrived at the Galeon de Piratas, as Juancho was beginning to play with his band, who play a delicious mix of tribal and reggae. Juancho was far too hammered to play his drums and spent most of the concert shouting into the microphone to the small crowd.
At one point, he began to simply play whatever he felt like as his band grew tired of his drunken tomfoolery. The concert had to be stopped for a moment as he began to pass out in the middle of the concert and the band ended up leaving the stage prematurely. Juancho didn’t care, at least not at this point. He was a band member and therefore could get free drinks at the bar so he started lighting up cigarettes inside the venue and stumbling around the place with a beer in each hand. I wish I could say that I wasn’t egging him on, but I was. The whole scene was hilarious. There I was with a big group of friends in my defacto hometown in Bacalar Mexico, enjoying a spectacle for the four walls to see.
The calm before the storm
A mix of joy and sadness occurred on March the 2nd. It marked the day that Charlie, Steph, Gianluca, Davide, Flor and Julia left together for Palenque, while also being the day that Deborah (whom you will recall from this blog post) was scheduled to arrive in Bacalar. They left early in the morning and we said our goodbyes. Davide and Gianluca would be taking a bus while the rest would be hitch hiking separately from the road to Escarcega towards San Cristobal. We said our goodbyes as I saw them drift off into the distance, onward to new adventures. I met up with Deborah that night and introduced her to the crew, Juancho and Jarocho. We all got along well and broke out the cana to celebrate.
Myself and Deborah AKA Dbag, Debaroo, D-money etc
My time in Bacalar with Deborah marked in some sense the end of the camp life but a taste of my old life of being on the road was creeping into the back of my tongue. Dawning on me was the reality of my black KLR650 waiting for me in Uruguay and all the adventures that await me over there and in Europe. We stayed a night at the botadero, and I introduced her to Ramiro, Gerry, Alejandro, Eric, Cesar, Norbi, Julian and the botadero dog named Oso.
He runs things around there.
We spent about a week in Bacalar hanging with Juancho and Jarocho before it came time for us to make the trip up to the north to meet up with Miguel in Chemuyil, 20kms to the north of Tulum. He had stopped by in Bacalar to meet up with some old friends from England and we spent a day with him when he gave us the invite to stay with him there. Hitting the road again sounded good to me.
Hitch hiking the wrong way
We went to the side of the road and stuck our thumbs out and within around 15 minutes we were picked up by a property lawyer who was able to drive us straight to Chemuyil. It seemed like a good time to do some business so I shook his hand and accepted his business card. It’s always useful to have a lawyer’s card when in Mexico I thought.
Getting property advice and a ride to Chemuyil
We met up with Miguel at Cavelands, which was a high-end campsite owned by his Dutch friend Renzo. Drama was in the air as Miguel explained to us that we would have to be paying for our stay. He had invited a Finnish girl, Tully, and she volunteered for a week with Renzo while Miguel was away in Bacalar. When he arrived back things had turned sour between Renzo and Tully and she was asked to leave. Renzo was a drunk, and not the jovial kind. He woke up with tequila shots and 8 o’clock in the morning to get his day started and continued on the same trajectory until he had insulted everyone he could. That’s at least the story I heard from Miguel. The money was getting to Renzo and he didn’t seem to concerned with housing “poor” campers. With Deborah and I he was decent enough but the tension in the air had us considering if we even wanted to be there.
Rich person’s tipi and our pathetic little tent, crammed to the back of the site out of view from the upper class.
The plus side was that there was a Dutch couple there who were wildly interesting. The man (although I forgot his name) was the owner of a large motorcycle magazine in France and in Holland and his wife (also forgot her name) had traveled all over Africa and around the world. With Miguel thrown into the picture any sense of weird tension from past events more or less was blown to the wind. The camp site was beautiful, with -as the name would suggest – caves. We spent our time here hanging around with Miguel, Renzo and the Dutch couple as well as making day trips to Turtle Beach (there are no turtles there) and Tulum.
A cave with hammocks? Yes.
Still wearing the same clothes in every picture.
As Miguel inevitably left once again towards Palenque, we decided we would head to the beach in Tulum for some camping. Here we wandered around in the sand, swam in the waves, threw bits of seaweed at each other and laughed. It was my holiday away from a holiday. Sadly, too soon the time came from Deborah as well to continue on her own journey back to the United States. I accompanied her further north to Cancun where we stayed the night at a hostel before she had her flight early in the morning.
The next day, after a rushed but heartfelt goodbye I began to pack up my things once again for the final trip back to Bacalar. I took collectivos to Tulum and stuck out my thumb, not far from where I had been picked up by the police two months before. It took me 8 hours and four rides to get back to the campo where I am currently staying with Jarocho. Juancho at the moment is playing with his band in Cozumel. The campo I know is in as good hands and I can imagine.
I will be hitch hiking in three days to Cancun where I have a flight to Brazil, to Porto Alegre where I will take a bus down to Montevideo to see my motorcycle. I have the parts I need to get her ready to ride, however I lack the funds to travel for any meaningful amount of time. The goal is to get it ready for my next trip, set for next year, to ride the coast of Brazil. I will need to ride my bike out of Uruguay for 24 hours in order to renew my 1 year permit, meaning I’ll likely be heading towards Argentina for a short trip before heading back to Uruguay to park ol Denzel back in the capable hands of Kevin.
I hope to see my friend again…
My time left at the campsite I am spending writing as much as I can and reflecting on what has become a new home here in Mexico. I walk around the campo and see all the little improvements to the site that I have been witness to in my nearly three months of staying in this sleepy little town by the lagoon of the seven colors. Hugo made most of the “chairs” at the camp site, battering them into place with old planks of wood we found lying around. He painted them with palm trees and vibrant colors and each have their own quirks. Davide made the ashtray from an old coconut and twine he had in his backpack. He painted the coconut and made a basket, hanging it from the ceiling. Martina painted most of the kitchen with beautiful white silhouettes, although a drunken Juancho painted over it in a thuggish blue. Our little sayings are plastered around the place, a mix of Miguel-isms such as “Poco Poco” (little by little) as well as sayings that are strictly campo. The paintings of “con calma” on the wooden planks by the fireplace and “si hay, no hay” painted on trees by the clothes line remind me of drunken paint parties had with Juancho and the crew. Charlie’s work on the roof is still holding strong and the Chia trees I planted when I first arrived have begun to sprout new leaves. Towards the bench, by the entrance to the kitchen is a painting by Flor.
“My mother told me to gather flowers, that I should go to the campo to find love”
I’m not sure what to make of that, but I know I’ll be thinking about the people who have passed through the campo whenever I think about that song that we all sung so loudly together. I’ll be back in a year’s time, to visit the campo again and to visit my friends, whomever they may be. In the mean time I guess the only thing to do is to keep on living the leven.
Until next time.