This last month has been mostly spent camping on the beach in Progreso, Yucatán. While we spent more time planning and decision making than exploring, our longer stay at Yuckite kitesurfing school left us with new friends and a beautiful, familiar place to come back to someday. Our days camping on the beach in Progreso were spent hammocking in the shade to survive the heat, kiting during the windy afternoons, drinking a few cold chelas with friends past sunset, and getting to know the great kiting community there. We were lucky to experience a few north wind fronts that blow almost directly onshore and create bigger and cleaner waves. This is because the swell from the Gulf isn’t blocked or broken by the long Pier or the Marina, which create a sort of frame on either side of the long beach by Yuckite. The North winds also brought the relief of slightly cooler air for a day or two. It was windy nearly every day of the month we spent there, and I was very happy to make up for some of the kiting time I missed after injuring my knee in La Ventana.
In the end, additional tire troubles made it unsafe for us to drive to explore the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula, which was a bit sad. We finally found a good permanent solution to our tire troubles but it took our whole month in Progreso. The Mayan Riviera supposedly has very limited camping options because it has become so developed, so I wonder if the best way to visit it in the future would be on a separate trip without the camper. With our truck finally mobile again and the hottest month of the year on the Gulf coast about to begin, we said goodbye to our new friends in Progreso. We drove Northwest 1,000 km to Heroica Veracruz – the port city of the state of Veracruz on the central Gulf coast of Mexico. The port of Veracruz is where big shipping lines stop on the way from Texas to Cartagena, Colombia, and we had decided on shipping the truck directly from Mexico to South America. Veracruz is an interesting city with a lot of history; it has been the main port of Mexico since the Spaniards arrived, and while not as clean and modern as Mérida, it has a more colonial Mexico feeling to it.
The decision to ship the truck from Mexico to Colombia vs Panama to Colombia (which is mandatory because of the Darien Gap) came down to a variety of factors. Possibly one of the hardest aspects we have encountered on our first year of overland travel is planning to be in the best place for the best season – which has a lot of factors involving wind for kitesurfing, rain or no rain for kayaking, winter and summer in the far North and South, and finally the existence of a serious rainy season in the Central America and the equatorial regions. We have spent an amazing five months in Mexico, during almost all of the best months to be there, but now rainy season is beginning in June, which for some of Mexico and Central America brings with it heat, bad roads, and a lot of mosquitos. The other factors going into our decision to ship from Mexico were the security situation and violence going on in some Central American countries, and the fact that shipping from Mexico is the same cost as shipping from Panama. We also hope that by making it to Colombia sooner, we will be at a better starting point for hitting the good seasons in various countries.
Our time here in Veracruz has been busy, preparing the house for its first cross-continental move. Because the truck is too big to fit in a shipping container – that would require a more complex pop up system to make it a lot shorter – it has to ship on a Roll on, Roll off (or RORO) shipping vessel. These generally transport new cars, but allow a few personal vehicles on as well. To make the hassle slightly easier, we hired a shipping agent here in Veracruz, and they helped us with the process of getting the truck exported, into the port, through customs, and will facilitate it getting put on the boat. To prepare the truck this last week, we took everything out of it, deep cleaned it, repacked our things in an orderly fashion – mostly boxed or bagged – and left out things we consider to be the most valuable to take on the plane with us. We also added additional security locks to the doors and boarded up the windows, and then we put everything from the rack inside the camper. This was like playing tetris with kayaks and surf boards but we think it will be worth it because RORO ships have somewhat of a reputation for theft, due to the fact that you are not technically supposed to have personal effects in your vehicle in the first place.
Now we are prepping for a couple month visit to the states after storing the truck in Colombia when it arrives at the port. Mexico has been an incredible place to live and travel in the truck. Mitch and I have both marveled various times over the fact that there is this giant, super travel friendly country just bordering the U.S., so easy to get to and with so many beautiful places and fun recreation possibilities. It feels like we have seen a lot during our five months here, but there is so much of Mexico we haven’t seen as well. Traveling always does seem to create a longer and longer list of new places to explore in the future. However, it is comforting to know that with it so close to home, we will be back in Mexico many times in the future. We are very excited to arrive back to the truck in Colombia later this summer and start a fresh episode of traveling South America. Saying goodbye to the truck at the port really did feel like we were moving our house to a new continent!