This is an easy and pleasurable trip if you take advantage of a tail-wind and cold front. We are down-wing sailors. (With a northerly wind start from Izamal. Contrarily with a southerly wind begin your trip from the other end at Kantunil.)
To maximize the pleasure of this adventure we recommend taking the Centro bus that departs at 6:45 AM from their terminal on Calle 65 two blocks east of the main market, adjacent to and east of the Casa de Pueblo.
There are faster ways to get to Izamal but this quiet back road route, though slow, is a pleasant look at Yucatán that most tourist miss.
Our bus route took us east first to Tixkokob, famous for hammock makers, while the early morning shoppers were still packing the quaint colonial streets.
Being a local bus we were steadily acquiring more and more passengers heading to the remote villages that lay ahead. As we passed our next town of Cacalchén the road narrowed perceptibly and each of the upcoming towns in turn grew smaller and smaller heading to Bokobá. Tekantó, Tixcochó, Teya, and Tepekán, were all typical quiet quaint Mayan villages where many of the homes were palapa thatched huts commingled with the remnants of colonial era haciendas. At rural Tepekán we made our final turn and headed into Izamal on a road as straight as a die and we knew that this roadway had to be a remnant of an ancient Maya sacbe road built countless centuries before.
As tourist end destinations go Izamal is one of Yucatán’s finest and well worth a day or two of your time to explore and get to know. I have mentioned previously the book, Mayan Missions by Richard and Rosalind Perry as an indispensable field guide. You will want the book because it answers a multitude of questions explaining history and gives intriguing facts regarding Mayan temples as well as the mysterious old Yucatecan churches.
Yucatecan free enterprise provides us with fresh tropical fruit. Sweet mandarin oranges helped make our trip a pleasant experience.
On the road to Kantunil: We love the fresh air, quiet and rural nature we found along this seldom traveled road.
As you can see little Cuauhtémoc is rural and on the verge of being desolate. Time has silently passed by here with little notice.
Amazingly the forlorn little old church is in use. Some attempt at restoration is evident in the side chapel and altar that are freshly plastered and painted. They have a long ways to go.
A plaque above the front door is inscribed; Se acabo año 1797, “Work was finished in the year 1797”.
Xanaba though on the way to Kantunil is barely a wide place in the road. The rural countryside is little disrupted by its presence.
This place seems to be made to order for cross-country bikers like us who positively love the quiet bucolic countryside.
A surprise awaited us when we ventured south headed into our day trip’s next stop of Kantunil.
A real bicycle obstacle course awaited us. Evidently the transportation department had taken little notice to the fact that bikers may want to pass between these two towns. Just before entering Kantunil we encountered the new approach to the toll road, it was barricaded with a huge barrier accompanied by a no bicycles sign. We had to hoist our bikes over the obstacle, pass through the woods on a small walking path and then ascend a high drainage curb in order to traverse the next two lanes of highway. We persisted.
Persistence prevailed and we arrived at the outskirts of Kantunil.
This little town had every appearance of being upscale. It is on the bus route to Mérida!
Below, the church of Kantunil
Jane enjoys the shade of the meticulously kept city park along side the bust of Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican priest and leader of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. Notice that the parking problem in the city center is nearly non-existent because of the conspicuous lack of motor vehicles; bicycles prevail.
This lovely morning was made even better by connecting with the Mérida bound Oriente bus that arrived with perfect coordinated timing.
We stowed our folding bicycles below, climbed aboard in air conditioned comfort and I didn’t awaken from my profound snooze until we were rolling into the Mérida bus terminal.
After this outing we were able to scratch one more road trip off our list. As it nearly always happens when we remove one trip from the list we add two more. Well, with this trip we added four new ones as we passed numerous side roads that need exploring.
Twenty five years of cycling around Yucatán and our bicycle adventure list continues to grow larger.
If we could find a better place we would be there.
So, stay tuned as we keep scratching bicycle adventure excursions off our ever expanding list.
©2011 John M. GrimsrudRelated links:
Bus terminals of Mérida
Mayan Missions by Richard D. Perry
Map of area - Mérida to Izamal and Kantunil
Click on map to enlarge.