Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Canada & Mexico 2011

Exploring Campeche in 40C heat

For the first time since setting out on the trip, I deliberately did not set an alarm and we woke up of our own accord at a reasonably respectable 0830. Although there was plenty of sightseeing to be done in Campeche, there was no need to hurry; in fact, we were determined to make a conscious effort to slow down. While our journey from Mexico City had taken us due east, and not south, the return to sea level had meant a very noticeable rise in temperature and humidity. It was going to be hot and sweaty and we needed to make allowances.

We had a room service breakfast and set out at around 1030 after watching some French Open tennis on TV and arranging our Thursday trip to Edzna with the hotel reception desk. Our first stop was the nearby Mercado Principal, which Bruce's guidebook described as "startlingly rustic compared to the spruced-up city center". We hoped for, and got, a splash of local colour and an insight into how local people live.

MarketMarketMarketBaluarte de San PedroView from St Peter's BastionView from St Peter's Bastion

Across the street, we visited the well-preserved Baluarte de San Pedro (St Peter's Bastion). After taking a quick look at a small handicrafts museum and a couple of small but historic churches, it was time to make our way through this very different Centro Historico towards its main focal point.

As we did just that, the streets proved to be as colourful as I've ever seen, lined as they were with buildings brightly painted in strong colours that looked well in the sun. Many of the streets featured exceptionally high sidewalks, which I felt could prove to be quite a hazard to the unwary pedestrian and parking motorist alike. I wondered what the reason was for this and could only surmise that perhaps the town was susceptible to flash floods. It was occasionally a tight squeeze when we met individuals or groups coming in the opposite direction. ABOVE and LEFT: Typical streets of Campeche old town

In due course, the walkways safely and successfully negotiated, we found ourselves in the nicely restored main square, dominated by the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción. After a quick look around the cathedral, we bought tickets for the Centro Cultural Casa Numero 6, a pre-revolutionary mansion once occupied by an upper class Campechano family and which was the address on the prestigious plaza.

Next we went outside the walls for a quick look at the seafront, although there wasn't really much there apart from a couple of decorative cannons. By now the midday sun was absolutely baking and we sought refuge inside the Best Western Hotel del Mar to see if it was possible to cool off just a little.

Once we got going again, we decided that finding a lunch stop was now a priority and, in line with Bruce's research but not before having a look around for other options, we settled on La Marganza. It proved to be an excellent choice even before we had eaten anything: there was a large, air-conditioned section at the rear of the property. We started off with a drink and I was introduced to the Margarita de Tamarindo, a delicious variation of the classic drink made with tamarind, and where the glass rims are dipped in Tajin seasoning (chilli, lime and salt) instead of salt alone.

ABOVE: Campeche seafront

We proceeded to have an equally mouth-watering lunch, both kicking off with an introductory snack of shredded manta ray with tomato salsa and tortilla chips. I then had a local Crema de Chaya soup, followed by fried tortillas stuffed with shredded shark and black beans. Bruce went for a seafood cocktail and a main course of Cochinita de Pibil (shredded pork in banana leaves). It was all absolutely delicious.

  We then had a leisurely walk back to the Hacienda along colourful streets that now felt quite familiar.

By the time we got back, it was a melting 42C (108F) - too hot to be outdoors again for the time being. Still full of lunch and a little tired from all the walking, we decided to go native and have a siesta! Slightly to my surprise, it actually worked very well and I eventually woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the remaining part of the day.

The outside temperature was starting to moderate a little and it was now comfortable to sit by the pool. We ordered a couple of beers and the waiter presented us with a complimentary fruit plate, which was a nice touch.

Later on, we had cocktails in the library followed by a nice steak dinner in the hotel restaurant, bringing to a close an excellent day in the jungle heat of south-east Mexico. 

Wed 25 May

Next Day

Previous Day