Campeche Travel Blog› entry 12 of 15 › view all entries
October 26th, 2009 – by: lrecht
The drive from Uxmal to Campeche was a bit further than our usual 1-2 hour jaunts but good roads and nice scenery and we eventually found our way onto the main road that parallels the waterfront and heads into the central part of town. At first glance, Campeche didn't appear to be any where near as quaint as Merida but once we made it into the central area, it looked nicer with typical Spanish style buildings. The streets are all very organized numerically and we sort of surprisingly stumbled on our street without much problem. A little man tried to save us a parking spot in front of the Hotel Castelmar but a truck driver snaked the spot and so we were escorted over to a private parking lot and then into the hotel.
Hotel Castelmar is a nice enough place with very nice staff, a pretty courtyard and a nice pool (but not as nice as Luz en Yucatan); however they were doing a bunch of renovation and they only had one, tiny room left. We took it figuring we could spend the night and perhaps check out some other options this afternoon. Like virtually every other hotel in the Yucatan, the front desk had a huge bottle of hand sanitizer. Not sure why but the Mayans seem to be really into that stuff.
Wandering around the streets of Campeche is kind of nice but you don't get that colonial, European feel that Merida had - maybe it is off season but so far we aren't particularly thrilled to be here.
After a bit of a relaxation in the cubicle room and a quick dip in the chilly pool, we asked for a restaurant recommendation and the girl at the front desk said that the Marganzo restaurant on the main street was one of the better ones around.
We ended up watching a bizarre movie with Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor called Eye of the Beholder about a nameless private eye tailing a serial killer woman around the US for years on end even though they never really meet.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Being a large port, Campeche, which was founded way back in the third century by the Mayans, became a huge target for the Spanish who repeatedly tried to invade it. The Mayans held them off until the mid 1500's when they finally won and took over. All traces of Mayan religious beliefs were systematically wiped out and replaced by Christian beliefs and supposedly, practicing the Mayan faith was punishable by death.
Meanwhile, the other European powers including the Portuguese, English, French and Dutch all had their eyes on the port and repeatedly attacked.
The girl at the front desk said that they had finished tiling one of the bigger rooms and graciously offered it to us so we changed rooms to a somewhat bigger, nicer room before heading off to the local market for some pictures and breakfast. This was definitely not a touristy market, all locals dressed in the typical Mayan dresses with colorful vegetable stalls everywhere.
As usual, it took us forever to decide on a stall to eat at but, after walking around the entire place, we settled on a crowded little one with just a few stools and a bunch of the locals milling around. We ended up having Chicken Tortas which had breaded, deep-fried chicken with pickled red onions and were truly fantastic. The proprietor couple who spoke zero English were really nice and offered us tastes of their conchinita pibil as well.
After breakfast we walked to the central square where there is supposed to be a trolley tour of the sites of Campeche. Unfortunately, the only guide who speaks English wasn't going out for a few hours and only if eight people show up. The ticket man said that some other couples were interested and we should come back this afternoon. We decided to brave the heat and continue on our foot tour of Campeche, stopping at the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Purisima for a rest and respite from the heat. As we were walking through the park, a group of Mexican high school kids asked if we spoke English and if they could video-tape an interview of us for their school project.
Even though the shoreline isn't very picturesque, we thought we would walk to the water and perhaps determine if the oceanfront fish restaurants at the entrance of town were within walking distance (it would be a really long walk....). On the way, a woman from Merida who was visiting family and spoke a tiny bit of English befriended us and walked with us for a bit. There was not much to see at the shoreline and we decided to head back to the Museo de Estelas Maya which ended up being a very nice little museum with lots of stelae carvings and boating stuff (and thankfully an air-conditioned room where we hung out for quite a while.
We had lunch at a great little local restaurant called Cafe la Parroquia which has a huge bar and tasty local food. I had a giant bowl of ceviche and Cindy ended up getting one of the local specialties called Huevos Moltuleno which is an omelet smothered with tomato sauce, peas, chopped ham and shredded cheese.
We figured we should try the ocean front fish places a few miles out of town so hopped in the Dodge and drove out to the long string of beachfront bungalow restaurants serving fresh seafood. Pulling into the parking lot each restaurant (all of which were virtually empty) sent out a waiter furiously waving at us to come to their restaurant. We parked in the middle trying to avoid them and decided to walk up and down the boardwalk looking from afar to decide on a place. We did manage to catch a nice sunset but the ocean front is more a commercial fishing look and feel than a nice beachfront and smelled a bit. We walked back to the middle, ultimately deciding to dine at a little place with a relatively mellow waiter who had a sort of faux-hawk thing going on with his hair.
All in all, we haven't been as thrilled with Campeche as we had hoped and decided to head back to the eastern side of the peninsula and try our luck there. Tomorrow is going to be a long driving day but there is a toll road for half of the drive so hopefully it won't be too bad. We gassed up the Dodge at the local Pemex and headed back to Castelmar
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