On the road

Tags: Campeche, caving, Mexico, Quintana Roo

Date: March 10, 2019

After spending the winter in Belize, it was really nice to be back in Puerto Aventuras and get everything sorted out with the boat. We don't have an apartment for the first three weeks, though, so we decided to go on a road trip to Chiapas. We rented the same car as last year and headed south.

The first stop was Bacalar which is still close to the Caribbean coast. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant and went to see the main attraction which is a Spanish fort in the middle of town:

The nice blue water in the background is actually a very long lake, around 50 kms long and only 2 kms wide.

Bacalar was an important Maya city before the Spanish arrived and took it in 1543. The Spanish had lots of trouble with pirates and they built the fort that was finished in 1729. We went past the stadium and the local sports team is called "The Pirates".

Mexico became independent in 1821, so Bacalar became a Mexican city. In 1848, they local Maya population rebelled and conquered the city which they kept until 1902. It has been a contested place for many years.

After lunch it was back on the road, this time west across the Yucatan Peninsula. We soon got to the state called Campeche (the Caribbean coast is in the state of Quintana Roo). A little over half way across Yucatan, we stopped at a nice jungle hotel on the side road leading to the old Maya city called Calakmul. Calakmul is far into the jungle, so we are not planning on going there right now, but probably on the way back from Chiapas.

On the first evening, we had time to go to the local cave, called "The Bat Volcano":

The entrance is a big hole which is around 40 meters deep.

There is a good reason for the name: about 15 minutes before sunset, the bats in the cave go out to feed:

We found a map of the cave and it is a total of around 100 meters deep and 500 meters long. There are around 3 million bats leaving the cave in about a quarter of an hour. They supposedly eat 30 tons of insects every night. It is not only the bats that feed: we saw a brown jay circle the entrance. As soon as the bats started coming out, the jay started chasing them and quickly caught one. Jays mostly eat insects, but some brown jays specialize in bats. They catch them like jays usually catch insects: with the beak rather than the talons like bigger birds of prey use.

So many bats come out, that they even put a warning sign on the road: