About 2 ½ hours south of Campeche is the Ciudad del Carmen – its actually and Island with very large bridges connecting it on both sides to land. It was a beautiful drive down through jungle, mixed with ocean views. We had two stops – one in Seybaplaya – where Todd had the best deep-fried empanada filled with cheese and chicken while I was in the car on a stupid work call. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of these! It was Valentine’s day and the entire town centro was filled with people selling V-day items – like plastic toys, flowers, boa’s, bad candy, melting chocolates. We carried on and had another quick stop to stretch our legs in Chompoton – where we figured out the area was popular for shrimp – based on the signs stating “cocketel camarones” they had for sale. This was also the first time we saw people selling shrimp hanging on a fake fishing rod to people driving by in their cars slowing down at the all road “topes”. I’m not sure how many people buy shrimp this way, but I’m not going too! These are examples of times that I’m never ready with the camera to take a picture of this!
While in town centro, we notice a really tall hill, with what looked like a road – so of course Todd wanted to try and drive up or down this road. Took us a while, as it wasn’t an easy find, but we ended up at the top of the hill with this statue. Looking down the set of incredibly steep steps that people climb daily to get to school, the shops, etc.
Anyway, after we crossed the bridge, we noticed non-stop white beaches leading to the city! We were excited for beach days ahead and the weather was looking perfect! The city of Carmen (not to be confused with Playa del Carmen – which maybe is why its called “city of Carmen”) is still located in the state of Campeche. The small city was mostly devoted to fishing until the 1970s when oil was discovered in the region. We see production rigs on the horizon here – also companies that we recognize like Baker Hughes on the main drag. Carmen is known as one of the best locations to find seafood in Mexico – ain’t this the truth! We checked in to our new flat at 3 (after a technical glitch with the stupid door). It was hard finding a flat in this city that wasn’t “shared accommodation”. So we didn’t get as close to the water as we were hoping, but we had a car, so we thought it was fine. I forgot to video this place, so you don’t get a tour. Dropped everything and got into the car to head to the city “centro”. Every centro revolves around the church, some sort of athletic field (made of cement) and where applicable, a malecon and restaurants and usually a statue of something. You are guaranteed to find touristy things at every centro. The sunsets are also very amazing: https://youtu.be/oG008EaoFBI And we found another beach to drive on: https://youtu.be/laH7DowGcKY
We figured that a beach day was in order on the hottest day – although the weather app said 29C, the car said it was 33.5. There was not a stitch of wind either, so it was stifling, and we needed to get to the water! On my “Campeche GO” app, they recommended we checkout San Julian beach on the north east tip of the island – where we turnoff just before the bridge back to the mainland. In true Mexico fashion, the road turnoff, is basically a hard packed sand road where you are 4 wheel driving (in your VW Golf). A mile later, we found the perfect beach! This place was gorgeous: https://youtu.be/EaLqhnN2ckg
It was hard to see where the ocean and sky met, they were so similar in color. It would have been cool to have a canoe or SUP to take out onto the water. We could also see other sand spit islands in the distance too. But we were pretty happy to be there and experience this day at the beach. There was no one else there when we arrived at 11. There is no trees or anything to protect yourself from the sun – so we opted to head down the beach to a local beach restaurant for a drink and some food just to get some sun coverage. We were the only patrons here for about 30 minutes, when one other car pulled up. We spent 4 hours at this beach – probably the most relaxing and serene place we have ever been too! We both ordered some food, and they bring it out when you want them too. So we ordered it for an hour later and about an hour and 15 mins later we got an amazing spread of food!
And about 20 minutes later we got attacked by sandflies…..so we ran into the water to drown them. And about 20 mins later we had to leave – they wouldn’t leave us alone! The next morning Jill look liked she had chickenpox.
Headed out for a roadtrip down to the next state of Tabasco, just because we could. By the time we arrived in Frontera, it was raining. We were able to walk halfway around the town centro before we beelined back to the car to take cover. Ventured out of town off a side road alongside the Grivalga River to see all the people living on the water in interesting housing option. A quick stop and walk around the town and we decided to head back home. This road had a lot of challenges though – so many topes, potholes and weird road issues – you know…the norm here. A bit of a longer video, but you get the driving gist, the challenges, I have some comments throughout: https://youtu.be/HxZGqvtJ-cU
Our last night in Carmen, we decided to go out at night – which we usually don’t do. Its just a better safety option to not drive at night (for so many different reasons…) But we decided too anyway. Navigating our way through to the downtown beach melecon, we noticed an increase in police presence, street closures and people in fancy outfits….Hmm was this part of the carnaval? We managed to find a parking spot at Playa Norte and went to eat at la Pigua – Todd was really excited about coconut shrimp (or when translated off the menu’s is actually “Shrimp to the coconut”). We had a great meal full of shrimp including empanada’s, coconut and tacos! By the time we finished there was a dance party / show happening across the street at the carnaval spot. Took us a bit to figure out what was going on, but we realized it was a dance competitive between groups – some even had pyrotechnics! It was cool – but we didn’t get pics due to not having a great place to see any of it!
(Still having issues with loading pictures, so I’m switching things up and putting pictures in videos for now – here you go: https://youtu.be/sQihsBySP0k
By the end of our week in the city of Carmen, we had seen everything – tried out a lot of beaches, toured all the tourist activities including statues and monuments, beaches, malecons, festivals, the mall and museums. This was our turn around point to head back up north towards Merida area to meet up with our friends coming from California.