Mexico #6: Back Roads

by Zora O'Neill on January 31, 2011

I love that even though the Yucatan has very few roads, and I’ve been down there more than a dozen times, there are still some roads I haven’t been on. Such as the road between Valladolid and Izamal, which passes through the village of Uayma. Where there’s this:


I also had time to poke around bits of Valladolid I hadn’t had time to see before–like the portrait gallery on the second floor of city hall.

Valladolid Leaders

Valladolid Leaders

And with a little extra time in my trip, I was able to hang out at this great resort just north of Celestun, where I saw these old palapa frames piled up, waiting for a fresh layer of palm fronds:


My dad and I cruised Tulum, running in to see the ruins in the 45 minutes before the site closed. Perfect timing–you don’t need much more time there, and most people had left. And the light was beautiful.


This was when we coined the idea of Precision Tours, a company with the motto “We get you there exactly…when we get you there.” Because this was probably the first time on a research trip that I’d ever gotten anywhere exactly when I meant to, and had just enough time to do what I needed to do. I’ve been mulling over the idea of running a guided tour of the Yucatan, but the timing part of it strikes me as the single most challenging element. I think if I led a tour, it would have the most lax itinerary ever–one sight a day, max. Who’s in?

We could go places like this:


You have to ride on a little horse-drawn cart on rails to get there, then climb down a wooden ladder into a pitch-black hole. Worth it.

And we could stop in Campeche and get our fortunes told by a parakeet:

Fortune Teller

The parakeet picked out a slip of paper with my fortune pertaining to my work. It advised me to accept a new opportunity. Ahem, bird. How long am I supposed to wait for this? I’ll give it another month.

If nothing happens, I might have to resort to the herbal-medicine man across the street. I asked him for an anti-itch treatment, for my mosquito bites, and he overcharged me, and he felt me up–as he demonstrated how I should rub the stuff “all over [my] body.” But that and the bird are still way more fun than lidocaine and a career coach.

Seriously, who’s up for a Precision Tours (TM) adventure in the Yucatan? I’m thinking next winter, or spring 2012.

*Flickr set from this trip
*Mexico #1: Where the Party at?
* Mexico #2: Partying on…and on
*Mexico #3: Party Favors
* Mexico #4: Howdy, Cowboy
* Mexico #5: Snack Break!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Conner G February 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

What fabulous photos and itinerary!! The cenotes, Celestun (Hotel Manglares??) and Campeche – can you believe how awesome their arch. museum is?? You absolutely should do “precision tours” – where the time of your life is on Mexican time.

wish I could tag along (AND aprovechar that extra desk space you have going on…writing is lonely sometimes eh?)

2 Hilah February 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I’m in for Precision Tours. I’ll bring my dad, too!

3 zora February 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Excellent, Hilah! I’ll keep you posted. Conner, you can pop over and meet us!

4 Roxymex February 18, 2011 at 10:33 am

Try to read: Xtabentum: A Novel of Yucatan. Here is the link. Check reviews at … just to add something to your trip. Here is the link:

5 Zora February 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Cool, Roxymex–thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out!

6 Mitch Hellman November 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Geez, between Campeche and Dubai, you’ve got the makings of a new article: “The 10 Best Places to Get Your Boobs Squeezed.”

7 zora November 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

You know me–always looking for more! I just got back from five weeks in Cairo, and didn’t get squeezed once. I was surprised, honestly.

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