Rio Bec

The Ruins of Calakmul in the Rio Bec Region

What with all my visits to the Maya ruins in Yucatan, Chiapas, Guatemala, and Honduras, you would think I would be getting tired of the endless ruins. Well, not yet! One incredibly dense region of Maya ruins is in the southeast corner of the state of Campeche, known as the Rio Bec region. Included are such archeological sites as:

  • Calakmul, with Tikal in the Petén region of Guatemala, perhaps one of the largest Maya cities at its height 1,500 years ago
  • Xpuhil (pronounced shpoo-HEEL)
  • Balamku
  • Chicanna
  • El Hormiguero (“The Anthill”)
  • Rio Bec
  • Becán

And these are only the better known ones, and even some of these are difficult to get to because they are at the end of dirt tracks in the jungles of the region.

Maya Ruins at Chicanna

Unlike many of the better known ruins in the state of Yucatán, those of the Rio Bec region are in steaming monkey jungles. The only town of any size is Xpujil near the eponymous ruins, and it’s only a blip on the long road between Francisco Escarcéga and Chetumal. To visit any of these ruins requires reserving a chunk of time, from three days to a week. Public transportation is virtually nonexistent, and the only places to stay (and not a large selection at that) are clustered around Xpujil.

To do the Rio Bec area any justice, I would have to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Still, I would love to go. I would have to pack a lot of insect repellent (like 100% DEET) and be prepared for some really dicey shit. Hey, if it’s on my travel bucket list, you can bet it’s no cakewalk.

Unfinished Business Abroad

The East Fjords of Iceland

I still have places to see. Even though I have been to Iceland, Argentina, and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico several times each, I have missed a number of destinations. These are just some of them.

Iceland’s Far Northeast

I have been to Egilsstaðir where I had to change buses on my way to Höfn and Hornstrandir, but I have never seen Iceland’s wild northeast coast between Seydisfjorður and Borgarfjörður Eystri. As my brother once told me, I am drawn to wild and desolate places—probably because I have lived most of my life in the United States’s second largest city.

This is one trip for which I would have to rent a car, as public transit here is mostly potty. And I would have to be prepared for bad weather at any time of the year. But with a good four-wheel-drive vehicle, I think I can hack it.

Southeastern Campeche State

Look at All the Maya Ruins Along Route 186 in Campeche

Back in the heyday of the Maya from around AD 600-800, the southeast of the State of Campeche was where it was happening. Particularly important was Calakmul, which was a major competitor to Tikal in Guatemala’s Petén region. The only town of any size in the area is Xpuhil. Ruins include Balamkú, Chicanna, El Ramonal, La Muñeca, Hormiguero, Xpujil, and Rio Bec.

This is one trip where I would have to hire a guide with a car. The accommodations and dining are probably acceptable, but not great. And I would need to apply large amounts of DEET insect repellent, as this area is jungle and thinly inhabited now.

Argentina’s Patagonian Coast

The South South Atlantic

I am intrigued by this wild coast and would love to visit Rio Gallegos, Puerto San Julian, Puerto Deseado, and Comodoro Rivadavia, the port from which Argentina launched its attack on the Falkland Islands, or the Islas Malvinas, as they insist on calling it to this day.

The extreme South Atlantic coast of the provinces of Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego are very much unfinished business. In 2006 in broke my shoulder in Ushuaia, which forced me to cancel my ride via a TecniAustral bus to Rio Gallegos, from which I planned to work my way north back to Buenos Aires. But, as the pain was too much to bear, I had to fly back to the United States and get better.

In 2011, Martine and I flew from Ushuaia to El Calafate, and thereupon on to Trelew and Buenos Aires. I’d love to do it by bus, at least as far as Comodoro, from where I could fly the rest of the way.

Obviously, I still have places to go.