Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Campeche, the walled city

Campeche, a Spanish Colonial walled city

23 Julio 2015

Palenque, Chiapas to Villa Hermosa, Tabasco to Campeche, Campeche
I bought tickets on the Cristobal Colon bus line to the town of Villa Hermosa, about 2 hours north of Palenque. The road quickly left the mountains and passed into Tabasco State. As it was still early and the roads much better, we decided to continue directly to Campeche, capital of the State of Campeche. The flat country was primarily cattle country with a mix of Indian cattle with their drooping ears and front shoulder hump and American beef cattle, variations of Angus and Herefords. The fields were large with only relatively few head of cattle in any one field and a good number of fields empty, left to regrow the hay for grazing. Horses were plentiful and Caballeros, cowboys on horseback, were a regular occurrence. The shops in the small villages we passed through had large displays of saddles, cowboy boots, lariats and all the trapping of the cowboy trade. Palm oil was the other dominant agricultural pursuit.

A clean Campeche street
The Campeche bus terminal was 2.5 Km south of the City Center where our hotel was located. After convincing Mags to drag our bags over cobbled streets from the bus terminal in San Cristobal, I knew a taxi was in order for the 2.5 Km. As had been the case in most of the cities we had been in, the taxi driver asked the normal city rate, which for Campeche was 30 Pesos. I am not sure if speaking Spanish helps, or that we always agree on the price before we start, but we have rarely faced any efforts by taxis to inflate the price for the tourist. When buying souvenirs or artisan goods, typically sold by the indigenous people, bargaining is definitely in order, but the stores in Mexico are generally fixed pricing. Oops, a short digression.

The old colonial Cathedral
The taxi gave us a great tour of the remains of the city wall which have been well preserved for much of its length. The city was the cleanest we have yet seen. The sidewalks were in excellent repair. It was obvious the residents were playing an active part in show casing their city.
The Gulf of Mexico
Our hotel, a somewhat forgotten product of the 70’s or 80’s, had an excellent view of the Malecon and the water. It was clean, close to the city wall and waterfront and was inexpensive, everything I hope for in a bed for two nights.

The next day we took an open double decker bus tour the turned out to be the perfect way to quickly get a historical perspective of the city’s development. The wall, as it turned out, was the result of the locals being frustrated by regular attacks by Drake, Hawkins and the boys and apparently was successful. That evening we walked to a section of the wall that first gives a tour of the battlements and defences and then gives a slide and light show on the wall giving the history from Mayan times. Again, as this time of year most of the tourists are Mexicans, it was good to see them out enjoying their history.
Buildings around the plaza

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