Hitchhiking disappointments in Yucatan

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery

Hitchhiking in this part of Mexico wasn’t as easy as I had imagined it to be.

Granted there is a bus route that goes through this region south of Merida in Yucatan, the timings are rather inconvenient and it’s not fun enough. So after I emerge from the Uxmal archeological ruins, I walk five minutes and stand at the edge of the road with my thumb outstretched.

“¡Autostop!”

A kid screams from the window of the first car that zooms past. I giggle. As you may know, hitchhiking is not straightforward at all, one needs tremendous amount of patience and optimism. I stand at that spot for 15 minutes, determined to catch a ride. A dozen cars and pickup trucks pass but other than some enthusiastic waves, some shrugging, some fishy looks and a mandarin peel, I get nothing.

Maybe I look too gringo…

Other than sunglasses and a backpack, there is nothing quite touristy about my attire and while I have some golden coloured hair, I certainly don’t have a white-guy look at all. I quickly put my shades away, put the backpack on the ground and resume the wait with a bright smile and sparkle in my eyes (the sun is strong).

Another fifteen minutes (total 30 minutes now) and still nobody seems interested. I eat a banana, almost drink all the water I have, throw stones on roadside trees and make circles in the dirt with my feet.

Maybe I don’t look foreign enough…

Yes, yes, all materials I read suggested that you are more likely to get picked up if you “look foreign,” because that’s what locals are after. It must be true.

The sunglasses and backpack return. I also make a feeble attempt to stand like a straight white guy, you know, with the crotch pushing forward, hands on hips and an overall ‘I don’t care’ look on the face. [Racial stereotypes are fun!]

After another 15 minutes and six more vehicles, I have lost all hopes in humanity and just want to eat, drink and SIT DOWN.

Santa Elena

Roughly an hour later, a bus emerges. It is moving at such a slow pace that even the clock stops ticking. The bus has a sign saying ‘Santa Elena,’ which is a village in the direction I want to go, and by now I am prepared to board any vehicle that will let me. I vigourously wave my hands, in a very Indian style, in an effort to catch the driver’s attention who I don’t think is quite awake.

“Por favour señor…” he isn’t interested in my pitch at all and just lets me in. I have wasted five minutes working on that Spanish sentence.


↑ Santa Elena church

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↑ Panuchos: Fried tortillas filled with refried black beans and topped with chicken, lettuce, avocado and pickled onions. Habanero chiles to accompany, along with fresh limes and extra corn tortillas. One of my greatest meals ever!

Ticul

A very tasty mid-afternoon lunch in the convincing picture seen above restores my faith in humanity. I decide to hitchhike again.

Alas I get ignored for another twenty minutes and sensing no signs of a miracle, I give in to an invitation from a shared taxi and jump into the air-conditioned van. This is so wrong! I wanted to hitch a ride!

Nicknamed La Perla del Sur (“The Pearl of the South”), Ticul is a town with a predominantly Maya population and my next stop. I don’t know what I am doing here, so I just walk around, take lots of pictures and smile at local people who look at me with a degree of skepticism.

Ticul’s central plaza is nicely kept. There is free wireless internet, so you will see several youngsters sitting around with their laptops – some watching videos, others doing homework.

At this point it’s close to dusk and too late to hitchhike to the ruins I wanted to visit. So I hop on another combi and get to the next town from where I will catch a bus to Merida.

Oxkutzcab

Pronounced osh-kootz-kaab / अोश्कुत्स्काब, this overwhelmingly Maya town hosts a regional market in a gigantic central square. By the time I reach here, the market is closed and hawkers are bundling their wares, readying to wind down.

An hour of strolling and a dubious snack later, I go to the bus terminal and hop into a bus that will take me to Merida.

In conclusion, thanks to failed hitchhiking attempts, I got some bonus time for introspection, had one of the tastiest meals ever, stumbled upon markets and little towns and had a great time overall.

I guess life unfolds in an unexpectedly mysterious way. I mean, that night (for no reason) I suffered from traveller’s diarrhea… Funny story. 😀

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery