Sometimes one’s destiny is not determined by fate, but rather by the way it sounds. And by that I mean my destiny. When it lends itself to a rap song or a rhyme, I’m there like a bear. When it takes two takes to try and pronounce, it’s on my to-do list.
Take ‘Chichicastenango’ for example – it sounds way more exciting than ‘Witbank’. A pint of ‘Old Speckled Hen Ale’ alludes to drunken bar banter and funny hats, and I would rather book into the ‘Lavender Circus Hostel’ than ‘The Backpack King’. And the short bursts of vowels in ‘Bacalar’ was the deciding factor for choosing this lakeside spot as our first destination in Mexico. Travelling can be that simple.
When we eventually got to Bacalar (pop.11 000) we couldn’t wait to eat, drink and be merry because Mexico, my friends, is the land of milk and tortas. Because our day started at 6am (and after we had to take a taxi-boat to get a bus to cross a border to get onto another bus just to wait for a bus that didn’t arrive), we swapped the ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ around and bought a gigantic bottle of Sol. We were so excited after that bottle of beer that my brother even decided to wear his snorkelling goggles to town.
The only way to eat in Mexico
As you might have noticed by now – I do love me a good helping of something delicious. So it’s really a no-brainer that the consumption of Mexican food is crucial to my existence as an unsuccessful blogger and traveler. We kicked off our Mexican taste adventure with the best thing since buttered bread – the antojito food vendor. Antojito* means ‘little whim’ and if you’re in the mood for a quick bite before a bigger bite presents itself, these little whims are the way to go.
So with our second taste of proper Mexican mole poblano, neatly tucked into two thin layers of wheat tortilla, we realised that we might never, ever, go back home.
Mole poblano is a rich chocolatey sauce, made with four types of chilli, seeds and nuts, spices and tomatoes and a whole day of undivided attention. The list of ingredients is twice as long as those seen in The French Laundry cookbook and one needs the patience of a saint during the preparation. This decadent sauce is then served with a perfectly boiled chicken. Or in between two wheat tortillas. And even inside the crusty crunch of a buttery pie. Amazing.
However (spoiler alert), we traveled the whole of Mexico in search of the perfect mole, but nothing can ever compare to the mole poblano I had at El Mexicano in Nicaragua. Nothing.
Back to my original story. After a couple of antojito mouthfuls, we walked around the town square twice and sat down to a plate of chilaquiles: fried corn tortillas layered on a plate with sauce, chillies, cheese and very, very pink chorizo sausage. It was okayish (however, that’s not what my stomach said later that night).
Things to do in Bacalar
Bacalar is fun. There’s a lukewarm lagoon, an old fort and the largest cenote in Mexico. Now cenotes are quite cool – these giant sinkholes are the result of collapsed limestone bedrock, exposing the groundwater as pools of crystal clear water. Cenotes are also really important in the Mayan culture – they believed that these sinkholes and underwater caves were the home of their rain god, Chaak. But is was also the scene of sacrifices and water hole chit-chats, as it was an important source of fresh water for the Mayan people.
Cenotes are also very, very deep. Cenote Azul in Bacalar is a cool 90m deep – that’s about 25 stories deep. And deep enough for me not to go in.
While I chilled with the rest of the 5 year olds, the Husband and Brother swam across.
But this, my dear friends and the 15 other followers I don’t know personally, was only the first of many cenote adventures. My swimming talent also makes a guest appearance in some of these adventures. But more on that later.
I think it’s time for some photos.
*A little taco, quesadilla or tamale are good examples of antojitos, but the Queen of Little Whims is by far the torta. In fact, tortas are so delicious that I’ll rather spend a whole blog post on them.