Today we will reach Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco, and beyond with our last check point at the next State of Campeche. We turn west a bit more onto a long stretch of heavy, thick black asphalt. It feels good to be cruising again on a smoother pavement. We are a distance from the coast and now pass through flatter land with grazing water buffalo and fields of pineapple and strawberries. We see a small fruit stand up ahead and pull over to the shaded underpass to see what’s available. Rural, nondescript dogs with no ownership are scaveraging for pineapple scraps that a man has thrown to them. None go to waste. He indicates the cost and that he will cut it for us. With his well used machete he quickly slices a small pineapple into perfect wedges with a few strokes of his sharp tool and hands them to us with dripping wet fingers. The flies are buzzing about us as we bite into this incredibly sweet fruit. I can say I’ve not tasted a finer pineapple ever.
We resume our drive and although on our map it looks as if nothing is out this way, it proves to be the most beautiful part of the drive so far. Large dense forest grows up to the road not leaving much of a shoulder to pull over to if needed. There are very few villages now and certainly less foot traffic, if any. I’m feeling the most relaxed that I’ve been since we began this journey. Suddenly we are driving into a cloud of migrating butterflies! They are beautiful with black and aqua markings and it pains us to see them on a collision course with the windshield as the migration goes on for miles. We slow and pull over into a tree sheltered pull off and get out of the vehicle to enjoy all this fluttering about. These lovely creatures are resting on our shoulders, heads and even our feet. An extraordinary experience. Pineapples to butterflies.
Within a few hours as we approach the eastern end of this State we pass several signs for the Mayan ruins in the area and beyond, that we’ve read about. Mauchin, Calakmul, El Ramonal and Becan are some of the larger ones. We see the very white graveled roads that lead into the more hilly areas but we have not allotted time to visit these historical sites. It would be easy to spend days appreciating just one of these ruins. Right now we feel the anticipation of reaching this next state border crossing and want to get through it without incidence.
So far our 3 crossings having been simple and quick. A few questions spoken in Spanish which we typically could not answer but we were able to explain by showing our map and pointing to Belize. This is our final State entry before encountering the largest one at Chetumal, leaving Mexico and going into Belize. We have been advised by other travelers that this perhaps could be a bit slower crossing with the most inquisitive military guards so far. As we slowly slide over the ever present topes that are designed to slow traffic before a stop point, we see but only 2 crossing guards ahead. One is working on a large bus line and having all the under carriage luggage removed. We are directed by the lone remaining officer to pull into a sectioned off area. These crossing guards are dressed in military uniform and carry weapons across their shoulders. I am sitting in the passenger side and this guard has selected me to be the one to talk with him. As my window slides down I am looking into the most beautiful green eyes of a serious looking, darker skinned soldier. He has a clipboard in hand. In perfect English he tells me to step out of the vehicle. I feel rather unsettled, as I didn’t anticipate this. He motions for my husband to remain in the vehicle. He’s a ‘right in your face’ kind of person as he begins asking me to state our business. I only answer the questions in the briefest but polite manner and volunteer no additional information. Never once do his eyes leave mine. He’s almost hypnotic to look at, in a way. He stands before me and says nothing. Seconds tick by before he finally dismisses me with a curt nod of his head and motions for me to get back into the vehicle and then with a flourish he turns and crosses the road to help his comrade with the tourist bus. My hands are shaking yet I feel like laughing as I loudly tell my husband to step on it!