S is for Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an is a mayan phrase which translated literally means “Where the sky is born” It is a lush tropical heaven placed right between a huge lagoon and the Caribbean Ocean and home to thousands of different species of plants and wildlife. It became a designated Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and just a year later was declared a World Heritage Site. It is by far the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.

After reading my Q blog post, most of you will now know that I have my moments of craziness when I want to go and explore places and well, Sian Ka’an was my destination of choice one sunday morning. Well not so much Sian Ka’an but the small fishing village of Punta Allen which is located right in the centre of the biosphere itself. So early one sunday we loaded up the car, my boyfriend jumped in the driver’s seat and we were off.

From the town of Playa Del Carmen where I live, it only actually takes around an hour to get to the main archway where Sian Ka’an actually starts however you have to go much further in to that area to really discover and appreciate just how beautiful it actually is. As always, my adventures have both their positive moments and their… hmm.. lets just say.. not so positive moments. Unfortunately the entire way to Punta Allen was one those ‘not so positive’ moments however I’ll get to that in a minute.

The road from hell… (although it doesn’t look too bad here)

There is a minimal fee to get in to the biosphere of Sian Ka’an, around $3usd, and all the money goes towards to the preservation of the area itself. HUGE shame that they don’t use some of that money to pave the road that snakes through the area itself. Never have I been happier to own a 4×4, there is no way a regular car would have survived the journey. So, we paid the little man at the entrance and as I have the weakest bladder in the world (probably too much info there however it is fundamental to this story) I figured it would be a great idea to use the toilet there before we set off into the unknown BUT the toilets where out of order so that put an end to that super idea of mine.

Not quite sure why I was imitating a penguin?!?!

The path itself through Sian Ka’an is a NIGHTMARE. It is a dirt track full, and I mean full, of huge holes. Due to the bad state of the road it means you can’t drive higher than 2nd gear and never go faster than abaout 10mph at the most. After about 30minutes of driving, as predicted, I needed to use the bathroom. In all fairness the huge can of red bull that I had drunk prior to leaving probably didn’t help but hindsight is a wonderful thing. So, there we were in the middle of nowhere and obviously not a bathroom in sight however we did come across a sign that said there was a tourism center just a little further up the road which of course had to have a bathroom so that becamse our next destination. Literally 90 minutes later and we had still not arrived at the tourism center and by this time I was in desperate need of a bathroom. I don’t know who was suffering more, my bladder or my boyfriend who had to listen to my constant complaining about the lack of bathroom facilities in the middle of the jungle. Well to cut a long story short is was another 30 minutes before we finally came across the tourism center. Just to recap, it took us 2 HOURS to travel the ‘short distance’ (and that’s a direct quote from the sign itself). The tourism center was a huge 3 story building with a wooden viewing tower sticking out the top but at the moment in time my biggest concern was finding the ladies room AND wouldn’t you know it, it was locked, with a huge great padlock. Turns of the tourism center had been abandoned for months, and that there is a classic example of how my luck goes. We decided to make the most of our time there at the tourism center and explore, it was pretty cool however kinda spooky at the same time. It literally looked like the people that ran the place left in a hurry, there were still cups of coffee on the side and an open newspaper on the table and LOTS of spider’s webs everywhere. It was a bit like the haunted houses you see in horror movies. The view from the wooden tower was amazing, you could see the lagoon and the Ocean and miles upon miles of lush greenery.

The wooden viewing tower

To sum up the bathroom side of this story, lets just say, I had to man up and make my way into the jungle to do my business. Being the girly girl that I am, that didn’t go down to well with me but you know a girls gotta go what a girls gotta do.

The lagoon at Sian Ka’an

2 hours later we finally arrived at Punta Allen, by this time we had been on the road for almost 5 hours and we were absolutely dead tired. Punta Allen itself is very pretty, its a quaint little fishing town right on the beach. The kinda town where everybody knows everybody. It is so remote that they have no phones and definitely no cell phones, everyone has to make their way to the little minimart right in the centre of the town where they have a satellite phone that people can use to make and receive calls. We only actually stayed in Punta Allen about 90 minutes which was more than enough time to look around the entire town and have lunch right on the beach. The beach itself is pretty but nothing really extra ordinary, definitely not worth travelling 5 hours for. There are much nicer beaches much closer to home!

Birdlife at Punta Allen

Punta Allen

On the way back we found an abandoned dock by the lagoon side of the road and we just happened to be there as the sun was setting. It has to got to be one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. It was one of those moments that really takes your breath away and you know that no matter how many photos you take, you will never be able to capture the true beauty of what you are seeing.

Sunset in Sian Ka’an

By the time we got home it was late, we were both exhausted but the day had been worth it! There are some great excursions available in this region that take you to the biosphere and the lagoon and I think it’s safe to say that when I do decide to go back I’ll definitely be taking one of those rather than subjecting my car to that journey once again! Oh, and I’ll definitely use the bathroom before we leave!

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