We didn’t really do very much in Campeche (photos). Campeche state lies in the western side of the Yucatan and is the least visited part of this region. It is home to vast tangles of jungle and the Yucatan’s lesser known Mayan ruins. The city of Campeche has been painstakingly restored in a full range of pastel colors. It lies along the Gulf of Mexico with a mostly western facing coastline.
Our visit here began with an overnight bus trip from Mexico City. Since we didn’t really find any place we wanted to visit in between, we chose to leave Mexico City at 3:00pm on a first class bus for the approximately 17 hour trip. All of the major roadways in Mexico seem to be toll roads so there were frequent stops at toll booths which always have “topes” (speed bumps) as well as lots of other places with topes used to slow down the traffic for some reason or other. So, we were able to get a little sleep but there were also four intermediate stops at bus stations in other towns along the way. Some stops were only for a few minutes, others as long as 45 minutes. I think it was around 10:00am the next day when we arrived in Campeche.
We got off to a bad start here with our accommodations. The place we booked into didn’t quite work out so we moved after two nights to another place which suited us much better. We’ve also had to get used to the hottest weather we have encountered so far in this trip plus a healthy mosquito population. The daytime temps get into the low 90’s with relatively high humidity.
Early in its history, Campeche became a major port for the Yucatan peninsula which made it subject to pirate attacks. In 1663, after a particularly brutal attack left the city in ruins, the king of Spain ordered construction of a wall to provide protection. Two segments of the wall have survived along with seven of the bulwarks that were built into it. This reminded us of Cartagena in Colombia although the wall built to protect the historic center of that city is much more extensive.
On the weekends in the evening, on the main plaza, Plaza Principal, they set up tables for playing La Loteria, a Mexican form of bingo. And nearby there was a series of carts set up with a variety of home made local campechano cuisine. One of the items unique to this part of Mexico are the marquesitas. They pour the batter on a hot griddle and close it like a waffle iron so that you end up with a thin round crepe like disc. Then you can ask for your filling of choice, cheese, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, cream or Nutella. It’s then rolled up while it’s still warm. Once it cools it becomes crispy like a thin cookie. Quite tasty.
We didn’t visit any of the Mayan ruins in Campeche state. We’re saving our enthusiasm for some of the more “significant” sites a little later in our trip.