There was nothing in Ek Balam. The cafe was closed until August and everyone was asleep. How will I get back? I suddenly start to worry. There’s no question of returning the way I came via the boy and his fence. I ask a man asleep in a hammock. He doesn’t know. I ask two more men also asleep in their hammocks. They don’t know. One of them seems to think buses come by “sometimes” that will take me all the way back to Valladolid.
There's a taxi parked under a tree with all its windows open so I sit next to this hoping the owner will turn up shortly. Ten minutes pass and a man walks past. I ask him whether this taxi will go to Valladolid. His shrugs suggests a negative. I ask him how I might get back to Valladolid. He doesn't know. I suddenly get the idea that there might be taxis at the ruins that will take me back. I ask him if he thinks so. Yeah, probably.
Google Maps shows a road back to the ruins, a lot longer than the footpath shortcut. Standing at the edge of the village I look down this road. It stretches a long way into nothing and is buzzing with the high midday heat. So I walk back to the ruins.
Three quarters of the way there, a man pulls up on a red motorcycle. He offers me a ride. I look at his bike and its shiny-slippery black seat. I look at the road and its the shiny-hard black tarmac. And I look at his head, fragile and unhelmeted. I say no thanks. He buzzes off. The sun intensifies. And I immediately regret it.
Almost back at the ruins now, a taxi comes past going in the right direction and I wave at it frantically. It speeds past. I can’t actually see the face of the driver but I see his face as sneering. Another taxi comes past and I wave again. It speeds past. Then it slows. Then it stops. I run up:
“¡Bueno! ¡Muchas gracias!”
I look at the back seat and there are the two glum english people from the bus yesterday to Chichén Itzá. They’re looking at me bitterly. I thank them, in Spanish, take my place up front next to the driver and together we all speed off back to Valladolid.
On returning I get a haircut. In the baking hot salon, and the 35ºc outside, the first thing the hairdresser asks me is: “So, is it hot outside?”. I tell her it is and she asks if I’ve got children. No. She looks concerned and asks if I’m married. No. Well, how old are you? 27. Oh you’ve got plenty of time, she laughs nervously.