Oh Tulum. I expected I would adore you, and indeed I do. How could one not?
It was a piece of cake to peace out of Playa; just a 45-minute and 40 peso colectivo ride and I was in Tulum Pueblo. Tacking on an additional day to my hostel reservation here was no problem–I was in!
Later that night I met a young Canadian woman, Emily, also just turned 30 this year and going through some transitions. (Turns out there are a lot of us out here!) We have simultaneously so many commonalities and differences it’s hilarious; we got on really well. She and I ditched the overpriced bbq dinner at the hostel and went out instead where I finally got myself that frozen margarita. Served in a giant goblet like a squashed fish bowl on stilts, it made me very happy. We came home to a flamenco dance performance followed by super loud live music until late into the night. With all the rooms facing the internal courtyard, if you wanted to sleep you were out of luck. Unless you’re weird like me and sleep like a baby in such an environment.
The next morning, we departed for the famed Tulum ruins–contemporary with Chichen Itza, a fortified seaport for trade throughout Central America, religious center for the diving god and the planet Venus, and the only remaining coastal Mayan ruin. Approaching the park entrance from route 307, we stopped at a booth marked INFORMATION to pick up a map. The man in the booth welcomed us and told us there were two options: 1) just see the ruins or 2) see the ruins plus a boat tour with snorkeling. Conveniently, he sold tickets for both. I started to become skeptical. An “information” booth. Perfect location outside a major tourism attraction. Promising a special boat tour for fairly cheap. Really? But my friend Sadie had told me that I must see Tulum from the water, so I was sorely tempted. When they offered to escort me to an ATM to get cash, my Asian traveling experiences kicked in and I thought “come on, there has got to be an angle here.” But it was such a reasonable price (about $35USD) and the potential payoff so great, so we went for it.
My worries soon proved excessive. We passed through the city walls into the main complex and my breath was taken away. The landscape with ruins, greenery, and the blue Caribbean sea was stunning. One of those places where the beauty all around washes over you. I could easily see why many a Mayan would put in a transfer request to be stationed here. What an unbelievably beautiful place. Pictures don’t do it justice.
After shadowing tour groups and tramping through the ruins we decided lunch was in order. We headed to the beach in search of a surf shack restaurant. Lunch on the beach was divine. Emily’s long lost love is ceviche, so we ordered a large order with fish and shrimp. Add guacamole, toes in fine white sand, a beautiful view, and a few cervezas and you have the making for a sweet meal. We nibbled and drank and talked about Canadian politics, books, volunteerism, and more while listening to the waves and soft remixes of classic musical songs.
|Mmm… salty ceviche, guacamole, and beer. Does it get better?|
Both very white and sun-paranoid (though not unjustly so), we sunscreened up again and went in search of our boat. I noticed that I have gotten enough sun for the freckles on my nose to start to come out. I think they’re pretty cute. 🙂 A short walk down the beach we found our captain. Looks like the whole deal was legit after all! We boarded the boat with a number of other travelers and headed north along the coast towards the ruins.
A source of mixed amusement and annoyance on our boat was a trashy young American couple: she was, in essence, a set of enormous breast implants barely covered by 6 square inches of yellow fabric and he was a young Kevin Federline-type wearing a fedora backwards. Both had perfect teeth and loudly swore like sailors. “That is so f&$#ing GAWGEOUS!” They were the kind of travelers that make me cringe and pretend I am Canadian.
The late afternoon sun backlit the ruins. We all snapped photos from the boat and admired. The loud American couple continued shouting expletives. Luckily it was time to jump in the water; a snorkel in the mouth quieted them down! We wove as a group around the reef 500ft from shore. I don’t claim to be an expert of evaluating reefs, and initially it looked to me less vibrant and colorful than reefs I have seen in Hawaii. But looking a little closer fish started to come out, some excellently camouflaged with crosshatch patterns or polka dots on their scales. Small silvery ones chased each other around. A trio of large blue fish floated by. Large purple fans flexed with the waves. How I wish I still had more of my marine bio identification skills!
|Gorgeous x 3!|
We left the beach feeling happy and fulfilled. Truly an excellent day.