We left DC bright and early for an 8am flight to Cancun, Mexico with a scheduled change of plane halfway there in Miami. According to our tickets we had 45 minutes to get from one gate to the other in Miami, so once we arrived we literally had to run to the next gate to make it on time. I hate running at the best of times and with a backpack and strapless dress on it was even less fun, and I am sure I was the subject of amusement to many people I “ran” past. Of course as we arrived at our gate the plane hadn’t started boarding and in the end was delayed for around 50 mins – at least we made it!
Simo and I were very ready for some relaxation and summer weather at this point in our trip, having been non-stop for just over 3 weeks in the US, so when we finally got into Cancun we made our way into the heat of Mexico. We needed to head straight down to Tulum which is a 2 hour drive south and the one thing I would recommend if you come here is that you research the best way to do this with the best prices. We were unprepared for this part and were haggled by numerous people as we left the airport and the prices were not as cheap as we had anticipated. I was hot, hungry and frustrated and not the best help but after a while Simo ended up bargaining with a shuttle bus company to take us to Tulum at $50USD each. I found out later that if you book in advance with a certain company the prices are halved. Lesson learned.
When we arrived at Coco Tulum we were not disappointed. I actually had a picture of Tulum as my desktop picture on my laptop for months before we left and dreamt of this place many times. After a friendly greeting from the staff we made our way up the dunes to our cabaña, which was right on the beach. It was as beautiful and as simple as we expected with just a bed, mosquito net and a table. The bathrooms were shared with the other patrons but were well maintained and lovely. Outside our cabaña was a hammock, which I was to grow very fond of… there is something about swinging whilst being horizontal which makes me feel very relaxed! We dumped our stuff and made our way into the Caribbean water for a well deserved and long anticipated swim! The water was as warm and blue as I had imagined and made me feel brand new, completely refreshed and I was now ready to eat.
Early evening we made our way down the beach to little restaurant called Aman Sala and relished saying the one main Spanish phrase we knew… “dos cervezas, por favor!” After having a little giggle to ourselves we ordered the best guacamole and corn chips I have ever tasted and instantly with the aid of the warm sea breeze I was relaxed. After dinner, as we walked around the one thing we noticed was the lack of people, apparently we had come in the beginning of the low season, which suited us perfectly as it was quiet and the weather was perfect. There isn’t a whole lot to do in the low season at night and we found Tulum to be a very low key, relaxing and romantic place. That night, with the window open in our little shack, the continual warm breeze and the sound of the sea that sang to us like a lullaby, we both had the best night’s sleep in a long while.
We woke early the next morning and headed straight for a swim where it was so quiet and peaceful and there was no one on the beach except a young family and us. The woman and her toddler were playing in the sand while the man Adonis-like with a toned body and long hair was doing yoga. They were all naked and it seemed like the most beautiful natural thing in the world, which made it hard not to watch them. The man was perfect in his alignment of his poses and the mother and child were smiling and calm and I felt a momentary pang of envy over a life so simple.
We decided not to do much that day, we went for a walk to the little shops and stocked up on sunscreen and water, the latter being just as important as drinking tap water here can leave you chronically ill. The afternoon was spent much the same as the morning lying in hammocks and chilling out, eating, drinking piña coladas and swimming. Local kids dressed in traditional Mayan dresses would come by and try to sell their home made bags, belts and woven bracelets, they were so cute and we obliged them by buying a bracelet each. That night we went to another restaurant a bit further up the beach called Hemmingway’s for dinner and had a delicious Italian seafood dinner of home made pasta with huge prawns and a seared tuna dish – YUM! The owner and chef were Italian and obviously came to Mexico with the special recipe from home, as the food was divine.
On our 3rd day in Tulum we decided to explore the famous Tulum archaeological ruins, which are a short distance North along the coast from Coco Tulum. We hired a couple of bikes and were on our way. We rode for about 20 minutes before we got to our destination with a stop off for a swim just beforehand as it was so hot, we were later told that at 8am that morning it was 34C and one of the hottest days of the year so far. At the ruins there was a choice of tours we could take, so we opted for one entitled the “fun” tour which allowed us to see everything at our own pace. As it was so hot we quickly took ourselves around the ruins, which were beautiful and mystical even if swarming with tourists on a day trip, though this helped our decision to get out of the heat and into some shade with a beer and some tacos. We found a cheap little place on the beach called Mariachi and cooled off before heading to the beach to snorkel on the reef. This area has the second largest coral reef in the world following our very own Barrier Reef with many species of fish and coral to marvel at. Our guide also showed us three old cannons from a pirate ship underwater that had recently been discovered after a cyclone came through the area – very cool! Later that evening, tired and sun kissed but satisfied we opted for a light quiet meal and an early night.
On our final morning in Tulum I woke up just in time to see the sunrise over the sea and got a few shots on the camera. I have always loved sunrises – the beginning of a new day with a clean slate and a new adventure. We checked out of Coco Tulum and made our way to the hire car place on the highway. Europcar Tulum is nothing but a shipping container and we weren’t even sure if we were in the right place when we arrived, but sure enough our tiny little shitbox car was there waiting for us, not the mid-range intermediate car I had imagined but it would do. I got in and cranked the aircon (thank goodness it had that, there wasn’t even a radio!) while Simo went and sorted out the paperwork. Half an hour went by and Simo was still in the container they called an office which I couldn’t see inside, so in all honesty the thought of him being kidnapped crossed my mind. As all our things were in the car I was wary of leaving them while I went to check on him but I poked my head in and found him sitting in the aircon with the staff who assured me he was still alive… but how long does it take to sign a couple of forms? This was my first introduction to Mexico time. We finally got on the road and headed to Chichen Itza to see the wonder and the next part of our Mexican adventure.