One doesn’t just go to Mexico and not buy anything. Guatemala’s fabrics and bright baby onesies were hard enough to resist, and by the time we got to Mexico my suppressed capitalist tendencies couldn’t take it anymore. I had to buy something pretty. Not shampoo or cooking oil to last us 2 weeks. Something we don’t need, but want.
So we bought a three sleeper hammock (in black, of course) for 500pesos. Now I’m really awful at bargaining, because everybody (including the hammock salesman) has to eat. But I only had 500pesos in my wallet and, being the non-bargainer that I am, told the salesman that I can’t give him that little for something that is twice as expensive (and some more – the original price was 1200pesos).
So we walked out with said hammock and me apologising all the way. The Brother on the other hand, disappeared into the touristy knick knack shop next door and came out with the world’s biggest sombrero on his head. He paid a ridiculous amount for something that one can only wear at your distant cousin’s Mexican-themed housewarming party. And then nobody else will be allowed in the same room because that hat is just so darn humongous.
So we forced him to wear the sombrero the whole day. And that was our first 5 minutes in Tulum.
Things that are in Tulum, except for sombreros and hammocks.
– Amazing Beaches;
– Two for one cocktail specials on the Amazing Beaches;
– Ruins and bars (related and unrelated places of interest – it just depends on how hammered you get at the bars);
– More cenotes than I have guts;
– A seafood restaurant that is hands down the best in Mexico.
Let’s start with the Amazing Beaches
Tulum’s beaches are the stuff that screensavers are made off. They stretch from here to way way way over there, and the sand has the afterglow of a honeymoon. It’s amazing. The water is all turquoise and no action – perfect for drifting around for hours on end.
There isn’t a beach close to the town of Tulum, so you have to cycle there or grab a taxi. It’s about an 8km cycle, but if you’re cruising on a cruiser bike with the sun on your back, you’ll just never want to stop.
The one beach we frequented every day had this quaint little beach bar with one waiter and a barman. You know when people say they just want to bum out of the rat race and become beach bums for the rest of their lives? Those boys are living that kind of life my friend, and they’re living it well.
So in support of their beach bum spirit and two for one cocktail specials, we ordered Piña Coladas every single blissful day. And because we tipped him before he went off to make our drinks, he made them exxtra strong – and then you really only need one. Trust me.
Another picturesque thing those beaches are good for, is sunrises. So the one morning we got up super early, saddled up our bikes and hit the road to catch the first rays. It was dark as night when we rode down the street and the town was still snoring in unison. We turned a corner, and as we cycled past the local taqueria we saw two taco makers, grooving to super loud reggaeton while making the town’s tacos with this industrial looking taco press. That unexpected glimpse into real life Mexico made me smile all the way through my groggy morning self.
When we got to the beach, we felt like we were doing something illegal because we were the only ones there. And by ‘we’, I mean the Husband. The whole time he was worried that we might look dodgy (to the crowd of nobody that was wondering what our intentions were), and after going for a swim with the Brother, he was worried that we might look like illegal border jumpers swimming to Mexico from I don’t know where.
Yes, dear reader. That sudden burst of paranoia did not make sense that morning, and it still doesn’t.
So we waited for the sun, while being eaten up alive by mosquitos. And when the sun eventually poked its big head out of the Caribbean sea, it went for the comfort of a blanket of clouds. So we took a selfie and gave ourselves a pat on the back for getting up so early.
The cycle back was amazing though. We peddled through the foresty bit of Tulum just as all the birds were beginning to wake up. My oh my, it sure was pretty.
Ruins, bars and the connection between the two
We went to see the ruins. It was pretty cool. And even though I’m a massive fan of the Mayans and all the mysteries that surround them, after you third or fourth ruin they all start to look the same. So, that was that. There’s a little cove that’s only accessible via the ruins, and we ended up playing in the water until they kicked us out.
We also went to a bar to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. It was pretty neat – there was a musician with a sombrero bigger than The Brother’s, a woman wearing a twirly dress with a red rose in her hair (just like in the old movies) and a bar full of really drunk, really happy, people.
But we always tend to find ourselves on the periphery. I know loads of travellers who would go out to a bar, make friends, get matching tattoos and post pics on Facebook with captions like ‘best nite evurrr with these guyz’ and ‘4am at the police station lol’. See, that’s just not us. Not that we don’t want a best nite evurrr, we’re just not cool enough. And that’s also okay.
So the three of us drank rounds and rounds of cheap tequila, walked to the square to watch a mariachi band whereafter I got a bad case of the hiccups (which was our cue to waddle slowly back to our hostel). And might I just say – drinking cheap tequila with my two favourite hombres, definitely qualifies as a best nite evurrr.
The next morning my head was in ruins.
Stories about cenotes
Now I already told you about my first Mexican cenote experience where I, a grown woman, waited with the rest of the 5 year olds at the shallow end of the water. But, in Tulum I actually ventured deeper into these chilly sinkholes – armed with a life jacket of course.
The Gran Cenote is, excuse the cheese, a grand adventure. One gets to snorkel with freshwater turtles in water so clear, it actually looks like you’re floating on air. True story. You also swim through a bat cave, and when you get to the other side, you get attacked by mosquitos the moment you poke your head out of the water. Typical.
I remember thinking to myself, while trying to turn around in my life jacket so I could float on my back to look at the bats, that I need to take a mental picture of that specific moment – the water, the turtles, the bats and me – in Mexico.
Listen up – if you don’t travel, you should start to. It changes a person.
The Brother went diving at Dos Ojos and Cenote Angelita, and as a diver with a crazy love for coral and its inhabitants, he was completely blown away by the beauty of cruising through the tunnels and crystal clear water of Tulum’s cenotes. Post-dive and pre-tequila, he told us a couple of crazy stories about him squeezing through a tunnel for what felt like hours – with no turning back and very very little moving space.
Cenote Angelita is famous for this misty cloud phenomenon mid-water. A hydrogen sulfate haze is formed at the meeting place between fresh water and salty water. They call it ‘halocline’, but rather click here to read the correct description. Remember, these stories were told pre-tequila.
Hands up for the best seafood in Mexico hands down
We’ve had a lot of bad seafood in Mexico, but the best by far is at El Camello. It’s tasty. It’s real. And it doesn’t taste like the soles of your hiking boots. Order the calamari and light a candle for Neptune – it is beyond delicious.
That’s Tulum. You should go.