In no particular order.

Shopping: yesterday we caught a taxi to the market and I ended up with a nice Christmas present. Our shopkeeper had the most bizarre compliment for me, “I like you because you’re tall and not skinny at all.” Yep, that’s right, my ghetto booty is sexy in Latin America and for once I am not considered vertically challenged. We left some money in his store and continued on our way.

Fishing: usually when we wet our lines it results in frustration, sore arms from fly bashing and slight inebriation. In Mexico, it took four hours for us to haul in four mahi mahi, or dorado as they’re known here, plus three barracudas… Young Benny Potter was more excited than a garbage collector after a full moon. Perhaps even more happy than a lottery winner. The fight was much tougher than I’d cockily anticipated and when I jumped into the fray to claim the second fish, I quickly realised I’d bitten off far more than I could reel. It took me about half an hour to haul my beast to the boat and my arms did not stop shaking for about 2 hours. They’re still tender.

Post-fishing entertainment: we return to shore elated and search for a restaurant that will cook our prize catches. Zamas will do it for $10 each so we take our seats, order a cerveza and sit back to watch the waves roll in. We got dinner and a show. To add to the feel-good mood for the boys, a pair of fit young ladies took their shirts off and decided to sunbath in their g-strings. As if this wasn’t enough, the beds at Zamas must have been rough because one of the ladies was in desperate need of a massage. Her topless friend happily obliged, pushing the day’s activities onto a different level of wonderful. We needed a siesta that day.

Mayan ruins: for once we decided to hire a guide. Our new friend Martin took us around the seafront Mayan village ruins and gave a comprehensive outline of how they lived and the series of events that led to the demise of the village. It was a fascinating tale of religious battles, sacrifices, wisdom and ultimately the tragic death of a culture. There are just a handful of pure Mayans left. It was a stunning vista over the sea and we enjoyed a few moments strolling around after the tour before our stomachs called us away. Quick suggestion, always get breakfast before a tour, especially if includes a 20 minute bike ride.

The festival: we check into the Hard Rock and are given stacks of complimentary food and booze, just to get us into the mood. The place is massive so Benny and I decide to stroll around the entire thing looking for our room. There are six restaurants, stacks of pop-up bars and heaps of food stalls. Everything is included in the price, such as the liquor in our mini bar and room service. We catch a bus over to the other resort and listen to Cole Swindell, apparently the next big thing and clearly a big deal with the American country music fans here. Benny takes delight asking these diehards who the guy is. They’re incredulous and wax lyrical about how awesome this guy is. He’s ok. The next night we get Luke Bryan, the headline act, and he is quite good. We rock out with a stack of our mates from Oz and kick the sand up, grabbing a few beers or cocktails from the passing waiters. Then the waiters start bringing tequila shots, proving that responsible service of alcohol clearly means the waiters have the responsibility to ensure patrons always have alcohol. Finally, someone gets it.

Tacos, guacamole and no siestas.

The bloody tourists won’t sleep. Too much to do in Tulum, Mexico, the rather pricey town we are staying in with a focus on health retreats that is a long way from our purpose. The bloke at the dive shop rarely gets a siesta these days, just far too many people trying to fill their days. So we’re not wasting any time sleeping either, although my 5am starts have more to do with time zone mix ups than any desire to be a wake early.

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We started on the beach yesterday at sparrow fart, meandering along watching black pelican-looking birds crash into the sea with an enthusiasm that made Australian pelicans look quite lazy. The water is opaque and crystal clear. Glassy. And also full of kelp which washes ashore to the fancy hotel beachfronts. The hotels then employ a small battalion of locals to rake it up and wheelbarrow it off the white sands.
We are staying at one of these lovely hotels with the beach sand at our doorway and an omnipresent breeze that makes hammock time blissful. It’s a real luxury for us as we have just a handful of days here. However, it’s a bit weird. We didn’t book a hotel and our airport cabbie found the place for us. It’s a yoga retreat with plenty of fit young women here to work on their downward dog. When we arrived back with a 24-pack of Coronas yesterday (purchased from a Corona factory), there were some curious stares. But we just marched past the bikini boot camp and found a spot on the sand to sip mojitos.
Our big activity for the day was catching the collectivo, a bus/taxi service that makes things very cheap, to the Xplor, a series of amazing caves that have been turned into a theme park. It was an extraordinary place with a comprehensive set of zip lines that have given me some hefty inner-thigh bruises. The zip flights went through waterfalls and even had a slide that reminded me why I so badly wanted to visit Wet N Wild. There was a all-terrain vehicle activity where you drive through the jungle, over suspension bridges, through large puddles and then down through some of the ancient caves that were formed by a meteorite about 65 million years ago. I imagined us as Indiana Jones adventurers, although that was marred by the incredibly gutless engine on our Polaris. We named her Suzy for her inability to get up hills. At one stage, I thought our mechanic, Perko, might just get out and give the beast a tune up.
We continued through a series of confusing caves with stalactites and stalagmites that got less and less interesting the more we walked. The underground pools in these caves were crystal clear and the whole thing was simply stunning. It was great to see so many people taking in these natural wonders but I couldn’t suppress my concern about how much damage the tourism was doing, and had already done, to the fragile structures.
The most tranquil part was the raft. We were given hand paddles and told to navigate bulky bloody rafts through rather narrow spots. It was tricky with plenty of bumps and I anticipate some chiseled arms soon from the exertion. The atmosphere was tainted only slightly by the continuous flashes of the bloody cameras that left us looking like startled beetles in headlights. The harsh light and direction signs reminded us of our status as lowly tourists, not hardy explorers.
It was a grand day, full of exuberance and contentment at the thought that we were in Mexico and making the most of the sunshine. To top it off we sought more tacos and guacamole. Now, I consider myself a guac connoisseur but the stuff over here is just on another level. The soft tacos on the first night with their delightful soft shell and intriguing spices, left us wondering if we had found our best tacos too early. We are yet to beat those little pockets of joy, but it’s a challenge I will heartily accept.
Today, we’re off fishing. No time for siestas.

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P.S. Apologies for the dearth of photos… More soon.