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