Tulum, Quintana Roo - Mexico
When we left off, we were waiting for the over-nite bus to Chetumal. That was another interesting experience in nocturnal travel. I don’t know whether it was because we were in the very back of the bus or because all Mexican drivers share a certain affinity with Speedy Gonzalez, but there was an alarming amount of swaying and lurching. It was so severe that ultimately, Marlon concluded the only way to prevent involuntary body propulsion would be shoulder straps! In fact, the more we discussed it, the more we wondered why shoulder harnesses should be limited to baby car seats and astronauts, when there are so many scenarios in life where one might desire a little extra torso support...
As our main objective for coming to Chetumal was to catch another bus, we were pleasantly surprised by its charm and a laid-back attitude we attributed to the Caribbean. (Although, as the city was largely devoid of residents- we assumed for Semana Santa, the Mexican spring break- that may have contributed, as well.) One thing we were really excited about in Chetumal was checking out Museo de la Cultura Maya, which is organized into three levels, mirroring Maya cosmology: the main floor representing this world, the upper floor the heavens and the lower floor the underworld.
When we initially arrived at the museum, they said they would be opening in 30 - 40 minutes, so we looked into the bus schedule and went back to the hotel to change and relax a bit. When we returned, they said they would be opening in another 20 minutes, so we went for quesadillas (or as Ben says, "quese-dizzles"). When we returned to the museum for the second time however, they were completely barred up with no one in sight, and when we finally managed to get a hold of someone, he said they’d closed 20 minutes ago!
We rattled the gate and moaned our displeasure and considered haunting the place. The others were convinced that with some effort, I could fit through the bars, though we were unsure what this would accomplish aside from proving my rightful place as a Circus performer. Ultimately, we walked down to the water instead, which was equally nice.
It was decided that the hassle (customs) of going into Belize wouldn’t be worth the brief amount of time there, so the next morning we hopped a bus to the beach town of Mahahual. It was a "2nd Class" bus, meaning no AC, no baños, no boundaries. We picked up and dropped off anyone anywhere, and once the driver got out to get a cool drink and shoot the breeze. I found it to be the most enjoyable bus ride yet, mui authentico.
The first thing we saw of Mahahual was the idyllic turquoise of the Caribbean sea. The next thing we saw clarified where the populace of Chetumal had gone. Plus-size families toting inflatable crocodiles, old men with binoculars (?!) and young, scantily-clad muchachas and muchachos all partook in the festivities, and all to the same soundtrack of Spanish pop and club music (which the beachfront restaurants blasted from speakers taller than myself, as if they were performing a public service). The four of us looked at each other in varying degrees of alarm and humor as we pulled in, and one man (whose age suggested he would be better off refraining from such activities) thrust his hips in the direction of the bus.
Marlon and I were reminded of Pescara, Italy, however there at least the military-fashion rows of lounge chairs provided some sense of structure!
Between Semana Santa and the aftermath of August’s hurricane (which has many residents living in hotels and many hotels demolished), everything was booked in Mahahual. However, this turned out to be a blessing as we ended up in the neighboring town of Costa Maya, which was dramatically more quiet and down-to-earth. It also had a large ex-pat community, and we quickly discovered the unexpectedly hip bohemian café Aroma, which served large and tasty panini sandwiches (and were willing to do mine sin carne). The sun was so potent however, that it glared off the white, dusty roads like a mirror and even sitting under an umbrella all afternoon we were each of us a shade darker!
That evening Marlon and I made the five-minute walk to the beach for a sunset swim. The turquoise waters felt as wonderful and nurturing as they looked, and we basked in their exceptional buoyancy a comfortable distance from Mahahual’s "festivities". However, as we made our way back to shore Marlon suddenly cried out in pain, and closer inspection revealed three dark purple spikes in his foot- belonging to a sea urchin, we surmised! Neither of us thought they were poisonous, but Marlon couldn’t put weight on the ball of his foot and we were soon resigned to limping along the highway. I prayed fervently for a taxi, and shortly one materialized. Marlon explained that he had a problema and indicated his foot, to which the driver nodded stoically and drove us to Mahahual’s hospital- a simple 2-room building with a quaint ambulance out front. Inside were two men in street clothes, one of which spoke English. He said not to worry, this happened all the time (to tourists), in fact just the day before a girl had come in with twenty sea urchin spines! He also confirmed that sea urchins weren’t poisonous, however they release a mild toxin and, "If it happen again, pee on it."
(The visit cost us only five dollars, nonetheless it was fortunate that Marlon had stuck resolutely to his intuition to bring cash, even though I’d said that we were going to commune with the sea and what the heck did we need money for?)
That night we began a three-day love affair with Che Burger, which was run by a charming and warm Argentinean family and served VEGGIE burgers, pasta, and Chimichurri sauce (an olive oil-parsley concoction) with warm bread! They said they hoped we would return, though I don’t think they anticipated us taking that quite so literally, as we returned the following two consecutive nights, plus a lunch!
On Easter the four of us swam in the cerulean sea and went on a smoothie hunt, which proved much more challenging than the proverbial egg hunt, however eventually we found them- presented in plastic baggies with straws as there were no to-go cups!
By Tuesday the crowds had returned to the city, and Mahahual felt like a ghost town in contrast. We and the few other non-Mexican tourists ventured out tentatively, raising our noses to the wind like rodents checking to ensure the danger has passed. Portia and I had been highly anticipating horseback riding on the beach, but the place we’d found online previously was closed and had apparently discontinued the rides! (As always, travel teaches adaptability.)
On Wednesday morning Marlon and I boarded a bus to Tulum, having reached our point of departure from Portia and Ben. Such bittersweet partings!!! I was deeply saddened at the goodbyes, yet also excited for the next leg of our adventure. As the bus pulled away from Costa Maya I thought, Alas, we are "Quattro Fromagio" no more, returned once again to "MarandAr".
Tulum has been incredible from the very beginning. The last available accommodations and the cheapest accommodations on the beach both happened to be at "Zazil Kin", within walking distance of the ruins. (Granted, "cheap" is a rustic solar-powered cabaña with cold shower for 90 US dollars a night, but we could see the ruins from our beach which is pretty dang cool.)
Taking a beach walk that night, I felt the ruins humming to me and Marlon commented that the stars here resemble a spiral, like a great vortex. (We’d both taken some Illumination essence, bear with us.)
Yesterday morning we dragged ourselves out of our pink mosquito net-enshrouded bed in order to get to the ruins right when they opened. It was a pleasant walk down the road and we were greeted at the entrance by several cats in blissful squinty-eyed repose at the area’s pure vibration. Once we entered the site, however, it was iguanas that ruled the roost. They were everywhere, mostly perched majestically atop deteriorating columns and former buildings. Marlon tuned in right away to the fact that they were the spirits of former residents, acting as guardians for the site.
Crickey! Marlon has just informed me that our bus leaves fifteen minutes earlier than we’d anticipated. I shall have to leave off here for now!
Adios! We are off to visit Cobá, on our way to Pisté (Chichén Itzá).
Much love!!! Arielle
Vibrational alchemist, writer, artistic mystic, pack mama and spiritual adventurer living in The Goodland - Goleta, CA. Creator of Lioness Energetics.
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