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Published: February 19th 2013
Day 8 of our travels sore us catching a bus to Tulum, this was something we anticipated with great expectation. Having seen photos (Jenny & Damien’s!) of Tulum and read about it we were very excited to get there. The bus was very comfortable and cost about 110 pesos each. We opted for front row seats so as to have the best view on the journey, staring down the approaching road was more interesting than spending the journey staring into thick jungle. The region is so flat, it’s not the most dramatic of drives.
We vacated the bus at Tulum to find there are 2 stops in Tulum, one about 2km outside the town and 1 in the town itself. We didn’t know this and got the wrong one thinking for a few minutes we were in the town. We were in fact by the archaeological site. We decided to walk from here down to the beach and look for accommodation down there instead of in the town. A gamble which in the end paid off. We emerged on to the beach with our belonging on our backs, sweating . The sun was thumping down on
one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen. When people depict paradise they’re probably picturing this beach. As you looked out to sea, it was difficult to identify the horizon as there seemed to be continuous colour of blue with no definition between sea and sky. The white sand which was so fine it barely stuck to your feet glowed in the sunlight. It was so clean in colour it remained cool in the 30 degree sunlight.
We walked along the beach looking for somewhere to stay for the night, having enquired in a few places along the beach we knew what we were looking for, it was called Candesa and we knew there were some cabana’s there which would hopefully have space for us and be affordable. We came to the end of the sand having passed a handful of attractive little lodgings along the way but were all a little expensive for our budget. We reached some rocks which were rounded by the erosion forces of the sea, we continued along them for about 80m and then we came out at Candesa beach and where we would be staying. The rocks had a little
sandy beach on top of them before dropping off into a tiny sandy cove not more than 10 metres long. It was perfectly sheltered by the rocks and had a very calm Caribbean Sea gently stroking its waves up against it.
The accommodation was basic to say the least, the cabin was placed on a concrete slab and made of sticks about 2 inches wide. Between each pair of sticks there was a gap of about ½ an inch. This meant that at night if the lights were on you could see straight inside. The roof was made from palm leaves which had been dried out. As I said it was basic but the location was perfect, just a few yards from the beach. There was a shared toilet which seemed to get blocked each evening, presumably by people forgetting to put there waste paper in the bin. The shower was simply a pipe which came out of the wall, resulting in showering being like standing under a cold tap. We weren’t there for the hotel so we were happy. The final detail I should point out which was hilariously funny when trying to get into bed was that
the bed was suspended from the roof by 4 pieces of rope, one on each corner. A swing bed if you can picture it. Sounds great in theory but in reality a bit of pain, particularly when you’re trying to align the mosquito net.
Along the beach there were several places to eat. Especially having paid 400 pesos each night for our accommodation, Hev and I were on the lookout for something cheap so as to remain in our budget as best as possible. Where we ate was a little restaurant which was part of the more up market hotel/cabins next door called Diamonte. The food was great and reasonably priced. The decor of the bar/restaurant was very creative made primarily of wood and to quote Hev and I, it looked “cool”. Very rustic feel but well thought out. It was very quiet (probably because it was 6PM which meant we had a choice of any seat so we chose a window table. We were so close to the sea, a lovely, relaxed evening in the end after what felt like a long day.
DAY 9 – We awoke nice and early having had a chilly evening in
the early hours of the morning courtesy of the sea breeze somehow finding a way through the walls of our cabin. We gazed Eastwards across the Caribbean sea to watch the sunrise, the sky was clear with only a few light white clouds present on the horizon. We enjoyed watching the sea change in colour from dark navy through all the imaginable shades of blue until finishing with a crystal clear turquoise colour as the sun progressively glared on it as it rose.
Having watched the sunrise we headed along the beach leisurely passing people jogging along the powdery sand towards Tulum ruins. We approached the ruins a little earlier than the opening time (8AM) with great anticipation as this was the highlight and the purpose of the visit to the area. Unfortunately we were delayed our entrance by 10 minutes as the ticket vendor was late – must always take into consideration “Mexican timings”. I’m sure if we were late for a booked excursion they would wait. We entered the ruins with the morning sun beating down on us. The best advise if visiting the ruins is to get there early to avoid the crowds, definitely worth it as we managed to capture spectacular images of all the iconic sights without having your standard tour crowd bumbling across the shot. I wouldn’t know where to start to describe the sight itself, words nor pictures can do it justice. I will say it is spectacular architecture for the era in which it was built, this combined which the natural beauty of the jungle transforming into rocky cliffs overlooking a tranquil beach creates the place which can be described nothing short of picturesque.
After seeing the ruins we headed in to Tulum town after stopping off for a fresh coconut along the way. The walk itself was about 3km. When we arrived in the town we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. It was busy but full of nice shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. We had some nice lunch in a restaurant down a side street, decent lunch portion which came to 100 pesos each. Having visited the bank we joyfully booked a taxi to visit some cenotes. The first one we arrived at was aptly named Crystal Cenote. The depth was about 10 metres and we could see every detail along the bottom as we swam around it. It was great fun splashing around and relaxing on the rope which had been placed across it. Courtesy of the clarity of the water I thought I could touch the bottom a number of times, forgetting how deep it was. Then we headed out to another cenote about a kilometre away. To get there we crossed the main road and walked down a dirt track through the jungle. Despite being less maintained than the other, this cenote was of equal beauty. It was about 15 meters deep and had a far more natural and untouched feel to it as the overgrown trees encroached on the borders of the pure water. As we played about in it some divers emerged beneath us (always good for my irrational fear of what lies beneath the surface of water). We had seen their bubbles appearing at the cenote edge but assumed it was hot air being released from the ground. As you would..... It turns out they had dived from one cenote to the other, a journey which takes about 2 hours – hence the 2 oxygen tanks they had. This has potentially inspired me to give scuba diving another go.
Having had our fill of swimming/playing about in the glorious pools which were well worth the 50 pesos entry we paid each, we needed to head back to town and then our cabana. We soon realised this was going to be a problem as neither Hev nor I had a phone and you were required to call a taxi to pick you up. The child selling admission didn’t have a phone either, the prospect of walking back with no water began to rear its ugly head. Then the child suggested in Spanish (something we really should have leant) that we ask the guy literally leaving the car park for a lift. We managed to stop him and blurt out some Spanglishy words asking for a lift. He generously helped us out, and we gratefully gave him some pesos. That evening we went to a different restaurant along the beach where we were served by a very genuine Italian man. He charismatically told us the specials and showed great pride in describing to us how each dish was prepared. We felt cruel, aided by his expression when we ordered a margarita pizza to share. What can I say, we were on a budget. We did give him a nice a tip for his endeavours though.
After dinner I lay in bed waiting to turn off the light as Heather was going through her pre-sleep rituals of removing such and such and making sure this is over there, when a cockroach flew up from the floor and landed on a crossbeam. I chose not to tell Hev until the morning as I wanted to sleep with the light off.
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