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Published: December 25th 2017
Geo: 20.125, -87.45
We moved from Merida to Tulum on the Carribean coast last Friday so we have been here a week and plan to stay another two. Reasons for this sojourn? After the busy cosmopolitan Cancun and frenetic Merida we decided to spend some time in a more peaceful location near a beach. HostelWorld website enabled us to find our current location, Dream Diving Resort (name is grander than venue), and once we had been here a few days, we decided to stay.
Our room is spacious, sparsely furnished with a double and single bed, table and two chairs, a hanging rail for clothes (but no hangers) and an ensuite with shower (and a hand basin so high that I feel like a 3 year old!). There is free wifi and drinking water but no food, and in theory, hot water. However the pump failed just before we arrived so still no warm shower. The pump should be replaced tomorrow so we live in hope but will not be too disappointed if it does not materialise! It is so hot that a cold shower is not really a problem. The cost is $20 per night, so well under budget and eating
out is cheap. We tend to buy food to prepare a simple breakfast and lunch and then have one meal out each day. Are we the only "backpackers" to have matching plates, napkins and (small) tablecloth? It is a young Belgian couple (who have a baby and a young boy) that own the place, which combines a hostel with dive facility. They have only been here a year so are just building the business and much of the complex is a work in progress.
Our room is on the first floor (the accommodation consists of blocks of four rooms) and our neighbour is a guy from Arizona who lives here permanently. He has a restaurant on the beach and also runs some tours. He had a male friend round on his day off and I heard them go downstairs and round the corner out of sight from everyone, then I heard sounds of exertion. I was curious but, as you might imagine, reluctant to peer round the corner. Then Mateo (our neighbour) came upstairs for water and said, “Hi, come and have a look at my climbing wall”. He has a 2 storey wall standing up next to the building
Crocodile by the lagoon
A baby croc bask in the sun
and they were having a training session.
In the evening we sit on the balcony to watch the birds and then after dark we have seen fireflies in the garden. When I looked out of the rear window this afternoon there was a racoon slouched in the tree outside.
Tulum is more like a large village than a town, spread out for about a kilometre along the main road from Cancun to Belize, which runs roughly parallel to the beach but a couple of kilometres inland. There is only one road to the beach, which is still undeveloped, but has beautiful white sand, palm trees and a reef a little way offshore. It is a very relaxed town with lots of restaurants, bars, and tourist shops as well as the other businesses you see in most towns. I am not sure if it is the time of the year but it never seems very busy. Many people still live in traditional style houses which have an indoor space of approximately 250 square feet and outdoor areas, often with chickens running around, but there are also newer properties and a number of holiday home complexes being built. I hope it doesn't become overdeveloped
The lagoon in Coba
The tower is a zip line across the laggon. Tall people risk losing their toes to the crocs
Just a couple of minutes walk from the hostel there are paths into jungle (which is taller here than in the Cancun area) where we have seen woodpeckers, green parakeets, mocking birds, orange orioles, South American yellow oriole, Cassins king bird, large black finches and others we are still trying to identify.
Another reason we decided to stay here longer is the number of activities within reach. We took a bus to Coba one day, to bird watch around a lagoon there and to visit more Mayan ruins. When we arrived I walked up to a couple of steps at the edge of the lagoon to peer over and a crocodile peered back and climbed over towards me. It was only about 3 feet long but I reversed smartly! By the time Jim heard me call it had disappeared from sight and I am not sure he believed me until we saw more later. There was one swimming in the lagoon that must have been 3 metres long.
After the lagoon we went to the ruins but were overcome by the size of the site – it covers 70 square kilometres. We only managed to see a tiny proportion of the
See fantastic underwater pictures online - google Gran Cenote Tulum. They show the size underwater.
ruins as we had already walked a good distance birdwatching so a return visit might be planned.
In addition to the beach there are a few cenotes for swimming within walking distance of the town. We visited Cenote Crystal a couple of days ago. It is a peaceful lake in the middle of jungle as the cenote is at the surface. The water is clear so we had a great swim and were lucky in spotting a turtle. We were there all morning and only saw 3 other people, but numerous butterflies of all colours.
But the best experience yet was a dive I did in a cenote (Gran Cenote). I went alone with just the dive guide and he briefed me about cavern diving. Gran Cenote leads into a network of caverns and passages containing stalagmites and stalactites which were formed in the limestone by the action of water seeping through the rock, then, as a result of a meteorite crashing on the Yucatan peninsular, this network was flooded by underground rivers. So now it is possible to dive and float through the caverns, up and around the rock formations, through gaps, up and down rock faces, and surface in caves. It was truly breathtaking. I was nervous to begin as I have never dived in an enclosed space before and wasn't sure how it would feel. In fact, there was plenty of light most of the time and some caverns were so big that I had no feeling of claustrophobia at all. Some areas were dark and the guide covered his and my torch at one point to show that it was total blackness. I did have one moment of concern when we went up a side tunnel past a sign reading, “Do not pass this point unless you are a trained cave diver. We care about you!”, but the guide had explained that he would take me on a “detour” and not to worry, so I went along. (There are some fantastic pictures online if you would like to see them. Just google Gran Cenote, Tulum ) I would love to dive some more cenotes before we leave the area but not sure if the budget will allow it!
ps How do we spend the evenings? Jim is teaching me maths. I'm having a great time!
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