My third and final stop down the Quintana Roo was in Tulum and was probably my favourite place. Despite feeling ill, seeing a big-ass snake and swimming with a small-ass crocodile I really enjoyed my time there.
The bus from Playa Del Carmen took just under an hour and the bus station was about a 50 minute walk away from ‘Lucky Travellers Hostel’ where I was staying. Usually I wouldn’t have minded walking this distance but feeling ill as I was I decided to flag down a taxi.
The drive was literally straight along the road for about 10 minutes and the only navigation required was a quick lap of the block so we were facing the right direction. This, however, didn’t stop the driver, who knew only a few words in English, from constantly asking ‘where we go? Tell me! Tell me!’ It took me a couple of minutes to realise that the taxi driver was pretty drunk. Maybe after the second or third time of him pointed at a woman walking along the street and saying: ‘Look! Big Bum’.
Luckily the road was fairly quiet and didn’t have much traffic and I arrived to my hostel safely! The place was the first ‘all inclusive’ hostel that I’ve seen and was pretty good with free bike rental, a cinema room (shock some English guys were already in there watching football) and generally loads of space to chill out.
I forced some food down, which was average at best but I didn’t expect much better from a buffet, and took a laboured walk to the beach. Like Playa and Cancun the beach was full of seaweed but the potential could be seen beyond the brown waters and the horrid smell.
Each day the hostel organised an excursion on bikes. The two days that I stayed, we were taken to different Cenotes (pronounced say-no-tays) by a tiny Brazilian guy who originally came to Tulum for a few weeks and ended up staying for 6 months.
A Cenote is pool of water stretching underground and there are lots of them found around the Yucatan area, many linked to each other and the sea by underground tunnels. There are open, semi-open, underground and cave Cenotes. The first day we visited a cave and the second was open.
The connection of underground tunnels allows wildlife to arrive in the Cenotes and in the cave, besides many fish that would bite your toes in a free pedicure, there was a baby turtle. They also had some turtles in an old bath tub where they held them before being released somewhere (less tourist infested) later. In the open cenote I even spotted a baby crocodile in the reeds which only made me question where mummy and daddy were.
The cave Cenote was basically just a few holes in the ground. A couple of small holes were about a meter or two wide and the main hole about five meters. Down the main hole was a rugged ladder so people could climb up and down into the bat infested cave or most people just jumped the 4 meters down anywhere that they weren’t likely to land on someone’s head. I was surprised whilst inside to see a bunch of bubbles appear in the water, they were promptly followed by a man in full scuba gear who had been exploring the underground rivers.
The next day we went to an open Cenote. The guys at the entrance warned us that there was a baby crocodile around, which I spotted almost as soon I jumped in, off the man-made diving platform. It was kind of like a big pond with clear water (which made it kind of creepy) and a beautiful jungle back drop, the water was very refreshing on a hot day.
The other thing that I did during my short stay in Tulum – which is a typical thing to do in Mexico – was to visit the ruins. The ruins of Chichin Itza were impressive but these ones were visually stunning.
I took a walk through the jungle and then ducked through a small arch before being hit with a large plane with buildings spaced out on lush green grass with a backdrop of beautiful blue skies that ended with the cliff to the ocean below. The scenery was so stunning that I didn’t even think how impressive the buildings, built thousands of years ago by the Mayans, actually were.
On the way out of the ruins, again through a jungle (but a wide man made path) I was scanning the trees to my left when I had to double take. The tree which I thought had strange patterns actually had a big snake coiled around the branch. Thankfully it wasn’t moving so I stopped long enough to snap a picture and made my way out of there sharpish.
Tulum was a good way to end my week alone in Mexico before heading back to Cancun to meet my girlfriend Karen and continue my travels on to Cuba.