Piste - Cancun - Tulum - Palenque

Tulum Travel Blog

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Views of the Carribean, Tulum

Dear Mum and Dad

Caught a bus from Piste to Cancun, another tiring trip, standing in the aisle for 3.5 hours.  Quite a strain on my legs after climbing all the pyramids at Chichen Itza.  Not very impressed with Cancun, looks like another resort city.  We stayed at the hostel, which was located in amongst all the expensive hotels.  At 12,000 pesos each it wasn't as cheap as our previous nights in Mexico.  Still it is only $AU6 each.  Stayed only the one night before coming here to Tulum.

Feet of friends!
  Most of Cancun and the other coastal cities are under construction, rebuilding everything after the hurricane.  A lot of damage along the beach front.  The many palms and other trees bent from the force of the wind. Piles of rubble, glass and wood everywhere.  Many beached boats, one large boat beached near the hostel, had been blown from the Isla Mujeres 8 miles away to Cancun, even though it had been moored with two anchors.  Most of the resort hotels are built right on the beach so they were all flooded and nearly every pane of glass, broken.  It was fairly quiet at the hostel, even though they have 700 beds.  We met only one person, a Frenchman who was living in Boston for awhile.  Quite interesting to talk to as he worked on Stars and Stripes for the Challenge.
Naomi and I outside our cabana.
  Now he is racing boats called Formula 40 for an American company.

While Cancun lacked other travellers, Tulum certainly makes up for it.  We had read about a cheap place about a twenty minute walk from the ruins of Tulum.  There are 3 separate campgrounds with cabanas.  This place was definately my idea of a paradise.  Such a welcome sight after 3 months of travel.  My first thought was that it would take a hurricane or the like to move me before at least a week.  We were given a cabana on the very end of the strip closest to the beach.  Luckily I purchased the hammock in Merida.  Took us a few minutes to shed our packs, don our swimmers and stretch out on the soft, white sand.

Just hanging out in our hammocks.
  Such a perfect setting, a striking comparison between the sand and the turquoise and deeper blue water of the Carribean.  Only the white of the waves breaking over the reef a few hundred metres off-shore divided the blue water from the blue sky.

The weather was forever changing from days of sunshine to windy, rainy days with scattered periods of sunshine in the afternoons.  But the water was always warm and clear day or night. 

It was a new experience for me to use the hammock.  The cabanas were about as big as a kitchen, the hammocks stretching from either side, the ends strung over the small tree trunks which formed the walls of our new house.  Swinging back and forth I could still enjoy the view of beach and water.  Within our first half hour we met a neighbour, a crazy Argentinian, Omar.

The 'well' our shower on the left hand side.
  Hair like Naomi's springy coils, tied back like a sumo wrestler, wearing only a loin cloth over his trim, brown body. Omar was quite the world traveller and proved the best introduction for us to many other travellers resting here, before heading to Belize and Guatemala or toward Cancun.  He invited us to his campfire that night for dinner.  Beans, not refried and rice with vegetables, the best in weeks.

Later on in the day we met Ted, an American from Colorado.  He filled us in on all the other details of the camp living.  Where to wash, how to hang the hammocks properly and sleep in them and which restaurant served the best food.  Our camp which we came to call the ghetto, had only one toilet about 500m away from our cabana and the shower and washing facilities was a well, where one threw in a bucket and heaved it up by rope a distance of about 10 feet.

Our little group!
  Soon to be about twenty as the water level dropped dramatically in a few days.  There was an iguana living at the well, that I tried to avoid while throwing down the bucket. The neighbouring camp had a shower, a well and more of a civilized toilet.  Our toilet was an actual toilet bowl but you had to flush it with a bucket of water.  You could also see through the bamboo strips of the door and of course everyone could see you.   No privacy anywhere not that it worried us too much.  The other camps were out of our budget at 18,000 pesos a night $US9. Anyway I liked our 10,000 peso a night cabana, although the first night was quite the experience.  Trying to find the most comfortable position in the hammock was the first problem.  Ted had told me that to sleep flat, one had to be lying from one side of the hammock to the other, it finally became the only way to sleep without waking up with a permanently arched back!  Naomi settled in hers quicker, I spent close to an hour wrestling about with the hammock and my sleep sheet.  Finally got settled only to become unsettled as it began to rain!  My hammock was hung nearest the beach side of the cabana, where the rain not only blew in through the wall but streamed through the palapa leaves in the roof.  Not the most sleep filled night but things did improve.  There was quite a wind storm on the 2nd day so we moved to another cabana a little more protected from the elements of weather.  At least the roof proved more waterproof, well on my side anyway! Naomi even had my umbrella up over her hammock a couple of nights, as the water was falling on her head.  Most nights it invariably rained, with gusty winds and becoming calmer as the daylight hours approached.

I was up early nearly every morning to enjoy the sunrise, mostly looking forward to stretching my limbs after a restless night in the hammock. Some mornings it is hot enough to swim and more often it is my bath for the day with a bucket of well water splashed over me before sunset. Only woke up once during the previous night when a bug(felt but not seen) was crawling on my neck and hair.  Yes I did scream, you know how brave I am with nature!!  The Yucatan thrives with bugs, cockroaches, spiders and scorpions.  Though thank heavens we haven't seen the latter, although we've heard plenty of stories. 

Mosquitoes are bad, luckily we have been taking Malaria tablets.  Our new neighbours Tine and Bob from Denmark, were worried when Tine got sick.  At first we thought it was the "turista" but after the 3rd day she went to the clinic in Tulum.  They suspected she had something called paradismol? spread from mosquitos, as there were 3 confirmed cases from the Tulum area.  They did a blood test but luckily she didn't have it.  After getting getting bitten about 40 times in Merida I have been extra careful covering my legs and using repellant.  Naomi and Bob are covered with bites after deciding to sleep on the beach one night, both of them get the itchy red lumps.

Our second morning here we walked along the beach and rocks to the Mayan ruins.  These ruins are not so well preserved as they are right on the cliffs near the beach. They don't open until 8am so it was a treat to enjoy the buildings without the hundreds of other tourists.  We were spotted by one of the security guards and he hustled us out of the ruins.  His friend appeared and began cursing us in English calling us stupid gringos and he said " I shit on you!" Naomi, of course found his reaction amusing, her laughter did not amuse him & we quickly hurried out the gate and returned to the camp via the road.

The first few days the two restaurants in the neighbouring campground were full every night.  Always someone to talk to, mostly backpackers, very laid back people with tattered old clothes, long hair and of course adorned with Mexican jewellery.  During the day, everyone keeps fairly quiet just soaking up the sun, most people sunbaking nude or at least topless. 

It was difficult to make plans to leave, having easily lost all motivation, moving from the hammock to the beach, to the well, to the restaurant.  Nothing too strenous!  The thought of my pack on my back was not a welcome idea, but unfortunately the money is dwindling away.

We made the unwelcome move from Tulum to Palenque via Chetumal on Thursday 19th.  Along with Bob and Tine we packed up our hammocks and after a sad farewell to Ed and a few other aquaintances, set off to the bus stop.  Chose a good day to leave as the rain had settled in and as of today we've had no sunshine. (21/01/88) Took 12 long hours to Palenque with a short stop in Chetumal.  Naomi and I finally faced our financial reality, we did not have enough money to get to the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.  I am disappointed in many ways.  As of today we have only $450 left between us with at least $150 needed to return to the USA.  We had originally planned to go to Tikal via Belize but cie la vie! We will go to the highlands near Lake Atitlan then to Antigua Guatemala.  I can imagine what you may be thinking about Guatemala! Anyway by the time you get this letter I will be back in the US, so you won't have the opportunity to worry. xx

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Views of the Carribean, Tulum
Views of the Carribean, Tulum
Feet of friends!
Feet of friends!
Naomi and I outside our cabana.
Naomi and I outside our cabana.
Just hanging out in our hammocks.
Just hanging out in our hammocks.
The well our shower on the left …
The 'well' our shower on the left…
Our little group!
Our little group!
1,396 km (867 miles) traveled
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photo by: Mezmerized