Tulum and our departure from Mexico
The feeling of touching down onto Mexican asphalt could have best been described as pure and complete nervousness. Inside our luggage was 70 Cuban cigars while the legal duty free limit was 25 per person. This isn’t really an issue except for the fact that we had purchased them directly from farmers and didn’t have receipts to prove how little we paid for them. The import taxes alone would just about kill the entire purpose of the whole cigar idea. We patiently waited in line watching series of green lights flash at the roulette-style luggage inspection procedure and felt our hearts surge whenever a red light came on. Our friends ahead of us were unlucky enough to the red light appear, which assured us that we would likely not have a stoplight when we rolled up to the intersection. We both sighed out loud when we were given the go ahead and we quickly disappeared. A bus back to Cancun to find our stored bags was our first priority and we wound up spending the night in a Jazz bar owned by a very strange German purveyor. We attempted shipping the cigars home in several places but were denied constantly they were required by policy to check all boxes visually before shipping internationally. Dismayed and now supremely frustrated we grabbed an early morning ride to Tulum to sort this out.
Tulum is a strange little town known best for it´s beautiful beaches and it’s renowned Mayan ruins located right on the Yucatan Coast. Taking in our first night of “relaxation” at the hostel “The Weary Traveler” we found out that after a full night of drinking most travelers are too weary to do much of anything. This was a party hostel, but also had some great accommodations for budget travelers. But, it was a great little post to actually get out and see some cool sights. The only hindrance was the weather, which was pouring buckets at night and did the same the following morning. It was probably serendipity or dumb luck that we missed the first free transport to the beach/ruins because the weather unleashed it´s fury for 3 hours straight. We heard from an older Canadian gentleman that you could jump the wall to the ruins (his preferred choice 15 years prior). Since we blew our budget in Cuba we had this mission in mind. Upon arrival it appeared that this was no longer possible because of the security and exit posts that had been established. We understand that the money used by the entrance fee is used for upkeep of the archeological sight but since it looked like it was about to pour again we couldn’t justify dropping another 10 bucks to see ruins in the rain.
Undaunted, we headed straight for the beach with the idea that we could scale some cliffs to get a better view and possibly find a way in. After about 30 minutes of walking and climbing on karst limestone cliffs(very sharp, very stupid) we came to a few paths that led directly into the jungly terrain. Our first path ended with a snake in a tree branch at about eye-level. Our 2nd path dead ended into the thick leafy plants engorging the lightly worn path. We eventually bushwacked our way into a barbed wire fence and just beyond fence sat the perimeter stone wall. I stealthily peered over the wall and immediately saw what I thought was a guard. With my heart pounding I barked out the orders to Elissa to get her bright red rain jacket off in a not so quiet whisper. When I looked over again I noticed the well dressed gentlemen was soaking wet, taking a phone picture of is girlfriend by the edge of the site. Elissa still makes fun of me to this day. We scooted over and took our free, although not suggested, tour of the rainy ruins. The buildings themselves were not super dramatic but they were beautiful in the wet weather and afforded supremely amazing landscape views. Afterwards we roamed the beautiful white sand beaches listening to the surprisingly loud echoing booms of the occasional thunderstorms touching down nearby and watching fisherman bring in their day’s bounty from the sea.
We went back to the hostel and knew our time was up. We didn’t really want to see more of the Yucatan Coast and we were eager to go see our 3rd country, bumping up the time travelled/country ratio to a number that was easier to swallow. Mexico was huge, much bigger than we thought. Our notorious neighbor from the South offered more than we ever expected. There was such beauty, culture, and friendliness in Mexico everywhere we turned. The vast landscapes that Mexico holds close to it’s heart are some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in this world. We knew we were going to miss the big Mexican frontier and all the amiable folks we met along the dusty road. But we parted ways with our Mexico and bought tickets for the overnight into Belize City with a scheduled arrival of 6AM. Hasta Luego, we’ll come back.