Shots of Mezcal: 4
Sun cream bottles used: 2
We arrived at our last pre-booked accommodation – Harmony Glamping Boutique Hotel – in our hire car and followed a gravel path to the reception (a hut) in the midst of pebble-lined trees and garlic bulb ‘Belle tents’. After adjusting to not having an en-suite (apparently not essential when travelling) we settled in for our three night stay and checked out the communal area by the pool. It turns out the small cafe is a regular hangout for locals and seasoned travellers alike, the food on offer was fantastic quality and served in an inviting, rugged setting – just what we were after. A particular highlight was a playful introduction to a gorgeous black kitten; naturally we named him Carlos after the bartender who gave us our first beer of the trip in Cancún.
Following a surprisingly comfortable nights sleep in our tent I bargained with Seb to have a relaxing day, a day to reflect on the start of our journey, a day to restore ourselves and prepare for the undecided path to Mexico City – after all this is our big holiday! He happily agreed (phew) and we cycled on possibly the worst hire bikes we’ve ever ridden towards the beach, clanging over the pitted road is one thing but these rusty old boys didn’t have working brakes and with Mexican driving etiquette surrounding us it was terrifying – or exciting, depending on your outlook…
We arrived! We made it alive! Tulum beach was much smaller than we expected and enclosed by hotels and beach clubs, nonetheless a few hours spent bracing the windy, blissfully unaware our sun cream was failing us, we sizzled in the blaring heat. Tulum seemed a young town with many cool bars, restaurants and tones of an East London familiarity; by the beach (25 minutes cycle from the main ‘strip’) this continued with the addition of boutique jewellery and clothes shops and such like – quite fancy indeed. Restraining from having beachfront hotel envy, we enjoyed a Mexican platter for lunch which was divine.
By this point in the trip my body clock was dutifully waking me up several times in the night and my stomach / subconscious anxiety (who knows!) allowed me to only eat one or two full meals in several days. Feeling relaxed I enjoyed a third of lunch compromising of guacamole, steak strips, juicy prawns – both chargrilled – fried fish and cheesey quesadillas; delicious. Over our meal we exchanged our reflections so far and agreed how lucky we are to have such an opportunity as this. Remembering grey views from our offices, wishing 5.30pm would come quicker as if it were stuck in traffic, we discussed how to make the most of our trip for both of us. With differing experiences, preferences and comfort-zones (mine abandoned at Heathrow) we are both mindful of the challenges we face, as with most couples travelling together. *Touches wood* so far we have agreed and compromised where best amicably and respectfully with no big disagreements of our route so far.
Having said that, by evening we were both keen to meet some people; fellow travellers to gain ideas and recommendations or just good company. We stopped for one cerverza at a small bar on the strip before dinner and soon overheard rare English accents in a sea of American or Spanish tones. I’ll point out we weren’t just seeking English friends, but the trio of a travelling couple and a visiting friend joined us for what transformed from one more beer before dinner to three hours, four mezcals and several rounds of ice cold cervezas – no dinner. Mezcal is a Mexican tequila-esque drink which has can been consumed as a shot served with orange segments or sipped depending on the quality, apparently it when things are good – you drink Mezcal and when things are bad – you drink Mezcal. Suffice to say, it’s bloody brilliant but two or even three is enough! Bidding farewell to our new friends, I stressed the importance of needing food immediately to Seb in a desperate quest to soak up the indulgent alcohol digested. The only places open were more casual tacqueiries whereby Seb liaised with our waiter in Spanish to provide with whatever tacos he had left. It turns out he had three chorizo and two cow brain tacos left. I was so hungry and in need of substance, I ate it much to the comic surprise of Seb. This was several days ago now and he continues to enjoy reminding me of it.
The morning after the night before brutally woke us to instant dehydration and deep gratitude for the fan in our tent. We gingerly escaped through riddles of zips, agreeing to have a gentle morning and cover up our now highly visible sunburn. Once our fear of the sun lessened we cycled on the second worst bikes we’ve ever ridden to the Tulum ruins. Smaller and less famous than Chichen Itza our expectations weren’t high but we were still keen to go. Once through the gate and ignoring the initial tourist sprawl of Starbucks, Hagen-Daaz and other overpriced establishments, the ruins were indeed not ruined by the tat as we found at Chichen Itza but instead offered a spacious, lush green environment in which to gawp at the incredible structures, and of course plentiful iguanas. We took in vibrant jungle-like trees, bright birds and a vivid turquoise coastal backdrop. This is where we both chimed “oh that’s Tulum beach,” realising we had visited a small hotel orientated beach the previous day!
Ready to move on from Tulum after three nights we caught our first bus ride and headed 4 hours south to Laguna Bacalar…