As per my previous post, I went to Tulum to celebrate my birthday. It was a nice weekend. My skin is redder, I am more relaxed (or was, until I arrived in the airport), and forced myself to stare at the ocean for many hours, and forced myself to spend money to try new things (snorkeling, going in a cave).
Still, in many ways, Tulum compared unfavourably to Puerto Escondido, the beach I went to when I was in Mexico in May and June. I think it began when my plane was about an hour and a half late leaving Mexico City. So, I missed my bus connection in Cancun by about 10 minutes, and did not feel like figuring out a new bus system on the fly, so, I paid for a group taxi onboard the plane. This was a mistake. The taxi was not a group taxi to Tulum, but rather a group taxi to wherever someone hired it to go. Today, as I am writing this, my plane is only 10 minutes late (has been since I arrived, three hours early, because of the bus connection). I think this is where Puerto Escondido really wins. There is an airport right in town, and taxis to my hostel (walking distance from airport, and one of the three or four beaches in the area) from the highway near the beach was 20 pesos. Taxis and restaurants were more expensive than Puerto Escondido, and much more expensive than similar quality food in my nice neighbourhood in Mexico City. I also didn’t eat as much seafood as I had planned because it was harder to find than regular Mexican food, and the beach was so full of hotels that I couldn’t even see the ocean in the part I first went to – so I didn’t know where to go. I don’t mind ordering food, then asking the people to look after my stuff (especially because it’s the off season so I’m not taking space away from other clients). But how was I supposed to decide how if I couldn’t even see where to go.
In spite of these complaints, this weekend managed to include all the things my brother and I did on a two-week trip of Central America, minus the school-bus buses with Nicaragua and Guatemala, and the overflowing van with pigs on top. I saw ruins, a Caribbean beach, and a beautiful natural formation and went biking all in a single day, instead of going from Semuc Champey to Copan Ruinas to Roatan. (and then staying in a slightly scary hotel room that was guarded by a man with a gun in Tegucigalpa and getting stranded on the side of the road in Honduras and getting picked up in a van by a busdriver who carried a gun).
My very lackluster effort at the Tulum ruins made me wonder if I am just jaded. Have I seen too many ruins? (Fairly likely. I don’t enjoy Spanish colonial cities anymore and I know that’s because I’ve seen too many, and because of how the Spanish colonized America, Monterey, California and Apostoles, Argentina bear some strange resemblances to one another). In three months will I remember that hour more fondly? Do I force myself to enjoy things when I pay for them? (As a student with Mexican ID, I don’t pay for museums and archeological sites in Mexico, or at least I haven’t had to yet. I will keep going for free until museum and art gallery fees saved equal the fees I paid to get this scholarship). In Akumal, not far from Tulum, I went snorkeling and saw some turtles (and burned the back of my legs). That was cool. Turtles are weird. They are like cows, and graze on the bottom of the ocean, but then have to come up for hair every so often, so they are pretty easy to spot. I also chatted with the owners of my hostel, from Mexico City and France, snorkeled in a cave (Cenote Grande), was too scared to try scuba diving, and spend a quality 25 dollars to skip the line and board my plane first. Next time I will sink those 25 dollars into a nicer place to stay or go with an airline with better on time performance. And maybe go somewhere where I can just do natural wonder type things. I seem to like them.
*The word fresa means strawberry. In Mexico it is a slang word that refers to superficial people, generally from the upper-middle or upper-classes. I use it to make fun of myself. (the urban dictionary definition focuses on how “bad” women are who highlight their hair, buy lots of shoes and travel to the US for holidays, but, it is urban dictionary so this should not be that surprising.)