Leaving the bright lights and snazzy hotels of ‘The Strip’ we drove away from the party town of Cancun sadly knowing we wouldn’t be driving on through into Guatemala due to the lack of power issues we were experiencing with the Big Blue Jeep. So we hastily changed our minds to keep our spirits high and instead of booking a rustic budget cabana on Akumal beach, we opted for a fancy hotel room instead. Well it was my birthday weekend, we needed no arm twisting, plus it was on the way as we had decided to push through to Belize.
I had been dazzled with the jazzy hotels, upmarket shops and variety of options for touristy day trips to Riviera Maya ‘theme parks’ such as Xcaret, Xel-ha, Xplor and even a Xoximilco replica. Quintana Roo state has lots of indiginous Mayan place names that start with an X to get your tongue around, it’s pronounced as a S or as a SCH sound.
We didn’t splash out on any parks, but you could take part in activities from snorkeling or swimming with dolphins to hurtling down zip wires over lush jungles. As honeymoon destinations go the Yucatan is perfect; the beaches are stunning with snow sand and turquoise seas, you can’t help but fall in love as the Caribbean winds blow in your hair (or not in Mr E’s case) while you sip on a coco frio! The area is geared for tourism and they do it really well.
Our next destination was to the beautiful beach town of Akumal. I always find it a bit sad being away from home on my birthday, on the one hand I’m in a paradise location but I did have a real pang for friends & family. However with a lovely lot of Facebook messages, a Skype call home and when the hotel provided a birthday cake for me, I was soon the happiest girl. We shared the cake with a family from Ottowa who arrived at the hotel at the same time as we did. I loved hearing the Mum reminding the teenage girls that ‘the sun was extremely hot in Mexico, so they really needed to apply plenty of sunscreen’. They were the whitest of whites!
Our villa was perfect with just steps to the beach, after all this time away my sleep pattern is still stuffed and I wake most days about 5.30am or 6.00am. But I made the most of our beachfront location to watch sunrise, feel the energising new sun wash over me while I beachcombed for treasures – my best find was a plastic dolls leg!
Ever since reading an article in ‘National Geographic’ about Tulum and the various Cenotes of the Riviera Maya I had been enchanted with the glossy photos of the ancient Mayan ruins perched on cliffs keeping guard next to the aqua green Carribean sea. It’s a perfect spot to watch sunrise and I would like to think the Maya here had wonderful beachfront living in comparison to their inland neighbours at the metropolis of Chichen-Itza!
After handing over $85 just to park I quickly realised we would be sucked into the tourist herds. Coach loads of people tumbled out with their bottles of water, hats and sunblock smeared on their noses in an effort to ward of the searing sun, their first stop was a Starbucks..
‘Hey lady, come see, I have good price for you!’
‘Hey lady, do you want a photo with my parrot?’
‘Hey lady, come take a photo with my monkey?’
‘Hey lady, do you want to hold my Iguana?
We negotiated our way through the tourist shopping village with a multitude of ‘no gracias’ to then arrive at the entrance gate to the ruins. Entrance was reasonable at $65 each.
Once past the watchtower of the magnificient El Castillo you then see the brilliant bright sands of the beach below. Our visit to Carribean Mexico was coinciding with a large amount of brown seaweed algae being washed in with the tides from the Atlantic Sargasso Sea. Hoards of tourists were merrily bouncing around on the waves after wading through the weeds.
Tulum was gorgeous, it was stunning, it did look like the glossy magazine photo’s, however with the amount of tourist tat we encounted it almost put a dirty coffee stain on the pages for me, almost!
Coming up – Island life in Belize.