After 2 days of alternating between lounging on the beach, feasting on buffets, walking the zona and siestas in room once it gets too hot out, we decided to venture out of Cancun.
Armed with limited Spanish, a map, a GPS, my Philippine driver’s license and a whole lot of sense of adventure, we took our lives in our hands and hopped on a teeny car rental and bravely drove onto Highway 307 to Tulum. The rental process was slow-going but smooth. No reason to hurry, we’re on a holiday after all. Car rental was cheap at about $30 thereabouts but including insurance it came to about a $100 USD with some change enough for some chips, a candy bar, sandwiches and bottled waters for the drive.
The GPS kept resetting to Spanish challenging our severely addled vocabulary and adds to the confusion that we decided to chuck it a few minutes into the drive. I guess our sense of direction have drastically improved as we only got lost once on the way to Tulum ruinas. Because we hesitated on the turn, we drove right on and discovered the Centro for a little bargain shopping to add to the clutter at home. The best Mexican food we’ve had on this trip turned out from a roadside open air kitchen in this area.
The archaeological zone of Tulum is the only major Mayan site built right on a cliff overlooking the Mexican Riviera. Although small, it is considered to be the best preserved Mayan site on the coast of the Yucatan and known to be the most beautiful. Apparently, Tulum was a port in the 12th century and was abandoned 75 years after the Spanish Conquest of 1521.
Framed with perfectly blue skies and turqouise waters, the ruin’s indeed magnificent. Worth enduring the intense midday sun for and crossing paths with gigantic iguanas roaming freely around the area. Watch out for them, one was even too cheeky to run after kids. The whole thing is so stunningly beautiful even if we were mercillesly under attack by the fiercely hot Mexican sun with little shade to escape to and on the cusp of sunstroke. My belly flipped and Kimbee had goosies! Best to visit early in the morning to avoid the bus loads of tourists and the heat.
Cooling down from exploring the ruins and the hike back at a taqueria munching on the best nachos and sipping on fresh coconut juice on a husk, we got to watch a Traditional Mexican performance called Voladores de Papantla. It was all so spontaneous and unexpected!
The show started with a dance around a metal pole with a background of live flute music and drum beating. The dancers then deftly climbs the top of the pole and ropes themselves and then jumps upside down and swings gracefully unwinding the rope around the pole until they safely touch the ground again.
It was pretty amazing to watch although my heart was in my throat the whole time and I was kind of holding my breath. Our necks were sore from looking up but we were happy to hand in our $5 when after the show one of the performing member went around passing a sombrero asking for donations. They’re quite specific about the figure but we felt it was worth it.
We didn’t want to drive back in the dark so we decided to skip the Playa and knew we had probably missed some of the other must-see in the area but we were satisfied with what we’ve already seen. We’re also grateful that the traffic police let us off the hook with nothing but a shake of his head when we entered the wrong way. In our defense, the road wasn’t clearly sign posted.