Biking Around Tulum

Akumal Bay was one of our absolute favorites! We rode a colectivo and got dropped off on the roadside and had a little walk to get there. We couldn’t believe how pretty it was!

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We swam in the brisk, crystal water for several hours, watching the whole time as a storm blew in. Billy had heard about another bay just a quick walk away, so we headed in that direction. It turned into a beautiful walkway with coconut trees and rich-people vacation homes. I couldn’t help but agree that this would be one of my top choices for a getaway house. I loved it here!

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We soon left behind the vacation homes and came upon this peninsula jutting into the ocean. By far the prettiest place I’d seen in Mexico yet. Especially with the brooding, stormy sea and the sense of abandonment that encompassed this area.

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I felt like I was on another planet with the crazy moon rocks, broiling ocean, and abandoned houses. Our best guess is that these were several of the same vacation homes that were destroyed in a huge storm. I thought they were fascinating. We climbed through some tape and boards to get a closer look at them.

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Around the back were stairs that led up to the second floor, so naturally we had to see what was inside.

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I told Billy this was my favorite day in Mexico.

The threat of the storm kept growing, so we decided to head out a little earlier than we were expecting. We hiked back to the street, ran across the highway, and got picked up by a very nice colectivo that had spotted us on the other side. And before we knew it we were in Tulum!

Tulum was another of our favorites. However, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. As soon as we hopped out of the van, the rain started coming down hard. To avoid soaking all of our belongings, we ducked into the only food place around – a pizza place.

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It was pretty bad.

The price was way too high and the best I could say about that pizza is “different.” But we didn’t know either of things until after we’d starting eating. The crust was like a thicker tortilla, and it had hardly any cheese or sauce. It was nice getting to sit in a “nice” restaurant and watch the rain come down, but coming from New York made this pizza seem especially horrible.

My overall impression with Tulum was that it was overrun with hipster white people. We walked to our Airbnb though dirty water puddles and weird shops. I didn’t feel like we were in Mexico anymore.

When we made it to the house, we were grateful to get our bags off our backs. Our host wasn’t done prepping our rooms yet (we’d gotten there earlier than expected) so we decided to wander around the city. We happened upon an awesome grocery store that had a bakery section, so we bought a bunch of sweets and sat on their for-sale couches and ate them all. It was a happy moment.

Along with our cakies, we also bought some things to make dinner that night since we were staying at this place for two nights.

Wandering back to our house was fun. We went down all sorts of different roads. We were excited to learn that our rooms were ready when we arrived. We rested for a bit and then hopped on the two bikes that came along with the deal at this Airbnb. We biked all over town and avoided the main street (which is the horrible tourist part). The farther we went the more rundown and real it got. This part of Tulum I loved. We were again the minority. I was surprised at the condition some of these people were living in. We saw a family living in a literal shack with the palm tree leaf roof, and the mother was butchering one of the many chickens that were roaming their yard. Her young daughter was holding her own baby in her arms. Kids would be playing with toys in the doorways of their homes, alone with only one toy. There were tons of dogs around, and all the female dogs had large nipples from multiple births. A lot of the homes (which were really only one room cinder-block buildings) didn’t have doors or windows, and their curtains for privacy were usually drawn aside leaving us to see inside. And pretty much every home was the same – a hammock or two in the room with someone lounging in it. We took some awesome pictures on Billy’s phone,  but again, we lost all of those when it was stolen later in our story.

When we got back to our place we ran into another couple and began talking with them. They were from the states, but were here hoping to start a nature touring business. They’d been living here awhile so they explained how all these hipsters started moving in due to the proximity of the beautiful beaches and the ruins (and it’s an awesome area in general), so all these people are moving in, but the city isn’t doing anything to update their sewage systems. This is true in most of the places we visited in Mexico; you can’t flush your toilet paper, and most of our showers didn’t have the option of warm water. Everyone is predicting that Tulum is soon to turn into another Playa del Carmen. Hopefully it will not.

The next morning we woke up early and biked around two miles to the Tulum Ruins. I didn’t have high expectations because I thought it was one building. But there were tons! And it was absolutely beautiful. If I lived anciently, I would’ve built my temples here, too.

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We had a great time standing on the cliff edge and gazing out at the blue, clear ocean. I told Billy that this was already my favorite day in Mexico.

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After a few hours of wandering around the ruin-filled hills, we finally made our way back to our bikes and took off to the beach. And they were the prettiest beaches yet. (We avoided taking pictures of the topless women).

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We spent several hours swimming. The waves were pretty big and really fun to play in. I kept worrying about the last time I was swimming in a rough ocean and how Hillary and I almost got sucked out into the deep ocean by riptides, so I kept cautioning Billy not to go out too far.

Eventually we biked back to the area we’d biked around before and found a torta stand to eat at. And then we biked to the Gran Cenote.

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So a cenote is a giant crater or pit that has natural groundwater that is clear, fresh, and it’s beautiful. We weren’t allowed into the water until we “showered.” When we started down the ladder and into the water it was freezing. This particular cenote had three different sections to it. There was the really long cave that we swam into. It was pretty terrifying just because it was so deep and dark. It was crazy! We would look down and see the bottom in every detail and it only looked a foot further down, but we both tried several times to reach the bottom. We never could. The deepness kind of freaked me out, making me imagine ancient deep sea creatures that wanted to grab my feet. The next section was really bright blue water – still very deep and pretty. The third section you had to swim through a long tunnel and then you get to a kind of beachy area. There were tons of fish and turtles swimming around. The whole thing was a little slice of heaven.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we left. We’d biked around eight miles total. After we’d biked back to the house we decided we wanted to shower and be clean and rest for a bit. That quickly turned into just staying in for the rest of the day.

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We slept that night and woke up nice and early for our next day of adventure – Valladolid.

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