It was hard to come back to snowy Boston after sitting on white sandy beaches in a swimsuit. And it was hard to leave Tami, somebody I used to see every day in Oregon. But I did. Without too many tears (I was given strict “no goodbye tears” orders). Now that a little time’s passed I feel emotionally recovered enough to write out some notes from our travels:
I wish I could’ve stayed longer. No surprise there. I mean, look at that beach! With only 5 days I had to work hard to get a proper suntan that my coworkers would envy. Tami carefully monitored my color. Every time a bartender or hotel owner heard how long I was in town, they gave me a pity-filled frown and said, “But why so short?” Seeing as how they work in the tourism industry, I suppose they had personal reasons for wanting me to take a longer vacation. But when your office is an open air bar on the beach, I think you can drum up real pity for a sunburnt Bostonian on her last day in Tulum.
I’d choose Tulum over Cancun. Lemme clarify. In college I was talked into the classic Cancun Spring Break week. It was some of the best people-watching I’ve ever experienced and I absolutely fell in love with the ocean, but the physical built environment (granted nobody would leave the hotel mile with me) was too…Vegas-like. Big roads, big resorts, glitz, lights. In comparison, downtown Tulum is scaled for the pedestrian. Little restaurants, little shops, and small streets. It’s grittier – on either side of our hotel were tar-paper roofed houses guarded by scruffy dogs – but everyone was friendly and we never felt unsafe. Actually, nobody was nearly as troublesome as the drunk American boys swarming the beaches and pools of Cancun. Also it’s worth noting that Tami speaks excellent Spanish, which made it easy to navigate all sorts of daily interactions.
In Tulum you have an important choice: stay at the beach or stay in town. They’re only about 2 miles apart (40 peso taxi ride). I think each have their perks, but Tami chose in town and it worked well. The hotels are slightly cheaper and you’re within walking distance to internet cafes and lots of eateries. Here are photos of our two hotels: The Secret Garden & Hotel Posada. Hotel Posada was plagued by some 8am construction next door (our walls shook with the hammering) and their customer service response was umm…frustrating. But the place is beautiful. Secret Garden took the prize though. They had all the necessities: clean comfortable rooms, a shaded inner courtyard, two on-site friendly dogs, and a cute owner whose sister bartends down the street.
My very favorite thing on this trip was the Gran Cenote. Just a couple miles from downtown Tulum, it’s more than worth the 100 pesos entrance fee. The best way I can describe swimming in the cenote is that it felt like a Katie-sized freshwater aquarium. The water is crystal clear and underwater you can see fish from 30 or 40 feet away. The one upside to the construction at Hotel Posada is that we were up and at ’em early, and we had the cenote to ourselves for a while. Around 11am a big group of Japanese tourists showed up wearing flippers, and they were followed by several European families with a dozen kids under the age of 5. Suddenly it wasn’t a private aquarium anymore. So if you go, go early.
I made some progress on the Neulottu naisen jakku cardigan too. It’s such a joyful color, especially next to that ocean and those chairs.
Thank you Tami for a vacation so good that I hope we can make the February Getaway an annual thing. Readers – any suggestions for a destination in 2012?