travelogue – Tulum, Mexico

Looking for a beach paradise?

Tulum is a Mayan walled city guarding the gorgeous Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. However, once tourists see this Riviera Mexicana beach, they tend to forget to visit the archaeological attraction.

Screw Cancun. Bypass Playa del Carmen. Tulum is the best beach bang for your buck on the Mexican Caribbean.

Tulum on the Riviera Mexicana, 130km south of Cancun.

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I tented here 4 nights.

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We also rented at least one thatch roofed cabana in which I stored my gear.

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Tenting cost about US$6 / night. Cabanas run US$12 and up. A bit higher at Zazil Kin resort, your best bet.

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The beach is insect free. No hassles of any kind.

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Not much to do but walk the beach and snorkel out to the world’s second longest reef 400m from shore.

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There were many signs of last year’s hurricane damage.

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This toilet block did not survive a big blow.

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Sarah, my yoga teacher. (She is kind & helpful to all though this photo would not have you think so. She doesn’t like it!) Those are the Mayan temple ruins in the background.

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I enjoyed 2 days of yoga on the beach. Perhaps 90 minute slow, easy sessions.

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My favourite of the inexpensive beach resorts was Diamonte K. Unique, filled with interesting art pieces.

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Many resorts here long ago added “Eco” to their names. Next step is to add “solar” to the sign board.

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Big old iguanas are a highlight of the Tulum scenery.

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Monika and Monty, a lovely couple from the UK just starting 7 months of travel.

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Monty, Ron and Tom.

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This dog got plenty of exercise every day chasing his master’s kite.

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Beach bar with hammocks.

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Many of the cabanas are wedged into the dunes for protection against the wind. One night we got coated with a fine layer of sand.

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Should I book you a hut?

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Fishermen land here to sell lobster & fish to tourists.

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Kite surfer.

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Most evenings we caught the free hostel shuttle into town.

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Tulum town is noted as “butt ugly” in the guidebooks. But I still liked it.

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The hostel offered “burn your own barbecue” for US$3.50.

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We much enjoyed “The Weary Traveller”. One of the best hostels in Mexico, I reckon.

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One night I bought a basket of “carne” for a meat pig-out. Vegetarians were mortified.

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Another night we cooked fish on the beach. This is a home made barbecue tong.

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The highlight of Tulum for me was snorkelling a cenote.

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Finally we hit the modest Tulum ruins. Many backpackers never get around to paying the US$5 entry fee.

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The Spanish in 1518 were amazed by this city, painted vivid red, blue and yellow. It was one of the last fortresses to be abandoned.

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Many spend more time on the Tulum beach than touring the ruins. A spectacular setting.

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See the iguana checking out the bikinis?

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I would return to Tulum any time. It is a fantastic place!

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Winter Olympics – Congratulations Canada!

medal ceremonyCanadian Girls Kick Ass.

Congratulations to captain Cassie Campbell and the entire Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey Team. We were cheering for you from an ocean-side sports bar in Belize. There are a lot of Canadians here in the sun.

With this kind of international success, shouldn’t we start boys playing hockey in The Great White North?

And congratulations to the entire Canadian Olympic Team for the great performances in Italy. I am looking forward to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia!

new website for Kate Zimmerman

Kate ZimmermanMy secret lover Kate Zimmerman has an attractive new website.

She is a North Shore Vancouver basement based journalist who writes on everything a loving stay-at-home wife should know nothing about: fine dining, fine drinking, famous people, travel and humour.

She has one book under her real name & features in the National Post, Vancouver North Shore News and even some non-right wing publications.

Check it out at KateZimmerman.ca

Hurricane Wilma

Hurricane Wilma – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Let me poo poo the Commie conjecture of global warming.

George Bush and I agree that it is simply coincidence that last year was the warmest worldwide on record. It was a fluke that it was the worst hurricane season on record.

The folks who lived through it in the Yucatan are harder to convince.

tattered Mexican flag

This is the second largest flag in the world, still tattered from Wilma. As is the Mexican Caribbean coastline.

Victor was on Isla Mujares when Wilma hit October 2005. He was guiding 40 Scandinavian girls on a bike tour when the evacuation call came.

It was end-of-the-world stuff, he told. Palm trees designed to sheer in high winds were ripped out of the ground by the roots — spinning off like a child´s toy.

Officially Wilma bypassed Isla Mujeres!

The hurricane’s eye first passed over the island of Cozumel, and then made official landfall near Playa del Carmen with winds near 140 mph.

Wilma was the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever measured (based on central pressure) and one of the worst 10 of all time based on any criteria.

Lets hope the gorgeous white sand beaches can all be restored.

travelogue – Island of Women

From Cancun a half hour ferry delivers you to Isla Mujeres — the Island of Women.

Friends had raved about a beach paradise there. But that was decades ago. I was sure it was long since ruined.

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I was surprised how laid back was my reception. Not a single taxi driver or hotel tout approached me on arrival.

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I went directly to Pac Na, billed as the Club Med of Mexican hostels. This is their ocean front beach volleyball bar.

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Tents are pitched in quiet sandy courtyards.

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I wedged my Hubba under a coconut palm.

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The best of many good coffee shops was just down the street.

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Hurricane Wilma did a fair bit of damage to the island. Here the sea wall is being reinforced in advance of the next big blow.

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The main draw of Isla Mujeres for me was snorkeling.

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This was the best snorkelling area from town. About 2 blocks walk from the hostel.

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Under the docks fish congregate, protected from diving sea birds.

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The water was superb even in February. Warm and crystal clear. No wetsuit needed, I thought, though many did wear one.

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Graveyard.

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I had not seen this particular angel pose before.

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Many are disappointed by the modest main plaza. And the remarkably simple cathedral.

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I quite liked the plaza. Colourful, clean, simple. I ate tacos there in the evening from street venders.

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Look at the pipes on that playground trestle.

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The Hemmingway bar is a classic. He was not there when I popped in.

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I booked a bike tour through the hostel. Excellent and inexpensive.

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The highlight was the sea turtle farm.

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Eggs are protected, harvested, hatched and the turtles are kept here until almost 3-years-old. When they are released they then stand an excellent chance of survival.

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We marvelled at the lovely starburst shell patterns.

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The bike tour finished with a sunset visit to the far south point of the island. A sculpture garden is installed there.

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A nice setting, I thought.

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This is the furthest east point of land in Mexico. It sees the sun first.

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We walked down to reach the very edge of Mexico.

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