Arriving in Tulum, Mexico 🌵 The Good, The Non Existent Bad, And The Ugly!

jessicaoutside
JessicaOutside @jessicaoutsideJune 2018 · 9 min read

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We have arrived in Mexico! The food so far has been the highlight. We’ve eaten tacos 3 out of the 4 days we’ve been here. All delicioso 🌮👌🌮

 
Our departure from Canada went extremely smooth. First we caught a ride with a driver on Poparide. Has anyone else heard of this? It’s a ride sharing app that I’ve only recently discovered. You type in where you need to go, and on what date, and it shows you the people who are already driving that way. You can book a ride with them for a fraction of the cost of a taxi or Uber. It cost Ben and I a total of $32 to get from Canmore to Calgary airport, a 120km drive. Door to door too! Usually the driver requests to pick you up and drop you off somewhere central. I direct messaged our driver and he was more than happy to accommodate a door to door service for an extra $2 each! He was an awesome guy too. It’s a good way to get to where you’re going and to meet new people too. Highly recommend!

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We spent the night at a hotel near the airport as we needed to check in quite early the next day.

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In the morning, we were up by 6am. We enjoyed a hot breakfast at the hotel and then it was a quick taxi ride to the airport. My bags were a little overweight so after some re-shuffling, we were checked in and ready to board. It was weird walking around the airport and wondering when I was going to be back in the country. Just reading the bilingual signs (English & French) was pulling at my heart strings a bit. I miss Canada already. The turquoise lakes and towering Rockies already seem like a distant memory.

Anywhos, we boarded, and luckily had the whole row to ourselves. We booked a window seat and an aisle seat in the hope that no-one would book the middle. We were in luck! The flight across America was cool. There were quite a few clouds as we crossed over Yellowstone National Park. They mostly cleared up for the rest of the way. Seeing the river systems from above was quite unique. They looked like veins carrying essential goodness to the land. We saw Houston from above and then we crossed the Gulf of Mexico. Blue seas for days!

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Descending into Mexico was a real treat. The ocean looked incredible from above. We then crossed over huge areas of jungle and what looked like wetlands. I’ve only just learnt that crocodiles live in Mexico. I can only imagine that’s where they would love to live.

Crossing through customs was a breeze and we weren’t interrogated much at all. I usually get super nervous going through customs but I needn’t be. The officer seemed unphased that we only had 1 month of accommodation booked but intended on staying for 6.

We then picked up our bags and declared a few essential food items. Also, no problems there. Promite was a more than welcome visitor to Mexico. Phew! I'm looking forward to enjoying some local avocados with this on toast.

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The collection of our rental car was easy, although it was busy so it did take some time. And wading through the many people trying to sell you stuff was a bit overwhelming. And the heat hit me like a freight train. My palms instantly began to sweat. After all the rental paperwork was signed, we were on our way. A/C? Yes please!

The drive from Cancun to Tulum seemed to take forever. I was on edge after reading all the horror stories about the police trying to bribe tourists. I know it’s handy to read other peoples experiences in new places, but I also wish I hadn’t. The people here have been nothing but lovely. No random stops from the police. No car hijackings. The people driving on the roads were a little crazy though. A lot of them were all over the place. The drive took a couple of hours, but we did stop along the way to pick up a sim card.

We arrived at our Airbnb once it was dark, which I didn’t plan for. The sun doesn’t stay up as long here, compared to Canada anyway. I have to say I’m quite happy about that. The longer days up there tend to mess with me a bit. Our Airbnb check in was fine, once we actually found the place.

Our first stop, street tacos. We both ordered 2 chorizo and 2 chicken tacos in the very little Spanish we knew. A lovely vendor was selling them from out the front of his house. I thought, we may as well dive straight into the street food and see what happens. We survived! And they were awesome. And cheap! We also came across this hilariously named pizza - FUD. We had to buy it. It looked so suss. Fear, uncertainty and doubt indeed. We ventured home after that and crashed out hard.

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Seeing as though we still had the rental car, we decided we’d take a drive out to the beach the next day. The town of Tulum is situated about 7kms from the coast. We left in the middle of the day like rookies, and dam was it hot. I now have a better understanding of why siestas are a thing. It’s way too hot to be out and about. We drove towards the Parque Nacional Tulum. Along the way I caught a glimpse of the ocean. It was black! I thought, that can’t be right. I was expecting beautiful shades of turquoise against powdery white sand. WHAT??

We found a spot to park and eagerly made our way up to the beach. The sand was beautiful to walk on. But once we saw the ocean, we couldn’t believe our eyes. I had tried to keep my expectations low for this trip, but deep down, I guess I still had some. Little did we know, the area is suffering from a seaweed invasion. The beautiful clear waters of the Riviera Maya are no more. The water was really murky and there were huge piles of seaweed along the water’s edge.

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Source

Apparently it’s happening all across the Caribbean at the moment. Experts seem to think global warming is the cause. The seaweed can reproduce at an incredible rate too so it has become quite the problem. They have even declared it a natural disaster. Not only is it a problem for tourism, but for the local animals as well. The number of sea turtles that usually lay their eggs has decreased significantly. And the hatchlings are also having a hard time getting back out to sea. There are mounds of seaweed several feet high. There are positives though. It produces a food source for some marine life and it’s also helping to reduce wave and wind erosion on the beach. I’ve heard the conditions can change day to day so I’m keeping an eye on the live beach cams. I’m hoping it clears up at least once while we’re here so I can see those waters I’ve dreamt of seeing my whole life. In the meantime, we’ll explore the beautiful cenotes instead.

Later that day we enjoyed some tacos from Taqueria Honorio. Yassss! The pork there is juicy so be prepared for a messy eat. It was so delicious. They even add some pork crackling to the top. If you’re ever in town, put this place on your to go list. They also do vegetarian tacos if meat isn't your thing. We ordered some of these but they never came. Most likely due to our terrible Spanish though.

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After that, we stopped in at Flor De Michoacan where I enjoyed a chilled, fresh coconut. YUM! There was a nice courtyard around the back which was the perfect place to escape the heat.

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We spent the rest of the day cooling off in the pool and settling in to our new Mexican home. For dinner we ate at El Camello Jr. The seafood soup is amazing. Corn chips and salsa seem to come with a lot of meals as well, which I’m certainly not mad about.

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Only 2 tacos were enjoyed the next day. My belly definitely needed a break, along with the rest of my body. We ordered some fish tacos from a place called O’ken J’oken. It’s a food truck on the side of the main road. It provided us with some shade from the midday sun, and some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The fish tostada from there was also excellent!

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For dinner, we visited La Hydra. Oh my god! The woodfired pizza there was out of this world. The side sauces that go along with it were awesome too. We also accidently ordered some Mezcal. WOW. That’s some strong alcohol. I wouldn’t get it again but I’m glad I tried it. The restaurant was really cool. It’s nice and breezy as there are no walls and it’s surrounded by lots of palms and a veggie garden.

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We took a bike ride to the local supermarket the next day. Again, silly mistake going in the middle of the day. It was only a 15 minute ride though which wasn’t too bad. We rode through all the bustling back streets. It was so cool. It seems like everyone is running a little business from the front of their homes. And lots of beautiful artwork painted on the walls too. We stocked up on heaps of fresh fruit and a stack of freshly made baked goods. There were so many delicious treats.

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I’m looking forward to visiting the cenotes soon. They do look quite touristy, but they also look incredible. We’re just getting our bearings first and will soon start exploring further afield.

Adios Amigos!

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Thanks to @benbodhi for the below photos. I've been enjoying a little vacation from my camera.

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Looks like you'll be having an amazing time there, and staying for a whole of 6 months, wow! We were in Mexico 2 years ago in the same area as you. We visited a few cenotes and they are worth seeing, even though as you rightly said, they are touristy.
We weren't that lucky with the food there though, since visiting Mexico our inner joke is that Mexican food is good everywhere except in Mexico 😁


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Haha oh really? That's a shame about the food. Places can often get like that when it becomes too westernised hey. We've had some misses but mostly all hits since we've been here. You'll just have to come back 🙂


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Indeed, there is a huge problem with this seagrass om the northeast cost of Mexico.

I was in Playa del Carmen two days ago and it seems to be even worse there. After a few days in the sun this stuff smells like rotten eggs and is, as far as I know, even harmful in higher concentrations. You can even smell it hundreds of meters in the city in the pedestrian precinct.

Thus, the beaches in Playa del Carmen were nearly empty. Therefore, I went straight to Cozumel.

Alternatively, you can also go to Bacalar. There is a beautiful lake and (, due to not being connected to the ocean,) without any seagrass.

Still, you should visit the Ruins of Tulum. They are nowadays massively touristic but still like 'out of this world' and worth a visit.

If you got more time to travel and want to see clean white sand beaches you should go south to Belize.

Greets from Cozumel!


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A friend sent me a pic of the beach today and it's looking a little better now. Hopeful that things are starting to look up. Thanks for the tips. The lake sounds interesting and the ruins are definitely on the list to visit. We also have our eye on Isla Mujers as we've heard the waters there are still stunning. Hmmmm...Belize hey? I could certainly float down that way for a bit. How's Cozumel looking at the moment?


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You can give Playa del Carmen a try, but I'm pretty sure that the situation hasn't really changed within the last days.

Uhm, I came from Belize, so I haven't been to Isla Mujeres so far. So no information about that.

Belize is clean, but it focusses more on diving/snorkling than "beach tourists" - like the typical islands Caye Caulker or San Pedro. Still, you can go swimming there, but there are surely also some smaller, lonely islands where you might even have a beach for your own. ;)

Cozumel is at least partly free of seegrass, as far as I could see (and smell!). I will see more in the next days when I go diving. I guess, I can give you an update then. ;)


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Ah Belize sounds like bliss. I'll definitely keep it in mind. And yes please do keep me posted. There's nothing quite like first hand information 🙏


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Hi!

So Cozumel is free of seegrass as far as I could see (and hear from others). As mentioned, I went there for diving and didn't go to the bigger beaches on the other side of the island.

When I returned to Playa del Carmen, the situation was more or less unchanged. They seem to clean it up after a few days, but the beach refills with the grass within hours. A few (expensive?) hotels clean their small part of the beach, as far as I heard. Still, there is nothing to do against the smell. So, in my opinion, still not worth going there.

Pictures from yesterday (public beach):

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Wow 😮 looks even crazier than here. Thanks so much for the update. I've been thinking of you. I'm glad to hear that Cozumel is still looking good. We had friends visit Isla Mujeres and they confirmed it's clear there too. We've just booked a month there after Tulum. Hope we like it 🤗 Enjoy your time in Cozumel!


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I did, indeed! Just heading to Cuba now. Enjoy your travel ... 😉

Oh, and before i forget: Belize is beautiful, but one of the more expensive countries in Central America (nearly as expensive as Costa Rica).


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Ah nice! Cuba looks awesome.
Ok good to know. We're definitely trying to live a little cheaper these days, so I'll keep that in mind.


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Oh damn so the problem with fast growing seawood is everywhere. Still got the images from Bonaire in March this year in my mind...

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Hopefully it gets better fast! In a month time things can change quickly :)
And always good to read that your not only pointing at the negatives, but the positivies also! Is the erosian rally hard there?


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Oh wow! That looks epic. Least the water still looks nice. Heres a screen grab of the beach cam at Cancun this morning.

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It seems to be getting worse. Looks like you wouldn't even be able to swim there.

And yeah trying to point out some positives so I don't feel so bad about it haha. I'm thinking there's also some sort of skin care product potential if it keeps up.


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Oh damn, this is not swimmable for sure indeed! :(
I hope the forecast looks a little bit better for you, so you can swim in the blue waters.

Gonna keep my fingers crossed! 🤞


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Thank you very much @travelfeed 💙🙏💙


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We love Tulum ... what beach was that? Because we only saw beautiful ones. Maybe it was right after a storm or something.


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I believe it's just called Tulum Beach. I was hoping that there had just been a storm but I'm not so sure anymore. See my screen grab of Playa del Carmen too. It just seems to be getting worse. Oh well hopefully it will clear itself up shortly.


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It's something like the red tide they have in Florida - what a bummer!


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Oh yeah? I just googled it. Looks insane. I actually saw something very similar to this on the way over the gulf. It was bright pink. Perhaps this is what it was. Mother Nature hard at work again.


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The food sounds great, I have had those coconuts when in the Phillipines, very different from coconuts from supermarkets.


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The coconut was so good. I spent ages trying to pull all the fleshy bits out with my straw. Then the waitress offered to cut it open. So delicious! Not like any coconut I've ever had at home.


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So sorry for you not to be able to see and experience the real Riviera Maya :( Normally, most of the beaches do look like the one you were expectin! We left Riviera two months ago when the problem with sea weed was just getting started but from what I know from my friends who still live there, it is really really bad now :( How long are you gonna stay?


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Oh really? I wonder if it tends to progressively get worse in the warmer weather? We're here in Tulum for 1 month but would be happy to stay longer if it looks like it's clearing up.


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I have no idea how the situation will continue (nobody has I think as this is something very unique) but I can confirm Riviera Maya was like a heaven on Earth. The beaches look like this:

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I took this image in Tulum a few months ago. I lived in Playa Del Carmen for more than a year.


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Oh wow...it certainly looks like paradise 😍 I really hope it clears up soon. And also that it doesn't have too much of an impact on the locals. I imagine they depend quite heavily on the tourist dollars.


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Also, in the meantime, any cenotes you recommend visiting? We haven't been to any yet.


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Well I dont remember their names (they are mostly derived from the Mayan language) but it doesnt really mater which one you choose, they are all amazing ;) Those famous ones like Cenote Azul are sometimes crowded but if you come early in the morning, you will have even these just for yourself ;)


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Ok awesome. Thank you 🙂 An early visit definitely sounds like the way to go.


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That’s some strong alcohol

This is an interesting expression in your post! :) I sometimes collect interesting quotes to make a post on their basis.

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YUM! There was a nice courtyard around the back which was the perfect place to escape the heat

My fear was not of death itself, but a death without meaning. Huey Newton

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Seeing the river systems from above was quite unique

“In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.

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