I am presently in the city of San Jose, Costa Rica, which has the rather negative distinction of being one of the two least charming cities that I have visited in my two years of travel in 16 countries of the world. But now I will tell you about Tulum, Mexico, in the Yucatán; a delightful experience.
Ancient Tulum is a relatively well preserved site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city serving as a major port for Cobá, the archaeological site of which we also visited. The ruins are situated on 39 foot tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries.
A PERFECT HOSTEL
My community that I vastly enjoyed was the young, world travelers who stay in hostels. I have become acquainted with many young people as I travel but not as in Tulum, for long durations of time, in the intimacy of living accommodations. They love to travel and learn from their travels and most of them stay in hostels. I’ve stayed mostly in airbnbs as I travel. I too love traveling, and I love to learn as I travel, as they do, and being with young people rather than with people my own age feeds my spirit and my energy. I might be as old as the grandparents of these young people, but they accept me joyfully. It gives me hope to talk to them because they have so much awareness of world problems and live sustainably as they travel, which helps alleviate the problems. They are the future.
My hostel was Mama’s Hostel, which is owned by José, from Northern Spain, and is the number one hostel in North America for the year of 2016. Staying in a hostel was one of the unusual things about My Tulum Adventure. Another was that it was a real vacation; I didn’t specifically visit a community or interview anyone to get more information for my book on community around the world. The 3rd difference was that I actually traveled with a friend, which has only happened for a total of 5 weeks of the two years that I have been consistently traveling.
Tulum is a tiny town, 1000 – 1600 residents, increased massively by thousands of tourists everyday of the year. It is cheaper then Cancun or Cozumel, etc., although you can stay at hotels on the beach that cost you hundreds of dollars a night for a room. I was quite content in my comfortable, utilitarian room, with private bathroom, which only cost my friend and me less than $500 for 11 nights.
The main draw, of course, in Tulum is the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and the fine white sand of the pristine beaches. My friend and I went on one official and pricey Eco Tour. It was worth $140 each. We traveled by van on a bumpy jungle road and then by two different boats. One took us through the still waters of the lagoon, where we saw many birds, including eagles and pelicans. We even had an opportunity of getting close to a crocodile! We did some easy snorkeling off a gorgeous, silky sanded beach. But when we reached the coral out in the ocean, I had to go back to the boat rather than perish. It was only my second time snorkeling, and the strong winds and the pitch of the waves made it too difficult for me. I only stayed long enough to get some coral cuts and then returned to the boat. We had hoped to see dolphins, which is definitely on my bucket list, but that will have to wait until I reach the Pacific and take some ocean excursions from Pachamama Spiritual Community, here in Costa Rica.
The Eco tour gang
I am presently staying in a very nice Airbnb in the capitol city of San Jose, with lovely, generous and kind hosts. However, the city is very expensive, especially food, and and seems a place only to land and leave for other much more desirable destinations in Costa Rica. Yesterday I walked through the center of town for a couple of hours and took virtually no photos because I saw very little that was worth photographing, in my opinion. It was also one of the few places in my travels that I held very firmly onto my leather tummy bag and my backpack, at all times.
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath, and is especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Cenotes are surface connections to subterranean water bodies. While the best-known cenotes are large open water pools, such as those at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, in the first photo, the greatest number of cenotes are smaller sheltered sites and do not necessarily have any surface exposed water. I swam in four cenotes, all very different. Cenote water is often very clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and therefore contains very little suspended particulate matter.
The first photos are of one of the three underground Cenotes at the Coba archaeological ruins. Then there are two photos of the much less famous cenotes, close to Tulum, recommended by our taxi driver. I, my friend from Kansas, and a new friend from Vancouver, who was also staying in our hostel, happily swam alone in these 2 cenotes,called Cristal and Escondido. On another day we went to the Gran Cenote outside of Tulum, one better advertised to the tourists. It was crowded, so was not nearly as enjoyable. We get did get to see turtles in the water.
These are towns settled 1-2,000 years ago, with temples and residences of the Mayan civilization. We explored three. First was Chichen Itza, the most well known. The next day we went to Coba. We traveled by bus and stayed overnight at an Air B&B of an extended Mexican family in the town of Valladolid. Our hostess directed us to a nearby neighborhood Mexican restaurant in which we were the only white faces. It was authentic, and we loved it! The food was plentiful, delicious and cheap, and there was a brother and a sister singing duo. They walked around the tables passing the hat, to enthusiastic applause.
We also went to the ruins in Tulum. After exploring for an hour, we walked down the stairs to the beach, where I had the most fun in the water since I was a little girl visiting relatives in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
3 photos of Chitzen Itza
Two more days and I travel to the wondrous PachaMamaCommunity. See you there…in 2017.