We left Tikal, Guatemala in the early hours of the morning on 12 December with our sights firmly set on our destination of Tulum, Mexico. This also involved two border crossings and drive through Belize for several hours. If everything went to plan then we would have arrived in Tulum around 7pm the same evening….however….everything did not go to plan and just over the Mexico / Belize border our mini bus required mechanical assistance because there was a problem with the brakes and discs! The bus could not be worked on immediately because the parts were too hot! Super, well at least we were stopped at a super market where we could use the amenities, eat lunch and also chat to the locals!
Our delay ended up being 3 hours on the side of the road outside the super market. This, together with more cautious driving and a few more border crossings during peak hours made our new arrival time somewhere close to midnight! What a long day, but we managed to make several new friends with a group of English lads and a lady from Slovenia who were on our bus and also trying to get to Tulum and Cancun. After reaching the Mexican border town, Deborah used her supreme Spanish skills to negotiate a very good price for three taxis to take us to Tulum (Slovenian lady and us) and Cancun (the English lads) – USD 90 for 4 hours driving (and the return trip for the driver) is not a bad! Ridiculously cheap to be honest…but we did give him an extra USD 20 for his effort!
We had a good night’s sleep and woke around 10am, which still gave us sufficient time to have breakfast at a nearby cafe and then trek to Tulum, one of the more well known Mayan sites in the world.
Tulum is a beachside Mayan site that over recent years has become a major tourist attraction in the Yucatan peninsula region of Mexico. Despite the relatively small area that the site of Tulum occupies, what actually makes it most impressive is it’s setting high up on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sean. This gives it an unrivalled advantage over other Mayan sights! The other reason Tulum is a drawcard for foreign tourists is due mainly to the growth of Cancun as a major tourist destination just a few hours to the north. This has given Tulum (and Playa del Carmen for that matter) more profile over the last 20 years and definitely enhanced local tourism.
Tulum, located in the departmento of Yucatan, is a Mayan word for “fence, wall or trench” and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum Fort to be defended against invading parties. Tulum had access to land and sea which made it an important trading location in the day! Although strategically located by the sea, estimates indicate that Tulum only ever had a population of around 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants! The walled city of Tulum served as the major port for Coba and the site was built on top of 15m high cliffs that drop down to the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans and the civilization managed to survive for about 70 years after the Spanish colonialists arrived in Mexico. History tells that the full demise of the Mayan civilization may have been caused by the introduction of old world diseases brought by the Spanish settlers.
We definitely enjoyed our day walking around and discovering Tulum. The actual ruins are only moderately impressive compared to Tikal, but the setting is obviously unparalleled! Check out our photos and I am sure you will agree with us!
After arriving in Buenos Aires - what seemed so long ago - on 30 January 2012, the date of our departure from Latin America was approaching rapidly! So here we were arriving in Cancun on 12 December with only a few days left in the wonderful world of Latin America and soon to be back to the realities of life in Europe!
We arrived in Cancun in the evening at the house of our final CouchSurfer, “Cancun Carmen” (ex USA)! After introducing ourselves to Carmen and her daughter Ayesha, we settled in, unpacked a few things and then decided to grab a bite to eat before retiring for the evening. We enjoyed a good Italian meal at one of Carmen’s favourite local restaurants! Carmen works in the real estate industry and it just happens that her office is out at the beach resort area (overlooking the world famous beach of Cancun)! Tough gig for some:)
How convenient? For the few d ays that we were there, we were lucky enough to score rides with Carmen from home to her office (more or less, “the beach”). Carmen was a lot of fun and we thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her and conversing about our CouchSurfing experiences and life in general. After speaking at length with Carmen, it is interesting to know how much Cancun has changed in the last 29 years! Crazy!
One thing is for sure, Cancun (and it was Deborah’s second time there) is a place I would like to visit again! Well, sure it is commercialized to the nth degree, but there is no doubting its appeal from a beach and holidaymaker perspective. The water is incredible, the temperature generally warm to hot all the time and the vibe is cool! Thanks again to Carmen and Ayesha and see you next time CANCUN!
So that is it for Latin America…thank you so much for a wonderful, life changing and humbling experience that we have been afforded over the past 11 months. Words cannot fully express the experiences and it will only be when we sit down, digest events, look at photos, relive experiences, digest again, that we will be able to fully appreciate everything! Who knows we might find a place to live as well :)
Thanks to everyone for following us on our travel book website and we hope you have enjoyed us sharing our moments on the road!
Larga vive América Latina
Dingo y Fudgie