Yucatan WanderingAuthor: Paul (More Trip Reviews by Paul)
Date of Trip: January 2009
Not sure if this meets all the requirements of your trip reports but what the heck, may as well submit it. This is a report of last years (2009) trip to the Yucatan in Mexico. We have been going here fairly regularly since 2001 and always end our trips on the Tulum beach. If you have any questions or comments, give me an email.
Day 01, January 31 Our flight day. It's a late flight, scheduled for 1630 out of Toronto. We are up early and on the road by 0800 for the four hour drive south. We find our hotel for the return night and check in so we can leave our car in the lot, have a quick lunch and then board the shuttle for the airport. Check in is ok and so is security then it is wait, wait, wait. Boarding is finally called at 1730, then another wait as we are deiced. A couple more minutes of waiting and we start rolling for the runway. And keep on rolling. And rolling. Maybe we are going to taxi all the way to Mexico? I didn't think Pearson was this big but we seem to be rolling on the ground for twenty minutes. At last the plane swings out, locks brakes as the engines rev and we are off. Just off the ground, the left engine starts a high pitched whine that is loud and audible to all of us sitting in front of the wing. We passengers look around at each other, reading the same wonderment in each others eyes, as we wonder what is going on and pretend not to be worried. The plane does not slow its accent; the flight attendants do not show any concern, but the whine increases as we gain altitude, then levels off to the more familiar drone. The pilot is doing his best with the late start; he pours on the gas and we land in Cancun a mere three hours and twenty minutes later. Not bad for a scheduled flight time of over four hours. We clear customs and rush outside to find our car rental guy. Before we see him, the familiar Cancun vista fills our senses; the night sky, the palms and the smell. Nothing is as close to memory as smell and it always brings us back to our first few trips. The rental guy has been waiting at the gate for the whole two hours we are late. A few minutes to drive to the rental place, check the car and we are driving south on highway 307. We seem to have enough gas for Puerto Morelos (about 1/3 tank) but a dashboard light comes on just a few K down the road. We pull in at a Pemex to fill the tank but are surprised when it only takes a few pesos. On further inspection, now with my reading glasses on, the dashboard light is not a fuel warning but actually says "Check Engine". Wonderful. So, we do as we do at home when the light comes on -- ignore it! Dallas buys a six pack of beer for the hotel and we head south again. Maybe twenty minutes on the highway and we turn left in the town of Puerto Morelos, then south along the beach road for Rancho Sak Ol. It is not difficult this year, we can remember the route and closed roads from last year. The hotel is quiet but there is someone waiting to check us in and give us a key. We don't even unpack but head back to town for something to eat, we are starved. Only one place is open at the centro and we have a quick meal before heading back to the room. Tired as we are we are pumped from arrival and cannot sleep. A few beers are knocked back as we talk about the flight and such, and then crawl into bed for a few hours sleep. It is almost 0200.
Day 02, February 01
As usual, I am up early at 0600 and slip out of the room quietly so as not to awake Dallas. After walking up and down the beach a few times, Rancho's kitchen opens and I make a couple cups of coffee and bring them to the room. We will be leaving shortly so shower and change quickly. It is good to be in shorts again.
A zip line tour with Selvatica is booked for this morning. We drive about nineteen K down the back road and find the place without any problems, just as the directions said. There is a few minutes wait for the others in the group to show and then a quick training session. Before I know it we climb to the first platform and I am buckled in and zipping down the line. It is great! This zip line is almost two kilometres long with twelve platforms. The guides are good, everything seems very safe and we get to try some other stunts once we feel comfortable. Some go upside down; others fly like a bird hooked from the back.
Personal cameras are not allowed while on the zip line. At first I was kind of disappointed about that but after a few platforms I can understand why -- there is no room for picture taking and one must have both hands available for the lanyards and stuff.
Once back at the base we change into swimsuits and are driven to the bike corral in an awesome German or Swiss ex army truck -- I want it!
Then about a one mile bike ride to the cenote. There is another zip line set up over the water where you can splash in from a twenty foot drop. A must do!
The final activity is a light lunch back at the base. Well worth the cost, $75.00 USD each, I would recommend this excursion.
We leave Selvatica at 1345, make our way back to highway 307 and head south to Tulum. We make good speed until Playa Del Carmen then seem to be stalled in stop and go traffic. Eventually we pull in at the San Francisco Market just at the north end of Tulum Pueblo to stock up on supplies and I am reminded of that thread that I never really paid attention to on the Tuluminfo forum -- no alcohol available on February 1st because of election day! And what day is it? Right. And that other email from Xamach Dan, only beer is available at their place. Oh well, what can you do, eh! Heading south on the beach road towards Punta Allen we are on familiar territory. We comment about the places we have stayed and those we would like to visit. Vacancy signs abound, maybe the recession is having an effect here as well. The road is now paved and is rather crowded but all that ends at the arch when entering the Sian Ka'an reserve. Now it is as we remember from our first trip, all potholes and rough road. Dust covered vegetation grows to edge of the road; it is barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. After about five K we start looking for a sign for Xamach Dos, which my failing memory tells me I read in one of the emails from Dan. Nothing except more potholes. We stop at the info center, which is about sixteen K into the reserve, and enquire with the only inhabitant who cannot seem to understand my Spanglish. He seems to tell us that Xamach is another twenty K down the road. The potholes now seem to be getting deeper and more frequent. Any type of speed is impossible. Another stop at a fishing lodge confirms that we must pass over the bridge and then a few more K south. The bridge comes up shortly and we are slowed by a small black car chugging along dodging the holes in the road. After a few K of tailing I pull out to pass and make it but a strange noise and vibration starts in the front end. We pull over as far we can and inspect the tires. The left front is shredded with about twenty holes through the sidewall. The black car pulls up behind us and three men get out, one gringo and a couple of locals. The gringo turns out to be Josh, the manager from Xamach Dos! He is a welcome sight on this lonely stretch of road. The tire is changed, we have a beer standing around slowing down oncoming traffic and then drive the last three K to pull in at the resort. As we pull in, open the trunk and are greeted by the employees, the Xamach Dos hospitality kicks in. We are not allowed to carry anything and are lead to our cabana (La Luna) by a stream of luggage. The cabana is great; two beds, a couple of chairs and a modern bathroom just off the back door. A good sized covered porch or veranda faces the ocean and a few yards of palm shaded sand lead to the water. It is idyllic. Supper is served shortly in the communal palapa where we meet the other guests; there are only two, Bob and Nancy from Boston. Supper is a good fish and pasta meal washed down with a couple of beer. When we relay our story of not being able to purchase rum, a bottle appears on the table courtesy of Bob. Bedtime is about 2200 and we are very tired.
Day 03, February 02
Up at 0700 to walk the beach. Coffee is on shortly and we sit on the porch reading and updating the journal. Breakfast is pancakes with fresh shredded coconut topping and orange juice.
We are in relax mode. The day is spent walking the beach, reading or swimming. It is hot and windy but calms about 1300. Time passes slowly. An hour or so is spent snorkelling in the shallows, watching the thousands of small fish and a couple of barracuda. Lunch and supper are good but I can't remember what they are!
Josh has been in contact with a tire man in Tulum Pueblo who will help us with a spare tire. He is supposed to come out to deliver Josh's scooter which he is repairing, and will bring a tire with him when he comes. We are grateful because we will need a spare for our further travels when we leave this place. Josh had a minor mishap with his scooter a few days previous and his feet show it; most of the skin is missing from a few toes and they are bandaged to keep the sand out. In the afternoon, Josh takes us across the road to the two Mayan pyramids that are on Xamach's property. They loom out of the jungle very unexpectedly, a mass of jumbled stone and tree roots. They are fascinating; a few hand prints are still visible in one area.
Day 04, February 03
I am up at my usual early time and walk the beach to the north. It is amazing how much plastic refuse has washed up on the beach. This area has never been cleaned so we are seeing the detritus of the past since the last hurricane. Dallas is up when I return so we join the others for coffee and breakfast in the main palapa. Bob and Nancy are heading to town and we put in an order for some rum. It is hot and windy again. Dallas and I head out for a walk up north. The sun is beating down but the strong headwinds have a cooling effect. Many different birds are seen, both on the water and in the trees backing the shore. Some large objects can be seen littering the shore and as we approach they take the shape of a battered and torn up marine buoy. We rest after an hour or so, sitting on a couple of upturned plastic pails in the shade of some palms. For some reason we want to make the far point, maybe just because it is such a prominent landmark. There is nothing special about it when we do reach it so we just turn around and head back. We rest again on the buckets and I swim for a few minutes in the waves.
As we approach Xamach, I remember at the last minute that I am naked and slip my shorts on so as not to offend anyone. The remainder of the day is spent just as lazy as the beginning, swim when you feel like it, drink some beer or read on the porch. The tire guy does not show up. We are not that concerned now that we have Josh to help us out. A late supper is served, again I can't remember what it was except it was good. Five of us (Bob, Nancy, Josh, Dallas and I) stay up until 2300 discussing various travels, Canadian health care, politics and the virtues of Ron Anjeno. Rain starts about 2200 and keeps up all night. Dallas and I sleep very well.
Day 05, February 04
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