After a quick flight from Mexico City and a night's layover in Cancun, we picked up our good friends, Justin and Cori Leste at Cancun International the following evening. We loaded up our tiny rental car and immediately hit the road, south... Tulum or Bust!
We arrived a quick two hours later at The Secret Garden Hotel on a quiet backstreet in Tulum. We checked in and promptly headed back out to town to get some much needed tacos and cervezas in us.
We stopped at the corner taqueria first as we'd seen the huge spit of Al Pastor pork roasting when we drove past and it looked just amazing. It was. Topped with fresh Habanero fire sauce, those little morsels went down easy. Of course we over did it with the Habanero salsa and paid the price with tears, grimaces and runny noses, but it was SO worth it. It was a scene that would be repeated many times throughout our 10 days with the Lestes.
Only problem was that the taqueria only could take care of half our requirements since they had no cervezas. So we took our quest down the street; we ended up settling on a spot that had both our requirements and the beer was cold, but after our experience at the first taqueria I have a hard time calling the food they produced "tacos".
Sure, there was meat on a tortilla...but that's about where the comparison ends. We all agreed that those dudes should be ashamed to serve what they put out and we left without even finishing it all.
Our next stop in Tulum was a good one. They had an old VW Bug that had been converted into a sugar press where they cranked out freshly hand pressed Mojitos garnished with plenty of mint and, wait for it, a stick of fresh sugar cane. Awesome. They also had a nice selection of Tequila which we felt obligated to explore.
We finished off the night with one last stop. We were walking past and we were taken by their swing-set bar, so stopped in for a quick night cap. You know you are doing well when you find yourself on a swing at a bar with sand between your toes.
We awoke to discover the one bad thing about staying at a place called Secret Garden...the Secret Garden (which is an awesome loungy outdoor space with hammocks and such) also doubles as an exotic bird aviary in the wee hours of the morning. Some of the birds sing soft sweet songs others...not so much. Justin dubbed the worst "Tune-Can Sam".
That afternoon we headed to the beach for a little sun, sand and blue water ruling. The Secret Garden has a partnership with an awesome spot out at the beach and we found our way to a few lounge chairs shaded by a thatched roof structure. For the record, Tulum Beach is just as beautiful as everyone says it is.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of dips in the ocean, sunning on the most comfortable marshmallow-like beach beds ever created, exotic cocktails, guacamole, and then another ocean swim. We packed up our gear around 4-5 pm when some dark, menacing clouds started infiltrating our picture-perfect setting.
We made our way back to The Secret Garden, washed up, and hit Tulum's main street. After a make-shift taco crawl, we found ourselves back at our favorite Mojito bar, sipping their famous fresh cocktail and playing a few rounds of dominos.
As it turned out, the previous night's festivities combined with a day in the sun, equals four sleepy travelers. By 10pm we were all tucked in our beds, drifting away to a blissful slumber.
The next morning we rose early to kick our butts with a morning exercise. We found a local soccer field and ran laps. We were both mentally transported to our high school years as we ran drills on the soft green grass. After 45 minutes we were properly winded and hot from the scorching Mexican sun. We got back to the hotel, packed up, woke our sleepy friends, and soon were enjoying delicious cappuccinos with a scrumptious breakfast at a local cafe.
After our leisurely breakfast was over, we packed up the car and headed out of Tulum on our way to Playa del Carmen. Before putting Tulum entirely in the rear view we headed to the Mayan Ruins site which is right on the beach. It was HOT out so we made the lap of the ruins quick. They are impressive for sure, but the thing that stands out to me is their location; right on the cliffs overlooking white sandy beaches and some of the bluest water you'll ever see. It was beautiful.
We piled back in the car hot and sweaty from the ruins tour. Lucky for us relief awaited right outside of the city where there are several Cenotes, or freshwater springs. We stopped at one better known spot right off the highway called Dos Ojos. We payed a small entrance fee and before too long we were swimming in some of the freshest, most refreshing water ever. This spot had two cave swimming areas, teaming with tiny fish, bats and birds flying in and out of the caves. The water was so clear it was like glass.
We could've stayed there for a while, however, we had plans to get to Cozumel and we still had miles to drive, a car to drop off, and a boat to take to the island.
Back in the car it was "Adios" to Tulum. Time for diving and island life, but it's safe to say we were all more than impressed with what Tulum had to offer and coulda spent another several days there easily.