Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tulum and our life and some rambling thoughts

OK, a week off have given me inspiration to carry on blogging again so let me give you some general thoughts of our life here in Mexico.

Think about the mundane - fridges for example. Things are different here and it is really interesting. Since the water in Mexico is not potable, you can't just run a water line into the fridge to get ice and cold water.  Here fridges are made with a removable water tank on one of the shelves (fill it with 5 liters of purified water).  In the freezer there is an ice-maker that gets it's water from the tank and the door has a water dispenser that gets its water from the tank in the fridge.  The ice-maker (which is cool the way that it turns the ice tray upside down to empty it) doesn't need a hole through the door and the water dispenser takes up much less room than the traditional ones that we are used to in the USA.


This ice make happens to have two ice cube storage containers



Oh yes and the bottle of purified water that we are using has a nifty little valve hand pump thingy on it so there is no need to tip the bottle or have it upside down in a fancy stand with a tap.


Now that the 'vacation' weeks are behind us (really?  life is all vacation now isn't it?) and we are thinking about our future life and more routine/mundane things, grocery shopping.  In Playa del Carmen we went to a Mega grocery store (our previous visit to Meg was in Acapulco and we found such good fresh produce etc. there which was heartening) but it was not good at all.  The produce was mostly very stale (I saw beets there that had shoots growing out of them and were all wrinkled) and generally the store was not nice and clean or well stocked with good groceries.   Here in Tulum, the only real grocery store (apart from the OXXO or convenience stores) is a Chedraui.  We had to go and get some groceries for our two week stay here but it was very disappointing - I had so been looking forward to all the fresh fruits and veggies that I have been reading about in Mexico but this is definitely not the place to get them although the produce was better than that Mega in PDC.  We got the basics that we needed plus we also managed to pick up a double pack of Don Roberto tequila for only 110 pesos (less than 6 dollars or not much more than a grande 15 syllable name coffee at Starbucks).  We make our own type of pina colada (nothing like the real thing but we love it) using pina colada yogurt with some tequila.  I also have some left-over green juice that we bought at Mega in PDC - it is the only green juice that I have not been able to love drinking - Kale, Spinach, Cactus, Celery and Cucumber (too much grass and no sweet fruit) so we also bought a container of fresh pineapple juice and it is OK when mixed 50/50.

The little casa that we have rented in Tulum is quite comfortable and has everything that we need in order to be able to cook for ourselves etc.  We will end up doing laundry in the wash basin again and will try to dry it hanging it on chairs or the hammock or whatever outside - but with the humidity levels that we have so near to the beach, it will take a while - hmm that reminds me, I have not seen an iron or ironing board here so guess we will take on the beach bum look for a while.  Maybe a trip to the local Lavanderia is in order which means that we drop it off, pay a hundred pesos and then pick it up later in the day when it has all been washed, dried and folded for us ;)




Our car is really looking a mess right now, covered in sandy dirt from the dirt roads here and it also has a lot of salt on it from visits to the beach, I think that the best thing will be to take her to one of the local 'a man and his bucket' car washes on the way out of town on our way to wherever our next stop will be.  We need to get the sand and salt off so that she doesn't start rusting one day - it is the beginning of the rainy season right now (May through October) but that doesn't mean that we will get any measurable rainfall, even if rain is predicted every day for a week there may only be a couple of sprinkles on any given day but we haven't seen any yet.

The little town of Tulum and the beach area are very eclectic and make me think of a cheaper version of Estes Park by the beach.  Along the main road through town (which is the main highway between Cancun and Belize) there are little shops selling hats, leather goods, hammocks and all things tourist,  The shops are interspersed with restaurants (from the local Mexican family restaurants to the more upscale tourist restaurants) and bars, lots of bar/restaurant combinations.  Head down to the beachfront and the vibe becomes even more bohemian with a plethora of yoga, wellness and eco type vacation resorts in little cabanas and big fancy resort areas.  The access to the beach becomes limited as you travel along the narrow little road crowded with the tiny boutique style shops and restaurants - you can get to the beach in a couple of spots (if you can find somewhere to park your car).  Most of the tourists around here rent bicycles and cycle through town and out to the beach. Iff you walk through hotel properties you can get to the beach - yet again, if you buy a drink and/or a meal at one of the restaurants (including hotels) you can even get to sit on their beach loungers or chairs.  Most of the hotels, restaurants and shops are built with palm frond roofs and an open air design.




You can actually see mats of floating seaweed 
The blue Caribbean waters are sometimes clear of seaweed.




The warm Caribbean waters and sparkling white sand is beautiful but since 2014 Tulum (along with most of the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico) has been plagued with tons of seaweed.  The seaweed is raked up daily by the big expensive resorts, many of whom dig big pits and bury it when they can.
Pile of seaweed raked up by one of the beach front businesses

However a lot of the beach is affected by the seaweed both in the water and on the sand - when the seaweed hits the beach and starts piling up, water trapped behind it starts rotting the seaweed and the smell is overpowering - the seas themselves, filled with weed, are no good for swimming.  This place, once touted to have one of the world's best beaches is suffering along the water front but business is still thriving and people are still flocking here filling the restaurants, bars, shops and eco-tourism hotels and hostels.

We took a walk around town one evening after having a great supper at Los Aguachiles - the pita stuffed with grilled shrimp, gouda, sprouted sunflower seeds and some other yummy items, was out of this world.  While walking around, we came across a cultural festival going on (go figure we decided to walk town in the evening that this was going on) and we also saw a couple of fruterias and their produce was definitely better than what we had seen at the grocery store.  We picked up a lovely pineapple for only 30 pesos (just over $1.50).  Next time we need fruit and veggies we know where we are headed!

Later that evening we experienced our first storm here in Mexico - stepping outside onto the covered patio to enjoy the cool down while it was raining, we found out that it doesn't actually cool down.  All that happened was that the humidity climbed even higher and it was a sauna out there - honestly we could have sat outside and thought that we were in a sauna at a spa or something.  The shock of the heat and humidity took our breath away and we decide to escape back into the air-conditioning because we had just showered after our walk around town.

Still to explore are the Mayan ruins (here thee is a site on a 40 foot cliff overlooking the beach), some of the many cenotes, the monkey sanctuary and maybe Aktun Chen Natural Park and/or a Turtle sanctuary at Akumal.

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