Monday, July 1, 2013

Trekking Through Tulum: A Journey Into Mexico's History


Well, I have been slowly beginning to feel better as my hormones are levelling out, and I'm ready to get back on track with my blog! Thanks to my wonderful readers for having patience and sticking with me!

In this post, I want to take you back in time with me as I revisit the gorgeous, historical, and HOT grounds of the last Mexican Mayan coastal outpost of Tulum. These ruins are set against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, right on the edge of a steep cliff that drops off into stunning aquamarine waters.

Tulum Mexico, things to do in Akumal, things to see in Mexico
Beautiful ruins of Tulum, Mexico in the Akumal region.

I was very excited to visit Tulum when my husband and I voyaged to Mexico in May of this year for his brother's wedding.  I'd booked a morning trip out to Tulum in conjunction with an afternoon stay at the Xel-Ha water adventure park through Expedia when I'd booked our flight. The tour company was called Experiencias Xcaret, which upon arrival to the tour center, seemed like a huge company!  They were certainly a well-oiled machine, and we had zero complaints.  (I often book extra side trips through Expedia, as they tend to pair with really reputable organizations, and I've never had an issue with any of them.)

Tulum Akumal, Tulum Mexico, things to do in Akumal
It was a HOT day in Tulum that day - but still awesome!

We were picked up by our tour bus in the morning at around 8:00 a.m. and only had to stop at two other resorts to pick up additional passengers.  Then we were shuttled to the major tour operations center and switched buses - this time, our vehicle was destined for Tulum.  We arrived in Tulum with two and a half hours to explore.  This might not seem like much time to see everything, but the sun was beating down at such a hot temperature that we were certainly ready to leave by the time our tour operator began to round us up!

hollow tree Tulum, Mayan sacred tree, Tulum sacred tree
Joey knocks on the sacred Mayan tree, which is totally hollow.

One of the most interesting and humorous parts of visiting Tulum is getting from the little commercial village below to the ruins at the top of the cliff.  You have to take a 'bus', the guide called it, which is really a wagon filled with benches attached to a tractor.  They then haul you up the side of the hill like so many corralled cattle.  Quaint!  Also, watch for the many 'vendors' who wander the streets of the little village, thrusting iguanas or monkeys onto your arm.  If your friend snaps a photo of you holding the creature, you owe the man some money, and it's not cheap!

Tulum ruins, Tulum Mexico, Tulum Akumal
The thick wall that surrounds the Mayan coastal town of Tulum.

The first 45 - 50 minutes we spent with our Tulum tour guide.  He was extremely knowledgeable and very funny. Sadly, I don't remember a lot of the facts he shared with us.  I was busy gawking and staring at all the amazing ruins, taking photographs, and trying to stay cool. Only a small portion of my brain was paying attention to the guide.  Plus, we had a large tour group and I tend to stay in the back of such groups, since I like to take pictures and meander through the ruins at my own pace.  Then I run back up to the group at the last second so I don't get lost.

things to do in Akumal, things to do in Mexico, Mayan ruins
A nice panoramic view of Tulum, Mexico.

The guide left us in the shade of some trees, and we were set free to poke about the ruins at our leisure.  The ruins themselves were off limits and all roped-off, but you could get pretty close to them to inspect carvings and other details.  We shuffled about for a bit, but Joey was literally melting in the sun and wanted ever-so-badly to go down to the Tulum beach and frolic in the water.  I agreed (but not after insisting he pose with me for just a few more pictures!)

Tulum ruins, Tulum Akumal, Tulum Mexico, things to do in Mexico
Check out that attractive couple posing outside some Tulum ruins!

Honestly, the beach turned out to be one of my favorite parts of Tulum.  The waters were a spectacular, Mediterranean-Greek color of aquamarine, the beach's sand pure white, and the cliff rocks dark black, creating a very dramatic effect overall.  It was busy with people, but not many of them were actually swimming.  We stripped down to our bathing suits right away, and hopped in the water for some relief from the heat.  Right on the edge of a distant cliff, you could still see the ruins of Tulum looming over the ocean.  It was amazing!

swimming in Tulum, Tulum ruins beach, things to do in Akumal
The picturesque and refreshing Tulum beach.

I could have stayed at that beach all day, but sadly, we only had about 25 minutes before we had to climb back up the massive set of stairs (be careful on the stairs - they are wide, uneven, and plentiful!) to the tour bus. We found our way to the 'trolley', made our way back down the hill, and got to the bus with about five minutes to spare.  Our next stop was Xel-Ha, but I'll save that for my next post!

Tulum ruins, Tulum beach, Akumal, Mexico, Mayan ruins
View of the Tulum ruins from the waters below.
Join us as we explore the ruins of Tulum and the amazing beach! Please "Like" the video and feel free to leave a comment or share the video link! :)


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