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Mayan Riviera, Mexico

This is one very short post (compared to the last one).

After our Intrepid trip dropped us at Playa del Carmen, we ventured an hour down the road to Tulum.

We have 12 days before we fly from Cancun to Cuba; we’ve heard good things about Tulum, so we going to check it out.

One of our Intrepid companions – Catherine, is also heading down to Tulum for a few days and we give her a lift.

Catherine is a bit more organised and has her accommodation booked.  We drop her at Ahau, a lovely resort right on the beach.

Unfortunately they didn’t have any spare rooms. They did recommend Yogo Shala directly across the road – it had a few basic rooms with shared bathroom.  Not bad, but we thought we’d see what else we could get.

Don and I stroll up and down the beach checking out various accommodation options.  They range from US$350 to about US$80 per night.

We, of course, would prefer to spend at the lower end of the price spectrum.

One thing that really annoys me is the insistence to quote in US$.  Well, we don’t have US dollars, just Mexican Pesos – the local currency!

We find a spot a bit further down the beach from Ahau called Coco’s.  The rooms look nice and it’s within our price range – US$87 per night.

We decide this is the place to stay, as we check in the receptionist says she needs to convert the US$ to Pesos and the exchange rate they use is 14.75.  Well, at the time the current rate is about 13.5.

My response was “you’re taking the piss.” That’s 10% more for a lousy exchange.

Now, I’m all for making the most of a situation, but quoting in US$ and then ripping you off with an exchange rate well above the market rate is extortion.

We cancelled the booking and we went back to Yoga Shala.  They at least offered the standard rate of 13.3.

In the end, it turned out to be a good choice.  Whilst not beachfront, it was directly opposite Ahau who had no issues with us making use of their sun lounges and umbrellas.

Our room on the second floor is very simple; the windows are screened but no glass, there is a mosquito net around the bed and a fan if it’s hot.

We share two bathrooms between 5 other rooms.  I rarely see anyone, so it was never a problem and the place was very clean.  The showers are hot but partly salt water, makes for interesting hair washing.

The kitchen is very basic, no fridge, just a cooler with a block of ice in it.  No means to boil water, so this resulted in the purchase of a one-cup coffee machine.

Yes, that’s right – we are already carrying a plunger around and we now have a drip filter coffee machine.

We did the maths:  to purchase a fairly ordinary coffee across the road was about 30 pesos and the coffee machine cost 100 pesos, so 4 coffee’s and we’re ahead!  Simple really.  Plus, I now get coffee in bed!

For the next 8 days we slipped into a comfortable routine.

Wake-up to a coffee, write some blog, cross the road and plonk ourselves on a sun lounge for the day with a book.

In the afternoon; retreat back to Shala for more blog writing, reading or maybe a nap, source some dinner (or not, depending on what (if) we had for lunch).

We had the pleasure of Catherine’s company for the first 4 days and aside from sharing a beach, the three of us would seek out a restaurant for dinner each night.

Tulum is somewhat ‘Byron-esque’, much more laid back than Playa.   Lots of ‘beautiful’ people doing yoga and meditation on the beach – generally in designer swimwear, or nude!

It’s a stunning spot, the beach is one of the most beautiful we’ve been to – we’ve now been to a lot of beaches.

We moved back up towards Cancun (and the airport) for our remaining four nights, staying in Puerto Morelos (PM).  We found a lovely B&B called Casa Caribe  Coincidently, run by an Australian, Catriona, and her assistant Lisa (American).

PM has a different vibe again; its a fishing port and starting point for diving and snorkeling expeditions.  The beach is not as spectacular, yet there is something charming and appealing about PM.

The locals, many of whom are expats like Katrina and Lisa, are very welcoming and create a laid back feel about the place.  I can see how many of them arrived and just never left.

There are some great restaurants in PM.  Our favourite find would be T@cos.com and their ‘Hawaiianos’ shrimp and pineapple taco.

We also indulged on a succulent steak at Al Chimi Churri ; no need to worry if you can’t eat it all, there is always a few dogs hanging around to finish the scraps.

We’ve seen lots of stray dogs around, but the ones in Puerto Morelos are the best fed we’ve seen, thanks to Chimi Churri’s I think.

We drive into Cancun for a day and quickly vow to never return.

It is one long strip of all-inclusive resorts, behind are designer shopping malls and restaurants that you’ll find all over the world.  The only thing that reminds you that you are in Mexico is the stamp in your passport!

Tomorrow we are off to Cuba.  We have a night back in PM on our return and the girls at Casa Caribe have let us leave some things with them.

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