Don’t Say No to Cenotes!

Cenotes (see-no-tays) are peculiar to Yucatan and Quintana Roo in México, and are sink holes bored out by water and erosion of limestone. Gateways to an underworld of drowned caves, stalactites and stalagmites, and strange animals.

We booked a car and visited three in a day.

 

Grand Cenote

Quite busy with people as its a do-able cycle from town. But still amazing. Cool water that’s crystal clear, tiny fish swimming right up to your eyes, terrapins & catfish. You swim through gaps in rocks and through caves, nervously peering over the drop-off and down over the precipice to nowhere. #shudder

 

Casa Cenote

Casa was very different. Looks like it could be a river, but you drop into the water over a massive underwater cave entrance.

There were lots of people learning to snorkel in the open water, its about 8m deep (outside of the cave, that is).

There is a connection to the sea, and the water is lined by mangroves, so there are a lot more fish. Hundreds and thousands of little fish hiding amongst the mangrove roots, incredible sight.

Jim doing well with life-jacket, but went quite far and no one else around so we turned back.

 

Dos Ojos (Two Eyes)

Cave 1

There was a gold line from the entrance that went off into the darkness to nowhere, by which the divers can feel their way if required. Watched a group go off into the darkness and into a tunnel. Scary!! The two caves are connected via some tunnels.

 

Cave 2

Much bigger, very dark so we were following people with lights.

 

In the evening we went to Tacqueto (another cocina economica) for dinner. Run by Mom and Pop, they take you into the kitchen and show you what they’ve cooked that day and you choose. We had albondigas (meatballs) in spicy sauce, VERY tasty. They treated us like royalty, grabbing our phone and taking photos of us… so we took some of them. Sweet.

 

Turtle Heads

Took ourselves off on Tuesday via Collectivo bus to Akumal.  Collectivos are amazing, why aren’t these in other countries? 10-seater (ish) bus that runs a fixed route, but waits to be full before leaving and can divert (slightly) to drop people off wherever they need. School kids, chefs & other tourists on ours. 30 pesos to Akumal from Tulum (about £1.50).

Hired some gear (snorkels and flippers) and waded out into the sea. And there they were! Saw a stingray first, but then a little turtle! You can’t believe what you’re watching. You do feel slightly removed because of your mask, like a TV screen, and yet there you are.  Swam about looking at a few more, but saved the best for last.

I was de-steaming my mask bobbing about with my head out of the water, got it sorted and ducked my head under to find myself almost upon massive turtle, made me jump! Could reach out and touch him, but reversed a bit to let him to eat his sea grass. Had two massive free-loaders on his shell.. one yellow, one blue. Mesmerising looking at turtles, they’re very serene. Especially love it when they come up to the surface for air and you see their little heads pop out of the water.

Didn’t have a camera but I’m fairly sure this is the chap!

Ate a lovely cheeseburger we’d had a hankering for at a hotel restaurant. My snorkel mask lined face slowly subsiding…

We invested in our own snorkel gear the next day, figured would come in handy in many countries en route. Also tested my Spanish out buying tickets to Chetumal to get to Belize. “Puede decirme cuanto es para Chetumal”, “Quiero comprar”. And was understood!

Then… off down the beach again, on bikes again. Tested out the snorkels to Jim’s absolute delight.

Jokes of the Day

Stop asking me to repeat & correcting my Spanish. I wasn’t expecting the Spanish inquisition.

 

“Talking about budget, have you got enough money to buy bread on the way home?”
“Think so, if not we’ll have to do a raid on a bakery. “Give us all your dough!”

 

“You’ve got the best part of ginger hair you won’t lose it and you won’t go grey. You’ll look young!”
“Yes, they’ll be in the board meeting saying, where’s that 55 year old whipper snapper?”
“And I’ll say ‘I’m here and I’m actually 57’. And then I’ll ask ‘Actually, what am I doing in this board meeting? Oh yes,  anyone want tea? ‘

 

Names for Shops:

Ginger Hair Specialist – “Ahead of the Game”

Bike Shop – “Peddling our Wares”

 

‘That’s How I Like My Women’ Joke of the Day

“Do you think I could get ‘New for Old’ for you on my insurance policy?” <shudder>

“Are you cold? Or just scared?”

“Cold AND scared.”

……

 

 

Bog Standard Days

Woke up early on Sunday to watch the Grand Prix. Noticed a bad smell. Not Jim, this time. Drains overflowing.

Went to eat while room was cleaned before we could shower; El Mariachi Loco put the racing on for us as we ate desayuno. Bonus.

Returned to a clean room, but sewers still funky so went off to hire bikes and visit the beach again while a plumber was called. We were a bit stinky, but who cares right… only going to the beach?

Rode into town & booked a tour for Monday (Akumal + Cenotes) with a guy called ‘Bogdan’. Do you ever feel circumstances conspiring to compel you towards toilet humour?

Jim tried his first sea wee… hilariously awkward;

“Where do you do it? Are you doing it? Right now? Urghhhh, get away from me!!!”

Chaffed our way home with wet bottoms on bike seats.

Plumber had established a ‘big job’ was needed. Apt. So we were moved to another room – this time our own bungalow, thatched roof, fridge, table etc. Nice swap so we weren’t at all unhappy at having to move 😉

Wrote some b(l)og posts from like agggesss ago whilst Jim sat next to me snoozing in the Secret Garden on couches. Nipped out for tacos at Chiapaneca, super cheap and help yourself to salads and salsas.. managed to overload my tostada with the spiciest salsa and had to sit for a while whilst my brain function returned post-chilli freeze.

Drama of the Day:  did Jim throw away his cotton bud, he can’t remember?

Woke up the next day to birdsong and dogs barking with the ‘Where am I?’ feeling… in México! Awesome! Love it.

Ate an amazing breakfast at Rincon Pablano to set ourselves up for our tour and went to the Tulum Dive School shop to get going. After an hour waiting we cut our loses. Left a note with the girl in the bar next door, joking that it was Monday morning and maybe Bogdan had overdone it on Sunday. She said “Well he drinks EVERY night, and a LOT, but is always here at 7am”. Not very encouraging when we’ve booked a tour snorkelling through caves. Came back to Secret Garden (via bike hire shop) and chatted to the owner Joshua for a while about things to do, life etc. He came from Mexico city for a week, and is here 7 years later with his own hotel. A common story we’re hearing. He recommended we ditch the tour, hire a car and visit beaches and caves by ourselves.

A few hours later Bogdan showed up to apologise; “I’m so sorry, I was in another town and my car broke down and my phone died. I had to walk 50km”. We laughed – he wreaked of alcohol. Riiiiight. Its lovely when you can afford to simply be amused by stuff like this. We have days to play with, so got our deposit back.

Hired bikes again and hit the beach, again.

Each time we hire bikes they are 20% better. Those in the know go for no brakes (just the old school back-peddle to stop type, the ones with brakes never work), no mud guards (which drag on the wheels and make it 10 times harder) and a basket for wet towel and drinks.

Chatted about the massage on offer at the beach – looked great. I wonder why no one does professional tickling…

Finished the day in the garden with tequila (called “Jimador”, because “everyone adores Jim”.. apparently) and beer, writing the day’s events (well, last weeks’) and chilling out. Lovely. Manager’s dog joined us for tequilas, we’ve named him Sir Winnalot – the Tequila Hound.

‘Just How I Like my Women’ Joke of the Day:

“The Spanish call rum ‘ron'”.

“Two Rons don’t make a right. Two Ronnies. Do RonRonRon, you do RonRon.”

“Coming thick and fast these puns.”

……

Melon Spoons

Spent the morning in Valladolid. Mostly by/in a glistening pool.

At breakfast Jim pointed out the pumpkins on the palm trees aligning the garden “Look at those pumpkins!”. Ha ha ha ha ha. I had woken him up early, admittedly. And apparently they’re dangerous…

Don’t you know that coconuts kill more people every year than sharks and irons combined?

Straight-faced lying, can’t beat it.
Tunich Beh Hotel Pool

Tunich Beh Hotel + Pool

The Rare Valladolid Coc(k)oon

The Rare Valladolid Coc(k)oon

Decided my hair need a bit of an update. Had already purchased some red hair dye. Fun trying to interpret spanish instructions, but by the power of YouTube I got the dye on very easily. Waited. Then had to wash it out in a shower that you could not detach from the wall. The shower basically resembled a gruesome murder scene … soooo much claret, everywhere!

I Know What You Valladolid Last Summer…

After some frantic washing of walls and mopping of floors.. think I got away with it.

Beat a hasty exit. Boarded a bus to Tulum.

Dye was still coming out 3 days later.

Arrived mid-afternoon. Lovely town set pretty much on one main street, which seems to change its clothes every time we walk along it. The shops are crammed together along the stretch and are open at different times, so morning, noon and night are totally different. Good sales tactic from someone at one of the many ‘Mexican Art’ shops…

“Come in and buy some stuff that you don’t need!”

Sat for some beers watching the passing traffic, ate pasta (yep, traditional. Ahem), and ended up at the Mojito Bar. All the while we talk about how strange it is to be here, and seeing so much.. and after reading a LOOOONG email from Chris about highlights of Central and South America, realising there is still so much to do.
Pre-Mojitos, Believe it or Not

Pre-Mojitos, Believe it or Not

After recovering from the cheap Mojito bar rum hangover – via a supermarket visit and breakfast made in room, followed by snooze – we hired bikes and rode along to the beach (takes about 10mins). Sat in the shade of palms, very quiet, brilliant turquoise water the temperature of a bath. There are lots of resorts along the beach, all (thankfully) low rise, but everyone gets the same view, millionaires and backpackers alike. A slice of paradise.
Guacamole, Sol and Habanero Salsa at Tulum

Guacamole, Sol and Habanero Salsa at Tulum

Suffice it to say, we might be a little over-budget. Ahem. Into second half of month budget and we’ve only been here just over a week. Eyes on how to economise.

Next morning, still eating our supermarket hangover buys, we cut up melon with Jim’s swiss army knife and used the skin to scoop up some yoghurt I’d bought (forgetting we don’t have cutlery). Melon spoons!

We only had two nights at Mango Tulum so we packed up and moved to the other end of town for a different perspective. Thought we got a cheap deal (£20 a night), turns out it is actually per person, so we’re back to our rookie mistakes.

3 pieces of advice.

  1. Check the price you’re paying for your room when you put down a deposit. #fail
  2. Eat more often at Cocina Economica (we chose Dona et Tina for lunch, asked for Menu del Dia and got some lovely roast chicken, rice and black bean sauce – £3.50 each, ish.)
  3. Beers are cheaper if you a. drink them at home or b. ask for a deal (lots of places do 5 in an ice bucket for a discount).

Jim’s bucket list:

2 Buckets por favor

 

We haven’t entertained the 4th piece of advice that doesn’t involve beer. Yet.

 

Ate THE BEST tacos at Taquerias Nero by the ADO bus station. “Pastor” pork (cooked on a spit), and they slice bits of pineapple in, add fresh coriander and onion mixture, and put it on 2 tortillas (the second comes in handy because you spill so much out of your overloaded first). Come with choice of habanero salsas, and radish/onion/cucumber slices.
Yum yum pig's bum, literally

Yum yum pig’s bum, literally

 

Two rounds of these please!

Two rounds of these please!