Continued scenes from Caribbean Mexico
A middle-aged Canadian woman with greasy blonde hair is standing in my hostel’s kitchen when I return. The naked ceiling bulb is out and she is eating yogurt and fruit in the light of the open refrigerator. This kitchen is a doorless shack, and the ambient temperature is stifling. She is cheerfully oblivious to any wrongdoing as I shut the door and fix the light. The circuit breaker is over an inexplicable pile of mattresses in a corner of the room. I take a beautifully cool shower and coat myself in mosquito repellent for bed. It is quiet outside, and I hear wind ruffling in the trees as I fall asleep.
I go back to Tulum the next morning. Off the ruined center, I meet two doughy Americans taking turns photographing themselves standing in a tree. One with a bandana on his head and no shirt comes over to talk to me later and scares away an iguana I’m trying to photograph with a My bad, dude. He is from Indiana, and boasts of splitting about forty dollars with his buddy for a padlocked hut on the beach last night. It had one hammock and a dirt floor. He thinks a lie got him a singles price, but these huts are available for a third of what he paid.
The high traffic area of the park is crawling with tourists when I return to it. The bluff temple is very popular, for good reason, and a tour passes me conducted in Russian. I leave around noon, to go swim at the site of my hammock failures from the night before. I lay my things on the sand, but before I get in the water a man walking up the beach tries to sell me a boat tour. I say I can’t afford it, but thanks; he politely says De nada, nods, and keeps walking. I hope he finds someone.
The beach is spectacular. The sand is saltine-white and fine, and it slopes so gradually that I’m still standing almost ten yards out. The water is completely clear and feels like a bath. I bob an hour or two, gliding in on breaking waves, but for the most part am content simply floating and experiencing shallow, tropical waters in early summer. I didn’t realize how nice this would be.
I leave the beach near sunset and take another cool shower to go to bed. The heat is inescapable and I am very uncomfortable; sleeping only in my underwear is still much too warm. In the morning I decide to try hammock-camping in the woods near another ruin site south of Tulum called Muyil. A night spent hanging in a jungle seems preferable to another night on that mattress. I make my goodbyes to the other hostel guests and take a collectivo minibus to Tulum Pueblo’s bus station.
The station is open-air, and fans whirl overhead. The buildings across the street are brilliant in the afternoon sun and the air is humid. A half-tattered Australian backpacker is in the waiting area, dreadlocked and sunburnt, and several Mexicans are sitting nearby. One wears an Acapulco shirt. The bus is a large cross-country coach, and is clean and cool. We leave around noon.