Tulum and San Cristobal de la Casas

We arrived on the main strip of this cool little town and were surrounded by little stalls, restaurants and bars. It is clearly a touristy town but has managed to keep hold of it’s local identity.

After finding our hostel we ate at an Italian restaurant. Getting a salad, I was glad of a meal that didn’t include spices or bread having eaten a lot of tacos already.

Without wasting any time we rented two bikes from our hostel, they were old, broken and unstable but just about worked! It took a while getting used to the braking system of pedaling backwards, Anna having a near miss with a truck on the first road we encountered…

Sticking to the pavements and bike lanes we did eventually cover some ground as we rode towards the Mayan ruins which served as an old trading town on the Carribbean coast.

Unfortunately my shorts ripped around my crotch as I got off the bike. I proceeded to walk around these beautiful temples and buildings without leaving much to the imagination.

I don’t always wear boxer shorts when abroad but luckily I did that day.

They created a beautiful backdrop against the blue sea, it’s just a shame I was conscious of the huge hole in my shorts all day!

One of my friends had been given a Burnley FC México Branch sticker and challenged me to find a good place for it, I hope I did him proud after seeing this sign post. I did feel a bit bad stickering a historical site but I wasn’t the first to do so.

On the way out, we encountered this odd creature, if anybody could tell me what it is, that’d be great.

I couldn’t wait to get back and change into some less revealing shorts with the hole growing and growing.

After another 4km back into Tulum we made it safe and sound.

Making the most of our bike rental we explored the town a little more before getting some food and having an early night. I don’t think we were used to all the exercise!

Neither of us felt very well the next day, I’m no doctor but I am quite sure it was acute food poisoning.

After an embarrassing conversation using sign language to purchase diorrhea tablets, I dosed up and tried to get on with the day. The word, as it turns out, is pronounced the same in Spanish as it is in English so I could have been far more subtle in buying the pills.

On top of the town and ruins, Tulum is famous for being surrounded by cenotes. These are limestone sink holes filled with crystal clear water that not only look beautiful but are great for swimming in.

We caught a taxi to the most famous one, Gran Cenote, and couldn’t wait to jump in.

After failing to swim with turtles in Akumal, we were thrilled and surprised when two little turtles swam right up to us in this cenote.

There were a few sunbathing so casually that we were initially unsure if they were real or not.

It was quite a surreal experience swimming through the underground caves and river, sharing the area with not only turtles but a few bats too!

Unfortunately that afternoon we both succumbed to illness and decided to stay in the hostel and rest.

The next morning we luckily felt a bit better and were joined by Kurt, our American/German/Mexican friend whom we spent a lot of time with in Asia.

After a quick couple of beers and a catch up we all jumped in a taxi and headed down to playa paraiso (paradise beach). It would have been paradise if not for the sheer volume of people there. It was still hard to complain as we sat on the white sand dotted with palm trees and swam in the calm turquoise ocean.

That evening we inevitably went out for some drinks and it was great to catch up with Kurt after what was surprisingly over a year since we last saw him.

We called it a night fairly early as we were all tired and all woke up relatively hangover free on our last day in Tulum.

Anna had done some research and found a lagoon around 10km outside of town so using Kurt’s better grasp on the Spanish language we haggled a taxi driver down to a good price and set off.

Just off the motorway, the driver eventually turned down a long, quiet path into the jungle until we reached the small carpark for Kaan Luum lagoon.

Paying a small entrance fee we reached the lagoon surrounded by mangroves and with a single jetty leading out towards its center.

The water was a few different hues of blue, the darkest of which is in its center where there is an 80metre deep cenote.

You can’t swim over this area but the rest of the lagoon is between shin and chest deep so was perfect for a dip.

There weren’t many other foreigners here either so it felt like we had found somewhat of a gem.

After a couple of hours relaxing, playing and taking in the beautiful view we wandered back to the highway.

As we reached it, a very well timed collectivo drove past and stopped, we jumped in and got dropped off a few kilometres down the road at Cenote Crystal.

A little smaller than Gran Cenote but with far less people and sadly no turtles, we almost had the whole place to ourselves.

After a while of playing in the clear water, which reflected the sky from its surface and jumping off a platform (including an awful attempt at a front flip in which I winded myself) we caught a taxi back into town.

We had bought tickets for a bus that evening, one that we thought would take around 14 hours to get to San Cristobal.

We had booked the cheaper bus out of two options and couldn’t work out why there was such a price difference. The seats were comfy, reclined and had a good amount of legroom.

There were even TVs playing Spanish films, I could follow them quite effectively actually!

It was when we were approaching 20 hours on the bus that we realised why there was such a price difference!

Finally arriving in San Cristobal de la Casas, we were so glad to be off the bus. Even more so as this beautiful town in the mountains looked more like the Mexico I had imagined before I came.

Colourful buildings and churches line little streets here and even aimlessly walking around feels like a productive activity.

We were informed of a small festival in a village nearby called Zincantan.

Arriving before sunset we wandered through rows of food stalls trying food as we fancied before hearing a brass band start up.

Crammed into a tiny bandstand there were musicians frantically playing their instruments over two floors.

There was also a huge stage which looked very professional and out of place amongst this sleepy mountain town.

As the sunset we waited until some music began. After an epic X factor style welcome to the stage, Bruno de Jesus and his huge band started playing some Mexican pop music.

It was very danceable although parculiarly, nobody in the large crowd was doing much. They all seemed very reserved.

It was cold after the sunset so we only stayed for a few songs before hailing a taxi.

Soon after we set off, we realised our driver was far too drunk to be driving. He was wildly swerving across the road towards other cars and very deep ditches. There were also no seatbelts.

We made him stop and threw a small amount of money his way but we was clearly angry. Shouting “Gringos” and doing an unnerving gun motion with his hand, he eventually swerved off on his way before stalling and rolling backwards down a hill. Lucky escape!

That evening we found a nice bar, drank mezcal (I’ve decided I prefer tequila) and watched a couple of live bands.

Still a little poorly, Anna came for a short wander and explore with us the following morning but retired to bed early on.

My Spanish is slowly getting better by the day, I even understood and shared a joke with a shopkeeper.

Kurt and I had some tequila left so decided to start drinking again in the early afternoon. The hostel has an amazing view over the mountains so we sat on the roof for a long while, chatted and took it all in.

We went to a nice cafe with a nicer view of the city to watch the sunset before returning to the hostel to find a party had started. Perfect!

The full day of drinking had taken its toll on me and the next day was a real struggle.

We did some more exploring, at a much slower pace and Kurt had his shoes shined on a bench.

That afternoon we found a botanical garden which had a long path leading up a large hill through forest and to a cave.

The whole walk was only around 3kms but it was nice to have an explore.

Anna and Kurt then found a free walking tour of the city but I still felt nauseous so headed back to lie down at the hostel…

The next morning I was alive and well again. We booked onto a boat tour around the Sumidero Canyon, once considered for an official place among the natural wonders of the world.

The tour included a two hour boat ride through the canyon, where we saw monkeys, crocodiles and some truly breathtaking scenery.

Following the boat ride we were driven around some viewpoints to see the canyon from a different perspective.

Finally we were dropped off in a town called Chiapa de Corzo where an interesting festival was taking place. Despite it being in the early 30 degrees, the locals all donned thick woollen ponchos and odd looking masks.

Before another night bus and having arrived back in San Cristobal, we watched the sunset over this beautiful town one last time from a very well positioned bar.

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5 thoughts on “Tulum and San Cristobal de la Casas

  1. The animal you asked about is a Coati/Pizote or sometimes called a Coatimundi. They are related to the raccoon family. They have very sharp claws and when threatened, lie on their backs and use them! Many dogs have had their throats ripped open. They have become a pest on the resort areas near Cancun.

    Liked by 1 person

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