An early start today for Aegean and I as we embark on our day trip to see some cool sites around Tulum. We take a private van to this “holding area” where we get put on the proper bus for the tour package we selected. Turns out, me and Aegean are the only ones who are headed to a remote cenote called Los Aluxes. We meet Gabriel, our awesome guide for this portion.
We drive for what seems like forever on a super bumpy road that makes me feel like a bobblehead doll. Into the jungle we go! The first leg is this open cave part we walk through. Sometimes we are knee deep in water so we use flashlights to help us stay in the shallow parts.
Gabriel tells us about all of the creatures that live around here and use this cave. Such as bats, monkeys, jaguars…but lucky for us they are here mostly at night. Another creature that lives around here that I’ve never heard of before is the tepezcuintle. A large rodent! Since I don’t want to steal any photos from the ‘net, you’ll have to google it. Before we go any further, I need to mention how awesome Gabriel is…he is soooo knowledgeable and so kind and patient with us.
We keep on through the jungle (cue Guns n Roses song running through my brain all day) …and we see a ceiba tree.
Gabriel explains that this tree is known to the Mayans as the sacred tree of life and a symbol of the universe. Cool. A little further and we descend down a wooden staircase to the cenote. It is dark down here, but they have put up some mood lighting to make this a little easier.
I can’t wait to go for a swim…. hold up…the water is SUPER cold. Like so cold you have to get in bit by bit to acclimatize. But once I am in the water, I don’t want to get out! We spend the next hour or so swimming around this beautiful cenote; using flashlights to explore some of the more hidden areas.
The water is crystal clear and fresh…And I’m trying not to notice the little black fish that swim all around me <shudder>. We swim under stalacites and stalagmites…we have the whole cenote to ourselves! Gabriel shows us where we can scoop up some of the mud/sediment to give ourselves a little spa treatment. Then with much despair we rinse and dry off and head back to the van. As we are driving, Gabriel abruptly stops the van and gets out…. Aegean and I wonder what the heck is going on…well turns out he has spotted a massive tarantula on the road! Being the awesome nature guy that he is, he coaxes it onto a branch to bring it over to the van to show us.
As much as I don’t love spiders, this one is a beauty. We arrive back at the holding area to start the next portion of our day and say adios to Gabriel. He can be booked for private tours, and I highly recommend doing one. He will take you to a cenote, and to his rescue animal centre (if I had more time in Tulum, I would have LOVED to visit the centre). His Facebook page is Cenote Balam-Aktun.
It’s now time to join another group of people for the next leg of the tour. First stop is for lunch, and it is a buffet style in a small restaurant by a lake. It is a pretty basic mix of some Mexican food and other things like pasta and salad. The only reason I’m mentioning it is because it is the first time I try a tamale. It is melt- in- your-mouth chicken tied up into a banana leaf. I’m sure anyone watching me is amused with the struggle I have untying the tamale.
We will now explore the ancient Mayan ruins site of Coba..that’s 3 I’ve hit on this trip so far!
To get to the main pyramid, we need to hike for a half hour in the hot humid jungle. Welcome to The Jungle – definitely no fun and games here. Coba is known for having the largest network of stone causeways, and the main area is called Nohoch Mul.
The large pyramid, Ixmoja, stands 138 feet high and folks…you can climb this one! Take advantage of this because it’s one of the very very few left you can climb.
Also be careful…it’s quite steep but if you’re having trouble there is a rope in the middle for your safety. Coming down is a lot harder and I see many people coming down slowly..step by step..on their rear ends. I decide not to attempt the climb, because I’m not sure how my knees will hold out. Aegean sprints up the pyramid like a champ.
After exploring and taking lots of photos it’s time to take that long hot walk back to the tour bus. You know what though? I’m going to treat myself to a ride back in what the guy calls “a Mayan Uber”. It’s like a tuk tuk. I sit in front; the guy is on the bicycle part behind me. Pesos well spent! I’m either the first or the last one back because there is no one around and I can’t find the bus. Well, turns out everyone decides to take their sweet ass time and THEY are all late. Not gonna lie, it was panic mode for a bit there. Our last stop is touted as a traditional Mayan village…get to see how real Mayans live!
Well, it seems very put on to me. Especially the older woman making tortillas in a hut-with a tip jar.
And the little kids that follow you around trying to give you flowers…I’m assuming for money? It is interesting to walk around among the chickens and turkeys and look at the set up and the small huts but overall it is a bit of a disappointment.
Aegean and I arrive back at the hotel and we are ready for dinner. The 4 of us (minus Pedro) head back to that main street in Tulum and this time we hit up a place called Batey. They are known for their wicked mojitos.
All of the mojitos are made with freshly crushed sugar cane juice from their machine that is a converted VW beetle. The atmosphere is cool, with live music. I have one of the sandwiches and a cactus flavored mojito. And now the night wouldn’t be complete without a trip back to that park with all of the street snacks! This time I try the elote…a grilled corn on the cob smothered in mayonnaise and sprinkled with cheese.
It’s a bit messy to eat, and I feel like I could do without the weird toppings. And that ends my time in Tulum, and in Mexico. Tomorrow it’s off to an exciting new country…….