A couple months ago, Eddie and I decided it was time to get away. Time for a little rest + relaxation.
Ever since full-time entrepreneur life began, I've had a hard time closing my laptop and focusing on taking care of me. Why? I love the work!
But I've learned that it's completely up to me to set these self-care parameters for myself, and it will only get better with practice.
We both agreed that we needed sunshine, and we didn't really feel like doing too much. Just needed a place to park ourselves and stop go, go, going all the time. Unplug.
The solution? Tulum, way down along the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula in beautiful Quintana Roo, México. Home of the Mayan walled city of the same name (pictured above). And, I was told, a fairly holistically-minded type of place.
Awesomely, Southwest Airlines is offering non-stop flights from BWI to Cancún these days, so we cashed in some miles and started making plans.
Well, mainly Eddie made the plans. Don't get me wrong: I was DEFinitely psyched! I love México. It's mi segunda patria. It's where my love of Spanish and all things Latin American culture began.
But I didn't really get involved until the day before we left. That's when I happened upon the New York Times article 36 Hours in Tulum. And got really excited!
We pretty much always find places to stay using Airbnb. If you haven't tried them yet, you really must. Best tip: Find places with excellent ratings - and a lot of them. It's kind of hard to go wrong (knock on wood) with that approach. And especially if you've got a bit of an adventurer's spirit, I bet you'll love it.
The first two nights, we stayed inland. In a hut. In the jungle. With two of the most lovely people (and hosts) we've come across!
Elisa and Alfredo are kind, caring, gifted people. Both artists, but in different ways. Everything about them is so genuine and warm. They've created a beautiful space, tucked away in the trees, barely visible from the dirt road that leads you there.
We stayed in the Mayan Room, a small hut constructed in the traditional Mayan style. Gorgeous, simple, everything you need.
You sleep in a hammock or on the floor and see by candlelight (and flashlight) at night. Oh - and walk to a separate bathroom/shower hut across the property, complete with a super eco-friendly composting toilet. Very cool!
In addition to being a joy to talk to, Elisa and Alfredo also cooked us delicious food, gave us wonderful fresh mango and papaya in the morning, introduced us to café de olla, and even shared an impressive home-brewed stout (compliments to Elisa) with us.
We hope we'll see them again one day. So very grateful for their hospitality. Books they recommended checking out, in case you're heading their way anytime soon are:
Diego de Landa, RELACION DE LAS COSAS DE YUCATAN
Sylvanus Morley, THE ANCIENT MAYA
If you ever find yourself in the Tulum region, definitely make time for a trip to the ruins of the city of Cobá.
You'll be tempted to skip it and just visit the more popular seaside Tulum ruins, but trust me, you'll be glad you made the trip.
Less crowded, much more to see, lovely tree-lined streets.
You can walk, rent bikes, or hire a bike taxi to get around. And here, unlike at Tulum, you're still allowed to climb the big pyramid, which (at its peak) is the highest point on the peninsula.
On your way out of Cobá, ask the guy at the entrance for a ticket to Multun Há, which Eddie has declared his favorite of all the cenotes. (Another recommendation from Alfredo and Elisa - thank you!)
What the heck is a cenote? It's a sinkhole, more or less, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes fresh, azure-blue groundwater below.
The guy will sell you a ticket and give you a map. It's not far from the ruins.
Once there, you'll walk down three stories of a wooden spiral staircase (into a hole in the ground, essentially) before it opens up to one of the coolest scenes you've seen.
Just wow. These picture don't even do it justice.
Rent a mask and snorkel and hang out for as long as you like. We practically had the place to ourselves. Amazing!
Back in Tulum, over on the beach side, we hit up some pretty great spots for food.
Zamas, with tables practically on the beach, was the perfect start the second half of our trip. Eddie got the famous huevos rancheros and I got fresh pressed green juice (with a base of chaya, somewhat similar to spinach), and fruit with homemade yogurt and granola. YUM!
With full bellies, we headed to the Tulum ruins. I'd been to this part of México twice before and am embarrassed to say I never went to see Tulum. (Too busy sipping fruity frozen beverages by the sea. Shameful.)
Tulum is beautiful, but it was somewhat painfully hot and crowded. If you're going, go early (or late) to miss the crowds and scorching sun. And probably best to hire a guide! They seem to have a wealth of information to share.
Since leaving teaching, the details I once remembered about this gorgeous place have gone foggy. I really wish I'd read those books Alfredo and Elisa recommended before getting to México! Time to backtrack, I guess. :)
We ended our trip to the ruins with a swim (Eddie did - I forgot my suit) and homemade popcicles of mango and coconut. Perfectly refreshing doesn't even begin to describe them! Ahhh.
Our next stop was lunch at the fabulous Restaurare, a popular vegan restaurant we'd read about in the New York Times article. It did not disappoint! I got fresh pressed cucumber and mint juice and Eddie ordered a local craft beer called Akumal.
The food was phenomenal: Mushroom ceviche, a gorgeous seasonal veggie dish, and loads and loads of mole. When in México!
Our second Airbnb rental, a Treetop Cabana deep within the biosphere of Sian Ka'an, was the next stop.
To get there, you've got to get to the very end of the main drag in Tulum, and then just keep on driving down a (seemingly endless) dirt road.
For nearly an hour.
It's pretty far out there. Which was exactly what we needed.
The place was just perfect.
Right on the beach.
Fresh fruit, corn tortillas, and limonadas every dang day.
A private bathroom.
AND you didn't even have to get out of bed to see the sunrise!
We were very happy.
And yes, that had a lot to do with the fact that we were at this crazy gorgeous place on the beach.
But also - a lot to do with the insanely lovely people we met there! Friends we hope we'll stay in touch with for many many years to come.
Not to mention this little sweet pea.
It makes my heart so happy to have been able to share our trip with them. We even all piled into our SUVs and trekked back into town to have a special night out together at the completely dreamy Posada Margarita.
Hand rolled pasta, fish poached in sea water. Vino. Fresh greens. Pistachio gelato. It was heavenly! Go, you must. (Gluten? What gluten?)
On the way back to Highway 307, our last morning in México, we stopped at Maya Tulum.
We'd hoped to make it to one of their traditional temazcal (sweat lodge) ceremonies, but timing just didn't work out, unfortunately. Friends have told us it is a must.
It'll have to wait until next time for us. Instead, we had breakfast.
Watermelon juice for me, followed by more fresh fruit, homeade granola, and yogurt.
With happy bellies and full hearts we hit the road for the Cancún Airport. Hard to say goodbye, so we'll just say until next time. And thank you.
Hasta la vista, México. Gracias por todo.