Playa del Carmen + Tulum

Dave and I were so excited for Playa del Carmen and Mexico as a whole. For the first part we would just be lazing by the beach, drinking and relaxing. Unfortunately, my body decided that Playa del Carmen was where I was going to get horribly sick. Initially, we were only supposed to be there for a few days, this turned into a week and I spent pretty much the entire week in bed. Luckily, I had Netflix and I just binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy. The Latin American Netflix is so much better than the Australian.

While it wasn’t the perfect time, we still managed to go out and have some delicious Mexican food before I got too sick. My favourite was the pastor tacos. The ones we had were pork and it was cooked rotisserie style, like a kebab. It was served on freshly made tortillas with a little bit of pineapple. The pineapple was from the top of the rotisserie and the cook sliced it off into the air with a large knife and caught it on the taco. It was very impressive. And that was it. No lettuce, tomato or onion, just meat on the tortilla. They were served with a range of delicious hot sauces, pickles and pico de gallo (a mix of diced onion, tomato, coriander and lime). Other than the steak from La Cabrera, I think this has to be one of my favourite meals of the trip. They were also ridiculously cheap. We ate them pretty much every day we were in Playa del Carmen.

On our last day there, I was feeling well enough to head outside and go to a beach club. Our first Airbnb we stayed at, gave us a free pass for 2 sun lounges. That is still something I have to wrap my head around, that there are parts of the beach that are privately owned and that you have to pay to access them. When we were walking down to the beach, I kept smelling a bad odour and couldn’t work out what it was. It got stronger as we got closer to the beach. We arrived at the beach club and the smell was so bad. The only relief was when the wind was blowing (luckily it was a relatively windy day). It was a very strong sulphur smell. It also put us off going for a swim as I couldn’t help by think it was from sewerage. We didn’t stay very long.

After leaving the beach club, we walked further along the beach. Thankfully the further away we walked, the less strong the smell. I ended up Googling it when we got back to the Airbnb and apparently that is just the smell of Playa del Carmen down that end. Supposedly nothing to do with sewerage but people believe it’s because sea animals and plants get washed up onto the beach and decompose. I have never smelled anything like that on any beaches I’ve been to though.

From Playa del Carmen, our next stop was Tulum. We splurged in Tulum and booked an all-inclusive resort. It had its own private beach and it was stunning. The only thing we didn’t really like was the fact they had staff walking around wanting to be your friend. Just that would have been okay but they didn’t take social cues like having headphones on as a sign you didn’t want to talk. Also, you would be sitting at a 2 person table at meal times and they would ask if they could join you and pull up a chair, even though there was nowhere near enough room for three. I was still recovering from the flu so I didn’t want to socialise that much. It was just weird that these people didn’t seem to have anything else to do other than making sure guests felt involved, regardless of whether they wanted to be.

I was a bit upset that we didn’t get to see Chichen Itza whilst we were staying in Playa del Carmen because I was so sick. What we didn’t realise though is that to get a taxi from Tulum to go to the ruins and a few other spots was pretty much the same cost as both of us for a day tour. It was even better than a tour anyway, as we went early in the morning before it got too hot and too crowded and we didn’t have to deal with any other tourists.

Chichen Itza was about an hour and a half away from Tulum. The site and the temples were incredible. We saw the great ball court and I marveled at how anyone could get the ball into the hoop attached to the wall 8m high. We managed to see the site before the day got too hot. Mind you though, our next stop was a cenote which gave us a chance to cool off.

Ik-kil Cenote is probably the most famous and instagrammed cenote in Mexico. A cenote is a sinkhole that is like a little lake. We had to walk down a few sets of stairs to get to the entry point but it was beautiful. There were vines growing down from the top and birds flying around. The depth of the cenote is about 40m and there were a few places where you can jump from. Being a bit hesitant, I sent Dave up first to test the waters. Once he successfully survived the dive, up I went. It took a bit of encouragement but I jumped off and even jumped a second time. The adrenaline was definitely pumping once you come up for that first breath of air after the jump. We even took a video! Just ignore the sound. Not too sure what the clicking sound is.

It was so beautiful and only a few people were sharing the cenote with us. We had impeccable timing because when we were walking back to the cab, 3 bus loads of tourists arrived ready to descend upon the cenote and ruin the peaceful ambiance.

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After a luxurious 5 days in Tulum, we got ready to move on again to our last stop in Mexico (for this part of the trip), Bacalar.

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