We drove north past tulum and into the heart of the mayan riviera. This section of mexico is always a pro and con battle for our psyches. It's always been among our favorite places in the world. The people are fantastic, the food amazing, the sand impossible soft and white. There's so much we love about it, yet it also hurts to see how much it has grown.
We might have come too early. Our first visit to Tulum was almost 12 years ago and at the time it was almost unknown. A tiny little town only known by backpacker and european tourists. We stayed in a tiny hut on the beach with no electricity. It was a simple palapa roofed cabana with only candles and a mosquito net inside. It was bliss. We could walk the beach all day and not see another person, swim in the ocean and feel alone.
Now the sand is still as beautiful and those huts still exist, but the area has exploded into a tourism mecca. The tulum we once knew is long since gone with it the empty beaches, the peaceful swims and cheap accommodations. We stopped for some of the best carnitas tacos we've ever had, drove through Tulum and kept driving north into the X beaches.
We chose to stop and camp at Xpu Ha, right in the middle. A normally gorgeous stretch of perfectly white sand is currently covered in a giant pile of seaweed that has been drifting onto shore the last few months. The beach is still amazingly beautiful, but i can see why the RV'ers that live here are disappointed to have their perfect beach covered up.
We got to know our neighbors, shared happy hour on the "front porch" of a fantastic airstream and talked travel with the owners and another couple overlanding from slovenia. A fun evening all the way around. It turns out our friends Kent and Lynn are famous around these parts and everyone knew exactly who we were leaving to visit when we pulled out. They almost got us to stick around, but the call of cozumel and friends was just too strong for us to pass up.
We packed up and drove north for the ferry. I just love a ferry ride. Especially if it's headed for an island. There's just something built in that seems to speak to freedom and adventure. Heading somewhere you simply couldn't drive to without that boat. This particular boat had the steepest ramp i've ever seen and we were convinced we'd never make it up the ramp to the deck. We questioned the guys logic, but proceeded to gun it and somehow found ourselves at the top. Insane.
The ferry wasn't cheap, but we did get a nice movie out of the deal...so we'll look at it as a date to the theatre instead. Once on shore we hurried off the boat and sought out Kent and Lynn. What apparently was a pretty direct route from the terminal took us 20 minutes of circuitous driving, U-turns and people waving to let us know we were driving the wrong way (a few times). There's a chance we were in just too much of a hurry to see our pals to pay attention to any signs whatsoever.
Let the fun begin!!