A Day of Digging in Tulum
01.03.2017 - 02.03.2017
After a good day yesterday in which Desmond behaved well enough again for me to take him to the beach to play and run a few shopping errands (diapers anyone?), we decided that it was time to venture a trip to the Tulum ruins.
It had been decided that taking a tantrum prone, asshole three year old to a historical sight of cultural significance, in the heat and humidity, was a terrible idea. We wanted to wait and see if he’d mellow out first, which he has, to which it was agreed an attempt should be made to see one of the Yucatan’s most famous sights.
Wonderfully, the kids woke up at their normal 7:30 a.m. times after sleeping well in the night (I’m looking at you, Audrey--she who sleeps through the 12 hour night. I’m keeping you.).
Everyone got ready and we were off to Tulum. We had visited Tulum Pueblo the previous afternoon while running a trip to the supermarket. Akumal has a few small grocery stores, but the San Francisco supermarket in Tulum had a wider selection and lower prices (pro tip).
Tulum itself is separated into three different parts. There’s the Pueblo, which is located off the main highway. There are shops, restaurants, and more day to day business dealings than tourism across the highway just outside of the ruins. The Tulum ruins are slightly northeast of the Pueblo and outside the gates to the archeological site are numerous small restaurants, shops, and vendors of various sorts that are clearly aimed at tourists. There are also a few small hotels, motels, and inns on this side of the highway. The third part of Tulum is the hotel zone, which is located on the beaches and coast, just south of the ruins.
We took this all into consideration when selecting Akumal as our starting point of travel. Looking back on that decision I do wish we’d stayed in Tulum (or Akumal’s main center, or Half Moon Bay) for sheer convenience of having access to all the restaurants without needing to drive. Something to consider for next time. Still, the drive from our condo to the ruins was only about 20 minutes, which isn’t too bad on an open highway with relatively little traffic.
About a mile or so outside of the ruins’ main gate is a parking lot for folks like us who opt to do a self-tour. There’s a pay lot with attendants for a small fee (I think it was $2). From there we chose to take a trencito, or little train, which was really a tractor pulling a few passenger cars. We did this because 1. Des loves that kind of shit, and 2. We didn’t expect Des would hold up well to walking from the parking lot to the main gate and then around the site itself in the heat. It was only 9 a.m., but we were all starting to feel mildly uncomfortable.
Fortunately the trencito came frequently, Des loved it, and it was worth the $4 total we spent for roundtrip shuttling.
Once at the gates it’s easy to purchase your tickets either at the counter or at the automatic machines. There’s also a ticket counter right next to the trencito ticket counter, so essentially no shortage of ability to buy tickets conveniently before you actually get to the lines.
Walking around the ruins in and of itself was interesting and fun. From shaded paths, through a stone tunnel, up some stairs, and boom--you’re standing in an open grassy site with ruins all around. They aren’t large and imposing, but when imagining the city in the height of its glory it’s pretty humbling.
Tulum is one of the youngest of the Maya ruins, as it was one of the last built and inhabited by the Mayans. It survived almost 70 years after Spanish occupation until disease forced the city to be abandoned. Tulum is one of the few walled Maya cities. It served as an important trade hub for Coba, and it’s location on the Caribbean Sea was quite strategic for trade.
I learned none of this on our visit. That’s why happens when you visit places with a three year old. Rather than hire a guide or *gasp* read the information posted, I had to go back and read about all of the ruins we saw after we returned to our condo. Retroactively impressed.
Tulum is actually quite compact and despite our inability to really stand and read anything in passing, we were able to walk the entirety of the site before Desmond grew fussy and we pulled him off to the side to dig with his construction trucks in the dirt. He was my own little archeologist. It was cute.
One of Tulum’s draws for tourists is the beautiful beach below the ruins. Some of it is closed to people, as it is a nesting site for sea turtles, but you can still pack a swimsuit and hit the waves. We chose to stay up on the cliffside and avoid going down to the beach because neither Zac nor I wanted to carry Des back up those stairs in the event he had a total meltdown. He was displeased that we’d be skipping the beach, but he got over it when he discovered that there was more than enough dirt to go around for his trucks.
After about an hour and a half it was clear that the heat was getting to be too much for Des and the crowds were off putting as well for him. He was grouchy, hungry, and tired. We decided to head back to the town and get some ice cream, which was pretty much a stellar source of entertainment for both kids for about thirty minutes. Well worth the sticky hands and sugar overload for a few minutes of happiness. I even let Audrey have a tiny bit, but don’t tell because I’m sure it’s frowned upon to give a baby ice cream before you’ve even given them broccoli.
After ruins, ice cream, and cooling down we headed back to the condo. Everyone had some quiet time to unwind. It was very much needed, and when Audrey was up from her nap we decided to head back to La Buena Vida for an early dinner. This time we brought Desmond’s swimsuit so he could use the pool.
Hammocks, fish tacos, fresh coconut juice, guacamole, and swimming pools on the beach. Could it get any better?
Yes, yes, it could, because there was also a mariachi band and they happened to be delightful and even serenaded Audrey, who absolutely LOVED it.
We’ve been getting into a groove after being here nearing a week. Of course we go home in another five days, just as we’re getting our legs, but this trip is kind of sort of sometimes at some points feeling like a vacation.