Heading South to Tulum – Part 2, 2014

by Lydia Linton Pontius (Nov. 2014)

We spent the first two days in Playa and really enjoyed being in the city with beaches and cenotes, caves and 5th Avenue. I love Playa del Carmen but I was certainly ready to take Jamie to see Tulum. Before we did, though, we made one stop and that was to meet Heather, Irene Romano, and Marco with Extreme Control Adventures across from Casa Cenote. I was finally going to try paddleboarding; we had a blast. More about that soon.

After paddleboarding in both the cenote and Tankah Bay, we stopped for a refreshing cerveza at Casa Cenote. The only thing wrong so far was someone grabbed my black cover-up dress. We did find a man's black T-shirt so we had some good laughs about how he was going to explain my dress to his wife—if he had one. Just another example of the alux having a little fun. It was my late friend, Vicki's, dress and she loved Mexico and a good joke, so I know she is up there smiling.

Time for Tulum. Off we went, stopping at Chedraui for a few supplies and a quick lunch at Zamas. Zamas is one place I have to bring every person on their first trip to Tulum. The food is always good and you can't beat the view. If you watch Ray Donovan, they shot the opening show of this last season right there at Zamas.

Lunch was great and now it was time to check in at my favorite spot on Tulum Beach, Cabañas Tulum. I love that they keep updating and renovating this property so I have to keep coming back. The latest changes have been dramatic. The rooms are completely changed, the reception area is totally new and there's a pool!!! The only thing that has not changed is the incredible service.

All play and no work isn't allowed on this trip so it was time to check my emails. Yes, I really was working as I sat on a swing with my toes in the sand at Ziggy's beach bar. We also returned there for a light dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

Feeling very relaxed at this little piece of paradise, we took a nap on the beach. I must have been still groggy because I did the craziest thing—numero uno mistake that an unseasoned traveler would do, I bought a hammock from a stranger walking down the beach!  Okay, huge mistake, poor quality and way overpriced, but it is hanging in my backyard, reminding me every day that I too leave my brain at the border sometimes. I'm blaming it on the great drinks the night before.

Tulum has two of my favorite places: one on the beach, and the other is a totally different world—the jungle, and that is where we were heading next, to La Selva Mariposa in Macario Gómez. Moe and Lou's oasis in the jungle has a new Jacuzzi on the roof and I couldn't wait to see it. There is always something new at this wonderful place.

We checked in and were sorry that Moe and Lou were not there, but Julio did an amazing job; he was so proud to be chosen to run things while they were in the States. After we got settled in our room and took a refreshing dip in our pool with the waterfall, we headed off for a bite to eat. Finally Jamie was going to get some REAL local cooking.

Right across the road from the entrance to La Selva Mariposa is a great little restaurant, Rancho la Cachimba. We pulled in and immediately the owner/cook, Julieta, whose kitchen is right on the street, held out her hand and offered us a bite of the most amazing cochinita pibil … SOLD! Tacos and a cold beer were just what we wanted.

Sunset in the jungle is amazing but it is even more amazing in a rooftop Jacuzzi, listening to the birds settle in for the night. Julio was kind enough to have it all set up for us. We met the other guests who were also spending two nights, and we recommended they also try the restaurant and Jacuzzi. We then settled in for a good night's rest.

The next day started with a great breakfast and off to Cobá. I had not been to Cobá in many years when I was there with a ViDAS clinic and never had time to visit the ruins. There is a quaint town and zip-lining across the lagoon at the entrance to the ruins. Knowing about the crocs that live in that lagoon, we passed on zip-lining.

Cobá is a wonderful archaeological site. It appears much smaller than some, while actually being large, but it is beautifully nestled near the lagoon and in the jungle. The pyramid here is still open to the public. Jamie climbed it as I sat and had the most interesting conversation with a wonderful Maya guide. The other nice thing about Cobá is you can rent a bike; it is a great way to see the site if you are in a hurry, even though it is definitely walkable. We chose bikes because we wanted to be in Valladolid for lunch.

Finishing up with Cobá, we headed to Valladolid with no real plan. We parked and decided to have lunch at one of my regular spots to stay, as well as to eat—El Mesón del Marqués. Once a private mansion, this quaint inn's center courtyard is a wonderful restaurant. We enjoyed an amazing soup and split a Maya platter that had a variety of tasty foods.

Full from our amazing meal, we headed off to explore Valladolid on foot. We wandered through the square and headed to the Convent. As always in Mexico the directions were fun, adding to the adventure. It is well worth the walk. Built, like many places were, from stones once used for Maya structures, it has a mystical feel of ancient Maya meets Colonial Catholicism. The colors inside the convent are beautiful and the grounds are amazing, with animals roaming around.

Walking back, we made a few stops along the way and visited Dutzi Handbags, a perfume factory, and a chocolate factory. I couldn't resist buying a few of the chocolates for family; the chocolates are still handmade right there.

Heading back to La Selva Mariposa, we made a stop on the way to see an old friend, Chepi, at her restaurant on the Cobá Road. A cold beer, and some hugs and laughter made for the perfect ending to a fun day. After a busy day, it was nice to relax in our magical surroundings at La Selva Mariposa.

Next month our adventures continue in Akumal and Puerto Morelos.