mexico | tulum

this is the third part of our trip to mexico – hope you enjoy, read the first and second parts too!

we arrived to tulum at dinner time, after driving from merida for almost 4 hours, and making a stop in izamal. i was specially looking forward to this part of the trip, it meant we were sleeping in the same place for three nights in a row and we were finally back by the sea.

tulum beach is a stretch of beach filled with eco and rustic little hotels, cabanas and restaurants. the beach is long, you can walk forever and the fact that there are no multinational or 5 star properties it makes it have more character.

once again we stayed at coqui aoqui (more about this property here). we took our first day off from any cultural trips and did some rest and relax. we spent all morning between a breakfast of huevos ranchers and mango juice, and reading by the beach. as i’ve mentioned before this is not the best time of the year if you want to do beach, the weather was irregular, but it was quiet and it didn’t stop us from enjoying our stay.

in the afternoon james went cave diving, it was his first time diving in a cave and he was so excited about it. when i saw his videos i am sure i would completely freak out if i had to do that – my claustrophobia is definitely getting worse with age! and whilst he was out i went for a massage at the hotel’s spa.

on our second day we had to go back to our culture fix, so after stopping at el tabano for delicious huevos mexicanos for breakfast, we went to visit the tulum ruins.

these were a bit more busy and with rain coming on and off we had to exercise our patience. tulum ruins are definitely the ones with the most gorgeous setting, it is nothing like we had seen before – the ancient ruins on a cliff by a beach with turquoise water – unimaginable! so not only you get to see the ruins but you can access the beach and bath whilst looking at them.

we stopped by tulum pueblo for quick lunch. since there are no good pizzas in our lovely island, i had been craving one for a while…we got our fix at la nave, an italian recommended by bea,  from coqui coqui – and the pizzas were pretty amazing.

in the afternoon we drove to coba, another mayan site, just over 30min from tulum. after visiting chichen itza, uxmal and tulum, i had little energy for more ruins – but i was glad we came.

this site was not big and it was divided in two parts. to get to the second part we had to rent a bicycle to get there and i found it really fun to cycle under the trees, kind of relaxing.  when we got there, james went up the pyramid. me? with my fear of heights, i kept my feet on earth and took pictures.

on our last night in mexico and went to tulum pueblo for dinner, rather than the restaurants in tulum beach. we walked through the main street, stopped by the little souvenir shops – i fell in love with this and so many other mexican goodies from mixik – and we ate our last tacos and empanadas.

see more picture on facebook here

to read more on our travels, go right here :)

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his dive story

June is nesting season for sea turtles. We didn’t know this when we arrived in Tulum and the hotel staff kindly informed us that we should venture out at night to see the giant turtles nesting. I knew Joana loooooves turtles as she always wanted to see my dive videos and pics of turtles. It was our last night in Tulum and we decided to go for a walk looking for them. I had my bright dive torch with me. At first, we were thinking yeah, no way man that we will be so lucky to see turtles….

It was about 15 min. into our walk in the pitch dark when I spotted a large dark hump on the sand with my torch (I didn’t want to flash the bright torch too much as it will scare away the turtles who are planning to beach). I knew immediately that it was a turtle and we followed her as she struggled to move her large body forward on the sand searching for the right spot to lay her eggs.

Then we saw another one as she was leaving for the beach. These turtles always come back to the same locations to lay their eggs and with all the resort developments up and down the coast, some will not have the chance to lay their eggs and will be force to lay them in the sea where they will be eaten by fishes. Sad but a reality…

Conservation groups are helping identify locations and are trying to protect or at least safeguard the eggs until they hatch. It was a really magical night and one that I will always remember. The next day, we went out to retrace our steps to see where the eggs were laid. You can see loads of turtle tracks everywhere on the beach. Enjoy!

Want more diving posts? go here

– James

mexico | merida

merida was our second stop in our trip to mexico. we stayed in a small hacienda – hacienda vip – with only four rooms and very centrally located, near the plaza mayor – cute, don’t you think?

after checking-in and walking to the main square, we had dinner at chaya maya, a restaurant close by, specialized in yucatecan cuisine, and recommended by our hacienda. on the second night we went for street food and dinner was even more successful!

on our first day in merida we decided to drive to uxmal – it is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of mayan culture, together with chicken itza and tikal (which we missed). besides the pyramids, i specially liked the ballcourt for playing the mesoamerican ballgame.

it was not crowded at all so we spent almost a whole day relaxing at the ruins!

back in merida we wondered through the streets, with some tourists and many locals, we visited the san ildefonso cathedral and the cathedral of merida.

we ate delicious quesadillas at the plaza mayor, and had ice pops at janitzo on the other side of the square – the mango one was da best! we then walked though 60th street, closed it for pedestrians at night, where i bought mexican bracelets and colorful embroidered shirts.

on our last day before leaving we decided to have breakfast at the market, where we had the best mexican food of our trip.

we started with fresh fruit, followed by pork tacos – having pork for breakfast is so not me, but i TRULY enjoyed it and would have these again in a heartbeat.

we spent our morning taking pictures, talking to vendors and wishing we had a market half the size of this one in turks and caicos. i don’t know about you, but spending time in markets really fulfills me – specially the food ones – the colors, the smells, the flavors, the variety, and the culture that it represents!

before leaving the market, and to finalize our breakfast, we had cheese empanadas and polcanes. polcanes are typical from yucatan and were a true discovery for us. made from deep fried corn dough topped with shredded pork, beans, tomato sauce and cabbage – i’m salivating here!

it was time to leave merida and drive to tulum for the last leg of our trip, so we decided to make a stop in izamal – just a small detour, and totally worth it.

izamal, just an hour away. it is sometimes called the yellow city, as most buildings are painted in yellow. what really took us there was the monastery of saint anthony of padua – also in yellow, it’s stunning!

can you tell it was pouring and so hard to take pictures?! here’s 2 minutes with no rain…

read the first part of our mexico trip right here.

mexico | valladolid

after our little get away to havana we went on for a few more days in the yucatan. our main objective was to absorve as much history and culture, visit the mayan ruins, have great mexican food and some rest and relax too.

our first stop in mexico was valladolid, just over 150km from cancun airport. since we got there at night it didn’t allow us much to do. we checked in at the breathtaking coqui coqui and headed out for dinner. we were recommended by the hotel to try conato 1910, a cozy restaurant close to the main square. we walked to the restaurant, it was quiet and decorated with huge paintings of frida kahlo. the food was delicious and perfect for our first night taco fix.

the next day we wanted to explore the town a little bit, so we got the bicycles that the hotel have assigned for guest and started by visiting the beautiful convent of san bernardino de siena and the cathedral of san gervasio on the main square.

we then headed to the cenote zaci, there are loads around the yucatan and this one is almost in the centre of town. as we were not properly equipped we didn’t give it a go, but james was ready to jump in!

wherever we go, we always like visiting the local market, i think it tells us a lot about the local culture, how people eat and what fresh products they have available. since we don’t have a local market in turks and caicos, we were kind of craving one, the smells and the atmosphere of it.

the market wasn’t very big, but busy and a lot of action going on around it. we ended up having lunch there – nibbling some freshly cut mango, buying corn tortillas cooked on the spot and eating delicious grilled chicken.

valladolid was the perfect place to start our trip, the town is small, we easily parked our car and walked (and cycled – hence the lack of pictures…) everywhere. we definitely want to go back and only wished we could’ve stayed longer.

we then headed to chichen itza and finally visit the mayan ruins – chichen itza was a large pre-columbian city built by the mayan civilization and it’s about a 40 minute drive from valladolid in the direction of merida.

getting there is pretty easy, the parking was easy and there are plenty of guides available at the entrance. there were loads of souvenir shops and and food stalls, but we sensed some rain coming, so we ran to the site and made the most of it.

everybody recommended going early in the morning to prevent the crowds, but since june is low seasons, it wasn’t too busy and nice to visit.

the site is amazing, we spent a whole afternoon walking around and taking pictures – no wonder it is a unesco world heritage site. it’s been on my bucket list to visit at least since in 2007 it won the title of  one of the seven wonders of the world in a ceremony in lisbon!

after a long day with lots of sightseeing we headed to merida, our next stop, about an 1h30 away – check back for more on this trip soon!