Jungle & Beach & Ruins around TULUM!


Hello darlings,

Ian and Lil Dude (who is really not so lil anymore, truth be told-- almost 8!) and I spent the first wonder-filled week of 2015 in the jungles and beaches of Tulum, Mexico.

We've been to this area a few times before-- flights from Denver to Cancun are direct and fairly cheap, and then it's a straightforward  1 and a 1/2 hour rental car drive to Tulum.

Here's the lovely guesthouse we stayed in:

Previously, we'd stayed in cabanas right on the beach, but this time, we stayed in the jungled inland-- at the little La Selva Mariposa bed and breakfast, which was an easy 20-minute drive from the center of Tulum.

The place is in a rural area, on several beautiful acres of forested land, with a few cabanas for guests and an open-air dining area.  There were several private or shared "cenotes" on the property that you could swim in-- we shared ours with our neighbors. The little blue pools were human-made, but very rustic-looking, with waterfalls and stones and gardens. The water came from underground, where there are springs and caves and real cenotes. 
(And we actually did snorkel in real cenotes one day-- three deep caves near Coba... so magical.)

There were pretty trails on the b n b property...

And enchanting  little spaces where you could read on hammocks.  The book I brought along was Jandy Nelson's I'll Give you the Sun.  It was incredible, one of my new favorite YA's.

The temperatures at home in Fort Collins had been sub-zero/single digits/low teens for a while, and we were ecstatic to get away from the bitter cold.  Just being near flowers and leaves made my heart happy.

Winter in Colorado lasts too long (if you're not a skier, and I'm not.)  
By the end of December, I'm ready for sunlit green...

Here's what the inside of our room looked like.  There was a little sleeping nook for Lil Dude.

And look, a temazcal-- a Mesoamerican sauna.  This one was for relaxation, but I've done temazcals in rural Oaxaca as healing practices-- they were part of my Master's fieldwork in anthropology. 

Our last night in Mexico, Ian and Lil Dude and I sat in the temazcal and told each other what we were thankful for.  We try to incorporate this little gratitude ritual into everyday life... 
Lil Dude went first with: "I'm grateful we don't have lice." 
(This one often comes up in our gratitude listing... because no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. Not that there was anything bad that tropical evening-- it's just our gratitude-reflex now.)
After the lack-of-lice came: swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, Mayan ancestors, loving family, etc....

Our b n b was close to the Mayan ruins of Coba... we went there in the late afternoon/early evening-- the light was gorgeous, and the ruins not terribly crowded at that time.  
I love the jungly nature trails that you walk or bike along to go from building to building-- very peaceful.

I included this picture because Lil Dude's feet are so dang cute I can hardly stand it. 
He lost his fifth tooth right after our trip! He's at that toothless smile stage now, adorable.

So, I have this policy of not posting pics of him (at least not his face), but I have to show you my imitation of his standard photo pose at these ruins: arms spread out wide, as if to say, "Behold!  My ancestors' masterpiece!"  We adopted him from Guatemala, which means he most likely has some Mayan blood-- and he is extremely proud of this ancestry.  He practically takes personal credit for the temples and ball courts...

Usually we try to avoid big theme-parky-places, but we decided to go to Xel-Ha for various reasons, and were glad we did!  
We were pleasantly surprised at how thoroughly... pleasant... the whole experience was. 

 Twas a completely delightful day of snorkeling in natural lagoons and caves, zip-lining, doing an obstacle course, swimming with dolphins, eating at the yummy all-you-can-eat-and-drink traditional Mexican restaurant... it definitely surpassed my expectations.  
And Lil Dude said about fifty times that day that he was in paradise, that this was "a dream come true."

The whole place seemed very efficiently run and eco-friendly.  There were plenty of cool paths through jungle foliage and wildlife like coatimundis, tropical birds, and of course, stunning fish.

We hung out on the Tulum beach for a couple days...

 Usually Lil Dude is a huge fan of the beach-- he especially loves surfing-- but we didn't spend too much time on the beach this time because the mountains of seaweed freaked him out.  There really wasn't any place to build sand castles because the seaweed had the prime wet-sand real estate.

So nice to eat fish caught that same morning....

One evening, we went to the Tulum ruins, situated right on a cliff overlooking the ocean-- so pretty and picturesque, but not as exciting and interactive as the Coba ruins.

We just resorted to old-fashioned selfies, since Lil Dude's photos often result in missing heads and blurred torsos. Lots of people had those selfie-sticks-- first time I'd seen them.

I tend to make impractical purchases while traveling-- things that are a pain to try to carry back on the plane. These large ball pendant lampshades were a craft specialty of the tiny town where our b n b was located.  I wanted to get a three-foot-diameter one to hang from our back porch roof (which we have yet to build, haha!)  Ian gently helped me realize we'd never get that thing back on the plane, so I settled on a 20-inch one.  We stuffed it with clothes and wrapped it in cardboard and stuffed more clothes on the ends of the duffel bag.... and it survived the trip! 

In the spirit of brutal honesty, I will also share with you the un-fun moments of the trip, too...

1) Despite the cuteness of Lil Dude's sleeping nook, he refused to sleep in it, and insisted on sleeping with me in the full/queen bed, which meant giving Ian the boot... which did not sit well with Ian.
Bedtime conflict, every evening.

2) Lil Dude received his first hand-held electronic gaming device for Christmas, and was naturally inclined to play obsessively... so there was much struggling over Nintendo-boundary-setting.

3)  I had my own little melt-downs, the main one over artificially scented toilet paper.  I hate the stuff.  I hate anything artificially scented, but especially toilet paper.  I'm ridiculously sensitive to smells, and this variety, in particular, drives me crazy.

4) And since we tend to spend money on cool trips rather than vehicles and their maintenance, *neither* of our cars would start the night before the trip (partly because of the cold, and partly because of aging batteries), so we had to do some stressful scrambling to come up with Plan B, which was an inadequately heated airport shuttle at the crack of dawn in sub-zero temps.
 (Everyone's feet were numb by the end of the one and a half hour ride to the airport.)

So, now you know the warts on our trip, too... but overall, it was an abracadabrant getaway.

 I have more travel coming up soon, this time *solo travel*, of the adventurous type... 
and there will be plenty of green involved!  More on that later.

My upcoming travel is related to a new book idea... but as you know, I tend to stay quiet about books-in-progress.  And this Tulum trip, too, was related to a book-in-progress, but one at the revision stage.  That's what I've been busy with since our return.  I hope to be able to tell you more about that one, soon.  I also hope to be able to tell you the new title for The Impossible Caravan and share the cover with you some time in the not-so-distant future!

May you find your own colorful way to make it through winter... 
or maybe you're already in some beautiful green-blue place, in which case... lucky you!

Thanks for coming by!