Mexico just keeps getting better as I go south. I grudgingly left Merida on a six-hour bus ride to Cancun where I found a city full of hotels, beer, and more hotels. Not ten steps into the center of the action I was approached by a guy trying to lure single men, such as myself, into a nearby strip club. Not terribly interested, I pushed him away. Offering me a "free sample" -- I could go in and look around for free, and only pay if I choose to stay -- I was still unmoved. As if to up the ante, he then started promising me all the joys a cheap brothel had to offer, all within the confines of Shampoo, the strip club on high. Even less interested, I eventually managed to convince him to hustle someone else. Later, however, he reapproached me and tried a similar technique, this time trying to sell me every drug known to man. Wow. That's service, but no thanks.
Cancun itself is really quite pretty. However, it's entirely designed for extracting large quantities of pesos from drunken visitors, and as I was neither rich nor drunk, the town didn't do much for me. Furthermore, all the hotels seem to have their own beachfront bars and restaurants that have "all you can eat/drink" wristbands that come with the packaged tours. For those of us not blessed with the magical bands (such as myself), the prices were rather astronomical.
Yet on the up side, there were lots of chicas bonitas strolling the beaches and soaking up the sun. As noted in my journal: "That was the smallest swimsuit I've ever seen. She must be a master knotsmith to keep all that in so little."
Another nice thing about Cancun is it's hostel: for $10USD/night they have a really clean and modern youth hostel that I enjoyed very much. In addition to the laundry, kitchen, bike rentals, and so on, it has a great lounge area where the guests can get together in the days and evenings. I even managed to get myself a cup of tea, though I was foolish in choosing a metal cup from which to drink and about singed my lips off.
After just a short stay, however, I decided to move on. Not really knowing where to go next, I remembered someone recommending to me a place called Tulum. I didn't know anything about Tulum other than it was on the beach, had cheap cabanas for rent, and, most importantly, was not Cancun.
Just hours later, I learned what a fantastic decision I had made.
Tulum is an absolutely wonderful place. I arrived in the center of town without realizing it: the bus stopped at what appeared to be a few shops on a side street and I was told to get out. Only later did I learn that the bus terminal, if you can call a room with ten chairs and one ticket window a "terminal", was right there.
Seeing the words "hostel" and "internet" on the same building, I made a beeline straight for the "Weary Traveler" (the location in which I type these very letters). Though I had intended only to stay for a day or two at most, I immediately decided to change my tickets to give me another week, even before seeing the beach or cabanas. The place just has... exactly everything I have been looking for in Mexico.
Like I do whenever I arrive in a new town, I generally like to walk around a bit. So, looking at a map I was given on which some cabana recommendations were circled, I deemed that it was a long walk to the beach but entirely doable. So, I started walking. And walking. I walked out of town and down the road on which I arrived, and continued on and on.
Now, when I went to Cancun I did the same thing. Seconds after stepping off the bus I pulled out my mini-compass, plotted East, and started walking. Of course it didn't occur to me that the bus station might not be near the beach. Or, that the "beach" is actually on a pennisula a mile or so out into the sea. As such, I walked an incredible distance due to my foolishness.
Fearing a repeat of this mistake, I looked again at the map to get my bearings. Only then did I discover that the map is horribly not to scale, and that it was perhaps another several miles before I'd get where I wanted to go. Thus, I flagged down the next taxi, payed the due, and sped off in style.
Arriving at the beach was incredible. I immediately began to pace the sand in the waning light, checking prices at cabanas along the way. Finally, at the southernmost point of the northernmost beach (separated from the next beach by a rocky shore), I found my cabana and settled in. After a bit more aimless wandering, I eventually turned in for the night happy as I could possibly be.
However, I'll leave off here for now. Lots of new picures on the site, including my trip to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. As for next week, I head to Mexico DF (Mexico City) for a flight to Ecuador on Friday. So, the next update will probably be from South America. I hope they have good Internet access there, and I'll talk to you then!