Mmmm Tulummm

***This blog post was supposed to be published on November 7th, but it took me a while to edit and add photos. Sorry people! Life has been wild over here and my blog has not been getting the attention that I originally had promised. I will attempt to be better, but I can't guarantee anything. To see more photos, please head to the Images page of this blog and/or visit my Instagram *** 

Kanlum Lagoon, Tulum Mexico

Kanlum Lagoon, Tulum Mexico

Where do I even start?

It has been about three weeks since I arrived in Mexico and I feel that I have had such a wide array of emotional experiences (especially in the last week) that I would even venture to say that I could be finished with my travels tomorrow and I would've learned enough to *almost* make settling back down somewhere and starting a "normal" life worth it... Who am I kidding?! I'm actually not ready to do that. Or maybe really ever. I honestly have no idea right now. I'm just going to swim laps in this massive pool of grey area for a while and see if I ever decide to get out of the water...

To catch you all up on where I have been: I arrived in Merida on the night of Wednesday, October 19th. I explored Merida all day on October 20th and then left the next morning for Tulum. I spent more than a week hanging with my prima (cousin) in Tulum and then we left for our long journey to San Cristobal de Las Casas (Chiapas) the morning of October 29th. My cousin stayed in San Cristobal de Las Casas with me until the morning of November 4th. Now I am currently "alone", renting out a room in a house in San Cristobal de Las Casas for at least the next month. I'm not quite sure where I will head next. All the plans I so diligently put together (yes, in a google spreadsheet) before I left have almost completely flown out the window. I've realized that I need to just listen to what my heart/soul tells me and let this journey develop organically. For me, this is soooooo much easier said than done.

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

My first day in Tulum. We peddled our bikes through the warm, tropical rain to discover this tear-worthy, double rainbow. With a first date like this, is it any wonder that I fell in love with this place?!

My first day in Tulum. We peddled our bikes through the warm, tropical rain to discover this tear-worthy, double rainbow. With a first date like this, is it any wonder that I fell in love with this place?!

Tulum very quickly and unexpectedly became a blissful vacation for me. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the life I left behind and the life I had just started. Most tourists visit because of the beaches, the ruins on the coast, the amazing wellness, eco hotels/spas, the enchanting cenotes and the biosphere: Sian Kaan. I stayed in town, rather than the beach, and I also visited during one of the rainiest months of the year, so my experience of Tulum was probably a lot different than most other visitors.  I didn't take the time to write as I was being swept up in adventures and the beauty around me, so my post on Tulum is going to read a bit more like a travel blog and less of a manifesto of self-discovery. The really, really juicy stuff is coming in my next blog post...

Tulum is populated by many expats from all over the world that have started businesses catered towards tourism and/or wellness. As such, there is an interesting culture that has been created by the mixing of Mayans and foreigners. From my point of view, it appears that expats spend a lot of time segregated from the local population. I found myself frequently wondering if the locals resented the expats that settled there because most of the wealth and land is held by them. However, the expats have created many service industry jobs, which pay decently to well in tips during high season, so I suppose many locals are happy to have this kind of work. However, a lot of the jobs created have been in construction (due to high development) and apparently, these jobs do not pay well. Due to the influx of tourism and expats, the cost of rent and food has escalated. As with many desirable places to live (especially in the Tropics and/or on the coast), affordable housing has become harder and harder to find and many locals must move elsewhere.

This is sadly the case in every place I have ever lived: Hawaii, San Francisco and Oakland. I don't know how we can come up with a solution that will keep people of all economic classes thriving in all communities. While I believe the government must get involved to regulate things like AirBnB and other vacation rentals that are taking housing away from locals, I also believe that rents should be regulated by certain pricing per square foot, while factoring in location, age and current condition of housing as well as the amount of rental units the landlord currently collects rent from. I also realize that I have this opinion because I have only ever been a renter and never a landlord. I have also never been one of those people that could actually afford most rent in Hawaii or The Bay Area of California...

As for my experience passing through Tulum: it was absolutely MAGICAL. My mind was free of "future thinking" (which is often the cause of my anxiety) and I spent most moments completely immersed in the beauty that was around me. Time miraculously sped up and slowed down and I never seemed to know what time or day of the week it was. I think losing track of time and getting lost in the minutes is one true signifier of ultimate relaxation-vacation mode. Each moment grabbed me and took me on it's own journey. And I let it. I remember laughing with my cousin about how only after a couple days in Tulum, that I already felt like I had been there a week. Much of my time in Tulum was spent riding my borrowed bike to and from the beach and through town, eating and getting in quality time with my cousin. Nearly every day, I found myself beaming as I got caught riding through yet another crazy, monsoon-style rainstorm. I happily accepted it as a cleansing of my body and soul, allowing me to start a new beginning. With every raindrop that rolled down my scalp, to my back and down my legs, I felt like the old me was melting away and being spread about the potholed roads, blinding white sand beaches and into the turquoise sea.

There was one moment in particular that will always feel like a dream. My cousin and I tried to visit the ruins on the beach that day, but there were hoards of tourists, so I decided we should turn around and head to the beach instead. We rode down to the closest beach access- which was the very end of the public beach.  The ocean was stormy so there were decently sized body surfing waves for me to play in.  I pretended I was a mermaid or dolphin jumping through and over waves until the sun started lowering in the sky and a huge squall rolled in. During the last 15 minutes of my bodysurfing, the sky got very dark behind the waves, but the sun had sunk in the sky opposite of the squall to a point where the rays were piercing through the water to produce the most electric, fiery blue color I have ever seen. The blue was so bright up against the dark grey sky that I felt like someone was live-photoshopping my experience. Hypnotized, bordering on hallucinating, I was so distracted that I don't remember catching any waves for those last 10 minutes until the final wave I caught in to meet my cousin who had been waiting for me to head out before the storm rolled in.  The only thing that even comes close to this experience is my prior trip trekking through Patagonia where I came around a bend after hiking for hours into the wilderness, to see the brightest blue lake against dark, lush green. I am struggling to find a word in english that can actually describes this feeling of awe of nature. I'm sure indigenous people of this land probably have a word for it. It's sad that American English doesn't have like 16 ways of explaining this awe of nature. We really should. Where are our priorities? Someone should really get on that. 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TULUM

Batey Mojito Bar. Go to Batey's for the most insanely delicious mojitos you have ever tasted in your life. I am not exaggerating. They use all fresh ingredients to start and most importantly, they make their own sugar cane juice right in front of the establishment with a hydraulic press. They also serve each drink with a fresh, sugar cane stick for you to chew on while you enjoy your mojito. Try the Maracuya (passionfruit) flavor. They also have live music every night of the week. 

Cenote Escondido. Escondido means, "hidden" in spanish. This cenote was at the end of a tiny, windy gravel road that looks like a driveway off the main road headed into Tulum from the South. I almost missed it. I'm happy I didn't because it was one of the most magical pools of fresh water that I have ever swam in. The water was super clear and bright blue. Again, it felt like a hallucination. And the funny thing was, there was no one there for the first 20 minutes of my visit, so I couldn't even discuss the amazingness with anyone. I was literally talking to myself outloud as I was swimming about how insane this experience was. 

Cenote Escondido, Tulum, MX. I jumped off my bike and walked 100 ft up to the cenote and peered through the trees to find this bright blue paradise. It didn't take much for me to jump in the water. 

Cenote Escondido, Tulum, MX. I jumped off my bike and walked 100 ft up to the cenote and peered through the trees to find this bright blue paradise. It didn't take much for me to jump in the water. 

El Asadero Restaurant. Er mer gerd, best tacos I have ever had in my life (at least thus far in Mexico. I don't know if they will get much better though). And their sauces! Yumzz. 

Don Taco Tamales. Super cheap street food and the tamales were the best I've ever had in my life. I recommend the Tamales Cotados de Pollo. They are soft and spongey and were only 12 pesos (less than $1 US) each. 

Any beach you can find. Seriously. Even the public beach is gorgeous. With water that clear and turquoise, how could you go wrong? 

Horribly Wasteful Human

Written October 8, 2016.

To see more photos, please head to the Images page of this blog and/or visit my Instagram.

My constant focus on selling, tossing, donating and hand-me-downing things  has made me realize how incredibly wasteful I am. Uncovering boxes of stuff that I haven't used- let alone even seen- for the past year is bringing up various feelings. I'm unearthing the buried items in storage that are the physical manifestation of my deep dissatisfaction with life. I don't think I am the first to admit that I buy things when I am unhappy. When I feel stuck or like something is just missing, Amazon Prime is my place for instant gratification. And if that didn't do the trick, the internet has a bajillion other places I can purchase things that will make me feel beautiful/whole/cherished/special/loved/appreciated/accomplished/all-of-the-things-I-am-not-feeling. This is a secret that I think I've been pretty good at keeping, but all one must do is walk into my garage or basement and see the plethora of empty Amazon boxes strewn about to know that this has been a very, very tough year. While there are many memories attached to this stuff, these things aren't me. I am no longer the person that purchased them. Now they are just things that I'll pass along to new owners, but will inevitably end up in the landfill. Which is very sad. Wasteful. These things now equal my shame. What kind of environmentalist do I claim to be?!

I'm chasing a different life now. I am choosing to be more mindful about where my time and energy goes. And, I'm calling myself out on my privilege. The only reason why I've been able to be so wasteful is because I have more than I need. I give you all permission to call me out on any wasteful behavior you see coming from me in the future.