Tearing ourselves away from Tulum

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Where I stayed
Deam Diving Resort

Flag of Mexico  , Quintana Roo,
Friday, December 10, 2010

 

Blog 16

 

We moved to Tuxla Gutierra which is 17 hours drive down the road from Tulum, in the state of Chiapas. But before saying more about that I want to add a few thoughts about Tulum. We were there for 3 weeks but it seemed more (in a good way) because we felt so settled and we were quite sad to leave. I think it was because the people were so friendly and we had chance to communicate with others (hotel owners and staff, Mateo, people in restaurants etc) as we saw the same people everyday. Even the traffic was very calm and always stopped to let us cross to the point where we often had a stalemate as we expected cars to ignore us so we would stand by the kerb, as at home, but the drivers expected us to walk out in front of them so they stopped too. I am sure they thought we were great ditherers! There was never any aggression shown on the roads and it was rare to see anyone break the speed limit of 25 miles per hour (approx) through the town. In fact we only heard one driver sound his horn impatiently in 3 weeks and we decided he was a tourist!

On 25th November it was Thanksgiving in the U.S. so Mateo decided to put on Thanksgiving specials in the restaurants as so many of his customers are American. In fact it turned out to be roughly 50:50 tourists and residents as a group of local chefs decided to have a mashed potato competition. First we had turkey sandwich (turkey in a toasted bun with salad and mashed potato), then we were given a plate with a mark on it. Next, 7 dollops of mashed potato were spaced round the plate starting from the mark. Then everyone was invited to decide which they preferred. The background hum sounded like numerous versions of Goldilocks and The Three Bears being told at the same time, as the merits or otherwise of the offerings were discussed. One was lumpy, one was disgustingly runny, another was a strange greenish yellow colour and one was sweet! Number four was delicious and the runaway winner but before the judge announced the outcome someone (the competition?) revealed Chef 4 had put bacon in his, against all the rules. There was a chorus from the disappointed chefs saying, “I could have put chorizo in mine”, “I could have put mince in mine”, so finally the judge had to disqualify Number 4, but it was all very jovial and they are now planning a chilli contest. The owner of the local ice-cream parlours had brought free ice cream for everyone so it was a really enjoyable lunch. Jim was still helping Mateo finish off the pumpkin pie 4 days later. Despite that overconsumption, Jim is down to 12 stones. I think it is a result of all the walking we are doing rather than eating less unless he used to pay too many visits to the snack machines at work.

I was interested to see the difference between approaches to confidentiality in the UK and Mexico. At the town hall there was a poster about a food aid programme and how to apply for it. It was a very clear and helpful communication encouraging people who were eligible to claim it, explaining how to do that and what documentation they needed and saying to come in if they needed help. Next to this was a list of people already claiming. Further along the road a shop declared that they managed bad debts and next to their sign was a list of names of debtors with the amounts they had managed to recoup from them. Quite a contrast to our Data Protection Act but poses the question which approach supports the public most?

Finally, if we were to come here on holiday, we would stay in Akumal, a beach 20 kilometres north of Tulum because the reef is close in to shore and there are only a couple of low rise hotels there. We visited it twice and each time saw turtles as well as a ray, very large and scary looking barracudas, and 15 to 20 squid lined up like school children. Now on to Tuxtla.
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