The Riviera Maya - October 2008

This story begins at the end of last ski season when Deb's little cold toes desired a sunny vacation, with warm white sand, turquoise waters to play in and perhaps some of those fancy little umbrella drinks. After a couple of negotiation rounds we settle on the town of Tulum on the Riviera Maya. It looked perfect, warm tropical beaches to enjoy plus old Mayan ruins to explore. Travel plans were booked well in advance leaving us with nothing to do but watch the days tick past.

While we're waiting I'll tell you a little about the place. Riviera Maya is located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula where the ruins of over a hundred Mayan sites of varying sizes can still be found. Three major sites were in close proximity to the Caribbean Beach location that we chose, and another that I have long dreamed of seeing within a few hours drive. These sites continued to be occupied up to and beyond the 16th century Spanish arrival.

The name "Yucatan" may have been derived from a simple miscommunication. When the first Europeans landed in the Yucatan, and asked the name of the land, the indigenous people answered, "Yucantan?". Which in Mayan means “we don’t understand you”? The Spaniards took their response to be a correct one. Just one minor blunder in a long history of bloody plunder which came close to wiping clean most of the Mayan history, art, religion, and culture.

Misunderstandings still dominate.

But I slightly digress as that is an old story and this is our story. A story which almost didn't take place due to some misunderstandings. Four days prior to leaving Deb received a rather strangely worded email which basically stated the Tulum Hotel we had painstakingly picked out would be closed for "Government Inspections". But not to worry it said, other arrangements have already been made. The hotel they arranged for us was nice enough but it was 1 ½ hours away from where we wanted to be. So with less then 36 hours before our flight we spent several hours on the phone rearranging this arrangement to another hotel in the town of Tulum where we origianlly intended to be.

Problem solved, or so we thought. That night we received a phone call from the new hotel stating they were only operating at 15% occupancy due to the rest of the hotel being closed for “Government Inspections”. At which point we’re wondering what’s going on here? In a nutshell, the property these resorts sit on is a nature preserve and is quite sensitive. The Mexican government allegedly granted building permits for these resorts back in the early 80’s. Now due to over expansion and environmental concerns, the government is pulling back those permits in a rather heavy handed fashion. Several different resorts in Tulum have been adversely affected over this latest misunderstanding.

We decided to avoid the controversy altogether and quite literally at the very last minute, made a reservation up the road in another town. We left home before receiving final confirmation hoping it would all work itself out before we landed in Mexico. It all turned out nicely and we had a grand time as the next few pages will hopefully show.

That is until it came time to head back to the airport. When we had a minor run-in with a Mexican Policeman who wanted to take us to the local jailhouse, but that was a completely different misunderstanding, let's move on shall we?