Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tulum, Tulum

The only thing I really wanted to do while in Cancun was to visit some ruins. I love visiting historic sites and informing people of all the amazing things that happened at those sites (luckily, I have a History Degree, so people are thrilled to listen to my ├╝ber-qualified positions and often thank me in letters and donations.) You should know that on my Top Ten List of Things To Do Before I Die is to visit Chichen-Itza and Tulum on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. When my MIL invited us to Cancun with her the first thing I asked was: how can we get to some Mayan ruins?

The other thing you should know about me is that I’m cheap. So when MIL told me that tours charge you $70 a person, make you get up at 6:30am, and send you in a van without air conditioning for 1.5 hours to get to Tulum I thought, I can do better. $140 for Other Half and me to travel on a confining tour, very boring and very long, possibly with flags to identify ourselves—that’s highway robbery! I really wanted to rent a car ($20 a day) but was talked out of it by MIL who insisted that her son and I would be real life victims of real highway robbery.

The one thing you should know about Other Half is that he hates to travel. He says he doesn’t mind being someplace besides home when he’s actually arrived, but hates the travel process. The real answer is, of course, he hates leaving the house for any reason, including foraging for food, and only does so reluctantly and with much protest.

I was quite surprised when he agreed to my plan to get to Tulum. Since I speak The Spanish we just decided to wing it. Instead of paying a ludicrous amount of money to be treated like cattle, I reasoned that we should just get to the bus depot in downtown Cancun and take the local bus to Tulum. Surely, real Mexicans take the bus to Tulum all the time, and so could we. First though, we mistakenly caught the local downtown and it took us 45 minutes to get to the center of the city. It only cost us 4 dollars a piece for tickets to Tulum and the bus left right away, at 2:00pm (score one for winging it.)

The bus was like a charter bus in the States; a little run down, like the one you might take to girl’s camp. It was air conditioned (score two for winging it) and they even played a movie in English with Spanish subtitles (score three.) True, the movie was the remake of Shall We Dance, but when Other Half complained I pointed out that we were listening to the movie while everyone else around us had to read it in Spanish. This won points since the only thing Other Half hates more than leaving the house is reading, especially subtitles (“If I wanted to be reading I would pick up a book instead of watching a movie, and this defeats the whole purpose. Plus, if it's any good, they'll make it again in English.”)

Two hours later (4:15pm) we arrived in Tulum. The ruins were only 10 minutes away! I went to the tiny depot window at the small Tulum Station to secure tickets for our return and had the following conversation with the attendant (I’ve translated from the Spanish):
”Hi, when is the next bus to Cancun”
"That one,” He pointed to the bus labeled ‘Cancun’ right next to the bus we arrived on.
“Right,” said I “When is the bus after that?” He looked at me like I was stupid.
“That one, it’s the last bus of the day to Cancun and it’s leaving right now.” I broke the news to Other Half that we had just spent 2 hours on a bus to spend another 2 hours on a bus and without seeing what we came to see. He laughed a little and was very supportive the whole time. Inside I just knew that this confirmed to him that my ideas about winging it, being cheap, and yes, leaving the house, were crazy.

I ponied up the 4 bucks a piece to buy the tickets and we got back on the bus. Only this bus was the local. So it took us nearly 3 hours to get back to Cancun. It was cool (the bus was still air conditioned.) People would step out of the jungle into the middle of La Carretera Federal and stick out their hands. The bus would stop. Occasionally, someone would stand up in the bus, make their way to the front and be dropped off in the middle of the jungle. We even saw an LDS chapel, it was pink and terracotta; very cute. On the way back, nearly to Cancun, we were stuck in traffic for another half hour and got to see the rather grisly accident that caused the delay (score four!) The coolest thing was watching the cars and trucks go around the accident/traffic. No, around, as in driving over the sidewalks, lawns and fields to keep going. Americans don’t have the guts to do that.

No, we didn’t get robbed (sorry, MIK) and everyone on the bus was very nice. But yes, we did spend 5 hours on a bus to watch Shall We Dance, see La Carretera Federal and to not view any ruins.

If you’d like to see what we missed, I’ll refer you to Miggy's site, they actually made it to the ruins.

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