This is the first article in a series of posts where I’ll share my adventures in Tulum, Mexico. I will share the meals, places, and packing recommendations that made this an incredible trip — hopefully they’ll inspire you too!
Our bartender sported a twisted mustache straight out of a Disney film. Magic, he kept repeating. Tulum was magic like he’d never seen before. He said he was here by accident (weren’t we all?) because his original destination was Playa del Carmen. He couldn’t handle it, he said. Not after meeting Tulum. But “don’t get me wrong”, he continued, “Playa is beautiful, but it’s built around tourism”. I pondered on that for a moment. Wasn’t this appeal precisely what so many other beautiful destinations around the world yearned for? Begged for? Sometimes even paid for? All it took was this one sentence: “Tulum makes you want to stay, cuate“. I had heard that before. That certain magnetism some cities carry about them. They don’t want you to visit, they’d like to charm you to the point where you have no choice but to stay. They call you “cuate”, “amigo”, “brother”, “llave”, “carnal” — whatever it takes. There’s no limit to the speed with which they become your best friend. These cities. It’s hard to describe, but there are more than a few one-way-ticket cities in this world. I was immediately and irremediably convinced that this was one of them.He asked if we wanted to try grasshoppers. (Affirmative, as in “would you like to chew some bugs?”). Considering we were well past our fourth Mezcal at this point, hoppers seemed like a somewhat horrible, yet epic idea. Nothing our newly awakened sense of adventure wasn’t willing to bite. Protein, right? Right… that scene still makes me cringe. In an amusing way, nonetheless. Cringe nostalgically?
We were cut short by the sound of chairs being pulled to the side and the sheer brightness of bar lights turning on. You could tell the brick oven was cooling off. The swaying palm leaves I had confused with rain for the last three days were falling asleep. That odd mix of bold Latin club anthems and mellow Californian jams suddenly dimmed. The last tiny bit of my hand-rolled tortilla was swiftly taken away. The bar was about to close, and while I never asked that bartender’s name, I will hold his story as the 15 glorious minutes that helped me understand this quirky town.
Tulum is a gypsy little spot of the Earth where things still happen slowly, and a little magically. The type of oasis of the spirit where you get to fall in love with your thoughts as they fly by. The type of travel destination that takes you on a journey to yourself. We had to agree with him: magical realism competes with nothing.
Tulum, you keep making love out of nothing at all. We’ll keep falling for you.