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Tulum – Mayan Temple on a Caribbean Beach

I last came to Tulum 25 years ago so I was expecting some BIG changes and perhaps disappointment that it would be like Cancun !

Still a chilled out “hippy” vibe to Tulum

I was pleasantly surprised that despite an obvious growth in tourism it seems to have maintained its “hippy” vibe. There are no large resorts or high rise buildings or strings of American stores & restaurants. Its still a mix of Mexican & European small businesses with a distinct “relaxation/yoga” feel to it.

Cabaña in the Jungle

We stayed at an interesting Airbnb, a “modern cabana” in the Jungle, just back from the beach. Owned by a French couple who moved to Mexico years ago and decided to build an eco-friendly slice of paradise for themselves and friends. Casa Libelula has 2 bungalow/cabañas with a shared pool in a very tropical setting. Ours had 2 double bedrooms, bathroom & a large kitchen/diner/lounge area with an outside dining/chill-out terrace.

We loved our time in Tulum relaxing on the gorgeous beaches, discovering the local restaurants, climbing the  ancient temple of Coba & swimming in underground lakes (Cenotes).

Sacrificial Temple to the Gods

A visit to Tulum wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the ruins of the only Mayan city on the coast, Tulum. When I last visited these ruins it was a much more low key, disorganised attraction, we just wandered around by ourselves climbing all over the ruins and up the steps of the Temple itself (a bit like Coba nowadays – see other post). Now its forbidden to climb on any of the ruins in Tulum and there are ropes around each of the buildings to prevent tourists traipsing over them & de-facing them (disgusting but true, the Mayan temples that allow tourists near them have a huge graffiti problem !).

We hired an official guide to take us round as I love hearing the history and anecdotes from a local. Our guide was Jorge a knowledgeable, fun guy who told us lots of gory “sacrificial” stories which kept ZZ on tenterhooks !

Women lined up to have their hearts ripped out by a priest

It seems the Toltec priests decided there were too many women in the community who didn’t contribute enough because they couldn’t be warriors only child-bearers. Hence they “invented” the story that if the girls sacrificed themselves to one of the gods they would come back as a goddess and their family would forever live with the honour. Girls who faced being married off at age 10,  having 15 kids before age 30 and dying at around 35 lined up for the privilege of having their hearts ripped out “a la Indiana Jones”.

Apparently the huge colony of Iguanas that live around the temples have similarly aggressive traits as both male & females fight each other and rip each others tails off to prove their strength. The male iguanas fight for their territory, the female iguanas fight over their men.

Jorge even spoke reasonable English which saved me translating everything for the Ninja Grandparents.

Cost: Entrance fee = $600 MX ($5 USD) + $500 MX ($40 USD) for an hour with the tour guide.

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Coba - Climbing a Mayan Temple in the Jungle