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Journal - 24-Mar-2001, Saturday, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
(Trip: Ruta Maya, Southeast Mexico)

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We wake to loud, exotic, birdsong. It feels like the garden of Eden to be camped on the green grass, surrounded by palm trees and colorful birds. I'm in no hurry to move off early.

We swim in the morning and generally relax. The next bus to Tulum leaves in the afternoon.

The bus is boarded just next to the hotel. At the first stop, Monica suggests trying to withdraw cash. We've got 10 minutes. I get off the bus to look for an ATM but am told that the nearest is three blocks away. I return to the bus, not too worried as I'm sure we'll be able to get cash in Tulum.

I explain the situation to Monica when I get back on board. She's surprised I didn't go the three blocks to the ATM because she's not sure there will be an ATM in Tulum. She tells me there's almost nothing in Tulum apart from the bus stop!

Whoops - major misunderstanding. I had the idea that Tulum was a big city. Unfortunately the guide confirms what Monica says - a few hotels, nothing more. Oops, oops, oops. We only have about $50 left and will need to buy bus tickets, hotel, ruins entrance fee, etc.

When we do finally arrive in Tulum, it seems fairly large and touristy. On each side of the bus station are 'Casas de Cambio' (Money Exchange). Looks like there should be an ATM here.

We unload our bags onto the sidewalk and I wait while Monica asks about an ATM. The bad news is there's no ATM in Tulum. The good news is there's one a 15 minute bus ride away. We catch the bus to a small, shiny, complex containing shops, hotel, and restaurants. Monica is a little embarrassed to walk in with our backpacks but we have no option. We follow directions to the ATM. There's a sign over it saying "Out of Order". The feeling is like trekking for days through the desert towards an oasis, only to finally arrive and find it empty! Now we've wasted $3 on bus fares for nothing.

A combi takes us back to Tulum. The 'combis' here are quite luxurious - new air conditioned vans - and relatively inexpensive for the distances they travel (up to 30 km). We get off in Tulum with no idea where to turn. We find a supermarket that accepts credit cards and buy food for dinner. Now what?

Walking around we see a sign to some $12-a-night cabins. When we arrive, carrying all our gear plus food, there's no-one around to ask if there's anything available. Looking around, it seems pretty full, so we go off in search elsewhere.

The next hotel we find is $35 a night but they've no space in any case. Next we find more 'cabins'. They're also full but the owner shows us a room he could rent us if we were interested. It's a bare concrete room with no windows. It does have an ensuite bathroom of sorts. Frankly anywhere horizontal would suit me at this stage but I'm afraid that Monica will either start crying or kill me!

We walk back to the first cabins. This time we find someone and they do have cabins available. Talk about the sun shining through on a cloudy day. The cabins are very rustic but relatively clean, and will do the job. The attendant tells us that the shared shower has hot water - that will be a novelty for us!

A feast is prepared with the supermarket food and all is good in the world once more. I string up the mosquito net and we climb into bed.

Almost immediately I have a sinking feeling, and I'm not talking in metaphors! For some reason my side of the bed is subsiding. It slopes at such an angle I feel like I'm going to roll out. The mattress feels like it's stuffed with straw or something. The only solution seems to be to sleep diagonally across the bed and let my legs droop down the incline. At this stage I'm so tired, I'll sleep anywhere.

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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