Recently I had the privilege of going to Cancun for a much needed winter break, and spent four days in the sun while the snow melted in NYC. Every day was great, but a highlight of the trip was a little motorcycle excursion I went on after the work was done. I wanted to capture the experience with a few pictures and the story behind them, so this page is for that purpose…
It all started with a long walk from the resort up the main road to the Harley dealership up the road. It was supposed to be a casual 20 minute walk, but in reality the weather took a turn for the “hot” after two days of sort of cool weather. So I ended up walking in jeans, boots and a long sleeve t-shirt in the scorching sun. I got there pretty much needing a shower, but whatever. I made it. Then I had to wait like 20 minutes for the guy Hugo to show up as he wasn’t there and the other folks didn’t really speak english too much.
Eventually Hugo came back, I started going through some paperwork with him, and then was informed that they don’t take AMEX and that I would have to either rent the bike for just the afternoon, or use my debit card to secure the bike for the full 24 hours. That means I had to use my own checking account to put the security deposit, and that it would take a looooong time to get it back. OUCH! But I was not about to let this adventure not happen, so I bit the bullet, swiped the card, and got things moving along. Soon I was the proud “owner for 24 hours” of this Harley Davidson Iron 883 bike, so new it still had stickers on the rear view mirrors. I hadn’t ridden since 2009 so I was quite rusty.
My planned adventure was to get this bike moving south, along the highway 307 from Cancun down to Playa Del Carmen. I wanted to there for a late lunch, get some fish tacos perhaps, and then continue south to Tulum where I would stay for the night.
I got to Playa Del Carmen after about an hour of cruising south, getting used to the bike as time went. At first I was a bit rusty, and was not so comfortable at first. But like they say… “it’s like riding a bike”. 😛 I got there, looped around a bit trying to find the place and then find parking but in the end did choose to just park with some bicycles on a yellow painted sidewalk. Tickets, nah they wouldn’t do that to a nice chap like me right? I parked the bike, locked the steering column, and walked down the touristy walkway in pursuit of my fish tacos.
I found my destination, a highly rated place called TaconTenedor right on the main Ave Constituyentes strip, a block or so north of one of the pedestrian only streets. It is a nice place with an outdoors table setup and a nice breeze to get your eat on and people watch on. They had a nice selection of tacos to choose from, and I select four different ones. I tried the Tacontenedor with steak, the fish “al pastor”, the lobster “papashul”, and the octopus “pata larga”. They all looked great. While I waited, I hit up their salsa bar and got cups of salsas of varying spiciness.
My tacos came out, all were amazing except the octopus one which wasn’t really great. But the other three, amazaballs! I tried all the spicy salsas, had a few sips of this Bohemia Obscura beer, and afterwards decided I had to have even more tacos. I had another of the lobster “papashul” since it was epic, and then tried the shrimp “te rajas”. Both were awesome and I ended up being one full dude. The bill at the end, was only $13.74 USD! I should also point out the service here was very polite and helpful. But this meal was done, and it was time to hit the road again.
I didn’t linger much, I picked up a small coffee on the way to my bike, arrived finding that I did not get any tickets (woop WOOP!), and got rolling pretty soon. Back onto highway 307 it was, and I had about another hour to go until I reached Tulum. Oh and I forgot to mention on my way to PdC, those darn TOPES things. They are these epic speed bumps/mountains that come out of nowhere on the main highway and if you don’t see them you will be in for a launching. I had to stop short a couple of times to avoid accident material, they are very much random and out of nowhere. So if you’re on a similar adventure, DO keep your eyes peeled for these as you approach PdC and also Tulum town areas.
The highway 307 takes you right into the heart of Tulum Pueblo (the town area) and after you cross COBO or road 15, within 10 blocks you will see many small shops and bars. My hotel of choice was two blocks behind this main road, a place called Hotel Latino. Conveniently situated for an evening of walking adventures, I parked the bike, checked in, hit the pool for an obligatory dip, and then got cleaned up for my evening out.
I was on a mission to find at least one spot with good craft beer, and found this oasis called “Encanto Cantina”. You have to ask but they have a handful of good Mexican craft beers in bottles. I had one good imperial IPA and a glass of mezcal to go with it. Really cool vibe, laid back and quiet but exactly what I was looking for.
After that, I had to switch it up to maximize what I could discover on this evening out. I decided to walk up to “Batey” up the road, a place with supposedly legendary mojitos. I’ll say this. They do have an amazingly good “not sweet” selection of mojitos. I got the one with habanero in it. They also had some good live music, rotation between duo with trumpet and spanish guitar, and then the usual mariachi band. A bit touristy, and the service for me was SOOOOOOOOO slow. I really was about to give up but after eventually getting a drink after at least a half hour, I stuck with it to enjoy the scene a bit.
Moving on, I decided to swing by one more place before calling it a night. I read about this “Curandero” place, where locals and tourists mix. I was hopeful, so walked in there. It was kind of empty, but the only people in there appeared to be speaking Spanish so that was a good start. I got a Sol beer and just sat at the bar for a bit. But soon after a mob of what seemed to be a bachelorette party streamed in and it soon became time to leave. I got back to Hotel Latino, got cozy and caught some zzzzzzs.
As planned, I woke up early just before 7AM to get up and moving. My mission was to be the first person into the Zona Arqueologica de Tulum to see the ruins without the mobs of tourists that would be showing up around 10AM. It worked, I got there so early the gate was closed. I also realized I forgot to stop for coffee, so that kind of sucked. After standing around for 15 minutes a nice chap let me know that this was just for buses and that there was another lot around the corner. I hopped back on the bike, found the “normal people” parking lot, and was the first person to park in it. I also found a Starbucks! I got a coffee, and then walked down the long road towards the ruins.
I got there before the ticket booth opened, and hung out for a few minutes talking to another traveller while we waited to get access to the ruins. A cool guy from Norway named Hobart, we stuck it out until they opened the booth at like 8:10AM. With ticket in hand, I was finally ready to accomplish my mission…. to be the first one in and get great views of the ruins and also to get to the beach and swim out to get an even greater view of them 😛
I roamed around, soaking up the uninterrupted views of the fields of short grass with ruins neatly layed out throughout. There were two specifically on the edge of the cliff, the rest are in a bit more in the grass. Great views, but they rope off the building so you can’t really get that close. Bummer! But I kept moving along and soon found the stairs that would bring me to the beach. I walked down them, anticipating around each corner the first steps onto sand where I would toss my shoes and get into beach mode. DARN! Around a corner I found a sign that said do not enter with ropes crossing to really prevent me from entering. Bummer again!