Monday, 26 October 2015

¿Hablas Español?

Location: Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
We managed to ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum without getting any punctures or heavily rained on. The road was much the same as the previous day - good quality dual carriage way with a decent shoulder - and we were in Tulum by noon. Though we'd been sent a map of the location of our home stay family's house and instructions that it was between "Jaguar y Tepezcuinde" this didn't do us much good as none of the smaller streets had any signs indicating their names and none of the houses had numbers. We knew we were on the right street, just no idea which was the right house. Having ridden the whole road and turned back wondering what we would do now a guy outside a cafe said hola and asked where we were going. When I explained we were looking for an address and showed him it on my phone he unfortunately didn't know where it was either. He asked a dude stood near him if he knew but no luck. He asked if we had a phone number for the family and then he called them to ask for directions for us. As we waited for our host family to come meet us we talked some more with Ramon. He'd lived for some time in Colorado and had now set up his cafe here, selling BBQ ribs and chicken. If he hadn't helped us we'd have had quite a palava finding the house.

Julio arrived by bike and led us back to the house. Along with his wife, Paola, and their kids Frida and Cesar they run a little homestay for students of the Spanish school. We have our own room with bathroom and share meals with the family. When we arrived there were two other students staying too. Linda is from Texas, but her Spanish is amazing and Hanna, from the UK, who is a bit of a polyglot.

After getting unpacked we headed to the beach, first time since arriving in Mexico. We took a taxi as we wanted to suss out a safe place to lock our bikes without having to worry about them. The beach was fairly quiet. Despite the white sand and palm trees the scene was not the tropical paradise of brochures. Grey clouds streamed overhead in a strong breeze and the sea churned. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful, just sultry. We were famished after riding so headed straight for some food - fish tacos and prawn and cheese quesadilla. Yum! We then spent a couple of hours strolling around, swimming and strolling some more. Then it started to rain and we took shelter at a beach bar where they gave us some incredible fresh coconut with chilli salt. It was so delicious. The rain eased and by the time we ambled back to where we'd been dropped off our taxi was waiting there again to take us home.

Lessons started on Monday morning.  We were in a class with one other guy, Danny from the Netherlands (and we all know how good the Dutch are at languages right?) and quickly got onto basics and grammar for 2 hours, had a short break, then another hour of conversational Spanish with Paola and another student, Tom from Australia.  And this pattern continued through the week.  The lessons are intense and tiring, but fun and we do feel like we're picking stuff up, slowly.  The school also arranges additional activities on a daily basis - yoga each morning before class, then traditional Mexican board games, Mexican cooking and Salsa classes on different afternoons of the week - all in Spanish, of course.  Friday came around and we decided that a few more days would be beneficial so we opted to stay, probably until Wednesday.  Tom has really got the hang of the verbs and is much better at understanding the rules of the language.  I am better at just having a go - if I don't know the word I make it up or act it out, often Tom can help correct me, so we make a good team and I think a few more days and we'll be adequately able to fend for ourselves in Mexico.

Friday night we went out for a few drinks with Tom and Hanna to celebrate the end of the week and say bye to Hanna who was leaving Saturday morning for Cuba.  The weather was much better on Saturday (all week the rain has been on and off so we only got to the beach a couple of times) so we headed for the Mayan ruins with Tom and Danny.  

They are in a beautiful spot, on a small bluff overlooking the surrounding area and out to sea.  Tulum is the only Mayan city built by the coast and the city flourished between the 13th and 15th Centuries and faded after the Spanish conquered the area.  Now the site is inhabited by a large population of iguanas and seasonally visited by many turtles and tourists.

On the road just outside the ruins there were some hombres selling 'frio coco', cold drinking coconuts.  It's the first one I have had since I was last in India, 11 years ago.  It was delicious and I can't wait to drink more of them.  After we finished they split the shell and we ate the soft flesh with chilli salt and lime.  Our thirsts suitably quenched we headed for the beach for a few hours of swimming and snoozing before heading home for an early night.  All the brain activity from learning Spanish, plus the hours in the sun, the late night on Friday and beers have wiped us out.  This learning malarky is so much tougher than cycling!  We have a rough route lined up for the next bit of the trip, around the Yucatan Peninsula, which we've based on recommendations from Paola and Julio so we have some research and planning to do before we head off.


  1. Un buen comienzo de la siguiente parte de su aventura...PS love the photo of you both! Mr P x

  2. I was in Tulum the other day. Technically it may have been when I was playing Assassin's Creed IV but it seemed a lovely place. All looks awesome out there guys.