Tulum, Mexico: Bohemian days on the Mayan Riviera
Mick Brown savours the ramshackle charm of Tulum, a village the developers haven’t got to – yet.
By Mick Brown 11:44AM GMT 09 Mar 2011, Published Originally at The Telegraph
They have built a cycle path since I was last in Tulum, two years ago – a smooth, broad strip of concrete that runs for a couple of miles alongside the road from the town to the beach. A cause of considerable civic pride, heralded by a sign on the main highway approaching the town from Cancun, the path is undoubtedly a boon for both locals and visitors, but it carries more ominous portents.
Halfway along, a broad drive cuts into the jungle, marked by a small, glass-sided bungalow: the sales office for a forthcoming development, Aldea Zama, promising condominiums, hotels and shopping plazas. Outside town they are breaking ground for an airport, and there is talk of a golf course. In short, it could be the beginning of the end.
The southernmost point of Mexico’s so-called Riviera Maya, Tulum was little more than a dusty hamlet 10 years ago, a magnet for backpackers drawn by the Mayan ruins that perch in a spectacular position on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean and an expanse of white beach as beautiful as any in the world. Accommodation was to be found only in a couple of thatched cabanas on the beach and a handful of modest pensions in town.
From Cancun to Playa Del Carmen the road is now lined with enormous resort complexes, but the plague has yet to reach Tulum. The buses carrying day-trippers to the Mayan ruins turn off before reaching the town itself, and few even venture on to the beach, where throughout the day fishermen land their catch under a cloud of circling frigate birds and the occasional squadron of pelicans skirting the tops of the waves.