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Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Day 18: Las Vegas on the Beach

February 25, 2006

With all due respect to the folks who have been to Cancun and loved it, or those who've (guess for a reason) ever called it the best resort of the Caribbean… to all the fans of Cancun, we can only say that tastes, obviously, differ… To start with, there are two very different parts of Cancun. Ciudad Cancun, the commercial and business center, is located on the mainland and is no different whatsoever from any other town in Yucatan (if not to mention higher prices of everything). Full of commercial activity, "El Centro" (downtown) might be a good place for a beer or a quick snack, but then you really feel like getting out of there.
Then there is "Tourists' Cancun" or "Zona Hotelera", a narrow 15-mile-long spit packed with architecturally distinctive hotels, all-inclusive beachfront resorts, well-known chain restaurants and upscale shopping malls, frequently interrupted by a noisy construction site. The poor region has been affected by one (or several) of the numerous recent hurricanes, and many facilities are undergoing a compulsory process of renovation. Most of the glorious white sand beaches along the "Cancun Strip" have also been damaged by the hurricane and still look somewhat savage, in the negative sense of the word. Of course, it's all coming back along with more new fancy restaurants and towering hotels, but, for the moment, even the locals recommend to head south to Playa del Carmen, or north to Isla Mujeres (passenger/ car ferries between Cancun and Isla Mujeres run daily, many times per day).
For a yet better picture of Cancun, try putting Las Vegas on a beach (only in your imagination, please!) and here you have it. Not sure about gambling, but the visual representation is very close.

We took some more time for fun in the rising sun and the water, which was incredibly warm even at that early hour. The waves were great, too! Plan on getting all wet even if you only wanted to soak your feet :) As it was getting really hot, we finally headed south looking for a more secluded beach. The coastal Mex 307 takes you all the way down to the border of Belize and has a few turnoffs (often unmarked and barely discernible dirt roads) leading to the beaches. Be careful if you ever plan this route: what may be described by your tour book as a nice beach with bungalows, camping facilities, restrooms, restaurants, etc, etc… may in reality no longer exist. We checked out two such places. Chemuyil Beach - "The Prettiest Beach in the World", about 13 miles north of Tulum - is now a private property with some construction activity going on. The guys working at the construction told us that the little beach town we came looking for was brought down more than 5 years ago, and all the area, including the access to the beach, was privatized. (No idea how this could be the case when all sources of info we have consulted stated that any beach in Mexico was owned by the government). It was very nice of those folks to let us have a swim in the lovely little bay. The other one, Xcacel beach, is now home to two big resorts and overpriced restaurants (one of which advertised "lunch special for 2 for only USD 70!" Didn't look like a-helluva-deal to us… :))

Tip #1: Even the very latest tour books you can get before departure (like our Lonely Planet Guide to Central America, 2005 edition; or AAA guide to Mexico, 2005 edition) provide the info that is at least 2 years old. It is completely normal, bearing in mind the amount of time they need to gather and edit the info before they can finally release the book. Yet, this also means that you shouldn't take every fact for granted when building your itinerary, so be aware and always have a backup plan in case the campsite you arrive at late at night happens to no longer exist.

A quick stop in Playa del Carmen. With a long strip of powdery white sand and turquoise water, as well as an offshore reef perfect for diving and snorkeling, this "little fishing village with little more than a ferry stop" (the way Playa del Carmen was known just over a decade ago) has turned into one of the world's fastest-growing beach resorts. A pedestrian street packed with hotels, restaurants and souvenir stores stretches along the beach just a block from the water. You can have a nice chat with a fellow European while having an expensive beer in one of the chic restaurants, and will surely run into a lot of folks from the States, but don't expect to find anything Mexican in this town. Even so, the hurricane-unaffected beaches and more laid-back mood of the town made it our preference to Cancun.

Tip #2: Just don't shop for souvenirs in Playa del Carmen. Avoid the overpriced kitsch and save your money for the authentic handicrafts of Chichen-Itza.

We kept ourselves entertained in Playa del Carmen for the entire two hours, but then continued rolling south in search for cozier, more secluded beaches and towns, which wasn't such an easy thing to do! Mex 307 is separated from the beach by a rather broad (1.5-2 mile-wide) strip of jungle, and the turnoffs to the beaches are either well hidden, or lead to a gated private property or yet another resort. No camping areas whatsoever, unless we managed to miss them. This way we finally reached Tulum, 60 miles/63km further south via Mex 307.

Tulum, again, means two things: the present-day town of Tulum and the Tulum Ruins of the ancient Maya city lying right atop the Caribbean cliffs with a beautiful white sand beach below. While the ruins might not be that impressive as Uxmal or Chichen-Itza, the dramatic location of Tulum compensates for the archeological shortfall. You can even go down to the beach and sunbathe or swim right under the remains of a once-great city of the Maya. In our opinion, Tulum, without a doubt, was a resort town of the Mayan rich and famous :)
There are plenty of places to stay in and around Tulum, starting from camping areas and ending with $35 hotels just steps to the ruins.

Tip #3: Admission to the Tulum Ruins is USD 4 per person and another USD 4 for parking. If you arrive by car, just park it somewhere in town or at one of the nearby restaurants (with the owner's permission, of course). Everything in Tulum is in the walking distance. Save your 4 bucks for 4 beers, you'll need them after the walk in the heat :)

Cick on the pictures to enlarge

This is the best view of Cancun we managed to capture - it looks so much better from the distance :)

cancun beach

Cancun'as geriausiai atrodo is labai toli (pastebekite viesbuciu grandine horizonte :))

Parking the Caribbean way

chemuyil beach

Nissanui Karibu papludimiai irgi patinka

"The most beautiful beach in the world" is now private property - the best things always belong to somebody else :)

the prettiest beach in the world

"Graziausias pliazas pasaulyje" - privati nuosavybe. Geriausi dalykai visada jau kam nors priklauso :)

Tulum from a different angle. Still very impressive ('coz you know the ocean is right behind the pyramid! :))


Nedidukes, dailios Tulum'o piramides labiau primine Sventosios poilsio namelius, nei Maju sventyklas

One of the charming beaches along Mex 307

one of the beaches on Mex 307

Dar vienas "balto smelio rojus"

In our opinion, Tulum was the favourite vacation destination of the Mayan rich & famous :)


Musu manymu, Tulume atostogaudavo Maju valdzios atstovai :)

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

18-oji diena: Senoves Sventoji

2006 m. vasario 25

Kankuno (Cancun) vakar dar neprivaziavom - pritruko kokiu 50 km ir 1 val. miego (pradeda erzinti ankstyvo kelimosi pasekmes - vakare, vos tik sutemsta, mums, kaip virstoms, ima merktis akys), bet uz tat sugebejom apsinakvoti tokioj "skylej", kad smulkmenu geriau nei neaprasinesim - svariesiems ir tvarkingiesiems lietuviams gali pasidaryti silpna beskaitant. Na gerai, labai trumpai: is isvaizdos (pro besimerkiancias akis beziurint) kambarys atrode visiskai normalus - uz $10 jie visi panasiai atrodo. Apziurejom, kad butu svaru viduj ir svari patalyne; dusas su karstu vandeniu irgi buvo - cia musu poreikiai ir baigesi.
Tikroveje, deja, karsto vandens nebuvo. Kuriam laikui palikom atsukta krana - gal nubegs saltas, ir prades begti siltas. Siltas vanduo begti nepradejo, uz tat saltas taip gerai nubego, kad is ryto nebeturejom jokio vandens! Ka gi, pasiziurejome I tai is teigiamos puses - ir kam mums tas vanduo, kada tamsiausiam kambario kampe irengtame duse vis tiek nera elektros (perdege lempute) :)).

Tad zvaliai prasikrapstom akis, nepagailim dezodoranto, ir - I kelia. Kam tas vanduo, jeigu jau uz nepilnos valandos busime Kankune - pasaulinio garso kurorte, kur gulesime palmiu pavesy ant balto smelio ir siurbciosime margaritas, o tolumoje ant bangu supsis Algirdo Brazausko jachta…. (blogesniu atveju, tiks ir Tomo Kruzo); na ir periodishkai pro sali turetu prabegti gauja jaunu, nuogu amerikieciu - toki Kankuno ivaizdi yra sudariusi Amerikos televizija, nevengianti pamineti, kad Kankunas yra megstamiausia koledzu studentu pavasario atostogu vieta, kur tukstanciai ju susirenka svesti "lyg rytojaus nebebutu" ("like there is no tomorrow"). Idomu bus pagaliau pamatyt…

Kankuno realybe - siek tiek kitokia. Visu pirma, miestas susideda is dvieju visiskai skirtingu daliu: centro/ senamiescio (El Centro) ir turistines zonos (Zona Hotelera). Judrus, nesvarokas, palyginti su iki siol matytais tradiciniais meksikietiskais miestais - labai naujas ir labai nemeksikietiskas… trumpai tariant, nuobodus centras nepasirodo kvieciantis uzsibuti, tad sukam link "turistinio Kankuno", kuris gana kompaktiskai ikurtas atskiroje saloje (24 km ilgio ir gal kilometro plocio sala kazkuo primena musiske Kursiu Nerija).
Pirmasis ispudis - grazu. Baltas smelis, turkio spalvos vanduo…visai kaip per TV :) Minusai: Brazausko jachta nesisupa, ir nuogi zmones nelaksto (kita vertus, abu minusai gal ne tokie ir dideli… :)) Antrasis ispudis - neskoninga. Sala prigrusta milzinisku moderniu viesbuciu, parduotuviu, brangiu restoranu ir pigiu amerikietisku hamburgeriniu. Palme ar gele iziureti sunkoka - visa augmenija pranykusi tarp betono deziu, o jei netycia dar kur likes tarpas, ten, pro dulkiu debesi ir kranu gaudesi, galima izvelgti kylancios naujos dezes silueta. Statybos vyksta pilnu tempu - vienas is ne per seniausiai prauzusiu uraganu apgriove miesta ir papludimius, todel dabar viskas ir statoma, ir atstatoma… Juokemes, kad tereikia viska apkarstyti pigiom lemputem, ir turetumem Las Vegas'a ant Karibu juros kranto.

Isvaziuojant is Kankuno, benzino koloneleje mus uzkalbina meksikietis-amerikietis- cikagietis, kuriam knieti suzinoti, del ko mes atostogoms atsisiuntem savo masina (isdavikai Kalifornijos numeriai). Ka cia veikiam, kiek kainavo, ar ne per brangu, juk cia issinuomoti butu pigiau?.. Atsakom jam, kad brangoka, bet mes labai jau priprate prie savu daiktu… Va net ir savo saldytuva I viesbucio kambari atsisiuntem :)) Smalsusis pasnekovas, pasirodo, cia turi giminiu, todel daznai lankosi Kankune. Papasakojo, kad iki uragano Kankunas buvo kitoks. Dabar gi, deja, pliazai - nuniokoti, mieste - vien statybos… Patare leistis zemyn, peitu kryptimi, link Playa del Carmen miestelio, kuri uraganas aplenke. Ka gi, paskubom issimaudom (be jachtu ir margaritu, bet fantastiskai siltam vandeny) ir puikiu greitkeliu per pusvalandi privaziuojam Playa del Carmen.

Vos pries pora desimtmeciu buvusi mazas, apsnudes zveju miestelis, siandiena Plaja - vienas is sparciausiai auganciu pasaulinio garso kurortu. Judri pesciuju gatve - pilna restoranu, viesbuciu, suvenyru parduotuviu ir turistu is viso pasaulio (ypac daug europieciu). Viskas lyg ir panasu I Kankuna, bet Plajoj kazkaip viskas skoningiau, jaukiau ir maloniau. Vanduo ir papludimiai - beveik idealus; vienintelis trukumas, kad juos reikia dalintis su tukstanciais "bendraminciu". Minusai: Playa del Carmen - puikus tarptautinis kurortas, kuriame galima pamatyti, isgirsti, nusipirkti, suvalgyti ir kitaip patirti lygiai ta pati, ka ir betkuriame kitame gerame kurorte, bet kurioje salyje. Kadangi kainos "pritaikytos" turistams, vietiniai cia nekisa nosies. Tradicisko meksikietisko Plajoj nepastebejom visiskai nieko, o pigiais beverciais niekuciais uzverstu "suvenyru" parduotuviu reiktu vengti is tolo - geriau pataupyti pinigus unikaliems Chichen-Itza rankdarbiams (nuo Plajos iki Chichen-Itza - vos 3 valandos vaziavimo puikiu greitkeliu).

Kaip idomu bebutu bendrauti su "tautieciais europieciais", per pora valandu Playa del Carmen mums vis tik atsibosta, ir nutariam leistis toliau I pietus, kur turetu buti sunkiau privaziuojamu (tik ne mums su sitokiu off-roading'o patyrimu!! :)), todel maziau populiariu tarp turistu, pliazu. Mex 307 leidziasi palei pat Karibu jura, bet kranto nesimato - mus nuo vandens skiria kokio 1.5 km padziuvusiu dziungliu ruozas. Tenka bandyti viena po kito link kranto vedancius duobetus zvyrkelius, kuriu dauguma baigiasi vartais I privacias valdas ar, geresniu atveju, visa pakrante uzsigrobusiais viesbuciais ir restoranais, siulanciais papietauti uz "ypac gera kaina: pietus dviems zmonems - tik $70!!"
Isdristam praleisti sia puikia "akcija" pigiai papietauti. Net ir I privacias valdas nesibraunam, nors ir kaip vilioja didziules skyles tvoroj ir vos uz keliu zingsniu melynuojantis vanduo…:) Na gerai jau, viena karta nesusilaikem ir pasiprasem pas statybose dirbusius zmones leidimo issimaudyti. Statybininkai mus maloniai pakviete vidun, ir papasakojo, kad nuostabaus grozio ilanka ir kokoso palmemis apauges pliazas (mazdaug toki isivaizdavom Kankuna) dar pries 5 metus priklause valstybei ir buvo placiai pagarsejes kaip "La playa mas bonita del mundo" (graziausias pasaulyje pliazas). Siandiena cia - privati valda. Klausiame ju, kaip taip gali buti - juk ne vienoj knygoj skaitem, kad visi Meksikos papludimiai - valstybes nuosavybe. Statybininkai tik paguzcioja peciais. Mes is solidarumo irgi paguzciojam… Nei ju, nei musu, tokios permainos, akivaizdziai, nedziugina.

Taip, nejucia, privaziuojam Tuluma (Tulum) - senoves Maju kurorta :) Anot archeologu, Tulumas - tai tik dar vieno senoves Maju miesto-tvirtoves likutis, taciau siuo atveju mes su archeologais linke gincytis. Tulumo griuvesiai yra ant paties Karibu juros kranto. Senojo miesto teritorija aptverta dailia akmenine siena, viduje vesi egzotiniai augalai, o pacios piramides dydziu labai panasios I Sventosios poilsio namelius. Didziausia piramide (greiciausiai buvusi poilsiautoju kulturos namais) - ant paties skardzio krasto. Apacioje - vaizdelis, kokio prasmatniausias pasaulio Ritz Carlton galetu pavydeti. Musu manymu, cia atostogaudavo Maju valdzios atstovai :)

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