Shit, that was a long title. *shrug*
Wow, ok, where to begin. Reza is currently laying in her bedroom under the ceiling fan being a teenager stroking her social media. Honestly, I don’t mind. It keeps her connected to her friends and some of the things she’s said to them about how cool this trip has been? Well, that’s the heartwarming feedback I know she’ll never directly provide. And you know what? That’s ok, too. It’s the end result that matters.
Reza fell asleep at about 7:00 PM last night (Eastern Time, mind you) and slept until about 8:00 this morning when I not-so-cunningly woke her up to say, hey, let’s get the fuck out of dodge? Travel days, yo. Let’s get to them. So, we drove from Chichén Itzá and the Mayaland Bungalows (which I can’t recommend more; they were super rad in all the ways! Thanks Jason and Eryc!) (More on that in a bit, by the way) down walls, and I mean, absolute walls of thick Mexican jungle on either side of the two-lane highway that got us to Playa del Carmen earlier today. In some places, there was a bit of canopy over the highway itself and I just kept thinking about what it was like for people on horseback or on foot to travel these roads: The peril from every direction means you gotta really want it. I was having a hard time finding the right music though, but found a companion in Fear Inoculum (the track, not the album) which hit at the perfect moment as we came closer to the Caribbean and the storm clouds noticed our arrival.
…. Just like the parking people did. Holy shit, ok, so if you read this and you ever decide to go to Tulum, the ruins themselves, pay attention because this shit was some crazy-ass bullshittery and I don’t want this to happen to you.
So the GPS was sending us to the center of the town of Tulum itself, but I couldn’t imagine what I’d want to see there, being that the focal point is on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, so no. Reroute. We’re cruising down the street, avoiding pedestrians, trucks hauling God-Knows-What, and turn onto the street that leads to the entrance of the ruins, when, I’m not kidding, no less than nine different parking attendants, each with their own red plastic flag waving hysterically, fucking screaming at me like I was offending their religion in some way. My first thought was that I had turned down a forbidden street, that I’d missed a sign saying that cars weren’t allowed, or that I was literally going to be the cause of the Mayan apocalypse. No joke. It was fucking terrifying.
I froze. The one guy I finally asked what I needed to do, he motioned me over to an empty space on the curb and then, with his official Tulum guide name tag and speech that he wasn’t about to sell me a time share, sicked Christina on me to give me my options about the three types of tours I was able to purchase. I was fucking incensed. I was cool about her pitch, ’cause I honesty wanted to know my options, but god dammit, if I didn’t almost hit a few of these guys (and girls) with the car, give my child a heart attack, and almost make the entire experience bitter and joyless.
The ruins themselves didn’t have the impact on me that Chichén Itzá did for a number of reasons, first and foremost the highly-monetized and tourist-trap feel of the space. I imagine a number of years ago it wasn’t quite like that, but the tourists who completely ignored the ropes and signs to go sit on the steps of an ancient building or stand at the edge of a cliff like a dumbass soaked it all up with their selfie sticks and influencer poses and I felt diffused. Even the boat ride out on the sea – fucking gorgeous waters, mind you – seemed contrived when you saw the literal dozens of boats out on the reef with tourists by the, well, boatload, pockmarking the teal and tan of shallow water out away from the shoreline. I had no desire to be sequestered with people I could only imagine didn’t give a shit about the history or majesty of the place and only wanted that picture of themselves in their aviators and flat-bills for their Snapchat profile. It bummed me out, so much so, that Reza and I got caught up in the shuffle of each spot that had a glorious photographic opportunity with little to no regard for the reason why we were there.
I told Reza that it was the people that threw me off. She agreed. We both thought that a sunrise expedition inside Tulum would be spectacular, if for nothing but the fact that you might be able to reach out and touch the space, the energy, void of modern trappings that deflect the spiritual waves, forcing care only on toward the ones crashing on the beach below. The sad part is that I didn’t hear that kind of experience as an option. I hope that changes. It felt like a caged jaguar, once imposing, once beautiful, now, a shell of mind and body, simply existing as a reason to point and crow. It deserves better.
Later this evening… oh my fucking god I was hangry with a Capital Fucking H. Reza ate a leftover cheeseburger I picked up for her while she was sleeping last night on the way down here. Me? Fucking hostess donuts. I was starving for real, adult food. Lightheaded, pissy, and exceptionally annoyed, we went to the beach for a bit so she could play in the water. I wish I could have enjoyed that moment a bit more; I know I seemed like a stick in the mud, but dude. (Note to self: Be more upbeat tomorrow. End this trip on a positive note, not a sad bastard downer.)
I found a greek joint that served gyros and the standard fare, but in traditional JC fashion went to the restaurant right next door, ’cause I couldn’t see the signs that were only facing the road. It wasn’t until we sat down did I realize that we were in the wrong spot. Reza knew that asking me to leave and go over there was a bad idea so we managed and frankly, the octopus dish I had was nicely done. Her Lobster Spaghetti though? She wasn’t a fan. Tomorrow, we need to do something more traditional that she’ll chomp and love. After legitimately drinking three fucking bottles of sparkling water, two bread baskets, and an entire appetizer of raw fish – oh, can’t forget the baked fish complimentary apps they gave us – I was finally ready to call myself human again. God damn, that was rough!
So back we came to our AirBnb, which doesn’t hold a candle to Mayaland. How could it? (I promise, more on that later.) We squeezed the car into the parking space that would prevent me from having to figure out how the fuck I was gonna find enough change to keep from getting a parking ticket and came upstairs.
Yeah. Tough day. Tomorrow will be better and I hope more fun for the girl. No doubt she had fun today, but when Dad is in a bad mood, it radiates and I can’t have that tomorrow. I guess if I took up the offers provided by no less than four different street hawkers in a 20 minute span offering weed and cocaine, that might change my perspective? Jesus Fucking Christ. Blew me away.
Speaking of blowing me away. I need to write about Mayaland and Chichén Itzá. But I’m gonna save that for a bit later. Maybe tonight, but a different post. It’s chill time.