10 months later and we’re sitting on our favourite beach in Tulum, Mexico. We have come back to see our friend Roberto and to stay with him at Shambala. We arrived on a dazzling blue Saturday afternoon after a 3 and a half hour plane hop from New York with a purser on board who fancied his chances in stand-up. ‘I apologise ladies and gentlemen but unfortunately due to heavy storms and inclement weather, we will be delayed here for 4 hours’ …and as the anticipated heavy groan rumbled around the aircraft threatening to overload it with hot air…with the flick of a tannoy switch the purser announced ‘Only joking folks we will be ready for takeoff in 5 minutes’. As it happened we were delayed an hour but aforementioned purser manipulation had rendered communal inertia; the relief of a threatened longer delay ebbing away – hell what was an hour compared to four?
We landed with a bump; literally. The wheels hit the runway tarmac then bounced. A nervous round of applause announced our arrival at Cancun airport. After clearing their efficiently diplomatic customs process; you press a button, if it’s green you walk through if it’s red you get all your bags opened and searched, a gaggle of zealous but friendly tourist touts in immaculate uniforms, outnumbered the arrivals by around 3 to 1. We dodged them and headed straight for the bus ticketing desks and 2 bus rides and just under 2 hours later; one bus to Playa Del Carmen (where I scoffed a sweet tamale from a street food vendor – basically mashed up sweetened sweetcorn wrapped in its leaves- yummy!) and a quick change for the bus to Tulum, we were back in our favourite one horse town where the clouds had rolled in and a light rain was washing across the dusty pavements. We ran across the road with our bags, feeling conspicuous in our jeans and trainers amongst the colourful locals and leathered feral hippy community, and holed up for a late afternoon chow down in La Nave, the same Italian waiter serving, and recognizing us, as we remembered from our last visit here in November of last year. A 700 peso taxi drive down the Boca Pila took us back to Shambala where passing Hurricane Gustav was chopping up the ocean and throwing waves up over the beach until they were lapping around the first 2 cabanas of Shambala’s stake of the beach.
Roberto greeted us with big hugs and a chilled bottle of white wine which we managed to drink between runs up and down the beach to drag beach furniture and cushions out of the grasp of the encroaching sea. A couple of days later one of the big white beach mattresses was whipped out to sea as Hurricane Hannah passed by.
Almost 2 weeks later and beach life had totally kicked back in; waking up early to brilliant blue skies, dazzling sun, (tons of bad hair days) , morning breakfast preparation with Wendy, Tia and Marisella whilst Pancho and Demtriou sweep the overnight tide’s seaweed off the beach. Later followed by long walks feet sinking in to sand and being lapped at by waves with Enzo, Roberto’s black Labrador….looking out for the signs of nocturnal turtle activity. These massive and prehistoric looking creatures come up out of the sea to dig craters to lay their eggs; then digging a second hole several feet away to distract from the first one where the eggs are laid. Deep grooves ploughed in to the sand are created by their slow and laborious drag up the beach out of the sea, pulling themselves along on their front flippers. We were lucky to witness this humbling act around 2am one morning; watching the turtle scoop the sand out, throwing it back over its shell in arching clumps with the methodic efficiency of a mechanical digger. The locals swept their feet across the tracks leading to the eggs to clear away evidence of the turtles path….whilst everything was illuminated by the full moon, like someone had flicked a light switch on for the beach.
Keep posted – the photos are coming in a day or two!