Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No Hot Water

March 4

There’s no hot water. I don’t do cold showers, though I did in Panama, but that was because there was never any promise of hot water. Joanna assures me she’ll have the plumber look at the water heater today and figure out what’s what.

It’s my first official day in Tulum and my plan is to head into town to inquire about purchasing bicycles for Karen’s apartment. She asked me to get two which makes me wonder how I’ll get both back to her place, especially with limited Spanish. After that, I plan on heading to the beach. I love the beach here. It’s my favorite beach in the whole world, so far. The water is so blue it looks fake. And it’s always warm – at least when I’ve been here.

After a great breakfast at Empanada Joe’s, I head down the main street in Tulum in search of bicycles. It turns out there are two places that sell them. The problem is that either place doesn’t have a set. One place actually has a set, but they are baby-aspirin pink and I doubt that will go over so well with male renters. Plus, the bikes for sale are all mountain bikes and the ones I’m seeing everywhere are more of the cruiser types. This definitely warrants some more research, but it will have to wait because I have a date with La Playa.

I hail a cab and direct the driver to the hotel where I stayed in ’06. I figure if nothing else, I can use their chairs on the low. The beach is about a 10 minute ride from Tulum Pueblo. It’s been a few years and as we head towards the beach, it all starts to come back to me. The beach road has all of the main hotels. The best part about Tulum is the hotels are not mega-properties, in fact some are a few cabanas on the beach with thatched roofs and a hammock. Some of the more sophisticated hotels are eco-friendly and the one I stayed in the last time I visited turned their electricity off at 11pm every night until 8am the following day.

We make our way down the beach road past the one block stretch of restaurants, cafes and a few souvenir shops. Just as we pass Zamas, a well-known hotel and beachfront restaurant, the road opens up and I get my first look at the ocean. She is spectacular and I am almost moved to tears. I am so happy to see her and to be here!!

On the beach, I decide to walk down a bit and explore my options. There are several hotels that also serve as beach clubs and with some you can pay a small fee to rent a chair. Others let you lounge for free as long as you buy drinks and food. I’m looking forward to the freedom of going topless as it is legal in Mexico, so I opt for a more secluded spot on the beach where I can lay my towel and chill in peace.

It’s a beautiful day although a bit windy, but I don’t care. I’ve got my sunscreen on, my top off and the sound of the beach serenading me to sleep.

A few hours later, I decide it’s time to pack up and head back to Tulum Pueblo for some food and a beer. It’s been a great first day on the beach and I happily take my time walking on the shore back towards town, letting the water splash on my legs as the waves crash against them.

Two beers and an order of guacamole later, I’m back in town. I stopped into one of the internet cafes to check my email and am ready to make the walk back to the apartment for hopefully, a nice hot shower. There’s a small supermarket on the road leading back to Karen’s. I stop in for a few things, mainly those mosquito coils that we used in Trinidad which helped keep the mosquito’s away. As I’m leaving the supermarket, I notice a beautiful dog walking along the road with a young man.

The dog looks like a cross between a Great Dane and Labrador retriever. She’s black with tiny speckles of gray and bronze throughout her coat. I decide against approaching the owner to ask if I can pet her. I’m not sure why I make this choice, but I do. However, I admire her as they pass with a smile.

“Che’s fren-lee”, the young man says as he steps towards me with the dog. I’m surprised by his accent because he looks more American to me than Mexican. I stop and pet the dog asking its name. “CaRO-lEEN”, the guy replies. I kneel down to pet her. “Hola CarolEEn.”

We fall into step with each other and the guy begins to tell me how stressed he is because he’s training this dog, who happens to be worth 25,000 pesos and just an hour ago, she got loose and ran into the jungle. He tells me that he had to run into the jungle looking for her amongst the wild pigs who can kill you. “Wow, “ I reply. “You could use a drink, huh?” He smiles. “Jes!” And before I thinkt about it, I invite him for a beer.

We dip into a local restaurant just down the road towards the apartment and sit down to have a beer.

My new friend’s name is Fernando and he is from Mexico. He trains dogs all over Mexico and has only been in Tulum for a month. He’s also a dolphin trainer and works at the Xel-ha, which is a big water park/reserve in the area. He’s very animated and his English is excellent.

He’s come to Tulum to open up a dog training facility and has been living in a place just next to Karen’s where he has his “pack”. I swear this guy is like a Mexican version of the Dog Whisperer. He’s totally bohemian as he tells me about the last couple of months of moving around and existing on potato chips. I’m fascinated by the fact that he’s an animal trainer and I want to hear more about it.

“Ju should come to house and I show you my pack.”

Okay, not that fascinated. No deals buddy. It’s still Mexico.

We finish our beers and I tell him about myself and he’s also a writer. It’s amazing what a random meeting can bring into your path. He tells me he wants me to come to Xel-ha to see his “dolphins show.” I’m psyched. We walk the rest of the way down the road and his turnoff is first. I bid my new friend good-bye and continue on to Karen’s.

Not bad for my first day in Tulum.

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