Tulum, Mexico, June 2018


Having already spent one vacation in the Carribean this year, the last thing we expected was that we would spend a second one. However, Louise's nephew Dan has been dating a beautiful Russian emigre named Svetlana. They both live in New York City and we saw them when we visited Larchmont in May 2017. Despite her potentially intimidating presence - 5'11", gorgeous ex-model - we found her sweet and amazingly friendly. She suggested that the wedding take place in Tulum, in the Yucatan, and that's where it happened.

Louise and I decided to make a week of it, so we rented an apartment in Tulum with enough space for Madeleine and Antonia as well as us. (The girls came down later, being working stiffs and all.) We flew to Cancun, rented a car and drove down to Tulum - a little under 2 hour drive.

Tulum used to be a small town, with some interesting Mayan ruins but no great tourist trade. That has changed and the beach road is now jammed with hotels, restaurants, clubs and the like. One disadvantage of this is that access to the beach is controlled by these establishments and since we were not staying at a beach hotel, we had to rely on public beaches. There were some public beaches, although we ended up spending little time on them. The reason for that is that - alas! - it rained every day we were there. The first day was mostly sunny and pleasant, with rain late in the afternoon. After that, the weather was mostly overcast and often raining. However, there were still interesting things to do, often with the aid of an umbrella, and we were not downhearted!

Here are some pics from our first day.

Sea Turtle Nest Louise on the Beach Beach Mountain

There were tours you could take out of Tulum; one of the most appealing of these was to Chichen Itza, one of the most famous of the Mayan ruins, complete with pyramids and Mayan mothers lamenting the sacrifice of their virgin daughters. But the weather was bad there, too, so we decided to check out the local Tulum ruins. You have to drive only a mile or so down the main road, where you turn off into a supermarket parking lot. As well as the supermarket, there are a zillion shops selling tourist paraphenalia. As you walk past a shop, the owner leaps to his feet and explains energetically why his shop is demonstrably better than the other shops and what a deal he will give you on his merchandise. There is a path which goes down to the ruins, although for a few pesos we took El Tren - a tractor pulling several brightly colored wagons. At the end of the path is the wall that once surrounded the Mayan buildings. The area enclosed is quite large - maybe half a square mile? - with many buildings separated by grassy fields. The ruins are not huge, like the pyramids at Chichen Itza, but there are many of them and they are quite well preserved. One path we took went up to the top of a cliff overlooking the sea; the building there was a temple to the wind god, which made perfect sense, given the constant onslaught of the wind from the sea.

Iguana Mayan walls Ruin
View of the temple of the wind god from the beach Louise being pestered by the wind god A view of the area covered by the ruins
More ruins
Temple of the descending god Temple of the descending god Ruin with relief carving

After taking El Tren back to the supermarket, we spent some time wandering around the shops there. Suddenly, I spied what looked like an enormous yellow snake lying on the ground. I went over to inspect it and found myself surrounded by Mayans, wearing ceremonial costumes. Now I've done it, I thought - I'll be tossed in the volcano for sure. But it turned out that, for the insignificant sum of 400 pesos, they wanted to give me a chance to pose for photos with them and the snake, a yellow python, about 12 feet long. I enthusiastically agreed, and they clicked off about 60 pictures on my phone of me holding parts of the python, surrounded by the Mayans. A bargain for $20!

Captured by Mayans Peter lunching with Pancho Villa

The rest of the week we mostly puttered around the city, doing touristy things. We ate at local restaurants, including one really good one. We shopped. We lounged. The girls arrived on Thursday, as did a lot of the other wedding guests. It continued to rain. Toni decided that she was going to swim, come what may, so went for a little dip in the pool by our apartment in the rain. Loud applause greeted her exploit, but it turned out that our neighbors were all watching a World Cup match which Mexico won.

Antonia and Madeleine in the apartment More rain Our pool

Paul and Roberta had rented a house on the beach. The plan was to have the actual ceremony on the beach, although the weather continued to be bad and we weren't sure what Plan B was. The rehearsal dinner was on Friday, in the beach house. Dan's grandfather, Bob Schallenberger was there - he is in his nineties and sharp as a tack, although his hearing is very bad, particularly in a room full of people. There were also other Schallenbergers whom I had not met before and who turned out to be very nice.

The wedding was scheduled for late afternoon on Saturday. The weather actually appeared to be clearing up on Saturday, and Lana and Dan decided to go with the ceremony on the beach. Chairs were placed on the sand, facing the Caribbean and a little arch was constructed out of local vegetation for the couple to stand under. Alas! After we sat down, a few drops of rain fell and people ran back to their cars to retrieve umbrellas. Fortunately, although it continued to drizzle a bit during the ceremony, it was not washed out.

Lana and friends The first dance Danced out

(I'm waiting for the official photos to be available to add to these, so this post isn't finished yet.)

Monday, we leave - drive to Cancun, say goodbye to Madeleine, hop on the plane to Austin and are soon home again.


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