Mexico: Wrung Out With Pleasure in Tulum


IMG_2778Peeeeeep. Peeeeeep. A long and piercing peep disturbs my slumber. I lie there and pretend I can ignore it.

Peeeeep. There it goes again. It’s somewhere around 6:00am and those crazy Mexican sinsonte birds are at it again. I peel off my eye mask and sunlight floods the room. As much as I’d like to sleep in, I’ll gladly take the call of the wild over an alarm clock. A cuervo bird chirps a catcall whistle, and a woodpecker hammers away. I crawl out of bed, latch open the oak door that leads out to the marble patio and then dive back in and absorb the view. What’s not to love? It’s a jungle out there of mangrove, palm, arbusto and bejuco trees with leaves of bright and brilliant greens. Through the palm leaves morning sunlight twinkles across the ocean like stars. Waves crash and I can hear the tide rolling, rolling, rolling. Although it feels more like calling, calling, calling. I’ve been in Tulum for a week and head home tomorrow, which leaves only one thing to do—suit up. It’s going be another tough day.

For the past 12 years I’ve made a pilgrimage to Tulum. Yes, there are so many other places to visit—and I do—but there’s a piece of heaven here I can’t do without. From those noisy birds to the pitch, black jungle where at night you can’t see your hand in front of your face. The hospitality and generosity of Mexicans, their culture and food, and the way their very good English compensates for my not so great Spanish. I like meeting folks who’ve settled here from different countries and followed the call to get off the conventional grid. Their spirit is palpable and inviting. It’s a mellow no frills kind of zone where anything goes and the common draw is the pristine water of the Riviera Maya that works a kind of magic.

How many photos can one person have of an ocean? Lots. It doesn’t really matter how many I take though, I can never bring these colors home. Fine, sugary sand mingled up in sea-foam ripples along the shoreline as the tide pulls back. It’s hypnotic as it comes and goes and I could easily gaze at it all day, but the Mayan sea is calling my name. I stand in crystal clear water the color of pale sea glass and spot little shells with soft pink edges. A school of tiny fish dart quickly left, right left, then disappear. I like to play in this tranquil area a bit before I get my butt kicked by the nonstop roll of waves awaiting me further out. Eventually, I dive into turquoise. Only Mother Nature could whip up this cocktail of blue and green to create such design. I paddle around but don’t get far before a sheer, blue wall rushes towards me. I take cover and dive under it and have just enough time to take a breath before I’m caught up in a crash of waves—some small, some gigantic—that seem to come from all directions. Salt water rushes into my noise, mouth, and throat. Tossed about, my knees scrape the ocean floor. I find balance, sputter and feel my bikini bottoms around my thighs. Bright, white, bubbly foam rushes around me. I regain my dignity, take a breath and next thing I know, I’m knocked down by another swell. A glutton for this sort of punishment, I willingly return for further cleansing. Because that’s what it feels like to be here. Whether the day has greeted me with an ocean as smooth as a pane of glass that I can dissolve right into or a rough and tumble surf, the sea is the only natural elixir that can work magic on my body, mind, heart and soul.

Sun-kissed and salty, I drag myself out and collapse for a siesta under a palapa. I’ll go back in for a few more rounds until the sunset turns the sea a shade of sparkling sapphire. It’s a hard habit to break.

Later, I’ll set my phone to wake me before the birds get around to it. Tomorrow, I want to enjoy the last sunrise, the last long beach walk…the last dip. The final swim is bittersweet but it’s got to last until summer hits Brooklyn like the weight of the world. Tonight I head out through the jungle to the beach road for my last meal of fresh guacamole followed by fish tacos. Tomorrow I might be sad, but for now I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in a few margaritas on the rocks with salt, followed by a cup of vanilla gelato. It’s going to be a tough night.

About The Author: Claudia Santino is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She’s a contributing editor to and has writes a blog to encourage travelers to find their writing voice and share it. Visit her at

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2 responses to “Mexico: Wrung Out With Pleasure in Tulum

  1. I too love Tulum but could not have described it better than Claudia Santino. Heading there in February to swim in the beautiful water, walk along the white sandy beach and of course have a few margaritas and fish tacos.

  2. Thanks Ms. Santino!! Makes me want to pick up and go right this second!! I love Tulum and you captured it beautifully. Thank you.

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