My second and most important point to consider is multiple transfers. More often than not, if you are flying in to your holiday destination, you will be arriving at a gringo saturated hub. A safe getaway method is simply to evacuate as quickly as you can via another form of transport. A lot of tourists don’t have the time to go too far a field – why waste two days of your week’s holiday sitting on a bus? However, if you are serious about finding your own paradise, trust me - those two days will pay off when you are spending the other five by yourself, away from the frozen margarita hordes. Whether you take a bus, a boat, a taxi, a train or even a small plane if you’re feeling affluent, just get thee away from the main tourist centre. But here’s the clincher. You can’t just take one bus, that’s where everyone else who wants to get off the beaten path will be. Make the extra effort, take one extra bus down the coast, a second boat to a smaller island and you will be thanking me later.
So far this theory has helped me to find more seclusion and local life in Thailand, Spain and Samoa, and I was keen to test the theory out further. In need of a relaxing beach week post fast and furious road trip, we hunted around for a chilled out sanctuary. Copious ideas aside, it came down to money, and getting to Cancun in Mexico was the quickest and cheapest option. I sensed this wasn’t ideal, having most definitely heard of Cancun, most often in connection with the infamous Spring Break shenanigans. Needless to say, we bussed straight from the airport to supposedly more low key Playa del Carmen, where I was horrified to find millions of tourists, blaring music, enormous hotels dwarfing the beach front, McDonalds, Starbucks and really, not much of Mexico. What on earth was Cancun like this if this was the case here? Thank goodness we had only booked one night en route to the low key spot our Mexican based friend (and gorgeous, fabulous blogger) Renee had recommended.
The next day our second bus rolled down the coast into Tulum. The town was small and non-descript and definitely more Mexican. So far, so good. We hopped in a taxi, and twenty minutes of bumpy concrete road later, pulled into Paradise. Thank god. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the real Mexico, but it was a bungalow right on a beautiful beach with just a few other lounge chairs in sight. Even though Tulum had been developed to accommodate tourists like it’s distant northern cousins, it was done in a much more sedate fashion, happily leaving the beaches charms to speak for themselves. Although hotels lined the beach, they were of the ten occupancy, thatched bungalow style, which had the tendency to blend into the palm trees when you squinted your eyes just right. A bike ride along the coast to one of the few cafes or shops was an experience in island style crab dodging. And good luck finding somewhere to have a rave on the beach at night – a sincere lack of lights and music kept the tranquil star-gazing spirit alive. We had found what we were looking for, and spent lazy days wandering between the beach and our island style “pent house” not doing much at all.
The amusing epilogue is that we ended up back in Cancun after all. Apparently, you can’t fly to Cuba from Tulum. And so it all continues in the circle of – touristic - life. But this time, when we arrive in Havana, despite most online recommendations, we are heading for a guest house far away from the ‘main’ centre. I’m sure I’ll be cursing myself when it takes hours to get there from the airport. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Searching for Paradise
Posted by Fiona