Mexico 2: Playa Del Carmen and Tulum

With the Cuban leg of the race completed, the team spent two nights in Playa getting their clothes washed and getting back in touch with capitalism.

They visited the local discount warehouse supermarkets where the reduced choice over the previous two weeks was replaced with seemingly infinite options. Supplies were purchased and they prepared for the upcoming tasks of this leg of the race.

Travelling by bus to Tulum, the team dumped their backpacks in their accommodation and set off to Akumal for the afternoon travelling via collectivo. Akumal is a sheltered bay area that is favoured by green and leatherback turtles. Once there, the team rented snorkel gear and took turns to complete “the swim with turtles” challenge.

Akumal beach
Ang off to swim with the turtles

Ang was able to spot one leatherback and 2 green turtles.  Simon had slightly more luck, swimming with one leatherback and three green turtles.  Simon remarked that unlike elsewhere, “these turtles were virtually tame, so you could get within 1 metre of them without them swimming off”.  Gear was returned and nachos and mojitos were consumed.

Post snorkel mojitos

Back to Tulum they raced.  There they had dinner which included for Simon Mole del Poblano (basically a chocolate sauce on chicken) and for Ang “the biggest seafood marinara EVER” which she was unable to finish. Oddly, since it was a Monday night, there was a local festival being held.  The team walked through the market and festival area before they were given the next challenge of this leg – ride the double decker doof doof party truck.

Boarding the customised neon truck, the team set off with a crowd of locals to do a hot lap of Tulum town.  Oddly, they were the only ones who actually danced on the truck as everyone else just enjoyed the ride.  After the hilarious ride and a couple of close calls with power lines, the team arrived back at the start point, which was conveniently just outside of their hostel.

Completely awesome Too much partying on the party truck

Returning to their accommodation to sleep before their bus the next morning, the team realised it was not going to be a quiet night.  The party bus continued doing laps until 11, when most of the festival punters went home.  That was also when the Mexican techno gypsytron band started. Simon would later say “the earplugs did nothing”.

The band would eventually say “Adios Amigos” at 5am the next morning after a marathon 6 hour set without any breaks!  The team ‘woke’ with Ang saying “I’m ruined before seeing any ruins!”. And they set off again by collectivo to the Tulum ruins.

As the first visitors to arrive, and with hours of operation between 8am and 6pm, the team was not allowed entry and had to wait until the site opened.  They waited the 20 minutes before they paid and rushed into the site.  Heading through the pretty manicured park-like setting, they headed for the beach where they completed the early morning swim challenge.

Tulum ruins Best Mayan ruin by the sea
Tulum ruin panorama
A current resident of Tulum This lizard just wants to be famous

Receiving their next clue, the team raced back through the ruins, over the high security fence and back to Tulum.  There they collected bags and boarded the bus to Chetumal.

Escaping from Tulum

Arriving in Chetumal a few hours later, they raced on to the customs pier where they waited a while before they boarded a water taxi to San Pedro.  Entering Belize at this point, they changed boats and sped off to Caye Caulker.

A fast boat to Belize Frigate!
Arriving at Caye Caulker

At Caye Caulker they headed to the south of the island, a few hundred metres from the water taxi dock and along the way were told to slow down and that people in the cemetery were ‘just relax’N’. Ignoring the requests to slow down, the team checked into the Tropical Paradise, where they had their own beach cabin over looking the sea, the pit stop for this leg of the race.


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