Lessons from Tulum...

lessons for clara

TulumDearest Clara, I mentioned last week that one of my regrets, if you can call it that, is that we discovered Mexico so late in life, despite it being so close.  And a big reason for that was our trip to Tulum last year.  In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we made a point of going back again this year when we attended a wedding, even though it wasn't exactly on the way.  This little town, which no doubt has changed over the years, for us ended up being such a perfect hamlet, where the biggest decision of the day is whether you should have dinner on the beach side or the jungle side.

Here's what I've taken away from our two visits to this little unexpected paradise:

  • Nothing worthwhile actually requires electricity after ten o'clock in the evening: Because this town is officially off the grid, many places have eco-standards and run on generators, which means that many places don't necessarily have ready electricity after ten or so.  With the exception of some evenings where that fan would really be a nice to have, I found that I don't really miss electricity after that hour anyway.  Anything worth doing at that hour should be taking place in the dark or by candlelight anyway.
  • No swimming after dark: A midnight dip in seems like it would be a good idea---I've certainly thought so before. . . But during this most recent visit, a girl waded out into the dark ocean and accidentally stepped on a stingray, leaving her with a ferocious gash.  Some creatures are not meant to be disrupted at night, and dark waves should be best enjoyed from the shore.
  • The best ingredients don't need to have much more added to them: Tulum is the home of simple, beachside jungle fare, a happy mix between Mexican cooking with tinges of Italian inspirations.  And when you're working with fresh seafood and fresh fruits and herbs, much more just isn't needed.  When you're lucky enough to be surrounded by fresh food, take advantage and appreciate it for what it is.
  • When you turn everything off, turning it back on might scare you: Because of the off the grid nature of this area, we've found it's one of the few places we can shut everything off. . . phones. . . internet. . . TV. . . the constant barrage of news from the world. . . it takes a little while to get used to being without those things.  And then, at some point, you realize that you didn't need all of constant exposure to everything as much as you thought you did.  Turning it all back on will scare you---give yourself an extra day in the calm once you get home.
  • Some things are worth going back for: The first time we came to Tulum, I spotted a beautiful leather necklace in a shop. I didn't buy it, thinking that it might be one of those items that seems like a good idea in the place where you buy it, but doesn't quite fit your daily life at home.  And I regretted not buying it ever since we returned from the first trip.  On this second trip, I made us drive a bit out of the way to the same shop, scared that the necklace would be long gone.  It was. . . but they had another similar one, even better I would say.  So in this instance, I was lucky.  Try not to leave a lot of unfinished business if something is important to you, but if you missed something the first time, make an effort to go back.  It might not turn out the way you expected, but it will still be worth it.

All my love,

Mom