Sunday, 6 January 2013

Vacaciones en México: Parte 3

Our collectivo driver?
Still no rain and a day that saw temperatures well above 30C. It was also a day when we ventured to the Mayan fortress city of Tulum. About 30 minutes to the south of our hotel and we took a collectivo to get there. What's a collectivo? Small vans with room for maybe 12 passengers which ply their trade up and down the local highway between the main towns. You want to stop one? Put your hand up: there are few formal bus stops. You want the driver to stop somewhere? Tell him when you get on. No timetables and one set price per ride - a very affordable 35 pesos (about £1). A great idea but sadly too informal (and effective) to be used as a model for public transport in the UK. We much prefer to run buses that are too big for their passenger numbers, at a frequency that meets no-one's needs and with bus stops that are as inconveniently spaced as they can be. Now here's a weird thing. The driver on our return looked remarkably like Muammar Gaddafi. So much so that I'm beginning to doubt that his demise in Libya was quite as terminal as we were lead to believe.

Once at the entrance to the ruins, we had a chance to get familiar with what seemed to be the Mexican Code of Conduct for Tourist Queues. It goes like this:
1. Make sure, when maximum numbers of visitors are anticipated, to reduce the number of ticket booths open to just one.
2. Make sure that this single booth is staffed by an innumerate illiterate who only speaks an obscure Mayan dialect.
3. Make sure that the cost of the tickets involves the most difficult and most time consuming change-giving conceivable.
4. Make sure that as little shade as possible is provided for the queues.
5. Make sure that, every now and again, the queues are moved to keep everyone in the sun for as long as possible.

But it was worth it as the queueing technique made certain that at least 80% of the potential entrants expired from heat stroke and reduced the numbers tramping over the buildings. Just kidding: the attrition was more like 50%.

House of Columns at Tulum
Yes, it was worth it as the ruins themselves are striking. Perched on a cliff over looking the Caribbean, their position is stunning. Lots of iguanas around, looking like impassive sentinels to the secrets of the site. We had visited Tulum previously, perhaps 15 years ago, when there were no restrictions on clambering over what you liked. Nowadays, this is forbidden. It's a shame as viewing the carvings and glyphs from a distance just doesn't have the same impact.

We finished off our visit with a dip in the rolling waves crashing on to Tulum Beach. Deep blue sea and white beaches - just as we remembered it. The waves were massive. Eat your hearts out, Cornish Surfers! You would be orgasmic at the size of them. and yet another opportunity to show my photographic prowess. I'm getting quite good at this.

 Now you see her. Now you don't.

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