The Search for Bicycles, Beaches and Booze!
The sign was rickety and swung loosely on rusty chains. Chips of paint flittered down here and there, littering a sidewalk already dotted with cigarette butts and broken bottles. It was old, surely, but it still said clearly in green paint “Iguana Bicycles.”
We stood there, our heads cocked curiously, chewing on our lips with perplexity, muttering “huh” under our breaths. We had passed it no fewer than three times and would have sworn that the small bicycle shop, tucked into the side streets of Tulum Pueblo, didn’t exist. But there it was, right where the friendly locals said it would be. “Huh.”
We started the morning with fruit, yogurt and thick coffee at our hotel, Cabanas Copal, a tired resort of rustic cabanas with an unequaled location on the white-sand shores of the Caribbean Sea. No electricity, rickety walls and a thatched roof of palm fronds, but the ocean purrs all night long and the sun rises between swaying palm trees and above a glittering, pulsing sea right outside the bedroom window.
The view of the sunrise and sea from our cabana…
After breakfast, we decide to make the (by most counts) 3km hike into town to find a bike rental. The weather was perfect, sunny and 80 with that constant, salty breeze that one can find only in the Caribbean’s wintery season. Though shorter than the hike into town from our home in Lander, and despite the fantastic weather and tropical scenery, it seemed MUCH longer. But the bike path from the mini-village on the beach and the town proper was brand new and very fine, and very crowded with bikers ranging from locals going to work to tourists out for a morning cruise to hardcore bikers out to get in shape for triathlons.
Our goal was to find our own bikes to rent, and rumor had it there was a great place in town that kept its beach cruisers in good condition. But after walking there and muddling around unsuccessfully to find the Iguana bicycle shop, we decided it was time for a beer and a bathroom.
We stopped at La Llorona, a fairly new restaurant with a more-established Mexican handicraft store and a bungalow hotel on the beach. There, we ate some of the best sauces on homemade tortilla chips, drank some cold beers, chatted up the owner and asked a local about the bicycle shop. She pointed us in the right direction with more detail than our wayward rumors, and we set off.
After securing transportation, we headed back for an afternoon on the beach at Mezzanine, a posh beach hotel near the Tulum ruins that features a swanky Thai restaurant and 2-for-1 margaritas during happy hour(s). We sat and relaxed in the sun and watched the extreme kite boarders play in the opaline seas before heading back to our own Cabanas Copal and lounging on the beach with Coronas.
Not to constantly compare our lives to a Jimmy Buffett song, but…
Well he’s on his third drink before the wheels of the plane leave the ground…
And that’s just the start of a well-deserved, overdue binge
Meanwhile back in the city, certain people are starting to cringe!
You can’t fly to Mexico and NOT have a drink on the plane!
To get to Mexico from Wyoming, one must endure no fewer than three plane rides of varying lengths. For us, we drove two hours to Casper, WY, then from Casper to Salt Lake City, UT to Los Angeles, CA (definitely in my top 5 Worst Airports of All Time) to Cancun, at which time we hopped in a van for the two-hour ride to our Cabana in Tulum. When we checked in, the guy at the desk 1) heard me say that our name was “Pardo” and immediately began speaking Spanish (after he had greeted us in English) and 2) asked us how long we had been traveling, to which we paused awkwardly, counting the hours, and came up with something like 12 hours of travel time, not counting our layover in LA that including margaritas along with an exuberant and happily drunk chic on her way to Buenos Aires.
But once at our destination, we were greeted with a candle-lit cabana, cool ocean breezes, and a bottle of wine. We found some grub (and yes, we ate the vegetables, cooked or not; hmmm…) at a local dive down the street, which was also fated to have no electricity this time of night. Candles lit the tables and the bar, and tiki torches led the way to hammocks should you feel the need for a sleep.
We spent the night of the full moon outside in the warmth and humidity, listening to waves and wind and the rustle of palm fronds, and watching thick, heavy Caribbean clouds roll in from the sea and careen over and around us. Every once in a while, we could feel a spit of rain from rainstorms that were destined for somewhere else…
Hope you all enjoyed your National Margarita Day! Traditionally celebrated by drinking your weight in margaritas, this sprightly holiday can also be honored with martinis, daiquiris, pina coladas, Coronas, Landsharks, anything else that just screams “Back to the Island” or by simply going to a Margaritaville for those of you who may not imbibe for one reason or another. As we spent the holiday in the Cancun airport, we had a respite in Air Margaritaville under the whirring of a model airplane.
We just wanted to drop a note saying that we KNOW we haven’t posted in while, and we assure you we have TONS of awesome photos to post from Philadelphia and around Wyoming, and from our recent trip to Tulum, Mexico. While out of the country for the last week, we had ZERO access to internet (not to mention no electricity!), and it was ridiculously awesome. We love being unplugged, even if it means being total slackers.
So until we get all of our photos up and running, we leave you with my first shot from Tulum: a long exposure night shot, with the help of the full moon over the Caribbean Sea, taken by Kat from just in front of our beach bungalow!
Fall of 2006. Girl wanders into small Montana town on the border of Yellowstone. Girl doesn’t know a single soul in town. Girl wanders into a bar to play pool by herself. Boy is there playing pool with friends. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy and girl play pool with several New Zealanders and win, resulting in some supreme Kiwi nakedness and a Maori dance. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl drags boy all around the world. Boy and girl get married and are in the midst of one of the greatest adventures of all time.
Typical Pardo Family Fairytale.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Highlight of the day:
We’re sitting at a wonderfully touristy restaurant in Albufeira, Portugal, right on the ocean. It’s a little chilly as the sun goes down, so heaters are going at the outdoor dining area. Jonmikel and I are relaxing after a day of traveling, sipping some wine and enjoying a large pot of stewed shellfish called a cataplana (extremely tasty, if you’re ever in Portugal!). There is am English couple sitting next to us, older, perhaps 70, fresh off the boat, if you would. They are friendly enough to their server, a young black man, mid-20s, swarthy and handsome, and he is quite friendly to them in return. He chats them up a bit, and we all know how I can’t help but listen in on conversations. They laugh some, and then the woman says, “Well, it’s obvious you’re not from Portugal,” referring to his dark skin. He laughs, as if he’s gotten it before, and says, “Sure I am. I was born here!”
It’s fascinating that English people assume that if you’re not white, you’re not European. This young black man MUST be African, NOT Portuguese (ignoring the fact that here in Edinburgh there are plenty of African, Asian, etc. people who are actually British)! Incidentally, my first impression of Portugal is that it is incredibly multi-ethnic (not only is it close to the African/Arab/Berber populations of northern Africa but all citizens of Brazil are eligible for Portuguese citizenship). That’s not to say that there is no ethnic tension; multi-cultural and non-discriminatory are two different things. But there are so many people in this small beach city of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds all speaking Portuguese, all locals. All from up North somewhere, all Portuguese citizens. And then a bunch of crazy British people running around.
We flew into Faro, Portugal earlier in the day, getting up at 5 am to make our morning flight. We got a good deal on the flights, hence the ridiculous time. But no worries, because this was going to be a vacation of sun and sand and ocean breezes and frozen cocktails and all those things that come with them. As per my good luck on planes, I get stuck in front of a family who lets their young daughter kick the back of my seat. They got it when I glared at them, but every time they would tell the girl to stop, she would start screaming and crying, and they would try to explain to her that this was MY seat and she couldn’t kick it. All I’m thinking is… she’s too young to care about why she shouldn’t kick my seat, just stop her! Spoiled brat. So the parents moved her one seat over so she could kick the seat next to mine, which was empty. So instead of teaching her not to do that, they just moved her. I hate stupid parents.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Faro was a neat little city, very Morocco-ish, complete with a maze-like and meandering old Medina within the confines of an old, Moorish, 13th century wall. There was also a neat castle inside that looks very modern now because it has been in continuous use (mostly as a military post) since the 1100s. How rockin’ is that? You can definitely see all the Berber influence there, in addition to all the influence Americans generally think of as Spanish as seen in Central and South America. You know, the big public squares surrounded by fruit trees and churches… that kinds thing. It’s funny, ‘cause it’s all Muslim. The coastal areas, mostly fishing ports and small marshy enclaves for fishing boats around the city, all reminded me of Asilah, Morocco, minus the rain (I was there in the winter… NOT the time to go). It just had the same feel.
But eventually, we decided we had to get to our destination: Albufeira (I should really look that up; it’s an Arabic word), about 35 km down the coast. We had read many complaints about the bus system but didn’t want to shell out the 45 Euros for a taxi, so we chanced it. Aside from us not being able to read the bus signs (in English, I might add) and missing our first bus, we both found the system to be easy and cheap and well within the spirit of foreign adventure travel. Our hotel was exactly what we thought it was going to be: basic but clean, and right in the center of old town. For about $40 a night, it was brilliant. Our GIANT balcony (appreciative shout-out to EasyJet for that one!) overlooked part of the main drag of the old town, onto stone, almost mosaic-like sidewalks, street stalls, and rowdy bars and restaurants that partied until about 4am, festivities in which we dutifully partook.
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