Day 5: Tulum - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 4, 2023

Day 5: Tulum

Gran Cenote!

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We reserved today to cycle to the nearest of the cenotes to Tulum, which is Gran Cenote. Cenotes are formed within the limestone substrate that makes up Yucatan. They are holes, or more like giant wells, that fill with the rainwater percolating down. There are almost no surface rivers or lakes in Yucatan, but dozens of cenotes. The cenotes connect to each other through underground rivers.

Cenotes are super wonderful, amazing things, with sparkling cool water, and usually lush vegetation surrounding. 

But first, breakfast!

This morning we again passed up the roadside stalls and cycled to the tourist strip. Where else could crybaby Steve get pancakes, eggs, bacon, and coffee, his native power food? And, he argued, power would be needed to lounge in a cenote all day.

The Tulum tourist strip is no more than 1/2 km long. For that distance, there are tourist shops, and restaurants, many featuring leafy decor with cane or teak furniture, and perhaps thatched roofs. Beyond the strip, things devolve back to the more commonly dusty, sort of industrial, Mexican town motif. The restaurant we chose was at the beginning of the south end of the strip, and was suitably leafy. And the menu featured the desired pancakes!

Suitably leafy!
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Pancakes on the menu (sorry, hard to read).
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I considered this a reasonable if not overwhelming amount of food.
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Dodie stuck with the fruit, yogurt, and granola. Everything we got was clearly made from scratch.
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Total cost 32 Canadian dollars. That's not a bargain, but this is the tourist strip.
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Sue PriceI see they added the tip for you. Tricky!
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3 weeks ago
We strolled down this beginning part of the strip for a bit.
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Colourful shops!
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But now, it's back to business, into the less gentrified bit of 307 in Tulum, heading north for the turnoff to Gran Cenote. Tomorrow we will also come the same way, as we head for Coba.
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The ride out to the Gran Cenote was just 5 km, but they are suitably dustry and with lots of rumbling gravel and garbage trucks. We locked our bikes outside and headed on in.

Lots of bikes were parked and locked at the cenote, but none was worth anything much. That's good, we thought, because the area would not attract thieves looking for good stuff.
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The grounds of the cenote are lush and fairly extensive. It's a real thrill to walk along and then to look down into the blue cenote itself. Once you do enter the water, the clarity, the play of light and the turquoise colours make real any advertising hype about the back to nature and soothing aspect of this region. Any dust and heat is far away, and this truly is like a paradise. 

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Looking down to one of the platforms
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Patrick O'HaraThanks for sharing another entertaining adventure, Steve and Dodie! Also, thanks for the cenote photos. They bring back fond memories for Sue and I. The first sight of them bring instant refreshing gratification!
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3 weeks ago
The water is so inviting
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There are several staircases down. The platforms then have ladders made of branches to help in getting into the water. These could no way work for Dodie's knees, but at one spot there was a sort of stairway of rocks that with some help and care worked out for her.
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The cenote houses turtles like these, and small fish.
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Hypnotic blue
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The water area is bigger than it at first appears. You can follow the floats into the more cave-like bits, where a large colony of bats is flitting about and hanging from the stalagtites.
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We stayed in the water for really a long time, emerging really refreshed and ready to appreciate the lush foliage above.
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The refreshing effect of the cenote was strong enough that we still felt pretty good at the notoriously hot and dusty corner of 307 and the road to Coba.

This corner does also feature Super Aki, which is a good grocery, and some also good burrito stands.
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We got home to the hotel, but soon turned around and went to the gelato store, which is a chain called Aldo's. There are two just on the short strip here, and scads in Playa. The gelato was very good, but for some reason did not create the total joy that the German, Austrian, and Italian variants do. We thought maybe it is too sweet. The ice cream from the market lady in Cancun actually went down better.

I have come under fire from some quarters for being too concerned with the cost of ice cream in various places. But here goes. What you see in the photo cost 220 pesos - 12 US dollars. The same amount in the Cancun market square near Jorge's was 60 pesos. Just sayin'.
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We decided to put Dodie down for a nap in the cool room, while sending me out to look for some tire tubes of a better size. For this expedition I needed to load up my pouch with pesos, something that Dodie views with skepticism. We will soon see why.

I passed back through the central square, admiring again the Christmas decorations. 

This donkey looks a bit freaked.
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I tried two bike shops and had the same results. The only tubes they have are beach bomber compatible 2.250's. As you see in the photo, there were lots of tubes, just not ones that are out of step with the environmental factors here.

All 18 of these orange tube boxes contain 2.125's.
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OK, so I started to trudge home. But not before stopping in at a fruit store. At home just before leaving I had done a double take to see that grapefruit was something like $3 each, and I mentally scratched them off my menu - forever? But here was pink grapefruit, for 15 pesos per kilo. Was that a lot? From this point in the afternoon - the heatstroke point maybe - we can trace a growing inability to cope with the currency and the prices. Watch it happen:  I picked up a grapefruit and a starfruit. Total price, 9 pesos. - Well under a dollar. Cool. Next, having failed to see an OXXO, I stopped in to a little restaurant in a market building. I asked if they could fill my thermos with coffee. Oh, oh, I seem to remember falling foul with the same request in a Tabac in France. 

It was nice to see them take down a pot, fire up the stove, and begin to boil water. Very artisanal! Next they pulled put a jar of Nescafe and invited me to put my guess as to how much powder in the thermos. They added  the boiling water, and - 40 pesos. That's about the same price as Starbucks!

The Cocina Economica - the Budget Kitchen - hmmm. Their name is also El Dumbo - they saw me coming!
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Other choices at El Dumbo sound good, anyway.
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I made my way back to the hotel, and reported on my trip. But then I remembered that we are also short on glue for the tube patches. I rushed back out before any shops would close, and started with the one nearest the hotel, where we had found our original tubes. After some linguistic problems during which the boy offered me a valve cap, he pulled out a patch kit containing about 40 large patches and a large tube of glue. Price - 45 pesos.  Something misfired in my brain, the same brain that had just paid 40 pesos for a cup of  instant coffee, and I asked how can it be so much? That's 10x what it should be! How can I pay $30 for a tube of glue? You can imagine the gringo here, jumping up and down, arms flapping, demonstrating how high this price was. 

I flounced out and jumped on my bike, heading for the first of the distant bike shops. The lady there pulled out exactly the same kit at exactly the same price. Just replay that mental image of the jumping, flapping gringo, and end with the same flounce out! But before flouncing out, I had the lady carefully teach me the words for bicycle patch glue -" pegamento para parche de bicicleta".  On my way to shop three I passed a hardware store and stopped in, using my new magic phrase. The man dug around on a shelf and came up with exactly the glue that was in the big patch kit! He cited the price - 10 pesos - and I pulled out a 50. My pouch contained only 50's. This gave the man some problem finding change. I dug in my pocket and hauled out some miscellaneous small change. Bingo! One of the coins, he said,  was a 10. Who knew. But I went sailing home with my new 70 cent tube of precious glue!

Dodie needs to confiscate my money pouch, or at least not take any naps while I go out with it!

Today's ride: 13 km (8 miles)
Total: 139 km (86 miles)

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