Tulum, Mexico

Whenever I think of Mexico I think of the breathtaking wonder that is Tulum. Tulum is a pre-Columbian Mayan city situated by the east coast of the Caribbean Sea. The first time I visited the ancient ruins, I remember walking towards the entrance on a newly laid road which looks like a driveway that belonged to a wealthy family. Surrounded by impenetrable jungle, I imagined the various beastly feral creatures that may be hiding within; stalking, patiently waiting. The prey are naïve to the possible perils of evading parental gaze to explore new sights and fall into their trap.

The coastal city, surrounded by a towering impenetrable stone wall, has just one tunnelled entrance that leads you, like a vortex, from the natural beauty of the exotic jungle into another world of historical wonder. The setting is faultless and irresistible to the lens of the many visitors who come to gaze upon the ruin in awe.

As you enter your eyes are immediately drawn to the captivating Pyramid El Castillo. Situated on the edge of a 12 meter cliff, commanding a view of the ocean and coast for miles, it acts as a marker to show the break in the reef for once hopeful traders to approach the city. A fundamental part of the Mayan community used the pyramid for human sacrifice. Surrounded by fellow inquisitive globe trotters, I imagine an enemy king being escorted up the callous limestone steps in front of the overwrought crowd. The decapitation of an enemy king was part of a ritual offering of nourishment to the merciful gods of the underworld. It amazes me that something so beautiful was once a stage for such violent acts.

Wherever you stand you will hear the well rehearsed tour guides leading their entourage on a marvellous journey through time, often followed by the equally pertinent response of understanding from the herd of sightseers. They eagerly peer inside the ruins to catch a glimpse of the ancient murals inside the temples. As your eyes adjust to the sun soaked ruins and the scorched grass, you begin to notice movement. Sun-seeking iguanas bask in the midday heat, carefully keeping an eye on the surrounding tourists, quickly darting away if an inquisitive camera bearing human dares to come too near. The longer you look, the more tiny beady eyes appear – carefully observing you from safely behind the rope barriers. If you close your eyes and filter out the awe-inspired spectators, you hear the rhythmic percussion of the waves crashing against the jagged rocks below the ruins.

You feel the blistering heat beat down on your exposed skin. The only moment of relief will come from the bottle of water that was once a chilled, refreshing beverage, but is now a warm necessity for survival. Walking along the chalky gravel footpath, I wonder who has walked the same footsteps as I have, what stories they could tell. Soon you approach the edge of the settlement and find yourself at the cliff. After an apprehensive descent down some stark wooden steps, you are greeted by a white sugary beach and delightful turquoise water, and the much needed breeze provides alleviation from the relentless heat. Families dip their feet in the sea, appreciative of the cool water, taking photos to capture memories of their day.

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