Up up and away

I hate the trip from the Cancún airport almost as much as I hate having to wake up at 4 am (let's be honest I don't even go to sleep) to make the flight from SF. After traveling 9 hours and eating crappy airport food--or worse--plane food, the last thing I want to do is get in a car and drive an hour and a half to Tulúm, only to arrive right at mosquito hour. (Little known fun fact, only female mosquitoes bite us. The males feed on nectar, while the females require blood to lay eggs*).

But let me be the first to say I feel a little wary about the prospect of an airport in Tulúm. And yet the Tulúm airport was finally approved this year, an event that was punctuated by a visit from the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón. Of course I would love to step off the plane and be 20 minutes from home, but the actual implications of the airport make me hesitate to jump for joy.

First of all, they plan to build the airport on top of the Riviera Maya's vast underground waterway and mangrove system--meaning that if ever there were a lot of rain the airport could sink into the ground. And, let's face it, sometimes there IS a lot of rain. And not to mention the damage it will cause to the habitat it lands (pun intended) on.

An airport in Tulúm means more tourists than we have ever imagined. Even Playa del Carmen doesn't have an airport. Clearly someone has big plans for Tulúm-- bigger, maybe, than Cancún. The little town of 6,000 my family moved to 18 years ago is all grown up. So now we sit and wait. Maybe the airport will be built in Mexican time-- i.e., years from now. But maybe it'll be up and running sooner than we know. It'll bring people and money to our humble home. The economy will flourish and cultures will become further enmeshed. But in doing so will it change our home into something we might not recognize?


*Mosquito facts courtesy of Wikipedia. Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Meet Mara… the woman who runs it all

The average guest staying at ZAMAS might go his or her whole visit without meeting Mara Andrade. But you might have noticed the General Manager sitting at her computer, taking calls, and greeting vendors and merchants; essentially, making ZAMAS run. But who is Mara? To get to know this delightful lady better, read on.

Name: Mara Andrade

Years working at ZAMAS: 2.5

Age: hell no! (editor's note: she's not very old)

Hometown: Mexico City, Distrito Federal

Siblings:Paulina and Silvia

Romantic status: it's top secret

Golf Handicap:18 (her family is really into golf)

Favorite drink: whiskey on the rocks

Favorite bar: 307 (Belongs to her friend Citlalli)

Favorite thing to do on her day off: go to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere with Maalix (her beloved dog, pronounced Ma-Lish) and Jerome (the man who comes second to the dog). And sleep!

Favorite ZAMAS dish: Tostadas a la Susana

Favorite store to shop at in Tulúm: Shalom- there's one across the street from ZAMAS and one in town

Tulúm's best kept secret: swimming with the turtles at Punta Solimán

Claim to fame: member of the former Tulúm Wine Club

Favorite TV show: it's a toss-up-- The Sopranos or Seinfeld

Thing she wants her fans to know about her: fans? I have fans?

Brand New Sport

This week, while visiting Southern California, I pushed myself. First, I tried surfing. It was awesome. There is nothing more exhilarating than standing up while a wave propels you forward. I can't wait to practice and actually ride a wave bigger than 2 feet. Unfortunately, where we are in Tulúm, there aren't great waves for riding, and certainly not year-round. Which is why I have become obsessed with... (drumroll please)... stand up paddle boarding.

It's easy. It's fun! It's a great workout because your whole body is engaged- core, legs, arms. And the best part, according to Vince Shay (who took us out): you can do it on flat water and you can do it on waves (real daredevils surf with these mammoth boards). Which is perfect for us because we don't often have surfing waves at ZAMAS, but rare is the day that the water is completely flat. So, with my insistence, we hope to have at least one paddle board at ZAMAS in the next year. We just have to figure out how to get the 11-foot board through Customs!

If you're ready to feel like an ancient tribe member cruising the glistening coast of Tulúm (or anywhere else), I recommend you try stand up paddle boarding ASAP. But be sure to wear lots of sunscreen to protect from those harmful rays. And check Vince and his crew out  when you're in the San Luis Obispo area at

http://www.slocoastkayaks.com/

Happy paddling!

Cenote Escondido

Summer fun

It's summertime and all this writer can think about are the fun, non-work activities she can enjoy without ever leaving Tulúm.

There are the obvious contenders: the beaches, the sun, and the Mayan ruins. But there are many specific activities we at ZAMAS enjoy in our downtime.

Cenotes

Of these cave-like freshwater swimming holes our favorites are Escondido (across the street from Cenote Cristal, this hidden treasure is colorful and ice-cold, the perfect place to dive into on a hot summer afternoon), Grand Cenote (a classic, good for snorkeling and diving and exploring), and Zazil-Ha (a little further up the highway to Coba than the Grand, this cenote is all about family fun, complete with inner tube rentals!)

Cenote Escondido

Beaches

Paraíso (and its neighboring beaches) is good for sun-bathing and people-watching. Its waters are as clear blue as its sands are fine and beige. We also love to walk from ZAMAS headed south, crossing Maya Tulúm and continuing until we get tired and return home for a happy hour margarita.

Bibi walks on Paraíso beach, aptly called paradise, in my opinion

Food

When we leave ZAMAS to eat elsewhere, we choose our destination wisely. If we are not in town for fabulous German breakfasts at Azafran, then we are getting ice cream at David's Gelateria or popsicles at La Flor de Michoacan, with an occasional freshly-made tamal (be advised, this tamale stand, located on the right-hand side of town, is only open from 3 pm onward)

Stopping by for an afternoon snack at the tamale stand

Ruins

While the Tulúm ruins may not be the most impressive of the Mexican ruins, they are the only ruins on the water. Which means you can explore them FROM the water on a boat tour! (Of course, you can go the traditional route and walk through the ruins. We recommend doing so in the early morning or late afternoon, to avoid the worst heat)

The view of El Mirador from the water

Nightlife

On a warm balmy evening in late July it can be quite fun to venture into town to go to Divino Paraíso, which almost always features live music or a DJ. Or Mayamoon Cafe, where locals and tourists mingle. If you really want to have the Tulúm experience, pay 30 pesos and go to El Coloso Disco Bar and boogie down with the locals. And on Friday nights, Mezzanine throws a moonlit party on a balcony overlooking the sea. And after midnight there's always an LSD-inspired show to vamp up the crowd


The show at Mezzanine on Friday night