Me with baby loggerheads at ZAMAS in 2004

Turtle Time!

It’s turtle time and I could not be more excited. A couple of years ago a nest of turtles hatched from underneath one of our guests as she sunbathed. And last year we helped three or four nests of slightly misguided turtles who came crawling up to the restaurant looking for the ocean (maybe they were looking for chef Laura’s amazing appetizers). Either way, there is nothing more humbling and beautiful than holding a tiny life in your hand and rushing it to the ocean shore, trying to convince it to swim out to sea to find its first meal.***

Of the tiny lives I could be rescuing, turtles are among the most in need. Of every 100 turtle eggs that are laid, 1 makes it to adulthood. These are tough odds. On their way out to sea they risk being eaten by crabs and birds, not to mention a more modern threat of theirs: humans. Unfortunately, turtle soup is a delicacy in many homes. And then there’s our propensity to dig up their nests and expose the eggs to the elements, or scare off the mothers while they are laying their eggs because we want to get a closer look. Additionally, our bright lights drown out the moon, confusing the turtles, and leading them up to restaurants and houses, and across roads. Because we are now officially in turtle season, I’d like to provide a few friendly facts on how to enjoy sea turtles in Tulúm.

Me with baby loggerheads at ZAMAS in 2004

Come across a nesting turtle?

* Do not walk on the beach with a flashlight (covering the light with your hand will mute the light but still allow you to see) or shine a light in the sea turtle's face. The light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach.

* Do not take pictures using flash. This high-intensity light can be even more disturbing than the flashlights.

* Stay clear and out of sight of the turtle until she begins laying eggs, otherwise you may scare her back into the sea. Once she begins laying her eggs, you may approach her discretely from behind.

* For your safety, stay away from the turtle's head. Sea turtles, especially loggerheads, have very strong jaws and can harm you if provoked. (Loggerheads are the main nesters in Quintana Roo, as well as Green Sea Turtles)

* Do not handle the eggs or put any foreign objects into the nest. You can introduce bacteria or injure the eggs.

* Do not handle or ride the sea turtle. In addition to being illegal, you may injure the turtle or cause her to leave without finishing nesting.

* Do not disturb tracks left by turtles. Researchers use the tracks to identify the type of turtles that nested and to find and mark the nests.

* Do enjoy the experience, and remember it for the rest of your life.

loggerhead (national geographic)

Interested in the turtles? Check out these sites or come visit Tulúm May-October. (while in Tulúm you can arrange to go turtle watching with a biologist through Cesiak)

more baby loggerheads (save the turtles)

***Since our first experiences with turtles, we have learned that the baby turtles must be rushed to the ocean as quickly as possible as they are only born with a set amount of energy. Once this energy is expended the baby turtles must find food immediately. Therefore, it is important not to keep them for any period of time

Only in Mexico…

You can discover many things driving along the highway from Cancún to Tulúm. First, you’ll notice the lush greenery, interrupted by an all-inclusive hotel every fifteen meters or so. Second, you’ll notice the high volume of road kill and trash strewn about. You’ll laugh at the pickup truck filled to the brim with passengers, blasting rancheras. You’ll wonder why you are being passed on both the left and the right, and why most people drive in the shoulder. What you may not notice while driving along this beautiful highway are the helpful signs guiding you and simultaneously providing you with life advice. You may not notice them because they are in Spanish, but they certainly notice you. They observe your driving and advise you how to improve it. In order to call your attention to these wonderful signs, I have braved this treacherous highway to take a closer look. This is what I found:

WITH RAIN INCREASE YOUR PRECAUTIONS (a benign enough suggestion, common in many countries across the world)

PROTECT YOUR LIFE, DO NOT GET DISTRACTED (I can still text though, right?)

AFTER AN ACCIDENT NOTHING IS EVER THE SAME (well, some things must be the same. this sign, for example)

Jimaca Salad

FRITZ TRAVEL JOURNAL DAY 7 – “It’s not a blog…it’s an iPhone travelogue.”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Frtiz and his wife, Maria, have been coming to ZAMAS for years.  This year he copied us on his letters to loved ones and he agreed to let us reprint here for the inside scoop from a seasoned Tulum Traveler.  Muchísimas Gracias Fritz!

Cruising at 34,000 feet and still in Zamas heaven. It's 5:00 and we just polished off our steak torta and empanadas de papa y queso, ordered with breakfast #2 at 11:30 this morning. The 4" crescents of pastry-wrapped cheesy-potatoey goodness came with a thick pumpkin- colored dipping sauce, presumably achiote. Pansa llena, corazon contento. Rather than suffer the heinous buzz-kill of airline food, years ago we discovered the strategy of ¡Que Fresco! take out on getaway day.

Last night the party was on. For once, we almost overate, enjoying the night's special, Laura's killer jicama salad, old reliable pizza Margherita, and a whole fish, grilled al mojo de ajo.

Jimaca Salad

We had to share the perfect fish with new friends Giovanni and Tatiana, stylish young New Yorkers. He's got movie-star looks and Colombian, rapid-fire Spanish to go with perfect English.  Siberian immigrant Tatiana says that she learned her flawless New Yawk-ese as a defense mechanism against the bitches-from-hell at the private high school in which her father placed her. The tender slender was resplendent in short-short shorts, high-high heels and miles of leg in between. Dan knows all the cool kids. And they are sweethearts to boot.

Camilo Nu brought in a new musician, trombonist Ray David from salsa star Willie Colon's band, upping the ante considerably. Apparently he works with them whenever he is available, as he knows the material quite well. The 'bone reinforces the Latin Jazz element of the band's Flamenco fusion, which has already been enhanced by Chucho Valdez' student, pianist Gabriel from Argentina. They played late and we partied later, closing the evening with jazz on the iPod dock and sad good-byes at our crib. We have grown close to all the band members, especially our adopted sobrino Gabriel and brother bass player Gabo. I was able to sit in on bass two different nights with Gaby and Gabo's Latin Jazz trio, kickin' the funk on Herbie's "Chameleon" both times.  Drummer Angel (El Panda) and I locked in pretty damn good, IMHO. At least good enough that the Carioca bartendress at Luna Maya refused to let me pay for our Flor de Caña.

Dan tells us that we lucked out on the weather as this has been a very cool winter in The Yucatan. I had been concerned by Gabo's Facebook postings about penguins in Tulum  We got warm days and cool nights that many would consider perfect, but we would have preferred it a little warmer. The in-room ceiling fans were severely under-utilized. The mild weather at least eased the packing and schlepping of departure day. No complaints here, though, unlike the shivering locals who are totally unprepared for anything below 60 degrees F.  Dice mi Gabi "Está haciendo un friazo, fijaté".

It's not a blog... it's an iPhone travelogue.

This will be the last of my notes on our vacation. A few people have called it a blog, but I have been resisting that terminology, which implies a desire for a wide audience. We are only hoping to share the fun and happiness of our experience, in what turned out to be the best vacation ever, with family, who know much of what we speak, and with you other dear ones who haven't had that good fortune. Thanks for reading. Oh, yeah, and thanks to Susana and Dan for their amazing creation, to Dan our endearingly brusque perfect host, and to their wonderful staff. As the Duke said "We love you madly".Maria y Fritz en ZAMAS

Straight on Beach Shot at Reserve May 2010


Diva and Driftwood Maria Apr 2010EDITOR’S NOTE:  Frtiz and his wife, Maria, have been coming to ZAMAS for years.  This year he copied us on his letters to loved ones and he agreed to let us reprint here for the inside scoop from a seasoned Tulum Traveler.  Muchísimas Gracias Fritz!

Bueno, familia,

The jaunt down the coast was an absolute, utter success. Dan drove us 20 minutes south into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, all the while regaling us with tales of who owns this place or that and what they've gone through to build there. The area is nominally parkland and the complexities of ownership and development in Mexico are daunting to say the least. After first missing the gate, we soon arrived at their property, opening the chained palm thatch gate and parking just within. From there a trail headed seaward, winding for a couple hundred yards through the jungle and culminating at the beach. The finest beach I've ever seen.

Straight on Beach Shot at Reserve May 2010Sparkling white sand, clear blue-green water, and nobody in sight. The beach goes on forever. The sand slopes gently, smoothly into the sea and then continues uninterrupted to the depths. There are no rocks nor coral nor seaweed, just our own private playground for completely stress free frolicking.

We followed Dan's lead as he took off down the beach for his constitutional hike for a kilometer or so. Water Shot at Reserve May 2010Dan stopped to stretch at a convenient driftwood bench and we jumped into the Caribe. Nice. Next we proceeded as far as Yvette Mimieux's grand property and then returned to the dueño's place. He says that he hopes to get building permits in place soon and described the low impact plans he has for a casita there. Thank you, Dan, for sharing this special place. This has been a terrific vacation and today was the best day yet.