March 14 – 16, 2022
Each morning I worked a few hours from my hotel, then either walked or took a taxi to the beachfront. There’s a taxi stand right down the road from me and my hotel staff told me it should cost 25 pesos. So I practiced saying 25 in Spanish so that I could ensure I got a fair rate from my taxi driver. The minute I got down to the beach and stepped out of the cab it began to rain. I ducked for cover for 5 minutes while the rain briefly passed through. Then I walked the entire tourist strip (which is probably about 1km long). The beachfront is much like Bacalar in that private businesses own sections of the beach and you can have access as long as you are a customer. There is very little public beach access right in town.
I walked through this entire section until the main drag thinned out to a single road along the beach. Even eventually I made it to the Chunky Monkey which had only two other couples enjoying the oceanfront property. I sat down and ordered a michelada. After an hour or more another solo traveler came by and we started to talk. Pauline from Berlin and I shared stories about how we came to Mexico. She also works in the technology industry but feels a little unfulfilled in it and is trying to work out her next step. Pauline also noticed that there are many solo travelers who are women. I guess I hadn’t really noticed until she said it. I haven’t seen a single male solo traveler yet. After chatting for an hour or two she headed to snorkel a little more while I decided to start walking back. This makes my second travel friend from Berlin.
A few days later I met a couple of women from Toronto and Kansas at Tio George’s taco stand (delicioso!). They knew Tio’s wife for 30 years and ultimately bought a house across the street. They’re renovating the house to be a 2 bed/2 bath. The renovation started in 2020 and is about halfway complete. Things move a little slower down here.
As the week went on, I became less and less enthralled with Mahahual for several reasons. For starters, I noticed I was the only person staying at my hotel and that made me uncomfortable. Even though it was beautiful, it had an eeriness to it. It was also located on the only road heading in and out of Mahahual. Semis, trucks, tour buses, colectivos, motorbikes, dump trucks, taxis, golf carts, bicycles, pedestrians, and occasional tractors all traversed this single road all day long. And there was a dog from hell next door that barked incessantly. It was nearly impossible to enjoy the outdoor oasis outside my door.
Second, the beachfront was over-commercialized. The nearby cruise port pumped in tons of tourists, making tourists the primary population of the tiny town. One day there were 3 ships, the next day 4, and the next day 2. The largest cruise ship in the world docked while I was there. Every business catered to tourists. Tours, guides, masseuses, restaurants with overpriced crappy food. Mahahual felt like every other super touristy beach town.
I reminded myself I came to Mexico for sunshine and warmth and I had those. Not every destination will be perfect. That is part of the exploration. I mostly worked and walked around, waiting until Thursday when I could head out to Tulum.