Vacation: Cancun Trip, Tulum & Xel-Ha


Saturday, 11 May was our first full day in Cancun and we woke up bright and early to go on a tour of nearby Tulum.  Wiki Travel best describes the background:  “It is one of the earliest resorts in Mexico, offering a place of worship and solitude for the Mayan Kings, clergy and Gods in early times. The tropical beach backdrop is the main attraction of this picturesque, much-visited small ruin on the shore of the Caribbean Sea.”  From the photos, you can easily see why the site was chosen.  It’s simply gorgeous!

In order to photograph all of this beauty, I had rented a lens that I’ve been lusting after from  The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.  Widely considered a staple by professional photographers, it’s price point of $2500 places it outside my budget, so it was wonderful to be able to borrow such an amazing piece of equipment.  That said, I chose exactly the wrong lens for the job.  When I envisioned visiting the ruins, I had thought that we’d be a fair distance from them.  Not so- in fact, we were much too close for the 3 lb 70-200 mm to be of much use and I would have been better off with another staple that lets in just as much light and allows you to be closer to the subject:  The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens.  Both are lust-worthy lenses!


Although he wasn’t knowledgeable about many of the details of the structures, the guide did an excellent job of switching back-and-forth between Spanish and English.  You can see him addressing our group in one of the photos below.  I mentioned him because he did speak at length about the human sacrifice that the Mayans performed- interesting because Tulum is known as an astronomical site and not as a site of human sacrifice.  After giving a very detailed and grave description, he shrugged his shoulders and said very simply:  “It happened.”  Haha, way to sum up that subject!

The below photo of Jonathan and I displays what typically happened when I gave my camera to a fellow tourist and asked them to photograph us:  the background is in perfect focus and we are blurry.  But the bottom photo I am quite proud of- looking at it, you can imagine how the jungle had overtaken these gorgeous ruins and how incredible it must have been to uncover each structure.

I was thrilled to snap a shot of the structure right on the cliffs- a very famous vantage point of Tulum.


I had initially searched for an excursion solely to Tulum and was interested in a catamaran cruise to see the ruins, but was unable to find one that fit our schedule.  Due to limited options, I booked the excursion to see Tulum and Xel-Ha, an adventure park and was quite reluctant to go.  But Xel-Ha turned out to be a fantastic way to follow up the “more educational” part of the day with some snorkeling and all-inclusive package.

Unable to tote my Canon 60D, I happily paid 4x the amount I should have to buy a waterproof disposable camera.  (If you’re planning to visit, you should definitely pick one up before flying to Cancun!)  Most of the shots turned out to be grainy, noisy, or just plain unclear, but photos are mostly for the memories, right?

Admittedly, the camera may have yielded significantly better results had I not put my finger of the lens in about 50% of the photos!  Some were saved with a bit of creative editing!

The sun has a way of wearing a person out and after a long day of sunshine and snorkeling, we returned to the Krystal Cancun to get ready for dinner.  But after showering, the hot water pipe under the sink burst and sprayed scalding hot water everywhere.  After several attempts to call the front desk, I ran to the lobby to inform them and was casually dismissed with a  “have someone check it out soon.”  By the time I returned to the room, there was a standing inch of hot water steaming up the bathroom.  I shot the below video quickly and ran back down to the lobby with proof that it was an emergency and they finally got the message!
We maintained a positive attitude about the situation, knowing that it could happen to any hotel, until it was clear that the 3 repairmen weren’t going to be able to fix it anytime soon and since it was dinnertime, we were starving!  We asked the front desk to give us another room.  They refused.  We asked for a dinner credit at the hotel’s restaurant.  They refused.  We asked for a room in which to finish getting ready for dinner.  They refused.  After an hour of waiting, they still refused the first two, but reluctantly allowed me to use another room to get ready for dinner and we finally were able to leave while they fixed the issue.  Needless to say, I would not recommend this hotel to anyone, especially after they tried to cheat us at check-in.

Dinner was an excellent reprieve from the ridiculous hotel situation.  The Surfin’ Burrito was highly recommended by my Cancun app– the food was tasty, the margaritas were huge, and the atmosphere was laid-back.  Perfect end to a wonderful day!

(Clicking on any photo will enlarge it.  For high-resolution and additional photos, click here.)