Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 01, 2013

Oasis Tulum

We found a deal.  A couldn't resist kind of thing.  And that is how we ended up on the Mayan Riviera.  It isn't on my bucket list.  Nor is an all inclusive.  And now having been-there-and-done-that, I can say I had a great time.  I like it when stories end up better than I imagined.  (I do hate it when events turn out worse than I imagined - it happened to me once - I'll tell you the story one day - it stars a cop, a courtroom and me.)

The reviews on TripAdvisor weren't grand.  A couple of weeks before departure, I went online to show a friend where I was going.  Three bad reviews in a row!  Where was I going??

The Oasis Tulum is 24 kilometres north of Tulum and 34 kilometres south of Playa del Carmen.  What I was excited about though was what was east of the resort.  Mar Caribe. 

As I remembered.  So many shades of blue.  Oasis Tulum is one of many, many resorts that edge Mar Caribe from Cancun south.   Our shuttle from the Cancun airport to our resort was 2 hours, to give a perspective of how many places were built for us winter-escapers.

The evening we arrived we couldn't see that we were in a smallish resort.  By the next morning, we knew the lay of the land.  It was an easy adjustment.  Sun.  Sand.  Water. 

One of the bonuses of a smaller resort (not that I have been to a large one) is that you get to see the same people every day.  Our travel rep, who welcomed us and made sure that we were organized to get the right transportation back to the airport, helped us in ways that are perplexing to a visitor.  He became the person that you want to have in a new country.  A confidante.   How much do you tip the waiter, the maid?  What is that word in Spanish?  And what lies outside of our gates?  Where are the places to go?  What do we have to watch out for?

For the first 6 days, we stayed within our resort.  There really was no reason to leave.  Everything was here.  But we wanted to see more.  And so it was on Day 7 that we decided to go to Playa del Carmen.  It was the first time in nearly a week that we traveled faster than 2 kilometres an hour.

There is something to be said for moving that slow in life.  Once in a while.

Life in a resort is highly organized.  Food.  Drinks.  Events.  Entertainment.  Even the towels.  Piles of them every day.  This was one of the complaints in the TripAdvisors' reviews.  Not enough beach towels.  I expect the hotel staff read TripAdvisor too because it was all corrected by the time we arrived.

Checking in at our hotel, we were banded with a plastic wristlet.   Each resort has its own colour. 

The day we went into Playa del Carmen, I was walking along the popular (and over rated) 5th Avenue when a man rushed up to me.

"Remember me?  I am your waiter from the Oasis Tulum?"

"No, I don't remember you."

"Sure you do."

"No, no.  I don't."

"Why don't you come and look at my shop while you are here."

I kept walking.   I looked at my friend who was walking beside me, a new Mexican who I had met a few days before.  I was perplexed.  He pointed to my wrist band.  Any one who watched tourists knew exactly who I was.  Or more precisely, where I came from.

What was remarkable about Oasis Tulum:
  • two swim-up bars (though one woman's comment left me wondering:  "What do you think people do when they sit at the bar for hours, drink the entire time and never leave the pool?")
  • outstanding activity people (we got two personalized Spanish lessons!)
  • very friendly staff, especially the bartenders
  • food (I discovered on the last morning that the breakfast cook made an outstanding quesadilla)
Great memories:
  • Sitting on the beach chairs after dinner facing the Caribbean Sea
  • Live music - every night!
  • Being tossed around in the sea
  • Having a school of fish surrounding me when I was floating in the waves
  • Rustling palm trees
  • The warmth of the sun on my skin!