Crossing back into Mexico felt like receiving a big warm hug. There was something about it; the climate, the friendly people and possibly the fact that I actually felt tall here! I was so glad to be back. I was even more glad to be back on the Ado buses. They are big and spacious with comfy seats that even recline. It made the 4-hour ride from Chetumal to Tulum seem like luxury after being squashed into a Belize bus.
Arriving at 4 am, I stumbled off the bus, tired and thankful that in 5 minutes time I would be in my bed.
Tulum is a small Mayan town on the Riviera Maya on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula known for its ruins that stand high on the cliffs and can be seen from the pristine white beaches.
I had researched the hostels in Tulum making sure that this particular one was aware that I would be arriving at an unearthly hour. It was only 7 blocks down from the main street but after 20 minutes I was still driving around in the taxi.
By this time I was feeling nauseous from the lack of sleep and the frequent stopping of the car as the driver checked each building then drove on pulling each taxi over to ask where this hostel was. Admittedly it was a new hostel but all the other drivers seemed to know where it was and directed him back to the same place where he stopped outside a very closed restaurant and told me this was it.
As tired as I was, I could blatantly see that this was not a hostel. It was now 4.30 am in the morning and I was not about to be left stranded (as 3 previous taxi drivers on other trips had done) in a town I did not know. My Spanish was wavering and his English was so poor. I had been travelling for 14.5 hours and needed to sleep. I just wanted to cry; why didn’t I know more Spanish?
I got out my phrasebook and found the words ‘I am looking for a hostel.’ He eventually realised that I meant ANY hostel and drove back down to the main area, dropping me outside the ‘Weary Traveller’ hostel. How very apt! Then just as I thought I had seen the last of him, he ran back 5 minutes later to hand me my fleece that I had left in his taxi.
The short Mexican with a long ponytail behind the desk led me to a hammock in the courtyard.
‘You can sleep here until check-in,‘ he said, not wanting to take any money off me for three hours worth of sleep in a dorm bed.
I fell asleep swaying in the light breeze with the twinkling fairy lights in the trees above me.
I awoke to the smell of coffee and overpowering aftershave. A waxed, brown chest complete with an unbuttoned shirt and medallion was towering over me. A cup was placed below my hammock.
‘This will wake you up,' he said, winking at me.
It actually turned out that this hostel was the best one I could have picked and I met some great people (lots of Brits too).
So I forgave the taxi driver for the bad directions.
One of these days I will actually get one who knows where they are going!
The Weary Traveller Hostel is only 5 minutes walk from the Ado bus station and offers free breakfast (that you cook yourself), wifi, a complimentary bus ticket to Tulum beach (leaves twice a day) and evening events such as free salsa lessons. The dorms are quite small and it does get really warm in bed at night but it's really sociable with a large courtyard for mingling and is only 175 pesos (£9) a night. I loved it!