Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tulum or not Tulum

I had the opportunity to meet some enlightened folks from the much-maligned US state of Arizona and take them on a quick tour to Uxmal, from their hotel in Tulum. I say enlightened because it reaffirmed my faith in the intrinsic decent intentions of Americans in general and Arizona residents in particular. Needless to say, on the long drive from Tulum to Uxmal on day one and back again on day two, there was plenty of meaty political discussion on everything from immigration to gun control.

 As you can see it was very foggy at 6 AM on the Merida-Cancun highway!

On day one, we left Tulum at 9 AM, stopping for coffee at Italian Coffee at the Isla de Servicios on the toll highway and then later, for lunch at the Hacienda Ochil. I had visited the hacienda before but had not eaten there. We ordered a sample platter of appetizers which featured all the good fried corn masa food items which were washed down with a cold beer. A quick look around the hacienda and then we arrived in Uxmal in the afternoon, early enough to check in and not wait for a room to be made up or whatever.

Interestingly, although their reservation had been made and the room paid for at the Hacienda Uxmal a rather taciturn individual informed us that the hotel was not really 'open' and none of the restaurants or the bar was open for business, due to the little activity. I noticed that the fellow who showed us the room that was available was actually a security guard and not a hotel receptionist. Another fellow with a somewhat more congenial attitude informed us that the reservation would be honored at the Lodge hotel, owned by the same company and directly adjacent to the ruins, where the restaurant and bar were in fact open for guests. So we drove back to the Lodge and proceeded to check in. In my humble opinion - and I am no expert - receptionists and hotel people need to be a little more comforting and empathetic when making changes of this kind for their guests, as it is rather disconcerting to be told that the hotel you have booked and paid for is not available but there's another one just over there.

As a rule - and this happened to a guest whom I dropped off at the Villas Arqueologicas last week - I have found that the receptionists at Uxmal hotels are never enthusiastic, somewhat sullen and their attitude could swing from bored and complacent to unfriendly in a heartbeat if given a nudge by a guest who has had a bad day. A smiling welcome is not, in my limited experience at Uxmal, a feature of any hotel in that area.

The drive back to Merida for me went past the caves of Calcehtok and through the town of Kopoma to the Campeche highway and back to Merida. This just because the Muna/Uman route has become so familiar that I was anxious to see something different. Not much to see on the highway itself, but the caves will have to be visited soon.

 A from-the-car shot of the church at Kopoma

On day two, we got an 11 AM start from Uxmal, took the highway back in the direction of Cancun and after a taco of lomitos de Valladolid at Donia Tere's at the toll highway, got off at the Valladolid exit and headed towards Coba and finally Tulum, where we arrived about 5 hours after starting, because of the food stop along the way.

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