Last Monday I gave you the peso tour of our pad. I look forward to sharing more of it with you as we settle into a rhythm, get to know our landscape and set about making it our own.
This week, I’d like to show you around the neighborhood, give you a taste of what we experience day-to-day and attempt to convey the uniqueness of being us and living here.
We live in the Tulum pueblo, meaning the town portion of Tulum as opposed to the beach or the jungle. A google search for Tulum’s history yields dozens of accounts of the ancient Maya, their walled fortress overlooking the ocean and their part in a complex interMayan trading system (all fascinating stuff) but virtually nothing regarding its recent history as beach town, and for good reason. Thirty years ago, this town didn’t even exist beyond a few thatched palapas along the water known only to the most adventuresome backpackers. Even nine years ago (the first time we came) there was little more here than a small grocery, a handful of local dives and a few bohemian beach hostels.
Things are changing. Though still very much a small town, Tulum is now home to some 20,000 people and its estimated growth is expected to be rapid and substantial.
Our slice of paradise is in a relatively low-income, pura mexicana part of town, which in this case means we stand out both racially and economically.
This is a first for us, as even in San Cristóbal we were able to blend in somewhat amidst the many (predominately European) travelers and expats. (There are plenty of those here as well, but most are either passing through or also live behind walls.)
The majority of jobs are service industry positions, with most of the serving being done by the locals (at fancy resorts from here to Cancun) and those served being the foreigners of relative affluence. This creates an interesting vibe and a totally different type of oppression than what we saw in the sustenance farming villages of Chiapas.
How to describe our hood? Better just to show you first. Many of the houses look something like this…
The elements are super intense here and will decay a wooden house quickly. Families with a little more means generally build with concrete…
Peppered amongst common homes are occasional suggestions of a different level of financial prosperity, though flowers can be deceiving…
As for the realities I’d really like to show you (namely the everyday lives of our neighbors), I’ve not yet earned the right to capture them photographically, I don’t care to stand out any more than necessary (or risk insulting someone) by attempting photos on the sly and I’ve already learned my lesson with regards to the value of sharing experiences with locals as opposed to documenting them.
So, I’ll describe them instead. Your imagination is capable of more than my camera anyway.
I’m always glad when I take time to document the beginning of new experiences such as this one both for a frame of reference and because of their sweetness in the whole of our story. And hard as it is, I have come to appreciate living where poverty and “affluence” aren’t segregated. It keeps my priorities in check, it’s never dull and the challenge is part of the charm.