When I tell people that I now live in Mexico, there is one question people always ask, ‘why in the world did you choose Tulum?’
If you know Tulum, you would know exactly why. If you don’t know Tulum, I will try to give a little understanding of its charming allure and why we chose to live here.
But first I need to backtrack to my childhood for my personal story. I was a sickly child suffering terribly from asthma and bronchial issues, in and out of hospital every few weeks and on what seemed like a permanent course of antibiotics and steroids, and I always suffered more in the damp, UK winters.
After one life-changing case of pneumonia and collapsed lung (more on this another time) the asthma gradually improved and as soon as I had my adult freedom, I began to travel. My first trip outside Europe was to Kenya where I had my first experience of scuba diving and immediately fell in love with the underwater world. Now the whole premise of scuba diving with asthma is highly contentious and I have a theory on this which I will cover in another post one day, but in short, I was hooked and felt that I could finally breathe freely underwater. I traveled as often as I could, escaping from the greyness of the UK in search of sun and warmth.
After completing my degree in Economics in Bristol, I barely stuck around for the celebratory parties before leaving for Dahab, Egypt where I decided to stay and train as a diving instructor. Of course, I loved diving and the lifestyle, but one of the main factors that drew me to live there was how good I felt. I could breathe, and the sun and light lifted my spirits and filled me with power and strength that I had never experienced before. Dahab was all shore diving and I would stride out through the waves with my tank on my back, helping students, and fighting strong currents, then lug tanks and equipment back onto the trucks.
After over a year in Egypt, I returned back to the UK for a while before heading off onto my next adventure, to Puerto Aventuras, Mexico – this time with my six-month old son on my hip, as a single mother, and the invitation of friends who had told me I could work at their dive center.
I loved the Mexican Riviera. It was the perfect place to be with a young baby, the diving was relaxed and easy, the weather tropical, and I felt completely safe. After some time, I was drawn back to the UK but I never stopped thinking of Mexico. When I was living there, Tulum was not much more than a couple of cabana hotels on the beach, and a few dive shops, so when my partner, Charlie and I decided to stop off in Tulum last year for a holiday, I was shocked. Tulum was still stunningly beautiful, but it had turned into a real town, with basic but sufficient infrastructure. We both fell in love with the beach, the town, and most importantly, the way we felt when we were there.
My physical, emotional, and mental state in the UK was always dictated by the weather. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s absolutely true and as hard as I tried, I could never overcome this. I was permanently cold, my joints ached, I suffered from headaches, fatigue, which led to depression, and I even wrote a song about this (Need to Breathe). I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and a Vitamin D deficiency, which is not surprising due to the lack of daylight and sunshine in the UK.
Tulum was a place where I felt free, full of energy, ready to create and live to the full, so after many weeks of careful consideration, we made the decision to make a bold step and start a new adventure.
We loved the fact that Cancun (the closest airport to Tulum – just over an hour away) had direct flights to almost all major locations in the world. London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Montreal, Toronto….and Charlie has now coined the phrase that Tulum is ‘the world’s nearest, furthest destination’! How many other places can you get to so easily that can boast being one of the world’s top 3 beaches (TripAdvisor 2012), and that still have all the facilities you could need to visit, or live there.
We came with a vision of setting up an eco-retreat hotel on the beach, as well as continuing with our other international work, and this is coming together slowly but surely. I will of course post more about it as this part of the story unfolds.
More about Tulum…
Tulum is famous for the Mayan archeological site which uniquely sits right on the beach and is one of the top three most visited Mayan ruins in Mexico. For more information, see the Wikipedia page.
Trip Advisor rated Tulum as the third most beautiful beach in the world in 2012 and its pristine, white sand beaches stretch from the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, approximately 10km down to the entrance of the Sian Ka’an biosphere, an additional 64km of virtually untouched coastline.
The local Mayan people and communities are wonderfully inspiring, and yet also need uplifting, and this is an issue which Charlie and I are committed to support.
Tulum is a place to escape to, to get away from the crowds, from the all-inclusive resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and to breathe.
So the question should be, why would we not live in Tulum?!