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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Mayan Resort

Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico

(Pronounced: Too-LOOM, YOO-kah-tan, MAY-hee-coh)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Currency Conversion Site

A two hour drive from the tourist resort of Cancun, Mexico, and an hour from Playa del Carmen, the Maya ruins at Tulum are the most known, most advertised and most popular Maya site in the Yucatan. What we could see from photos of Tulum, we figured it had been a resort town for the Maya centuries ago. You know, a weekend retreat for the rich Maya rulers of Chich'en Itza who were fatigued and wanted a break from ruling the masses.

Certainly, it was the most upscale of any Maya ruins we had seen previously.

This jungle stroll isn't so bad, and besides, we are headed to a resort!

When we first arrived in Tulum, we were experiencing the rainy remnants of Hurricane Rina but this particular morning, the sun broke out and so did we.

Hooray! We were going to a "Mayan Resort!"

A short, 15 minute walk from our hotel, we were able to get to the Tulum ruins right at the opening at 8 a.m. We recommend arriving early as daily tour buses bring a constant stream of tourists to this site beginning at 10 a.m. If you want to take photos of ruins, not people, make the effort to get there when the gates open.

 

Did you bring the machete? And what about the bug repellant?

It doesn't take long for the jungle to assert itself here in the Yucatan. We walked through Mangrove trees and swampland to get to the ruins, and with the latest rains, the road was flooded. Thankfully, there was a higher dirt path where we could walk to save us from treading through the ankle deep water.

 

A rest stop. At least no critters were bothering us here

Mangrove forests grow in the brackish water at the intersection of land and sea. They support a great deal of wildlife both fauna and flora. They more or less have one foot on land and one in the sea, like an amphibian plant. They thrive in oppressive heat, thick mud and enjoy salt levels that would kill most other plants.

Mangrove forests form one of the most complex ecosystems on earth.

Birds live in the branches, shellfish attach themselves to the roots, and crocodiles and snakes come here to hunt.

Oh, and did I mention mosquitoes? 

 

 

Current-day reminders of dinosaurs

Out from everywhere lizards were sunning on rocks and crossing the road. I had never seen so many in one location before, and this was a small one! Billy, being the chef he is, kept talking about a way to feast on these ancient critters. Lest you think that was cruel or strange, we saw iguana on menus in various restaurants in the Yucatan.

 

Entering the Maya "resort"

The ruins at Tulum stand on a bluff facing the rising sun giving spectacular views of the waves and coastline below. While the Maya word "Tulum" means "Wall," this location was the first city of the Mayan World to see the rising sun every day. Because of this fact, this place was also known as "Zama" or "to Dawn."

The earliest date lifted from a stela on this site translates to A.D. 564 but whether or not the stela was transported from another site to be used here at Tulum or the current ruins were built upon an older site brings controversy in academic discussions.

 

Hotel Maya. You can check in but you might never leave

Mayans were and still are smaller people. With their average height being between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 feet, their doorways are short and narrow.

Except for the side of this ruin site that follows the bluffs and is open to the sea, this entire place is encircled by a low wall. Watchtowers rise from two corners and each tower houses an altar.

Notice how dense this wall is!

On the sea side, the walls are 26 foot thick and allowed Tulum to be defended against invasions. Since it was a major trading center, its defense was very important.

 

 

Welcome to the Mayan Golf and beach Resort

You can see how much shorter the ancient Maya were as compared to my just-over-5 foot frame.

Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. It flourished at its height during the 13th and 15th centuries and survived 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. At its peak, Tulum had a population of between 1,000 and 1,600 inhabitants.

 

Upon entering the resort you can see the outline of homes overlooking the fairway. It's not too early to place a deposit to hold your retirement house

Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes and this made it an important trade hub. Inside the walls you can see how beautiful this Maya site really is. The lawns are kept cut and the plants are manicured.

 

Perhaps an ocean view villa is more your taste. Granted some renovation work will need to be completed

Copper artifacts from the Mexican highlands have been found near the site, as well as flint, ceramic, incense burners and gold objects from all over the Yucatan. From the sea, salt and textiles were brought in and dispersed inland. Jade and obsidian have both been found at this site and were considered prestigious by the Maya as they had to come from northern Guatemala, 430 miles away from Tulum.

 

But look at the views. Imagine the parties you could host. With a view like this you may never leave

Tulum offers stunning views of the sea and beaches below. This is a rare Maya site in which you can imagine huge hollowed out canoes coming back from trading centers in the Maya World and landing at this location.

 

With access to the club's private beach you can spend days frolicking in the surf.

There are several beaches along Tulum's coastal side where canoes surely landed with their traded treasures. From the Castillo you can see for miles in either direction. Plus those watchtowers on either end of this Maya city-state provided a lookout to see enemies or canoes returning home filled with goods from other lands. 

 

There are many sand traps or hazards along the golf course to challenge the most gifted player

As we mentioned, this was one of the most well-kept ruin sites we had ever seen. the beaches were combed, the lawns were mowed, and the gardens trimmed. It really gave a resort feel to the whole place and the beauty was undeniable.

 

With the newly finished thatched roof, the club house will soon be serving up those famous Maya Tai and Maya Colada drinks

This is the City Square at the center of the Maya city and was probably used for ceremonies and rituals. The Castillo or Castle is to the west of this building.

Tulum was rediscovered by Juan Jose Galvez in 1840. In 1841, explorers Stephens and Catherwood ordered the trees cleared and made sketches of the buildings. These sketches were later published in their famous book, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan.  

 

Wide clear paths are already in place for your golf carts to move freely

You can see how tidy and civilized these ruins look today. These were the first ruins where we had such designated walking paths to direct our tour and roped off sections in which to walk. Most places where we have visited, we have been allowed to meander between buildings, even if the buildings themselves have been made off limits to climbing.

 

This fixer upper with fairway views won't last. This is a hot market and properties are going fast

In Ancient times, a vast number of palm and wooden houses which sheltered the masses were just outside this walled city. They are currently located in an area that cannot be visited by tourists at this time. The area inside was considered to be sacred space, worthy of the intensified fortification of the massive walls surrounding them.

 

 

One of the more difficult golf hazards on the course. You can choose to go over or test your accuracy by driving your ball through. What great fun for the family

There are two competing theories of why the Maya society collapsed here at Tulum. One of the most popular is that the Spanish brought several Old World diseases with them, including the malaria-carrying mosquito which decimated the local population. An alternative theory is that the royal residents inside the walls were taken over and killed by the common people living outside in the huts.

Without leaders and their political and spiritual direction, the multitudes were left to flounder.

 

The most luxurious estate on the property, the Castle as it is known, has breath taking views

The Castle is strategically placed and the construction appears to have taken place in stages. A small shrine here could have been used as a beacon. When two torches aligned, it showed the way through the barrier reef that is opposite the site.

During the Post Classic period, the Maya started to use large seagoing canoes that were 40 to 50 feet long and provided the ability to go longer distances. These hollowed-out Mahogany or other  tropical hardwood canoes revolutionized trading in the world of the Maya.

 The cove below provides a landing beach perfect for the trading canoes coming in.

The break in the reef and the perfect landing site might have been reasons that the city was built exactly here, and Tulum became a prominent trading port during the later years of the Maya reign.

 

 

More beach access makes the Mayan Resort one of a kind

Prior to the time when these huge canoes started being used for trade and transport, Mayans could only move what could be carried on a person's shoulders. The Maya didn't use any sort of wagon and had no beasts of burden in their culture because there were no suitable large mammals in the area. After these large canoes were implemented, trading voyages ranged from the Gulf of Mexico, the coast of the Yucatan peninsula and all the way down to what is known today as Honduras. Evidence shows that they went as far as Costa Rica and Panama.

Christopher Columbus made note that he saw native peoples in huge canoes measuring over 36 feet long and over 6 feet wide! So you can get an idea of how large these canoes really were.

 

The magnificent views are captured along our private beach

This is one of several beaches at Tulum. You are able to take swim here if you like, so bring your bathing suit and some sunscreen.

Viewing the ruins only takes an hour or so. If you would like to extend your stay here and enjoy the fact that you romped about in the World of the Maya, take advantage of the beach and surf.

 

More ocean view lots available. Imagine, those could be your foot prints in the sand

Another look at the beach. Remember, if you go early, you could be the only one on the beach. After the tour buses arrived, this beach was jam-packed. No more blissful solitude and the enchanting spell was broken.

 

These smaller bungalows are perfect for a weekend retreat

In 1518, in an expedition led by the Spanish, the captain and crew were taken aback by the sight of this grand walled city with its stucco buildings painted red, blue and white with a fire on top of the main temple.

Seventy-five years after the Spanish conquest and after the city was abandoned to the elements, Mayan pilgrims still visited the buildings. During the famous War of the Castes, native peoples took refuge here from time to time.

Because of its unique location, Western scientists took note of Tulum and began excavation and restoration of this site in the early 20th Century.

 

Jungle view homes are also available for those seeking relaxation from the crowds

There is still a jungle area at Tulum which provides shade, areas for tropical birds to nest and for mosquitoes to breed (!) Its lush density is a relief from the pounding sun of the Peninsula.

It was intensely humid this day, and tropical birds were singing and screeching their calls. Iguanas were everywhere. It was easy to imagine the life of the Maya centuries before.

 

Expanding the head room in our passageways is currently under construction

Again you can see the thickness of these walls which average 7 feet around the city. This was a prior entrance to the city, but it is now closed to the public.

 

Our upgraded security allows only members to pass into the Resort which allows you to rest assured no invaders will be plundering your home

Several hundred people came in from tour buses between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. The whole feel of the place changed and we were grateful to have had it almost all to ourselves prior to "the invasion."

 

This lovely couple are happy with their decision to locate in the Resort

There are 60 well-preserved buildings on the site at Tulum. With imagination you can visualize the stucco-covered and brightly painted buildings and see the majesty of the city at its height.

 

Fairway lots are clearly marked and will be an asset to anyone's portfolio

At ancient sites we have previously visited, we could walk anywhere we liked. But with the number of tourists visiting Tulum daily, this is discouraged.

 

Time for a break from all this resort viewing

Tulum is a stunning sight to see and we encourage you to put it on your list. Yes, it's a bit more touristy than other, more tranquil sites. But if you get there early (and perhaps revisit in the afternoon around 3 p.m. when the buses and crowds have gone) you will be able to get enviable photos and with good lighting. You will also have the mental room to fantasize how Maya life must have been.

 

I think it is time for a swim, Would you join us?

This gives you a better look at the landing beach where the Mayan canoes came in from the sea. A perfect natural place to come ashore after a long trip.

 

Aaaaahhhh....the beach

The public beaches at Tulum have talcum-powder white sand and are rated in the top ten beaches in the world. The wind and the surf are continuous and there is little shade, but the view is striking. Bring plenty of sunscreen, and if possible, a shade umbrella. If you don't have one of those, a broad brimmed hat is welcomed!

Water temperature is divine and there is no sea grass to obstruct your view or tangle in your toes. If you like to dive or snorkel, you can hire boats and equipment in town. Sometimes there will be guides walking the beach selling these excursions.

The water is crystal clear!

 

Our fantastic dinner at El Camello

After a busy day at the ruins and at the beach we were starving! Some fellow travelers recommended "the best seafood place in town" called El Camello. From our hotel it was at the opposite side of the town so we jumped into a collectivo and rode about 15 minutes until we arrived. It was just after 4 p.m. and the place was already jumping.

Billy ordered a medium plate of ceviche and I ordered a grilled fish filet which covered my entire plate. Both were the best we had ever had, with the ceviche being sweet, tender and tasty. There was octopus, white fish, shrimp and mussels galore. My white fish was so juicy and mouthwatering I had never tasted anything so good. With our drinks of agua frescas, our total came to 200 Pesos.

There is a lot to enjoy in the town of Tulum so why not make a point of visiting? You will be glad you did.

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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