Rolling Mural

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Bruno & Laura from Panama en route to Argentina in their Costa Rican van which is a rolling mural project in progress. Yeah. Well, thats their story and they’re sticking to it. Find out more from Pinceladas de Latino

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Tulum Beaches in Brief

View north from ZaZilKin with ruins in the distance. 20140220-163729.jpg

We briefly explored the beach from the Tulum ruins south for about 15 kilometres. About 4 kilometres south of Tulum highway 109 rejoins the coast and intersects with the beach road at the new Tourist Police Station. To stay the course south on 109 you encounter several very good and some very expensive beach clubs. If you want to go full gringo this is a good area to explore. Lots of amenities and kite surfing. One day we would like to continue the 60 or so kilometres further down 109 to Punta Allen which we understand is a delightful coastal town.

At the Tourist Police Station should you decide to head north onto the beach road towards the ruins there is an expanse of over 2 kilometres of wonderful and mostly public beach. Here there are a handful of private beach clubs. Some clubs require your patronage and some request maybe you purchase a cerveza. It really depends on wether you want to use their beach loungers or not.

We choose instead to lay upon our sarongs, take a picnic lunch and beverages. The only issue is you want relief from the sun and who doesn’t enjoy the breeze under the shade of a palm. But this will necessitate the use of a beach club. As long as we purchase a couple of drinks the beach club we use is content to let us be.

We relax at ZaZilKin. Lots of palms, very secure and between noon and 3:00pm they offer 2 for 1 happy hour. Two drinks will cost $60.00 pesos and cerveza is $25.00 pesos.

From anywhere along this beach one can snorkel the reefs, kite surf, enjoy good food with live music. Relaxing and fabulous swimming. Never crowded and so far very secure and safe.

One small but important beach culture thing we learned straight off is never take a beach towel to the beach. They are bulky and hold too much sand when wet. Sarongs take up a fifth of the space and weight, dry instantly and are larger to boot.

You’ll be thankful too when it comes laundry time because you pay by weight at the lavenderia and with the humidity in Tulum a wet beach towel rarely dries thoroughly.


Gin and Juice Baby

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What does one do with all that duty free gin? Why gin and juice of course.

Risking the breaking point of our carry-on bag’s zipper we stuffed as much duty free 40% into it as humanly possible. After arrival we carefully unburdened the weighty tote of its’ precious cargo. Bombay Sapphire. I dare say If its good enough for the Queen then its all righty-ho by me.

The challenge is how one conveniently and efficiently transports chilled el coctels to the beach. Well mi amigos the challenge has been met. Game, set, and match.

For this you will need an insulated tote bag with a closing zipper. Ours is from Community Natural Foods in Calgary and is about the volume of a plastic shopping bag. Fits nicely into the basket of a bike.

Method:

Fill four empty single serving sized plastic water bottles with potable water and freeze over night.

Take two additional empty water bottles, as large as will fit into your insulated beach bag and pour a liberal amount of gin, vodka or whatever grain alcohol tickles your fancy into each bottle. Reserve room enough to add the juice mix.

For the mix we prefer jugo de toronja, grapefruit juice, or jugo de naranja, orange juice. Fresh squeezed juices are readily available in Tulum and will cost about $25.00 pesos a litre for grapefruit juice and $20.00 pesos a litre for orange juice.

Once you have the mix to your liking place these bottles in the freezer overnight.

Yield: two fun filled suckies of fun.

By now you gather where this is headed.

The next morning you will wake up and like a kid at Christmas you will behold the joy when you open the freezer to reveal two perfect slushy cocktails. With enough alcohol the contents will freeze to a slush and not rock hard. So one could enjoy these straight off. But wait.

Just before you head out to the beach place the four frozen water bottles along side the two ‘juice’ bottles into the beach bag. The frozen water bottles will keep everything nice and cold for up to four hours.

There will be additional space in the beach bag to add some sandwich fillers. Lunch and refreshments. Cool, tidy and good to go.

The side benefit is as the ice melts in the water bottles one has agua enough to rehydrate.

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Would You Like Tortillas With That?

To consume a meal in Mexico without corn tortillas is rare. Tortillas are plentiful and cheap. Chances are anything made with a corn ingredient anywhere in the world is made from GMO corn. No getting around it. Nasty stuff but there you have it.

farmersdotter and I vote with our wallet and prefer to support organics and the local fair trade economy. One does the best one can.

That being said you can purchase a kilo of fresh tortillas anywhere in Tulum for about $9.40 pesos and you can by a wheat flour bun for $1.20 pesos or ten cents each.

Either way that is high carb cheapness. Seeing how we are all about the gluten and not GMO we choose to buy fresh leavened buns every day from the mercado or the street vendors who parade the streets on bikes or motos all day and night.

Pollo asado al carbon or BBQ chicken is available everywhere in Tulum from vendors on the main avenue to private stands that spill out onto the street. The private family run operations are easily equal to the store front ones. Pork, beef and seafood are plentiful as well.

From about 8 am until well into the evening Grandma and the grand kids will be slapping whole split birds onto the grill to satisfy eager street dwelling carnivores. Each morsel flavoured with the families own unique rub. Always good and always moist.

One taste of these home grilled pieces of juicy goodness and you know these aren’t Tyson’s over injected chemical monster birds that can’t stand on their own two boney feet. These are dense meat birds. A meal that can easily feed two to four comes complete with sides of rice, slaw, hot sauce, peppers, pasta and of course tortillas. We ask our purveyor to skip the tortillas and substitute a little more rice.

A whole pollo meal will cost 100 to 130 pesos depending wether you dine in or take away. We found one delicious pollo place in a nearby colonia that offers a two for one take away deal every Sunday. Holy crap. Why would one cook at home?

To make this two for one deal work within our ‘prepare meals at home’ budget we combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

Method:

Remove the meat from the bone and place in the mixing bowl.

Add the sides; slaw, pasta, rice and hot stuff to taste. To this we also add fresh chopped tomato, and cucumber.

Combine.

Divide the mixture in half. One half you keep in the fridge to use in the first few days. Simply add mayo and mustard to make this a great sandwich mix.

The second half you will freeze without the mayo and mustard for later use.

Add the cost of a bun, fresh veg and condiments you have 10 tasty meals for under $1.25 CDN each.

Take that to the beach!

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On Saving Money and Extended Vacations

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An extended vacation in Mexico is wonderful for obvious reasons; climate, culture. Who am I kidding, sun, sand, and beer play a role too.

The irony is the longer one lives in Mexico, even on the Caribbean Coast as we do, one can actually save money or at the very least break even compared to the living expense of wintering in Canada. And notice I said Caribbean ‘Coast’ and not beachfront.

First off packing for an extended stay can be tricky. We learnt early the trick is to pack light. Everything we require for two months or more fits nicely into one carry-on and one knapsack each plus a modest checked bag. Truth be told we could avoid the checked bag but after all there is duty-free to consider.

Better to purchase the extra few bits and bobs after arrival when you can truly identify immediate short comings. Honestly, the money saved on transporting extra luggage with potentially useless stuff will more than pay for supplies. And don’t worry because at the end of a stay one can resell or donate purchased items and make the return trip light too.

Okay smart guy how does one save money on an extended stay?

Well first off and most important is the extended stay part. After several trips to Mexico we understand an extended stay is the key.

Getting away for two or three weeks makes it difficult to take advantage of monthly and seasonal rentals. All-inclusive resorts offer everything you need for ten days or so and all you need do is arrive bering some semblance of sobriety. But you pay dearly for inclusivity.

For a short stay you do better to consult TripAdvisor and select a vacation rental away from the hotel zone yet close enough to walk, cab or take a collectivo to the action. A vacation rental should include kitchenette, bed, shower, and wifi. A safe is nice although with common sense and forethought security is not an issue on the Coast.

Staying within the colonias is a rewarding experience in and of itself. You can prepare meals in your casita or dine out at a local eatery. Your choice. A short stay will cost upwards of $90.00 US a night although accommodation can be had for as low as $40.00 US. Anything below that is a rare find indeed and below that is a hostel. You decide.

I digress.

We are farmers without livestock so we have the luxury of having our long Canadian winters free. We planned our life to be this way. Perhaps you are in a similar situation.

For an extended stay figure out your monthly budget. Mortgage and utilities are fixed costs and play no part in this calculation.

Got your budget? Okay, take 50% to 60% and this amount is your living expense budget in Mexico if you don’t go full gringo. And don’t. Gringoism isn’t cool. The balance is your rental budget.

We are living in an excellent, well equipped one bedroom rental for about $460.00 CDN a month or $16.00 a night. That is also a minimum amount one would budget for living expenses in Mexico. We budget closer to $700.00 CDN a month for living or roughly 300 pesos a day.

Granted our ‘departmento’ isn’t listed on TripAdvisor but others like it are out there. That being said if your basic living expense in Canada is around $1,000.00 to $1,200.00 CDN per month for a family of two than you can do this. Any amount beyond is saved money.

While in Mexico we eat out sometimes but mostly we prepare our meals at home. We do enjoy a cerveza or six and we also cycle to the public beach regularly with picnic and chilled beverages nestled in the panniers. Beach clubs? Sure, just not everyday. The public beaches are awesome. Entertain and eat out? Yes, just not every night ‘mi gringo’.

There are several ways to have a rich experience on this budget as we will explore in future posts but rest assured if you have time Mexico can actually pay you back. Literally.

One other thing. We use a WestJet Mastercard that gives you Westjet dollars in return to use with no restrictions or blackouts. All our personal and business expenses throughout the year go on this card. So even our flights, minus taxes and airport fees of course, are paid in full.

Ergo we are living on the Mayan Riviera at a standard equal to or better than Canada for the cost of airport tax.

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