In 2007, Peter and I made a decision that has made me no longer fear repeating magical experiences.
In addition to spending the night in the home of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, the decision to return to Tulum made for unrivalled adventure…
You know that feeling of not wanting to repeat an experience for fear of the new experience ruining the memory of the first one?
After having spent about a week in Tulum, we had gone to San Cristobál, and now we were back on the Yucatán peninsula, where we were spending time in the city of Merida. We had just over a week left before we would be flying home, so we could choose to try the new and unknown, or we could take the chance, cross our fingers, and hope to rediscover the magic of Tulum…
Under normal circumstances, we would choose the new experience. Beautiful pictures and stories from the island of Isla Mujeres were appealing to our curiosity, but we opted not to go. The longing to rediscover the magic in Tulum was even more attractive to us.
Back to Tulum
It was not without mixed feelings, however, when we were sitting on the bus heading back to Tulum. Had we made the wrong decision? Might we be disappointed? We were trying to lower our expectations.
We took a cab from Tulum and drove through Parc Nacional Tulum down toward the beach where we were dropped off. Now we were standing there in 105-degree heat with our heavy backpacks, needing to find a place to stay.
The road along the beach at Tulum is full of beach bungalows, eco resorts in bamboo, yoga retreat hotels – wooden cabins. Everything, catering to everyone from the beach bum to the glam hippie, spread across a few miles before ending in the national park of Reserva de la Biósfera Sian Ka-an.
Here, we walked from place to place in search of accommodations. Just when we were running out of strength to keep walking in the heat, we suddenly received an offer to spend the night in a building located further down the street than we had traveled. The former hideout for Pablo Escobar, Casa Magna.
Casa Magna consisted of two huge concrete buildings located right at the water’s edge, hiding behind the palm trees on the beach. This is where we paid to stay for the last week, keeping our fingers crossed that we would rediscover the magic.
Our first trip to Tulum was an adventure with sea turtles pushing their way out of the water every night to cross the warm sand and lay their eggs. It was fire flies, the heat of the Caribbean, turquoise water, and a peace that perforated our skin and penetrated far into our souls.
Because of the sea turtles and the eco system, there was a prohibition against turning on the light in the evening, and all hotels would turn off their lights, making it possible to see at night only when the moon or the stars illuminated the turquoise ocean and fine coral sand.
Casa Magna had peace as well. The large, thick concrete walls stood solid against the strong winds from the ocean, and because the salt coated everything, it was like living in a palace in the middle of the jungle in the middle of the sea.
At night, tiny crabs would crawl into the house and hide behind the jars. And when we lifted them up and shone our flashlights on them, they pinched our fingers and settled back down to sleep.
The nights were endless once again. The fireflies floated in through our open windows at night, illuminating like tiny magical lamps and bidding us welcome back to Tulum.
Sea turtle time had ended, so we didn’t see any more. But every night we took walks in the darkness, looking for them and longing to see their heads poking out of the sea.
A few days before we were going home, we were walking along the beach as usual, and suddenly it was teeming with tiny, newly hatched turtle babies heading toward the waves. Toward the world – toward the adventurous storm of waves, seaweed, and fish.
We have both stayed at several luxury hotels with gilded handles and neatly folded toilet paper ends. But for us, no luxury beats the concrete bunker that used to house the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and his wild parties, now renovated and aesthetically decorated, incorporating it into the nature and peace as though they were all one.
Sleeping in the bed of the kingpin may not have included Pablo Escobar or even his original bed… in fact, the only thing left from his time was the raw concrete wall. But the adventure… the magic, was still there.
We took a chance and repeated our success. We were not disappointed.
Links about Casa Magna, Tulum, Yucatán, Mexico: