What's Tulum Really Like?
We contacted Juan Rojo, a Canadian traveler/expat/Mayan Riviera guru, who allowed us to use his fantastic comment with permission.
Q: What’s your opinion about Tulum?
Juan: Tulum is a hard place to pin down and classify.
Tulum is getting well-known worldwide and yet I can’t think of a hotel in Tulum with more than 50 rooms. It’s touristy… but not in a garish way. The beach is long and wide and handles crowds easily and so it doesn’t seem crowded to me even in high season. The nearest all-inclusive resort is several miles to the north and none in any other direction. The south beach road, goes all the way to Punta Allen and becomes a muddy dirt road heading south.
The people there have done the same things in the same place for centuries. Present-day Tulum has grown and developed with tourism in mind, but the city has stayed “TIKI” and “ECO” in its approach. Cancun has gone for a touristy, “slick” feel. Tulum would be the opposite.
There’s mostly low-rise development on the beach and in town, Tulum is still quite small and so the downtown neighborhoods are closer to the tourist area, but everything is walkable or accessible by bicycle.
In Playa Del Carmen, even the graffiti is beautiful. You can see dozens of examples of fantastic street art throughout the city. Most of it is spectacularly beautiful.
Unlike other big cities, the street artists are tolerated and even encouraged, or at least it seems that way. And if you want to get a lovely piece of custom street art commissioned for your business or building, (or even your home), it's easy to hire a local artist to create an original piece for you on the cheap.
I loved this artist's vibrant color scheme against the black background. Notice how the artist's canvas is basically a crumbling chunk of concrete wall with rusted rebar sticking out of the top. He turned an urban eyesore into something worth looking at.
Another nice piece, this time with a seal and a whale, swimming through a colorful sea of oranges and yellows. Very pretty at sunset.
I'll admit that this one is my favorite image out of all of them. This painting is so well done, and the anatomy and expression on this child are so perfect, I wanted to make sure that I had a person in the shot so you could at least see that it isn't fake, and also the scale of the image. The artist captures the child's natural wonder.
Very neat little tree frog by another street artist--there are several tree frogs like this throughout the city. It's a popular theme.
Another tree frog by a different artist.
A very neat geometric tropical fish. I like this one a lot because it's very different stylistically from the others. It reminds me of Hawaiian silkscreen images from the eighties for some reason. Very retro and cool. Not sure if that's what the artist had in mind, but I like it.
Travel Nightmare with AeroMexico, Cancelled Flights, Terrible Customer Service, and no refunds
We travel frequently between Mexico and CA. Last year, we flew back and forth between Mexico and the US three times without incident.
We usually fly on Delta or American Airlines. This July, 2015, we decided to use AeroMexico for the first time. Never again.
For three tickets, we booked in advance and found a great price through AeroMexico. So we decided to give AeroMexico a try. Big mistake. Considering this is the largest Mexican carrier, you would think that they would be reasonably competent. Nope.
The flight was a disaster from start to finish, and these seats ended up being the most expensive tickets we have ever purchased. And here's why:
Our connecting flight from LEON (BJX) was delayed in MEX (Mexico City Airport), and then cancelled. No biggie, right? Cancellations happen. It was the way they treated us that was unacceptable.
FAIL #1: We weren't notified of the cancellation for hours. The gate attendants repeatedly told us that the flight was merely delayed. Finally, well after midnight, they told us the flight was cancelled and had been rerouted. They didn't make any type of formal announcement. We had to go up to the gate and ask before they would give us a straight answer. So at this point it was impossible to go get a hotel for the night.
FAIL #2: We were not given an option to return to our home city. We were told that we could choose between Salt Lake City, UT or Las Vegas. We chose Las Vegas, with the hope that we would be able to get a connecting flight from Vegas. We would have to pay for the connecting flight out of our own pocket. There was no offer from Aeromexico to get us to our home city. Southwest flights were available (thankfully), and we ended up paying $1,000 for three tickets from LAX to SMF so we could get back to CA the next day.
FAIL #3: No refunds. I called the AeroMexico customer service number, and was told by the representative that since I was given the "option" of coming back to the US (not anywhere near the city that was on our original ticket, of course), that no refund would be issued for the cancelled leg of our flight, or the additional booking fees that we incurred after the airline could not accommodate us with a return flight to CA.
I did check the AeroMexico contract of carriage, and apparently, they absolve themselves of any reasonable liability for anything with regards to cancellations. Case in point:
From Aeromexico's terrible carrier contract:
1. Times in itineraries or anywhere else are not guaranteed, and are not a part of this agreement (so...basically nothing is guaranteed?).
2. The Carrier may switch, without prior notice, to other Carriers or aircraft and may alter or omit any stops appearing on the Ticket (no notice at all? You aren't required to tell us anything or give us any type of notice when you change our ticket? That does seem to be their forte).
3. The Carrier does not assume any liability for connections that the Passenger has to make with other airlines or contracts made outside the Carrier’s itinerary. (Nice to know that all our connecting flights are at your mercy, Aeromexico).
And the icing on the cake? AeroMexico is required by law to refund passengers who are bumped due to overbooking, but apparently, even this does not seem to deter them:
This poor bloke was given the run-around for months, even though Aeromexico was obligated by law to refund the ticket (he was bumped from his flight due to overbooking). After contacting the airlines dozens of times, getting the media involved, and he finally got his refund only after involving the Airport Director of Sacramento International Airport, who apparently lit the fire under AeroMexico's local manager in order to get the refund which he was legally owed.
It shouldn't be this hard. Aeromexico, you've lost (another) customer for life.
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