We arrived in Tulum a month ago after our extended stay in upstate New York visiting family. The past month has been more of a challenge than we ever anticipated. While most of the photos we’ve posted paint a picture of paradise, our initial reality was definitely not paradise.
Just like we did in Italy, we located our house in Mexico online and after extensive communications with the owners, we booked it. In this case, we found a beautiful, brand new, spacious 2 bedroom home a few miles outside of Tulum in a small gated development. Our eco-chic jungle house was advertised as 100% solar powered. The rent was very reasonable. We had a fenced yard for the dog and a nice plunge pool. We were very excited about our new home in Mexico.
As we were making the hour and a half drive from the airport to Tulum in our rented VW FGolf, we couldn’t help but notice that the main highway was flooded. It was clear that the area had gotten a lot of rain in a very short time. We also got a message from the caretakers of our house that there was a problem. The road into our development was flooded and we would not be able to get to our home unless we had rented a seriously big four wheel drive vehicle. Their friend Juan had barely made it through the water with his Honda Pilot! It didn’t sound like the Golf would do the trick.
We were grateful that they offered us a room at a charming Bed and Breakfast, just a few kilometers up the road from our solar home. We gratefully accepted, glad to have a place that would welcome us and Bella. Nick wisely stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things for us to snack on.
On the way to the B and B we spotted our development. Let’s go in, and see how bad it is! The first part of the dirt road was well maintained and relatively dry, but as we got further into the jungle, the rougher and wetter it got. We finally came to the “moat” that was keeping us out of our new home. It certainly appeared impassable, especially for our trusty little Golf. Back on the highway, we found our way to our temporary residence.
The place had lots of charm, and our room was fine, but everything seemed just a little mouldy and damp. The bathroom had only a partial ceiling, with the shower being completely open-air. Our hosts shared a welcome shot of tequila with us, and warned us about scorpions and the 4 deadly kinds of snakes on this property as well as at our new home. We retired to our room to eat our snacks and relax and went to bed early. Bella, as usual was a champ about settling in to a new environment.
When we got up the next morning, we both blurted out the same thought. There was no way we could spend another night at the B and B. We wanted to be in our new home. We would ask Juan, the guy with the big Honda Pilot, to take us and our stuff through the moat to our home. We would park our car on the dry side, so if we needed to get out for any reason, we would have to trudge through the muddy water to get to our car. Juan agreed, and off we went.
When we got to the house, our hearts sang! It was even more beautiful than the pictures! But none of us had the keys. Juan took us back across the water and we climbed into our car to find the caretakers and get the keys. They insisted on accompanying us to the house to help us settle in.
Nick was an HVAC professional before we retired, and so he knows a thing or two about mechanical systems. If you were going to be stranded in the jungle with anyone, you would be wise to choose Nick. But it was nice to have a tour of the house and the systems.
After they left, Nick dosed the algae filled pool with chemicals and and turned on the filter. We went into the house and turned on the AC in the living room. It didn’t take long for the electric system to crash. He reset it and we were able to maintain minimal electric service until early evening. Once the sun went down, and the power was out, there was’t much else to do except go to bed early.
The next few days were cloudy thanks to Tropical Storm Nate brewing in the Caribbean. Even though it didn’t even rain in Tulum, the storm cut off most of our power source. We limped through the days without using AC or running the pump on the pool, trying to save enough power so that we would have internet service. On Friday, the day the storm passed us by, our internet was out entirely. We contacted the caretakers and they reached out to the satellite internet provider and the problem was solved.
Nick was puzzled by the lack of power. There were plenty of solar panels and batteries to provide power to this house. So why weren’t we getting enough electricity? He did some basic trouble shooting and found that some of the cables connecting the batteries were loose. The solar guys came in and delivered some bad news. Yes, they tightened up some cables and fixed a bad connection on the roof, but this system would never be able to provide enough electricity for us to remain comfortable and cool in this home.
While we struggled with the power issues, there was other fun stuff to deal with. The “jungle yard” was overgrown and actually kind of scary. Our neighbors had cleared their yards of all brush and debris, but ours was in a more natural state…perfect for bugs and snakes, many of which are poisonous. I’ll admit it. I was scared of the yard. Even Bella didn’t venture out in the “yard” unless she had to.
The plunge pool was more like a pond. Once we chlorinated it, most of the bugs died, but we didn’t have enough electricity to run the pump and keep it clean. I never went in beyond the first step. The thought of the giant “toe biter” that lived in the pool when we got here still haunts me. As does the live scorpion Nick found in the filter.
We also found a pretty big scorpion in our toilet bowl one night. Alive. Crawling around. You can bet your bottom dollar that Nick and I both checked the toilet very carefully before we sat down.
Bella didn’t love the jungle house either. She wilted in the heat with no air conditioning. Once she got wet, she couldn’t get dry. Within a week of arriving Bella was at the vet for a nasty skin infection that still hasn’t cleared up. We didn’t go for walks in the jungle “neighborhood” because the neighbors were mostly poisonous biting things.
I could give you about 10 more reasons why we weren’t happy in the jungle home, but I think you get the point. We left the jungle house and checked into a hotel while we searched for a new place to live. We found a new home in Tulum, one with all of the electricity money can buy. It’s lovely, spacious, and has a nice clean plunge pool. It’s within biking distance of the town and the beach. The neighborhood is dog friendly for Bella. We’ve moved into our new home, and we are all happier here.
I think when we travel, one of the most important things we discover is ourselves. The lessons we’ve learned about ourselves so far in Mexico will not soon be forgotten.