When I visit new towns, cities and countries, I want to show and tell you about the realities of life there for the locals. I don’t want to sugar coat it, and make it seem like everything is all perfect. I want to show you the side of places that not many people will show or tell you about, because those are the realities.
It is natural for us as humans, to want to share our best moments, our most amazing experiences and our most stunning photos with the world, via blogs and social media. We post gorgeous photos of the places we travel to, capturing the place in the best possible moment, so as to make it look perfect and desirable to visit. We describe our experiences and how amazing they were and how perfect everything was. As humans, it is also natural for us to compare our lives with others, and what they are doing, what they are experiencing and where they are traveling to. We often forget that we are comparing our real lives to other peoples’ highlights. We are not being shown the realities behind these seemingly perfect photos and social media status updates. People often won’t post online how long it actually took them to get that perfect-looking photo. They won’t tell you about the long and uncomfortable bus journeys necessary to actually get to some of these places. They won’t share with you the mistakes they made along the way, or other things that went wrong. This bothers me.
When I scroll through my Instagram feed, I see photos of gorgeous places that sparks a desire in me to travel there too. But this is just surface beauty. What I really want to see, is how the locals live and I want to understand the realities of life in those places. Beauty is more than what meets the eye. What beauty means to me, is being real and authentic. Seeing the reality of places, adds character and authenticity to our understanding. That is what I want to see people sharing.
And that is why I have written this post about the realities of life in Tulum, Mexico. I will show you the “real” and authentic Tulum.
Tulum, Mexico can be divided into three separate areas: the beach, the ruins and the town. When most people visit Tulum, they only go to the ruins and the beach. But, Tulum isn’t all about the gorgeous beaches and stunning ancient ruins. Not far from the beach and the ruins, is the town of Tulum. Few tourists venture into the town, which I think is a shame. While the beach and ruins are gorgeous, I really enjoyed exploring the town for four days. It is an authentic and real small Mexican town and you really get a sense for what life is like there. Hardly anyone speaks English off of the main avenue, where the small handicraft and souvenir shops are located. There are small family owned, hole-in-the-wall “loncherias” (lunch restaurants) that offer an authentic atmosphere and delicious traditional cuisine. There are small convenience stores called “abarrotes” on almost every street corner. There is garbage in the streets. There are stray dogs and cats roaming around everywhere. There are gorgeous murals painted on random buildings throughout the town. The town has charm and character. The locals are warm and friendly, and I loved my time there. The town of Tulum is definitely worth a visit in my opinion, if you want to experience a real Mexican town.
These photos below, capture the realities for most of the local residents in this small slow-paced town.
When I visit new places, I like to observe how the locals live. The best place to do this, is going away from the tourist attractions and spending time wandering residential neighbourhoods in towns and cities. This is one of my favourite things to do when I arrive in a new place. When you explore a city or town more in depth and visit areas where the locals are, you have the opportunity to interact with the locals, experience their nature, and become immersed in their culture and language, which I love.
Most locals in Tulum live in houses like the ones in these photos: they have one room with a concrete floor, a roof made of sheet metal, hammocks for beds and likely no electricity or running water. It is truly humbling to see how these people live. Despite how little they live with, I observed and experienced the generosity, kindness, warmth and cheerfulness of the locals on a daily basis.
It reiterates the notion that having more “stuff” does not equal happiness. These Mexicans are cheerful and smiling every day, whether they are selling freshly cut fruit on a street corner to make a few extra dollars, selling souvenirs to tourists or serving in a restaurant. They have so little in terms of possessions but they value family and focus on what is important to them. I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from these kinds of people.
Learn to live with less and know when is “enough.” Be happy and grateful for what you do have and stop the desire for accumulating more stuff. And remember the nature of Mexicans, despite their life situations, and how positive and warm they are. Remember this when you find yourself complaining about “first world” problems.
Next time you are in Mexico, I recommend staying in the town of Tulum, to experience the culture, learn from the way the locals live and experience the kindness and generosity of Mexicans from your daily interactions! There is so much character and it is a lovely and charming small and authentic Mexican town.