Here is the Dream Tulum

Oh Tulum, what happened to you? When did powdery white sands turn into powdery white noses? When did the military start to flash their weapons around and when did my coffee start to cost 8 dollars all of a sudden?

October 2021. A bar in the center of Tulum and two tourists that happened to sit next to the wrong person. Shot dead. Narcos. Wrong table. Wrong day. Coke dealers with nose rings made out of diamonds. 
Tulum Party

The finest techno blows out of the speakers that are hidden behind the finest wood sculptures. The yuppie szene of unrealistically beautiful party people is dancing in the back of a hostel that charges 60$ per night for a 10-bed dorm.

“Keep it going“ is projected in purple on the ceiling of the party tipi and moves up and down with the bass. „Keep it going“. The coke dealer with a nose ring made out of diamonds watches the party calmly from the back with a dead expression, smoke slowly ghosting out of his nose. 

Is that what Burning Man on the Caribbean would look like? Is this the vibe that makes you forget that the 15 Dollar cocktail you’re currently sipping probably doesn’t contain any alcohol at all?

The DJ, a tall friendly guy with huge glasses and a black mustache throws his arms up behind the DJ desk having the time of his life. His music is out of this world and so are his dance moves. The Walter White of Tulum‘s DJ scene, a genius in his field – his mustache moving up and down with the bass. A crowd of white noses dancing in the background. The beat is sick. 

Is it the fine techno that brings the fine cocaine to a place? Has gentrification of an area that once  used to attract innocent hippies finally blown up the party scene? A new dirtier Ibiza version on Mexico‘s Caribbean Coast, a new dangerous and overpriced version of Bali?

“Want some coke?“ a small hipster with a palm tree shirt approaches us. “No, thank you.“

Mexican government statistics show that around 4.7 million tourists visited the Tulum in 2016. Compared to 2010, the population in Tulum increased by 65.3%
Shootings Tulum
Shootings Tulum
In Tulum, Quintana Roo, there was an 80.5% increase in intentional homicides. Compared to the figures from January to September 2020 with the same period in 2021, from 36 investigation files to 65 this year. In the case of drug dealing, the figure increased 100%, going from 38 to 76 investigations. Source

My party partner in crime is my hostel room neighbor: a Canadian who wears one big silver fish earring and joins me when I refill my cocktail with the bottle of rum I am hiding in the dorm. He kind of never stopped traveling and doesn’t pay for his bed. He‘s just never left and no one seems to realize. 

He got hit by a truck some days ago when he was cruising around the way too narrow beach streets, that smell and look like a full blown high way now. When he gets drunk (has he ever been sober?) he likes to show off his bruises telling incredible stories of his life. No-one ever knows how much is exaggerated, but when you cut the content down to 30% it‘s still pretty entertaining. 

He has a good heart and I like him. 

Jungle pathway Tulum

When the music goes out, the party goes on in the DJs apartment. 

The rum bottle in my hands is my entry ticket to the party and soon into some person‘s car that drives us off straight to a villa in the jungle. 

More beautiful people, more incredibly good techno, a house in the middle of nowhere and some flashy wooden glass doors that swipe open. 

I‘m tired. Probably the only one who is that night. 

Keep it going. 

Uber is not working and I have no reception on my phone. You need a car to leave the jungle or someone who walks back home with you. My new found hostel friend returns with a white nose and I know I cannot count on him. And then he disappears into the crowd, dancing.

I wake up in a padded king size bed on satin cushions, wrapped in the most comfortable blankets … a voice shouting in the background. “Get out! You don‘t belong here. You have to go- you‘re not family!“ 

I remember two gorgeous girls the night before who had brought me here to sleep and silently thanked them while stumbling out of the house. I passed the bathroom and a toilet seat on which a peeing girl in a beautiful dress couldn’t care less.

Once outside in the garden a slim girl with huge sunglasses and Pocahontas hair waves towards  me and two guys, who look just as lost as me, and starts walking to her car. We follow and I see that one of them is my hostel buddy, who just like me did not belong to that place. Twenty minutes later we are somewhere back in Tulum, still way too far away from our hostel at the beach.

“Drinks?“ the other dude from the car, a black guy with a huge straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt suggests. “Come on, Denise, don‘t be tired!“, he knows my name.

Tequila

Yeah, why not, we thought, and a lot of tequila chili shots later a day-drinking adventure around Tulum follows. We keep on walking and walking randomly stopping at each bar to get more drinks to keep us awake. The Mescal is strong. On every second corner military has been placed flashing their weapons- looking stressed and angry.

Military Forces Tulum
 The situation has grown so alarming that military security forces had to be sent in. 450 federal troops were placed around the streets in Tulum in late October, following the murder of the two tourists mentioned earlier.

We made it back to the hostel at the beach in the early evening.

Powdery white sands. Powdery noses dancing on repeat, guarded by the military.

Oh Tulum.

Click here to read how Tulum used to be.

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