Friday, November 19, 2010


Tulum has been an intersection of transport and commerce for countless centuries dating back to the ancient Chontal Maya with huge sea-going trade canoes that frequented these pristine waters.

Caribbean waters of Riviera Maya south of the Tulum temple ruins.
Excerpt from the book; FINAL REPORT AND THE MAYA by Michel D. Coe, page 206.
“Yucatán was the greatest producer of salt in Mesoamerica. The beds extended along the coast from Campeche, along the lagoons on the north side of the peninsula, and over to Isla Mujeres on the east.
The great majority of goods traveled by sea since the roads were but poor trails and cargos heavy. The kind of commerce was cornered by the Chontal Maya, or Putun, such good seafarers that Thompson called them “the Phoenicians of Middle America.” Their route skirted the coast from the Aztec port of trade in Campeche, Xicallanco, around the peninsula and down to Nito near Lake Izabal, where their great canoes put into exchange goods with the island Maya…
It was this trade that linked Mexico and the Maya, for they had much to exchange- especially cacao and feathers of tropical birds for copper tools and ornaments- and it was probably the smooth business operators conducted by the Chontal that spared the Maya from the Aztec onslaught that had overwhelmed less cooperative peoples in Mesoamerica.”
   Tulum remained an active trading port when the Maya of northern Yucatán’s classic period collapsed due to an unprecedented two-hundred fifty year drought that commenced in the year 800 AD.
   The Chontal Maya continued their sea-going trade transporting salt from northern Yucatán to the still active Mayan centers of Lamanai, Tikal and Calakmul in the dense canopy jungle far to the south. They also carried on sea-going trade to as far away as Veracruz, Cuba, Florida and Central America.
Tulum offered a port of refuge on the Caribbean coast behind the second longest coral reef in the world. Entry to the protection behind that coral reef was ingeniously provided by a range marker that when lined up made a safe passage through the narrow break in the reef possible. The most astonishing thing of all was that these Maya even made their range marker useable by night by placing a fire behind a window that lined up perfectly with the safe passage through the break in the reef.
    This area was well developed with infrastructure that included a straight paved sacbe road to the Mayan temple town of Cobá and a straight manmade navigable canal nearly ten kilometers long to the temple town of Muyil which lies some twenty kilometers south of Tulum. The canal is fully functional to this day.
     In 1975 the Territory of Quintana Roo became a state, but was seldom visited, had nearly no paved roads and tourism was unheard of outside of the newly created resort town of Cancún. Besides being undeveloped it was a smugglers paradise for clandestine merchandise that strangely found its way into Mexico by night. 
    One boast of Tulum today is that they still do not have a jail.
    Though the Riviera Maya has been discovered now by world travelers there are still some extremely affordable options for visiting Tulum. 

   For less that $10.00 USD or $120.00 pesos a day, the Hostel Lobo Inn Tulum gives bed and breakfast with so much free stuff thrown in it seems impossible to believe. Free internet, TV, air conditioning, drinking water, open kitchen, security lockers, free bicycle use, swimming pool and an unbeatable location; Located across from the Tulum Ruins entrance and an ADO scheduled bus stop with quiet paved bike paths and trails along the Caribbean coast and into downtown shopping.    Camping and motor scooter rentals are also available.

Jane at Hostel Lobo Inn Tulum where bikers and back packers gather.

The patio and pool area where coconuts and travelers hang out.

   Here I am with the happy, helpful and friendly management team of Hostel Lobo who make Caribbean vacations affordable and fun. Julio center and Manual on right are setting the standard for inexpensive tropical vacations…perhaps the best deal in all of Mexico.
Hostel Lobo Inn Tulum

Carretera Federal Chetumal-Cancún
Tel. 984-8712190 or cel. 984-1067933

   The best deal on a studio apartment available on a weekly and monthly basis in downtown Tulum is at Bin Wayak Apartments where amazingly everything works and all is maintained in pristine condition. New, modern studio apartments have kitchenettes and wireless internet included. Convenient shopping is a short walk away in a quiet and pleasant neighborhood.
Bin Wayak

Calle Jupiter between Sol y Murcurio streets next to the Lavanderia Burbujas
Centro Zona Maya, Tulum, Q. Roo tel. 984 7459966

Fresh Caribbean air and quiet tranquility plus a super location for shopping, dining and the ADO bus terminal are an easy walk away.

Bicycle friendly with easy access to the beaches, shopping and a variety of interesting dining spots that have a laid-back Caribbean flavor featuring fresh sea food are reachable on quiet back streets and paved bike paths

Owner, developer and hospitality chief of Bin Wayak studio apartments, Tirso Monxón Ambrossi makes a wonderful place even better with his perpetually jovial disposition that invites your return.

You will not need air-conditioning here with huge screened opening windows that let in the trade-wind tropical fresh air.

Convenient bicycle parking and tranquil patios where year-round temperatures hover in a salubrious comfortable range that allows the warm trade-winds to make life easy and un-rushed are sure to beckon your return to Tulum.

Today transport and commerce connects the Riviera Maya and Tulum to the rest of the world by paved highway but the pristine Caribbean waters and fresh trade-wind breezes remain.
More Tulum information, visit our website:

©2010 John M. Grimsrud

Tuesday, November 2, 2010



The Superior, Wisconsin/Minnesota Point inlet and lighthouse pictured in calm weather;
Note; the following short story goes with this photo because of its geographical location.
It is a common occurrence to have at least one very violent storm in this season on Lake Superior but this one was exceptional.

Jane and I along with my father, who was living with us at the time, drove out late this Sunday afternoon onto a narrow finger of land known as Wisconsin Point.
We went to see just what the raging lake would be like whipped into a frenzy by almost one-hundred mile per hour winds.
While we parked our car the wind sent shudders of blasting sand mixed with icy pelting spray that coupled to make a deafening roar.
The sight was beyond our belief while we watched the sixty foot tall lighthouse tower on the east jetty completely buried in crashing seas.
There were four people trapped inside the lighthouse structure and several days would pass before they could leave their imprisonment.
The approach to that lighthouse had been constructed of huge boulders the size of small houses and those mammoth waves crashing into and over them actually scattered the rocks about like so many pebbles on the beach.
If this sounds bad you will not believe the sickening horror we felt as the next chain of events unfolded.
There we saw out on the lake and headed into port was an eight-hundred foot great lakes iron ore freighter with the full brunt of that savage storm sweeping it along on a path of no return. As large and as powerful as this ship was it was no match for the killer storm.
With the wind on their stern it would be utterly impossible for the crew to turn their ship into the wind and their fate was sealed. They had no other choice but to run the inlet.
What we witnessed next made our hearts nearly stop. We held our breaths and watched a super huge wave break under the stern lifting this mighty ship and sending it into a broach position which then turned it beam to the sea.
The power and force unleashed here took all control out of the hands of the crew. Their fate rested with Mother Nature while the ship washed out of control sideways.
In the blink of an eye it was over. The massive vessel had gone surfing sideways through the outer and inner jetties and then into the safety of the harbor.
For those aboard that got to stair the Grim Reaper squarely in the eye that blink of the eye must have felt like an eternity.
After witnessing this assume event Jane and I still went on and ventured out there onto Lake Superior to confront the mighty Gitchi Gami big sea waters. 
In 1972 Jane and I set sail away from Superior, Wisconsin aboard our home designed and built 46 foot sailing vessel Dursmirg. We crossed the Great Lakes, Erie Barge Canal and Hudson River to New York where we turned south to begin many years of ambitious adventures
We have written and published the four volume story of that escapade entitled, Travels of Dursmirg.