Reflections On My Time In Tulum

I stayed in Tulum for two weeks, and during those two weeks my days took on a rhythm, sometimes good, sometimes not so much, but always moving me forward in some capacity.

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Birthday 2017

I stayed in Tulum for two weeks, and during those two weeks my days took on a rhythm, sometimes good, sometimes not so much, but always moving me forward in some capacity.

My average day in Tulum looked something like this:

  • Wake up around 9am and fill out my 5 Minute Journal page for the day
  • Brush my teeth, take a shower, and put on my board shorts before heading to the hostel palapa where everyone gathered throughout the day to eat and plan their activities
  • Eat the complimentary breakfast – two eggs, a roll, and a delicious plate of sliced fresh fruit
  • Write in my adventure journal and hit 750 words on my MacBook
  • Get my stuff together and hit the beach around 1pm
  • Alternate between swimming and working on my handstands until about 5
  • Go to a local taco shop for dinner
  • Make it back to the hostel by 7 so we can shower and get ready for happy hour
  • Drink free from 8-9pm, roll some joints, and fall into amazing conversations about life, love, and the universe
  • Go to bed around midnight

Note – a palapa is an open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof. In the case of the hostel it is approximately 30ft x 50ft with a triangular roof approximately 30ft high. It's a nice open space in hot weather as it allows air to circulate effectively without insulating the interior.

There were certainly variations from day to day – some days I would fast, certain days I would stay back from the beach to write, some days I would just play chess at the hostel or smoke weed and hang out with my friends, a couple nights we would go out into the city instead of staying in, some days we would go to a different beach or a cenote, some nights we would stay up until 3 or 4 or 5 am – overall, though, the rhythm kept its beat.

Note – cenotes are the result of giant networks of underground caves, lakes, and rivers, which break the surface in the form of "watering holes" all over la península de Yucatán. Typically you arrive at the entrance to one to find a small shack with a local or two who charges 30 pesos to 200 pesos to swim all day. Some are more touristy than others, some are incredibly large while others are the size of a big swimming pool (though much deeper than your typical swimming pool), but if you can find the less touristy cenotes you'll be pleased to find a beautiful, clear pool of fresh water surrounded by jungle, with just a handful of people swimming at any given time. Plenty of people also enjoying breaking out their scuba gear for diving cenotes since they are the result of giant networks of underground caves, lakes, and rivers, it is possible to swim through said underground caves, lakes, and rivers to reach other cenotes.

In the last couple of days it hit me how easily I had fallen prey to the power of an established routine. I was choosing to stop writing early in the day because "it was time" to go to the beach, which led to eating dinner in town, which led to trying to get back in time for happy hour, which led to smoking and staying up late. I was choosing not to write at all because a game of chess was more appealing than the grind that day, which led to another game, which led to taking a break for dinner, which led to happy hour, which led to staying up late. I was choosing to continue the cycle of waking up feeling fluffy and hungover because free drinks and a ton of weed just made every evening so much fun and satisfied the need I have to engage in deep conversations with people and foster a fun group dynamic.

I met with a hypnotherapist a couple years back who gave me a piece of advice before I left his office one day.

"Build an environment that is conducive to your success."

At the time his reasoning for bestowing those words onto me was rather simple.

Back in early 2015, I was unemployed and spending all of my time in one room of a 10-bedroom beach house, even though I had great roommates and the house was located in one of the most fun spots of Orange County, California – the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach. But I was depressed, suffering from suicidal ideation, and isolating myself from everyone while I laid in bed all day watching Netflix, crying, contemplating suicide, or some fun combination of all three. Such an environment was not conducive to the healing my soul longed for. It was up to me to wake up everyday and choose to go for a tranquil run on the beach or a swim in the ice cold Pacific rather than wake up, roll over, and flip my laptop open. It was up to me to read all the books I wanted to, write beautiful poetry to express the pain in my heart, and hit the gym for several hours each day to make sure I was getting stronger and taking responsibility for making myself feel better, rather than lying in bed all day feeling sorry for myself. It was up to me to spend time with other humans and ensure my level of personal interaction kept me in the moment, resulting in fulfilling personal relationships, and preventing me from slipping too far down into the hole I existed in at the time.

Like many great pieces of advice it went relatively unheeded since I continued existing in that hole for almost two more years, off and on.

The words have always bubbled up from time to time, but in this case those words rang hard.

When I was in Mérida I was reading, writing, and physically active every single day. I rarely worried about finishing my writing, working on my physical abilities, getting some solid reading in, and wandering around town for a few hours.

However, I made far fewer friends in Mérida than I have in Tulum, and when I am surrounded by fun people, man it is hard for me to set aside the time required to make sure I get my work done everyday. I just love people, guys! And I love laughing and talking and playing and doing fun shit together! And when I'm constantly making new friends as old friends check out and new people check in, every DAY has the potential to meet cool new humans, hear a new perspective, and have great conversations!

So what am I taking away from my time in Tulum to make sure I am more productive and successful in the future? 

1. Balance – I must seek balance. The routines I establish early on when I arrive somewhere are going to determine how successfully I stay on my path in the face of overwhelming distractions and a plethora of opportunity. If I only stay in one place for a few days there isn't too much concern since I won't immediately be overwhelmed by friends and invitations, but if I plan on sticking around somewhere I must be conscious of the habits I establish early on, and more importantly I must stick to them, because…

2. There will always be more – More fun, more friends, more opportunity for adventure. The FOMO (fear of missing out) in my head is strong, guys, for sure, especially when traveling without a schedule. I must remember this is only the beginning of my journey, and there is plenty of trouble to get myself into down the road. This time is critical for getting my mindset right and developing a solid decision-making process as I move forward. While I want to say "Yes!" to adventure, I have to say "Yes!" just as much to my soul's need to express itself in my writing.

I have a week-long journey ahead of me as I make my way down to Guatemala City so I'm excited to see what my days look like since I'll most likely be in a different city every night.


Have you struggled with managing your time in constantly changing environments or schedules? What piece of advice or habit helped you the most? Comment below and tell me about it!

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  1. Hey Rick! It was nice reading your adventures! Man, I had troubles managing my time with constant changes in schedule and environment, so what I do is, I make my to do list everyday, first things first regardless. I make the most out of my day especially during days off of work. Sometimes, well most of the time, the best adventures are unplanned! 🙂

  2. Jared, man! I never received a notification you commented on this post! Thank you for comment! The to-do list is an excellent tip. I started making one after I left Mexico and it has been a wonderful addition to my routine. I keep a running list everyday of the most important tasks I want to accomplish that day as well as the most important tasks I want to accomplish overall. But you are right, the best adventures are those that are unplanned!

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