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Annual Travel Story Photography Scholarship Runner Up

Alejandra Andrade Real Scholarship Submission

Tulum in Silence  

I live in southern Texas, but I’ve been spending quarantine with family in Cancun, Mexico,  the place where I spent half my life. Like everyone else, I wasn’t able to do much outside of the house, and saw my friends on very limited occasions. On late December, my friends and I  decided we wanted a weekend away from everything that was stressing us out and pushing us down.  

Tulum is known by many as an influencer hub, filled with tiny rustic eateries, boho accessories, and beautiful blue seas. It’s a popular destination for those looking for a "hot-girl summer" in the Caribbean. A place of homey lodgings, sandy bike tracks, and cold, deep cenotes.  To my friends, it’s also their backyard. One of my friends has an uncle living down in Tulum,  where he rents out some rooms to tourists. He was generous enough to give us a super cheap deal for 2 nights. He lives on the outskirts of Tulum, so there would be no tourists, no yelling, no traffic, and no stress. It was the perfect getaway.  

And so, when everything was settled, we rounded up enough money to pay the lodging and food, and set out to our adventure. We made a quick trip to the supermarket a few days before, to ensure everything was ready. My friend’s mom picked us all up bright and early and we hit the road, blasting music from the speakers and singing our hearts out. Three hours later, we arrived.  We drove through the jungle, through a tiny little almost-town, and to the edge of a lake where my friend’s uncle’s property was. We settled down in our rooms, and laid everything out in the little kitchen downstairs. Then, because we’d be left without a car, we asked my friend’s mom to take us to the beach for a while, just so we could say we saw it. We walked around for a while,  listening to the seagulls sing and watching the pelicans fish. We also climbed on a rock formation! It was massive, with lots of nooks and crannies for the brave of heart to step on and get to the top. Okay, it might not have been that big, if I’m being honest, but, standing on top of  it, we felt on top of the world, where nothing could reach us. After an hour or so of standing on the sand and under the sun, we went back to the house. My friend’s mom went back to Cancun,  and we were left alone for the weekend. 

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This trip was truly the most meaningful I’ve had in a long time. Even though it wasn’t really that eventful, I spent it with some of the people I love most. We spent the weekend watching sunsets, birdwatching, and feeling the wind blow on our faces. We kayaked on the lake,  made massive bowls of ramen, and burnt marshmallows over a bonfire. All the while we laughed together, talked about everything, played card games, sang and danced until we were tired enough to go to sleep. We woke up early to see the sunrise, and I have to admit it was the best decision I’d made in a while.  

Being so close to my friends for the entire weekend is a memory that I will treasure very much, especially as most of us will take our separate ways after this year. Even those moments where we weren’t really doing anything were precious. So yes, while Tulum may be perfect for an action-filled tourist weekend, it can also be the perfect place for a quiet getaway with the people you love.

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