It’s not hard to find a room to rent in Tulum. You do, however, require some necessary tools for the search. A bike for riding, eyeballs for seeing, perhaps a pen and paper for writing down phone numbers, and a friend who is waaaay more fluent than you are in Spanish to make the phone calls for you. I borrowed a bike for the day and set upon pedaling around town looking for signs that say “Cuarto Se Renta” which means “Room for Rent.”
The high season for tourists begins now in December and lasts through the winter. When I say “high” I mean peak season, not as in tourists come to Tulum during the winter to get high. Although, there is quite the population of bedraggled, dreadlocked, barefooted, rat-tailed (when the hell did that come back into fashion?), spacey looking backpackers that, the maternal instinct in me thinks, need to put some shoes on and perhaps entertain the thought of showering. I wouldn’t put it past some of those folks that come to Tulum to get high. But to each his own, right?
Anyhow, back to finding a room to rent. Several locals that I met made it sound as though it was urgent that I find a room to rent immediately because after mid-December, EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE fills up and I will be stuck without a hearth and home in Tulum. It made me think of the urgency I feel when I am in NYC using the subway. If I can hear the train coming and haven’t gone through the turnstile yet, I feel this urgent need to quickly go through and walk the 8 feet to the platform. As if the train stops, opens its doors quickly and closes them immediately. There’s not enough time for anyone to alight or embark. Thus was the way people made me feel if I didn’t find a room to rent ASAP. Better get through that turnstile baby, the train’s-a-leavin’! So, I hopped on a bike and cycled around town. The bike I borrowed was made for a tall man with long arms, not a short girl. I had to stand on tip toes to even mount the beast and then my arms stretched out to grasp the handle bars likening me to that doll from the early nineties, “Stretch Armstrong.” The brakes kind of worked and I trepidly crossed speed bumps, which are everywhere in Tulum because there are no speed limits. I am under the impression that most people drive as fast as they can to the speed bump, cross it slowly and resume high speed again. Stop signs, also, are a mere suggestion here as well as lanes. Because cars don’t stop for you and because the brakes didn’t really work on the bike, I went slowly, afraid if in haste I’d somehow bounce forward off my seat onto the bike frame and ruin any chances of ever having a child. The seat’s padding was a joke and every bump in the road made me feel like a fist was constantly pummeling me in the butt cheeks.
The day I chose to search for a room was the hottest day ever in the entire world, which happens often here. Sweat poured into my eyes, down my back, my shirt was soaked and my hair was matted in disarray on my scalp. The air was a humid, heavy cloak settling around me and the breeze created from biking was not much help in that kind of heat. I was biking through thick air. I imagine this is what it would be like if you felt so inclined to bike in a swimming pool. Why you would feel inclined to do so is a mystery, perhaps you came to Tulum to get high, grow a dreadlocked rat tail, walk around barefoot, get in touch with the cosmos and stumbled upon a swimming pool and a bike and the rest was written in the stars.
Every street I wheeled down, there were Se Renta signs. I wrote down at least 20 numbers, starring the ones that looked especially nice from the outside. The paper I was writing on was even damp from sitting in my gross, sweat-laden pocket. My top choice was one with a big, dark wooden gate. Probably ten feet tall. I could see beyond and above the gate a small, bright yellow building with two floors. To the right, there was another building of which I could see a thatched roof. There were lots of beckoning trees beyond the gate. It looked charming and homey. Two things I’m a little obsessed with when searching for a place to rest my head and my sore butt from an unforgiving bike seat. A fluent Spanish speaking friend called the number for me later that afternoon. We walked over to check out the room and in a matter of five minutes I had a new home. No lease, no security deposit, just a verbal agreement. Pretty lax, nothing like in the my experiences renting apartments in the United States. I moved in the following day. The easiest move I’ve ever made as all I did was sling my big hiking pack onto my back and walk the ten minute walk from the hostel to my new digs, sweating profusely, obviously as it was again, the hottest day in the world.