I thought that we might get a sleep in this morning but no, up at 6:30 for breakfast at 7:00 and departure at 7:30. As it turned out this was a great idea! We drove, in cycling kit, to Tulum Archaeological site where a local guide once again told us of the history of the Mayan city. This one was a little different because it was a port city responsible for maritime trade with the Olmecs and Aztecs. There was an outer wall entered through a typical trapezoidal arch which housed about 60 noble families in elaborate limestone houses. Inside the priest/astronomers had their temple surrounded by an inner wall. The common people lived outside both walls in houses made of timber, stucco and thatch. The walls and cliff sides made the city fairly secure with just one easy to protect cove where the traders landed. The whole area was well maintained and visitors were kept off the actual ruins. As we made our way to the exit we saw the wisdom of the early start as dozens of tour bus loads of people came in a constant stream.
After our visit we remounted our bicycles for the final time and cycled along the main road for 26 km to the marine biosphere reserve at Sian Ka'an. The sky was overcast with some heavy looking clouds and part way down it started to rain lightly. Judging by the quantity of water on the road it had clearly rained more heavily ahead of us. As a result we all ended up with muddy black streaks up the back of our jerseys. Some people's shirts were worse than others depending on the kind of tyre tread, presumably. By the time we arrived at our stopping point the rain had stopped and the dirt started drying hard.
Upon arrival we were ushered to some change rooms to put on swimming gear and then bussed to a dock where we boarded open boats, bouyancy vests provided, for a journey across two lagoons and through a mangrove channel which was reputedly used by the Mayan traders. Next came the highlight of this day. We landed at another jetty where we were encouraged to take off the vest and to reverse it by stepping through the arm holes and fastening it like an oversize nappy. We all looked and felt faintly ridiculous but once we hopped into the water it all made sense. We lay back in the water and a current washed us down another channel through the mangroves. The water was very clear and pleasantly cool and the floating sensation was just so relaxing. We wafted along for almost an hour, spinning slowly in the current looking out for crocodiles (none) and fish ( many). After 331.5 km of hot riding this was a wonderful way to complete the journey. It was a pity that this part was an 'optional' activity - it should just be included in the tour cost - as it raised some issues for poor Edgar as he negotiated with us and management on the price. We walked back along a board walk to the boats and then our skippers raced each other back to the dock. I was a bit concerned when I saw a crack in the fibre glass bottom of the boat which kept opening and closing as we crashed over the waves. I pointed out the crack to the skipper but he did not seem too concerned.
By the time we returned from the activity it was close to 3 pm and we still had not eaten lunch. A trip to Tulum ended at a seafood restaurant where Maree and I had a substantial lunch with the idea that we would once again just have a light supper. My meal was a very tasty sautéed shrimp in a pita bread pocket with chips while Maree has a large piece of grouper with sautéed vegetables and rice. On our way back to the hotel Edgar stopped at a supermarket where we were able to withdraw more cash from an ATM and also purchase some cheese, crackers, yoghurt and water for our tea. By the time we returned to the hotel it was past 6pm so it was off to the restaurant for a cuppa tea and internet access. We couldn't help noticing that the hotel restaurant was almost deserted. The meal being served was from a buffet and not a la carte - perhaps that explains the lack of interest.
Today, Sunday, we were at last able to sleep in and have a leisurely late breakfast after which Maree and I slowly ambled down the hotel strip for an hour or so and then ambled back. We poked our heads into a few shops but no one seemed to be very busy and there was not much that we would have wanted to buy anyway. Because they have a 'captive' audience I feel that prices are higher than one would pay in town. We did stop on the way to have a cafe latte at a small shop and it turned out to be one of the best we have had so far in Mexico. The barista said that it was due to the fine Costa Rican coffee beans but I complimented him on the way that he made the coffee. We returned to the hotel to get some more internet access in the reception as the restaurant version seemed to have stopped working.
We took a swim and then lounged about reading and taking turns in the hammock outside our room. Around 7pm we met Edgar and the rest of the cyclists for our final group dinner in Tulum city. It turned out to be an 'authentic mexican' restaurant with a marimba group playing and singing. Food was nice and company was great. And so to sleep. Pick up time for transfers tomorrow is 10:45.