The Road Past Tulum
Route 307, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 1980
When I first came here, Tulum was a dusty, little Mayan village and appeared to be just a wide spot in the narrow, two-lane road running from Cancun to Chetumal and then to the Belize border. After Tulum, there seemed to be nothing but jungle for miles. The vegetation and the mangroves were thick, the mud was often quite deep, and the plants were tall and grew right up to the side of the road and into it. Some even tried to reach into the windows of passing cars to touch the occupants or snatch them from their seats. Suicidal birds ran clucking from the sides of the road and directly into the sides of passing cars. Clouds of mosquitoes hovered, waiting for warm flesh. Lizards stood on every flat surface flicking their tongues. The village– then it was more a haphazard assemblage of weakening concrete and rusted, corrugated tin-- didn’t have restaurants and European bars and tourist shops up and down the highway. It didn’t have a bank and places to telephone the US and Europe. It didn’t really have places to telephone anywhere. It didn’t have sunburned backpackers with dreadlocks. Or tattooed and pierced Italians in the summer. That was still years away. The inhospitality should have been clear to anyone who cared to look into the situation, but there weren’t many people doing that.
--from a work in progress