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I Took My First Solo Trip To Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, with its beautiful beaches and food, is the perfect magical city.

Travel

For my 31st birthday, I knew I wanted to take my very first solo trip. Taking an international trip by myself was something that I wanted to do for years, and I finally decided to make this goal become my reality. Tulum, Mexico has been on my travel radar for a couple of years, so I was ecstatic that I could finally visit this gorgeous city!

Tulum can be described as a peaceful, picturesque, relaxing, and rejuvenating city that offers amazing food and drinks, natural and holistic healing, some of the friendliest citizens ever, and a number of Instagram-worthy places to take photos! It is located about two hours away from Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo and is home to some of the most amazingly beautiful beaches the world has to offer. In recent years, Tulum has gained popularity.

When visiting Tulum, you should know:

Getting There

Image via Sylvia Pettway

Since Tulum does not have an airport, you must fly in through Cancun International. From there, you can rent a car, use a private or shared transportation service, or do what I did and ride on the ADO bus, the cheapest option. The ADO buses are public charter buses that citizens and tourists use to travel to different cities along the Riviera Mayan coast. The buses are affordable to ride and super comfortable. Some of them even come with Wifi!

Once I exited the airport, I found the ADO stand and paid for my ticket using pesos. (Please use pesos instead of your currency when buying your ticket because you will get your change back in pesos, and it may be less than what you expect). When using the ADO bus, you can either purchase a ticket where the bus goes straight to Tulum or you can purchase a ticket where you will arrive in Playa del Carmen from the airport and transfer to another bus. (You can read more about the transportation options here.)

Money, Communication, and...the Plug

Their currency is the Mexican Peso, but some places accept credit cards. It is best for you to bring pesos to use. You either order your currency through your local bank or visit the Santander Bank in Tulum to exchange your currency. Avoid exchanging your currency at the Cancun International Airport, because the exchange rates are a lot higher than the above-mentioned options.

Most of the citizens speak Spanish, but I came across a few men and women who were either bilingual or understood me and could help me if I had any questions. With that being said, brush up on your Spanish! Even if you only know or learn basic Spanish greetings, it goes a long way in Tulum. The citizens appreciate it and it will help you learn and respect their culture even more. If all else fails, Google Translate is your friend!

For my fellow Americans, there is no need to buy a universal plug as Tulum has both plug type A and plug type B for all your electronic needs.

Image via Sylvia Pettway

Skincare Is a Must

Bring sunscreen and bug repellent. You're going to need them both. In order to accommodate Tulum's eco-friendly living and to protect the animals, try to use biodegradable skin products, especially when visiting the cenotes. I used these products: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen and OFF Botanicals Insect Repellent.

Research your hotel accommodations. Staying in town is cheaper than staying on the beach, but it is all about your preference and your budget. I stayed in town on this trip, but when I visit again, I plan to do a couple of days on the beach and a couple of days in town.

Hot Spots for Lodging

Image via Sylvia Pettway

For my solo trip, I knew I wanted my accommodations to be close to the center of Tulum where mostly everything was within walking distance. I'm so glad that I was blessed to find Villas Geminis Boutique Condo Hotel as it absolutely exceeded my expectations! Each room is named and reflected after a famous artist. I stayed in the 'Gustav Klimt' room which came with a complete kitchenette area, a king-sized bed, a sofa bed, shower, and a very big and deep outdoor tub with another overhead shower.

The staff at Villas Geminis was very welcoming and accommodating to my needs, and they went above and beyond to help me to navigate the area with ease. A stay at this fabulous and very affordable hotel also comes with an outdoor pool (which I had all to myself each day), breakfast at no additional charge, and free bicycle rentals to use for touring the beautiful city. Villas Geminis have booklets inside of each room that describes the additional services they provide as well as restaurants, bars, attractions, and tours that helped me to experience one of the best hotel stays ever!

Best Eats

Image via Sylvia Pettway

La Malquerita was the first restaurant that I visited in Tulum. The restaurant has two menus--one with Mexican dishes and one with Italian dishes! The food and drinks at this restaurant are not only appetizing but super affordable. Like many other restaurants in the Tulum city center, they offer happy hour specials on their drinks (which were quite strong and tasty). The total cost of my first meal was $11.50--including two drinks! The restaurant also has a dining area inside that has swings instead of chairs. The quesadilla plate was really delicious, but the tacos needed a bit more flavor. Nevertheless, it was definitely worth visiting, even if you simply want to take advantage of their two-for-one drink specials.

Image via Sylvia Pettway

Burrito Amor is one of the top restaurants to visit in Tulum. This is one of those restaurants that you have try or your visit to Tulum won't be complete. The establishment has a variety of options, including vegetarian and vegan, to please the burrito-lover in you! The burritos are wrapped in banana leaves and served with a variety of sauces to appeal to your preferred level of spice! I got the vegetarian burrito with a margarita, of course, and the meal was fantastic! It's a busy restaurant, so if you want to beat the crowd, get there once they open. F.Y.I., they serve breakfast, too!

Listen to me...if you desire an authentic street taco with the most flavorful meats you've ever tasted in your life? Please, please, please make sure you visit Antojito La Chiapaneca. I've never had tacos that tasted so good. You know the food is good when you forget to take a picture of the meal (le sigh). I had a chicken and a steak taco, and they were both amazing! The restaurant is famous for their tacos de carnitas, or pork tacos, where they shave the cooked pieces of pork in front you and prepare it for you!

More Than Tacos

Image via Sylvia Pettway

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good, juicy, flavorful burger, and hot, crispy, well-seasoned fries. I needed my burger fix while I was in Tulum, so I researched some places and came across Bonita Tulum Burger Bar and it definitely exceeded my expectations! It was one of the best burgers that I've had in a while---huge, fresh, and perfectly seasoned. Along with the standard condiments, Bonita offers a cream cheese spread that was heavenly. I used that instead of ketchup to dip my fries in! Like the other above-mentioned restaurants, Bonita is affordably priced and offers vegan and vegetarian options.

Image via Sylvia Pettway

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I was glad that I came across Campanella Cremerie, a shop that sells a selection of gelato flavors and other sugary sweet treats. The staff members were very friendly and the gelato was extremely tasty! Try the hazelnut flavor and thank me later. I ended up visiting this place twice and was satisfied each time.

Batey is a very popular bar located in Tulum Centero that is known for its mojitos. What makes these particular drinks so special is that they are made using fresh sugar cane juice! I had the watermelon mojito and it was pretty good!

Life's a Beach

Tulum is known for its amazingly beautiful beaches, and there are a variety of them to enjoy. Each day I visited the beaches, the weather was gorgeous, the temperature was perfect, and the water felt amazing! The most popular beaches in Tulum include Playa Paraiso, Playa Ruinas (which surrounds the Tulum Mayan Ruins), and Las Palmas Public Beach.

Image via Sylvia Pettway

There are beach chairs and cabanas for a fee so that you can lie back and enjoy the serenity that the beaches have to offer. I didn't get the opportunity to visit some of the other attractions that Tulum is famously known for, but I have added them for future reference. Click on each one for more info:

I have already decided that I will be going back to Tulum again for my birthday this year, and I can't wait to relive these experiences and make new ones in this magical city! Where would you like to go for your first solo trip?

Article originally published on Living SILsationally

Featured Image by Shutterstock

Originally published March 10, 2020

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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