Paamul: A Little Bit of ‘Oz in Mexico

Once upon a time on a beach Down Under a couple of days before I was to leave my home in Western Australia by boat to fulfill a childhood dream of living in London, my boyfriend said, “This is the last time you’ll see a beach like this. I bet some day you will miss these long miles of powdery white sand that run for hundreds of miles along our coast with sand dunes behind, clear emerald water in front, and the reef beyond.”

Athol was right.

I remembered that conversation yesterday, many decades later, while walking with Elizabeth on a deserted mile-long stretch of pure white sand near Paamul on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. No hotels, no resorts, no cabanas, no other people. No, it wasn’t Ninety Mile Beach in the northwest of Australia or others with similar names reflecting their length, but it reminded me of Athol’s prediction.

And I remembered my reaction the first time I saw a British Columbian beach on Vancouver Island, my present home. “You call this a beach?” I told David in disbelief. “All those stones, rocks, seaweed, driftwood? All those logs? Who cleans up those logs?”

After a life time of living on such beaches in Canada, studying their seals and eagles and seabirds, collecting their clams and oysters and mussels, paddling my kayak into shore to set up camp, I have learned to appreciate such beaches for food, for campsites, for shelter, for an intimate look at the marine life that also shares these beaches.

Still, it was a joy this week to find Paamul, a place in Mexico 20 minutes south of tourist mecca Playa del Carmen, a unique community of a few hundred people, mostly Canadian and American, who lease their land from a Mexican to shelter their RVs under palapas or build their distinctive thatch-roofed houses. Paamul’s tiny beachside swimming pool and casual open air bar and restaurant are the only connections to the tall hotels and condos, the crowded resorts and the row upon rows of chairs and umbrellas of its rapidly developing neighbours.

And it was in Paamul, Mexico that I relived my childhood memories of Australia’s long pristine white sandy beaches, its clear emerald and turquoise water. Thank you, Maureen and Elizabeth for helping me discover this treasure of the Mayan Riviera. In the next blog I will show a couple of your neighbours. The people of Paamul are unique as well. 

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