PUERTO MORELOS,“The Jewel of The Caribbean”
THE NEW GATED COMMUNITIES
I made my accommodation reservation through Air BnB and wanted to be in the old town ……. I did not know I was headed to a new house in a new gated community! I had no idea this new community existed and did not check on Google Earth as I was so sure I knew where I was going.
After a red-eye flight with a change of planes in the early hours of the morning, plus a delay due to bad weather on the East Coast, I arrived a little the worse for wear. My host gave me scant directions and inadequate information on how to get to the house, except to say it was about twenty minutes from Cancun Airport on Highway 307. That it was …….. except that she omitted to tell me it was on the “other side” of the freeway and I would need to make a death-defying u-turn and then head back the way I had come from!
Needless to say, I was frazzled by the time I arrived, plus dehydrated, famished, and exhausted. Surviving the white knuckle drive on the Freeway, on arriving, I was checked in by a security guard at the gate with my passport and a man on a bicycle rode in front of the car to guide me to the correct house.
Arriving he helped open the lockbox and retrieved the key, unlocked the house, and took my suitcase upstairs as I was in no condition to do any of this, simple as it was. My host was supposed to be at the house to meet me but due to the change in the arrival times, she was unable to do so.
Taking a look around, I could see I was in a new house, in a forest and my host, as was her MO, did not return texts or any other messages. I was on my own except for the neighbors who had revived me with bottled water — one is not allowed to drink straight out of the tap here and my host did not think to leave even one bottle of water.
This is the joy of Air BnB – the hosts are so busy that once they have your deposit and commitment to paying, they evaporate. The times I did manage to reach her, she sounded zonked out and I realized she was on some sort of toxic substance because some of my messages were answered a week after I got home!!
The next morning when I awoke and looked out from the upstairs balcony, I knew for sure I was not in the village as the ocean was nowhere in sight. Instead, I was in a very definite forest and there was total solitude. The sky was an amazing clear blue contrasted with the deep green of the forest and the one or two houses I could see were stark white finished with dark wood trim — most had palapa roofs made from re-cycled palm fronds that had come from the forest.
EXPLORING ALDEA KIIN
The name of the community was Aldea Kiin, a Mayan name. It was a fairly new community, and only about ten houses had been built so far. They were all in a similar architectural style — modern — with straight lines. Each one was built on its own lot, with a space cleared for the house and then surrounded by the indigenous vegetation, blending into the surrounding forest.
As I drove around, I could see little animals were scuttling around inside the forest, occasionally crossing the road. Birdlife was intact and the birds were singing all day. It must have been agreeable for lizards because they were everywhere and would slither into the house and hide in different places, coming out and scaring me when I least expected it.
There were several “For Sale” signs, one of them with an address in Los Angeles, indicating they were fishing for homeowners from the LA market…
The roads looked very natural as they had kept some trees growing in the paths, maybe to slow down the traffic, but it looked natural.
Most of the houses were family-sized with three to four bedrooms and catering to this demographic.
There was a delightful play area for children, made from bamboo and other materials that had come out of the forest when it was cut down. Instead of modern swings and a metal merry go round, the natural forest materials blended beautifully into the landscape.
Similarly, a huge swimming pool surrounded by the forest did not look out of place, with a Club House for social activities and a gym. It was all really lovely. But it was new and not authentic.
In its favor, I must commend the developers for their efforts at sustainability within the planned community. This development was inside the Mayan Jungle, which has been there for centuries protecting the natural flora and fauna. It was apparent they had been careful not to remove more trees than was necessary and they had not totally decimated the forest but rather used it as an eco-design feature. There are now three identical housing developments adjacent to one another along Highway 307, beginning with the word Aldea plus two more with different names — all designated to be within the boundaries of Puerto Morelos.
CONVULSIONS OF CHANGE
In my last post, I did refer to the fact that everything is changing with the Path of Progress. I need to remove my rose-tinted glasses and come to terms that unique places like the old port and fishing village are now under ‘developer siege’ with mass tourism moving into this area. People need a place to live and the developers are responding as the market demands. It does create employment and has boosted the economy, as evidenced by the growing middle class — and this is hardly a bad change. The Mexican Government’s plan to create infrastructure and good roads in the Riviera Maya to attract the tourists has more than paid off and the tourists are coming. Last year they estimate 25,481,989 travelers passed through Cancun Airport — not all tourists, I know, but the number grows each year in correlation with increasing tourist draws, it seems.
The name Puerto Morelos was previously under the radar and few people heading to Playa del Carmen and Tulum ever made the detour to see the fishing port.
It seems that with land becoming more expensive and built up, the developers are looking for the next hotspot, and this is it. Because of its proximity to the airport and the rest of the Riviera Maya, it is a given that this too will become hip and happening and succumb to change. With the proposed developments and the new Super Mercado Chedrui, it will not take long for Puerto Morelos to become blended into the development along the entire coast.
This is why I believe the “Jewel of the Caribbean” is in the beginning ‘convulsions’ of change.