I was nearing the end of a wonderful three week trip in the Yucatan. Birding and nature photography had been my focus. I'd traveled all around the Yucatan visiting most of the Mayan ruin sites and nature reserves. At every place I'd stayed, I'd been treated warmly and was very moved by the friendliness and kindness of everyone I'd met along the way.
I'd heard that Cavelands was in a nature setting, so I decided to stop there, for an overnight, and do some birding in the early morning, before going on to Akumal to snorkel and swim with the sea turtles, as I made my way up the coast to Cancun to catch my flight home in a couple of days.
I'd called Renzo in advance of coming to make sure he had vacancy (he did; the place was empty), and to ask if he had hot water there as I was looking forward to taking a hot shower to wash my hair. It had been over 4 days since I’d had a real shower and it was much overdo. He assured me he did and told me to call him when I got to the bus/collectivo stop in Chemuyil and said he’d pick me up. Cavelands is located up a long dirt road outside of town so is not accessible by public transportation.
When I reached the collectivo stop in Chemuyil, after a hot and sweaty morning of hiking among the ruins at Tulum, a local person was kind enough to loan me his phone to call Renzo to let him know I’d arrived. I was looking forward to dropping my luggage off quickly and then going straight to the beach to swim and cool off. Renzo told me he’d be there to get me in five minutes.
I waited close to an hour for him to arrive and when he did, he reeked of alcohol. The first thing he told me was that he wanted to stop at a restaurant and have a beer before going back and asked if I’d like to join him. I told him I didn’t feel like having a beer and that I really just wanted to go to his place to drop off my things and then go swimming in the ocean. He chose to go to a restaurant and drink a beer, anyway. I waited outside for him by his car.
Inside his car, he had another beer waiting in the cup holder. He told me he’d stayed up late drinking lots of tequila and beer the night before and had a bad hangover so needed to drink beer to get rid of it. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, at this point. I’d arrived about 1:00 PM.
When we reached his place he showed me his cabañas and where the bathroom is located outside. I asked if I could wash my hands and discovered there was no water coming out of the faucet. He said ‘they’ were working on the water pressure so it was a little low but the ‘water pressure’ would be restored soon. It didn’t seem like a matter of reduced water pressure, to me, since there was NO water flowing out, at all, but he again said the water pressure would be fixed soon.
He told me he also had a teepee at the end of the dirt road of his property that one could stay in. He didn’t offer to drive me down the road to see it so I walked there and back. By this time, I was really feeling hot and sweaty and in need of a swim to cool off! Since the teepee didn’t have a fan, and it was baking inside, I decided I’d rather stay in one of the cabañas, although they cost more than I’d been accustomed to spending for comparable places I’d stayed at that also had their own inside bathrooms.
There were holes in the mosquito netting around the bed, too. I was getting bitten by the mosquitoes even while standing inside the cabaña. Renzo didn’t like it when I mentioned that the holes defeat the purpose of the netting. He said the holes didn’t matter.
My luggage was still in the back of his truck and I asked Renzo if he’d help lift my duffle bag out for me since it was heavy. He did so begrudgingly. At all the other places I’d stayed, the proprietors offered to carry my luggage in for me, cheerfully, without me even asking.
I put on my bathing suit under my clothes and organized my daypack so I could head to the ocean to swim. There’s a beach that’s only about 10 minutes away if one has a car. Renzo gave me a lift there but was behaving in a very condescending manner toward me which raised some definite red flags for me. I didn’t feel safe around him.
The beach is part of a preserve so one has to pay to go on it. When I asked the men at the entrance how much longer the beach would stay open, since it was already after 4PM, Renzo angrily shouted at me to just give them the money and I didn’t have time to get an answer before he drove past them. He dropped me off and said in a brash manner that I’d have to walk back. He said it only takes about a half hour to walk it. I asked what the name of his road was, in case I wanted to take a taxi back but he wouldn’t tell me and drove off in a huff.
The sun was getting low in the sky and I was only there for about 20 minutes before the men who oversee the beach told me they were getting ready to close and everyone had to leave. I hadn’t gone swimming as I knew it would be dark soon. I didn’t want to walk back in the dark because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find my way to Renzo’s place.
Back at the entrance, I asked the men if they could call a taxi for me. When I explained where I was trying to get to, although they hadn’t heard of Caveland or Renzo, the supervisor kindly offered to give me a ride for which I was very grateful. I was having second thoughts about even staying the night at Renzo’s after the way he’d been behaving but the thought of having a hot shower was so appealing that I decided I’d stick it out and just leave early in the morning.
We finally managed to find the place and I asked the supervisor who’d driven me to please wait for a minute while I spoke with Renzo. I wanted to find out if he’d be able to give me a ride to town early the following morning so I could head on to Akumal otherwise I’d catch a ride into town, now, with the supervisor and find a place to stay in town. With the supervisor watching, Renzo told me he’d give me a ride in the morning.
I offered to pay the supervisor for the ride but he declined payment and told me he was happy to help and wished me a good journey. I thanked him profusely for his kindness. That’s the way everyone had treated me along the way for which I was constantly grateful.
Once the supervisor drove away, I went to wash my hands and discovered there was still no water coming out of the faucet. I told Renzo about this and he said ‘they’ must be still working on the water pressure. I said I was in dire need of taking a shower and really wanted to stay somewhere where I could bathe that night. Instead of apologizing for the inconvenience, Renzo rebuked me angrily, saying, “This is Mexico. You should just accept that it’s the way it is.” He criticized me for even expressing that I wanted to be able to bathe when there was no water. He said the whole town would be out of water, too.
I realized then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I wasn’t in good hands around Renzo’s energy. I decided I’d be better off leaving and looking for another place to stay where people were friendly and hopefully where I could bathe. I knew finding a place would present somewhat of a challenge, since it was now night, but it was preferable to staying.
I politely asked Renzo if he’d give me a ride into town. He got even angrier when he knew I wanted to leave. At first, he refused to give me a ride then he chose to use extortion. He said he’d give me a ride if I paid him 100 pesos otherwise, he shouted angrily, I’d have to walk. He knew my luggage was too heavy for me to walk all the way to town carrying it. One of the wheels on my big duffle bag had broken while on this journey, so even wheeling it on a paved surface had become a challenge. There was no way, I’d be able to pull it down the long, rocky dirt road back to town in the dark. In addition to the duffle bag, I had a daypack and a shoulder bag (my carry on luggage). It was only about four miles into town, about a five minute drive by car, but walking carrying all my heavy things wouldn’t be doable by myself.
Plus, walking alone, after dark, down a remote back road in Mexico, as a single gringo woman with blond hair, wouldn’t be a wise thing to do in and of itself.
I responded by asking him if he’d call me a taxi since he didn’t want to give me a lift. (A taxi would charge far less than what he was demanding). He said he didn’t know the number for the taxi service and I’d have to pay him 100 pesos or I’d have to walk.
I refused, on general principal. He was being outright abusive and trying to take advantage of me. Then he started shouting obscenities at me, using very foul language. He was behaving like an abusive alcoholic. I had to get away and quickly.
I picked up all my things and walked down the long driveway out towards the road with Renzo hurling obscenities after me.
Once I got to the road, I walked a short ways until I was far enough away not to be seen, and hid all my luggage in the bushes off to the side of the road.
I saw a light on at a neighboring property about a half mile away in the opposite direction of town. Without the burden of my luggage, I walked to the house and explained my situation, in Spanish, to the guys who lived there. The guys in the house didn’t know Renzo, per se, except as a person who chain-smoked and drank a lot. They wanted to help but didn’t own a car. They offered to help carry my things using their bicycle, if need be, but suggested I walk up to the next neighbor’s house, another quarter mile away to ask that neighbor for help as they knew he did have a car.
As I was walking to the next neighbor’s house, a truck drove by and I flagged it to stop. It was workmen coming back from work and they were heading into town. I explained my situation and they offered to give me a ride. They stopped for me to get my luggage where I’d stashed it in the bushes, loaded it into the truck for me (without me having to ask) and drove me safely into town. I offered to pay them for their help but they also declined.
Once in town, I took a collectivo van into Akumal. While I waited for it to come, I asked the locals who were also waiting for the van if the water was off in town and they all said their water was running fine and had been all day.
Once in Akumal, I asked at a convenience store, for recommendations for a clean and affordable place to sleep. The store owner kindly asked his son to give me a ride into the old pueblo to a hotel that rented rooms. His son did so, warmly, and drove me to a few other places too, when it turned out the first place was full. Finally, we were able to find an affordable place that had a room available. I offered to pay the young man who’d driven me around, but he declined, saying he was happy to help.
The room I rented for the night had its own bathroom with a hot water shower! I was finally able to wash my hair and get all cleaned up, after which I had a good night’s sleep. The next day, I got up early and enjoyed a marvelous day swimming with the sea turtles and snorkeling! The place where I’d slept let me store my luggage with them all day, at no charge, even after I’d checked out, and were kind and friendly as had been all the other folks I’d met along the way, with the exception of Renzo.
I don’t recommend Renzo or his Caveland accommodations, at all. The guy has serious problems much like an alcoholic. Maybe if you’re traveling as a couple and are paying him top dollar to stay there, he’ll act well-mannered but I’d rather patronize places where it’s not an act and the people are genuinely kind just by nature. If you’re traveling as a single woman, you’re putting yourself at risk. His rude behavior towards me was unjustified and extremely unprofessional. It was downright awful!
I feel fortunate that what could have escalated into a real nightmare had a happy ending because I had the courage to leave.
I also want to mention that from his cabañas you can hear a lot of traffic noise coming from the main highway with trucks barreling by and the like. I prefer not to hear traffic noise at the places I stay. He also has dogs that, although friendly, bark a lot at the slightest sound.
Over the years, I’ve traveled extensively around Mexico and Central America (and the States). This was the first bad experience I’ve ever had. I know this turned out to be a very long story and review but I felt it to be important to inform people about what happened and why I don’t recommend the place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.