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Gitano had been among the first places to expand into the jungle side of the beach road, and the growth had irked locals. The Jungle Room project extended toward the mangroves behind Gitano, which are an important filtration system for the underground rivers beneath Tulum and are protected by Mexican and international law. Gardner said that they had not destroyed any mangroves and that Gitano wanted to be a leader not just in taste and style but in sustainability, too. He said they were making various environmentally friendly upgrades and also pointed out that they had adorned the trees surrounding the restaurant with lightbulbs.

Around one of the branches, the wall was beginning to crack. Early one morning, I went to the Mayan ruins at the north end of Tulum Beach, where hundreds of tourists were already streaming in from a parking lot. Two million people visit the site every year, and the government has stopped allowing people to climb the structure.

Walking south from the ruins, you can see the full sweep of Tulum in You little slut. A group of three young people could be kicking a pile of seaweed out of the way to clear the frame for a perfect photo, or an older man in a navy-blue Speedo might be lounging on the phone at Posada Margherita, a low-key Italian restaurant, telling someone to buy shares of an index fund that tracks companies in the chemical manufacturing, mining, and timber industries.

A few days into the New Year, I walked down the beach road as a parade of taxis carried passed-out passengers smearing glitter across the back seats. It was 10 a. When I arrived at Ahau , another hotel known for its parties, the faint thump of house music that provides Tulum with much of its soundtrack wafted over the handful of people who were awake for breakfast. Palazuelos is best known in Mexico as an actor who plays the villain in telenovelas, but in Tulum he is known in part for his role in the saga that shuttered Coqui Coqui and Uno Astrolodge.

After breakfast, he put on a pair of Gucci sunglasses and we walked the beach with one of his three bodyguards trailing behind.

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I asked if the protection was necessary. The cleansing, or the betrayal, which took place in , had been simmering for decades.

No one spent much time cross-checking records for what was largely uninhabited jungle, but as tourists and their money arrived, several powerful families from elsewhere in Mexico began claiming that, in fact, the land was theirs. The paperwork was questionable, but some Tulum hotel owners ended up buying their properties two or three times, just to be safe. Others were kicked off their land.

In , a lawyer contesting the evictions was shot to death in his office. Palazuelos dealt with several claims to his properties, fighting off one challenge thanks to his father, a prominent Mexico City lawyer, who was himself the son of a former judge. But in , the Schiavones, a wealthy family from Monterrey, said they owned the land under Ahau. Palazuelos, who was the president of the Tulum hotel association, started working with the Schiavones.

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  • Greed, gringos, diesel, drugs, shamans, seaweed, and a disco ball in the jungle.!

He approached other hotel owners, including Nuno Silva from Uno Astrolodge, and urged them to make similar deals. On June 17, , Silva woke up to news that hundreds of men, some with machetes, were making their way down the beach, forcing tourists out of their hotels and demanding, with the help of official court orders, that owners vacate their properties. Silva told his guests to pack up and leave, then parked a truck against the front gate of his hotel while his staff gathered in a circle to sing a Hindu devotional hymn. The evictions left scars for many Tulum business owners, who remain fearful of losing their properties.

As we walked the beach, Palazuelos was unapologetic and pointed out several other properties he said faced eviction; one was on land being claimed by a general in the Mexican Army. The property there, some of which was mangrove, would become wildly valuable if the government allowed landowners to build on what was once untouched jungle. Before moving to Mexico, Wilmes was a competitive bodybuilder operating a cardboard-packaging company in Germany; he met Marc Levy, a construction manager from Arizona, while backpacking in Central America.

They bought some land just outside town, built a house, and listed it on Airbnb. It did so well that within a few weeks, Levy was asking friends for money so they could build a new one. Return on investment has become the most common amenity advertised on the dozens of billboards for new condo developments around Tulum. Much of the activity is centered on Aldea Zama, a planned community between the town and the beach. Beginning in the aughts, the Mexican real-estate company behind it bought hundreds of acres from the government, much of it at below-market prices.

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Only a small portion of the development has been built thus far, which gives it the feel of a ghost town, with condo buildings popping up here and there along wide, winding roads. There are still plans for a golf course and rumors that Faena, the extravagant Miami hotel chain, was planning a large project.


The rest of the jungle between the beach and the town is now a free-for-all. One afternoon, I had lunch with R. Tulum moved to Mexico from Texas in Tulum said. Tulum pulled out a map that displayed the thousands of lots that have been sold off in the jungle between the town and the beach. He pointed to another area that has been designated for low-density construction because the underground river threatens its stability.

He had already sold eight lots in It was January Tulum was especially excited by a connection to an American investor new to the Tulum market. Tulum told me before introducing me to the developer, who is in his mids and spent the past decade working in wealth management in New York and Hong Kong. Building a real-estate empire in Mexico comes with its dangers, and he tries to keep a low profile.

In the U. One afternoon, I met in town with a group of environmental activists who had organized under the umbrella Red Tulum Sostenible, which exists largely to provide moral support. It was difficult to hear any birds at all on the beach road over the thrum of the diesel generators. The activists from Red Tulum have made only fitful progress. Mauricio Jervis, a local chef who runs a composting service, managed to persuade only 30 of the hundreds of hotels and restaurants in Tulum to sign up, even though all it required was passing along an extra cent charge to each customer.

The trouble is that less than 10 percent of the town is connected to the municipal sewer system. In January, a documentary called The Dark Side of Tulum was released with footage shot by cave divers of feces floating in the rivers. While Mexico has relatively strict environmental laws, corruption is rampant and enforcement is lax. Some developers pay bribes to get around various laws, like those restricting how much they can build on a lot. The first rule posted on a government sign instructing visitors on how to interact with sea turtles is a request not to sit on them.

But instead of installing the panels and building that into the cost of the condos, the choice had been given to each buyer. Only two have taken them up on it. Tulum is a transient boomtown, and even the Mexicans who live there come mostly from somewhere else for work. That has left only the committed group of activists trying to tackle various problems. But they are outnumbered, and no one is completely pure. Self-described hippies have investment properties.

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One woman complained to me about her failed effort to get more hotels on the beach to adopt solar power, then told me about the recent discovery of what she believed was a small Mayan temple at a construction site. Eugenio Barbachano, the tourism minister, took a roundabout path into government. Barbachano forged his own path, spending much of his 20s in New York, working to bring AriZona Iced Tea to Mexico and living the life of a successful gay man in Manhattan, where he met another set of real-estate heirs.

Barbachano had a real affection for Tulum, having fallen for a Connecticut Wasp there, whom he eventually married at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton.

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The marriage fell apart in , and when he emerged from the heartbreak, he decided to enter public service. Barbachano threw himself into the job and was learning both the power and challenges of governance. A few days earlier, during an EDM show at a venue in the jungle called Zamna, a man had been found shot and killed. The obvious presence of drugs is a relatively new phenomenon in Tulum and makes many locals nervous.

One restaurant owner told me that last year a person involved in the drug trade demanded he pay a cut of his revenue every month in order to stay open, a story I heard from several business owners. Other places seemed to have come to an uncomfortable peace, and there were dealers at various spots in town and on the beach. But his property around a cenote hosted one of the biggest new additions to the festival calendar this year. The new government had been in office for a hundred days, and Barbachano told me he was happy with some of his progress.

“What if this is what we should be doing? What if it’s that simple?”

Absolutely not. Do we have the best rates of any place on earth? You bet your ass. How would they make their next attempt? Some bore fresh wounds along their throats from attempted hangings.

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In the first year and a half, 16 patients died by suicide before they were randomized into the trial. Even the more experienced researchers were taken aback by the severity of the pain people were living with. The former nun, Patricia Conway, spent many hours over several days with a mother who was barely able to utter a word after her suicide attempt. One afternoon, the woman seemed transfixed by another patient who was screaming and thrashing nearby.

It seemed so ridiculous: letters that could pull a person out of an abyss that deep. Motto wanted them to be simple and direct, with no clinical jargon or ass-covering fine print.