Mirrors adjusted, helmet securely fastened, I feel like the heroine of a novel that’s yet to be written.

The Otherworldly Delights of Art With Me

By Sophia Perlstein
Mar 19, 2019

Mirrors adjusted, helmet securely fastened, I feel like the heroine of a novel that’s yet to be written. I gently rev the engine of my scooter, coaxing her to life. On this Monday, like any other, I cruise down Carretera Boca Paila, racing beneath a canopy of trees, alternating between the cool shade and Tulum’s defiant sun. My commute to work is hardly a commute at all.

The fluidity of life here is measured by the minutes I spend gazing up at the stars or exploring the cavernous underwater worlds that have existed for thousands of years. Sunsets are a regular spectacle; layers of pink brushed across the sky as the sun nestles itself into the jungle. Not a single skyscraper in sight. I’ve fallen for this rustic landscape, wild with indigo and turquoise hues.

Life in the Yucatan is an extended dream. Time passes in a haze of copal, an ancient tree resin used in Mayan culture for its healing and cleansing properties. Undeniably captivating, every nook tells a story all its own amongst the palms, clay and ancient ruins upon which it sits. On a Saturday night, the moon is at her fullest, hovering above the open jungle courtyard at our home in Tulum. Below, candlelight dances over Moroccan rugs. I catch the faint strum of a sitar, the bow of a violin. I hum along, a prayer building from within finds its release in the night sky.

Unlike anything I’ve experienced, these spaces are havens for uninhibited self-expression. Hummingbirds and Amapola flowers dance across a giant mural. A vortex of 250 pendulums descends from the peaks of a wooden dome, frozen in time by magnets underneath the floor. I’ve landed on the pulse of Art with Me, Tulum’s first arts & culture festival. This otherworldly environment is home to artists like Alejandro Duran whose multi-media pieces highlight the beauty and fragility of the Riviera.    

Then there’s the food. Tulum’s culinary tradition celebrates Mayan culture; each dish is an homage to the land where I reside. Locally sourced coronado, giant prawns and exotic produce sing on the palette. Meticulously prepared cocktails interact with every plate. Pox, a Mexican spirit distilled from corn, is mixed with cantaloupe shrub, lime juice and prosecco. I cozy up to the bar at ARCA, where my reflection is splintered by two symmetrical mirrors reflecting the candlelight. As the sun sets, it inches its way through the wooden pergola and jungle surrounding me.

Over a thousand years of history characterize this deep-rooted region of the world. Tulum’s contemporary narrative tells a story of environmental preservation with sustainability at its core. Over 200 immersive activations light up this oasis on a balmy May afternoon. Art With Me has four pivotal components — sustainability, music, wellness, and food. Each merge to give life to a world where education and authentic human growth take center stage.

From sunrise to sunrise, the festival carries on each morning, stretching into the evenings. I stroll along the beach, seeing this landscape as if for the first time. Daniel Popper’s towering sculpture of wood and rope forms a female figure; her torso an open archway. From inside, she blushes a deep jungle green. “Ven a la luz” she beckons, Spanish for “Come into the light”. As I walk through her open heart, I feel mine expand. She reminds me to embrace my vulnerability and wear it with pride. A sense of calm washes over me. This is the Tulum I know and love.

Join the Habitas | Art With Me immersive experience from April 25th - April 29th.