Last May, after a few years of wandering, Younge landed in Tulum. It was here, quarantined in her rented apartment with the TV on, that she saw the news of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests. “I found myself crying a lot more than I wanted to be crying,” she recalls. Searching for community, she posted a brunch invitation on Facebook for other Black nomads in Tulum. When she arrived at the restaurant, she found 25 of her fellow travelers waiting to meet her. “That’s how Black in Tulum started,” she says.
Today the group has grown to 20,000 members. Younge hosts events every month, from Sunday brunches on the beach to dance parties in the jungle. Every other week, the group gathers for a seafaring excursion called the Black Yacht Experience. As Younge sees it, she’s creating a refuge for Black Americans who feel more at home in Mexico than in the country they’ve left behind. “As I navigate this world, I’ve always had a sense of, do I belong?” Younge says. “But one thing I knew for sure is America was not where it felt like I belong.”
Still, whatever the mix of motivations attracting nomads to Tulum, it’s driving the local infrastructure to the breaking point. “We don’t have even the basics to sustain the population we have,” says Froeming, the environmental activist. “And that goes from water treatment to electricity to trash management to land protection.”
On a blistering hot morning, the Selina nomads take a day trip to the centerpiece of another culture that ended in collapse, the Tulum Ruins, one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans before they were overrun by Spanish invaders in the 15th century. The nomads amble around El Castillo, the crumbling watchtower high on the cliffs, as leathery cat-sized iguanas sunbathe on the steps. Eventually, they identify the best spot for selfies, along the cliff wall overlooking the sea. They pose in singles and doubles, in groups, hands in the air, hands on hips, shades on, shades off, a variety of angles and attitudes before posting on Instagram.
As remote working continues to gain acceptance, it’s only a matter of time before these New Age conquistadores spread to other New Worlds. This time, though, what draws them is not gold or land, but the lure of high-speed internet. By next year, Elon Musk has vowed to
Summary List Placement
OK, guys — we’re going to the underworld,” says Gerardo Medina, a swashbuckling guide with a loose ponytail and a silver eyebrow ring. “But first we have to make our way through paradise.”
It’s a bright, sweltering day off the dusty main road of Tulum, Mexico. Medina has led our small group to the edge of a lush mangrove patch. An elevated path through the thicket leads to the Cormoran cenote, one of the Yucatan’s 6,000 natural swimming holes formed by the underworld, as Medina puts it, of sinkhole caverns around Tulum. Floating in a read more ⇒