What you quickly realize about Tulum is that everything, except the toilets and ticket booth, are roped off. It is a totally 'look but do not touch site'. I found remarkable the comments provided in one outstanding guidebook. "The architects of Tulum used poor quality masonry and concealed any faults with a thick layer of stucco. They tended to favour miniature structures which were sometimes so small that they made any form of human activity difficult..." As a consequence, few if any of the structures have stood the test of time, either in a physical or aesthetic sense. This became quickly apparent, as I entered the site from the northwest entrance through a small vault.
The House of the Northwest is the first structure I encountered. It is sited at the north end, to the left side proceeding south, of what was probably Tulum's main street. The floor plan is rectangular, and the portico features two columns that would have possessed capitals. Access was gained by the staircase, to the right in this photo. In the East Coast style, decoration was sober with two lower moldings and one upper that frame the plain frieze. Its two rooms offer little that is special save that in the rear there is a small shrine in the shape of a temple (scale model). It is probable that this shrine was used for family worship, important to the Maya.