In 2019, I hit 5 years at my current job, which unlocked an extra week vacation I could use each year. With this new time and the wanderlust from having just returned from Iceland, I implored Rachel to book another flight with me.
I told her that we could do somewhere inexpensive and easy, like Cancún . It would be for a little R&R.
We booked our stay for the weekend of Cinco De Mayo (which, I have come to learn, is not widely celebrated outside of the Puebla region of Mexico) and started preparing.
Through poor financial decisions (taking a trip less than two months after another trip, finishing some tattoos, eating out a lot, etc.) I was basically out of money by the time we flew into Cancún International Airport.
When you enter into the country, you’ll be given a tourist card. Hang onto this, as you’ll need it to exit. Rachel didn’t keep hers, which led to standing in line to get a new one, discovering there was a hefty fee to get it, realizing they only took cash, then finding out the ATMs right beside it had astronomical fees. In short, it’s expensive and timely to replace.
We took a shuttle to our AirBNB which was in the Hotel Zone of the city. The place was okay; it had a nice view from the balcony that overlooked the beach. We found the pool was only a 2’ deep wading pool and there was a wall that blocked our view.
Thankfully, our friends Courtney and Tom came down as well. We were texting to meet up and realized they booked a room in the building right beside ours. They had a much nicer pool setup and we were able to get guest wristbands into their area (albeit with some hassle.)
The first stop was food. We strolled down the street in search of a place to eat and found Cerveceria Chapultepec, where everything on the menu was 21 pesos (~$1.) We each ordered a variety of empanadas, cervezas, and we had our first round of mezcal. I immediately became enamored with the spirit and have since put visiting an agave farm towards the top of my future travels.
Cancún sits on beautiful, blue water that you’d love to swim in. However, there was an invasion of sargassum, a brown, stinky seaweed that had ventured up from South America. Today, officials in the Riviera Maya region declare the sargassum season over. The local governments were better equipped with collection vessels and the amount of seaweed that arrived was much lower than expected.
Since we were unable to swim in the gulf (this stuff was everywhere), we explored some other options of entertainment. I pitched Chichen Itza as an option; I had visited the UNESCO World Heritage site a few years prior, but the consensus was to stay a little closer to maximize time. To segue, I also want to dive the Musa dive site when I go back.
We found a local couple that did kayak tours and we signed up. They took us through the Nichupté Lagoon and we traversed our way through a mangrove forest. The guides were experts at pointing out all kinds of animal life, like crabs, starfish, birds, and fish. I highly recommend this if you get the chance.
The food on this trip was great. The Surfin Burrito, targeted towards Americans, was excellent for breakfast. The rest of the trip was comprised of trying various Mexican dishes that were all delicious. Side note: this is a good destination for vegetarian travelers.
I look forward to going back to Mexico in the near future. If I do venture to the Riviera Maya region again, it may likely be a different town like Tulum, but I will do so with the intentions of having the best time.