Hardly have I found a person from Mumbai in India, who are talking travel experiences without Goa in it. Goa usually pops right at the beginning of discussions and elaborated using cheap liquor, parties, and beach tales. This one time, catching up with a friend, she mentioned something like Mexico. Well? Mexico? Sounds weird to me, especially considering people around here, prefer more exotic destinations like Europe, South East Asia and Goa (North). But Mexico? Hardly anybody talks or discusses the country in the same line as travel. Mexico (or Mejico) is often mentioned, in synonymous discussions on some notorious cartel here, a tequila brand there or some drug-related violence; travel, never! As it happened, she went there for a short vacation one weekend while pursuing her masters in the US. Further probing gets me some names of places I’d never heard before, Merida and Cancun! When I look up Cancun, it turns out to be the Mexican Goa!
Cancun and Medira are culturally distinct areas. Merida is quite famous for its Mayan sites and has a cultural zing to it, while Cancun is the deep-pocketed, party animal’s paradise, with beaches and clear blue water. While in Mexico, Cancun happened to be her first place of a visit. Hence I thought of putting down a few words about her experience at Cancun first then maybe jump to the more elaborate Merida some other time.
No, she did not find Mexicans at the airport or other places saying ‘Arriba Arriba’ while wearing Sombreros, waiting to greet with a bottle of tequila in hand. On the contrary, it was the tourists who were up to all those antics. Soon her interaction began and went about small areas of Cancun did she realize Mexicans are full of culture and are warmer than expected, while everyone there has a friendly attitude, well, almost everyone!
Exploring Cancun, as a destination is quite the westernized place compared to the rest of Mexico, with a vivid food and drinking culture, compounded by crystal clear beaches. It’s more of a resort, hi-flying place, frequented by lots of Americans, Europeans and tourists from various locations because Cancun weather makes it a year-round holiday destination. Before coming here, she learned some Spanish, just so it could help her communicate but it turns out, most locals speak English, mainly due to the tourist destination that Cancun is. There are fancy hotels, clubs and all those things you could find in the downtown area of any city. But she was in the mood for some partying and dancing around, but sure she did find something more meaningful and adventurous to do as well in Cancun.
The mere mention of fancy hotels would be enough to put a dent in our wallets, hers included. But a patient search will lead to finding the best, cheap options. So Cancun Natura Hostel was found, cost her $35 per day. The place is a recent establishment but considering prices around Cancun, it was the cheapest alternative, especially when the beach is about 100 meters from there and visible.
‘The soul odd Cancun ‘
Day one was spent strolling around nearby places, checking out restaurants, pubs and so on, which doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary. But this was a holiday, and the mood to indulge in the likes partying and dancing away the night, all seemed appealing. She did encourage herself towards people and their stories of life and struggle to make a living in this touristy place among other things One of which was her little exploration of the ‘Old Town’ area, which was in total contrast to the resort areas. This area comprises mostly of hotel workers, natives and is more vivid and alive than its resort counterpart. Street food, an entertaining but simple nightlife around the Old Town area, was in itself quite fascinating, as she puts it, ‘The soul odd Cancun’.
Things to do around- Exploring Cancun
A small vacation spent in an enormous place, demands optimum utility of time. In the case of Cancun, the place doesn’t start and ends with a beach; there’s more to it. A planner that she is, I am sure the things I am about to write about were not in the slightest of chances impulsive visits. She was just laying a well thought of a plan to fruition. So in this below order, squeezing the little time that she has into an exciting juice of wonderment and adventure.
The Underwater Museum
“significant enough message to the digital world for the hazards of a lazy lifestyle”
Better known as the Cancun Underwater Museum, where around 450 amazing statues could be found on display underneath. It’s the work of eco-sculptor extraordinaire, Jason deCaires Taylor, a one-man art vending machine. While divers need to get deep underwater to see this wonder, my friend here noted one acute thing about this wonder. The statues aren’t made for the sake of art but as an environmental measure. The statues themselves form an artificial reef, promoting new ocean growth. The museum itself is not just about statues, but the artworks speak great volumes about human life in different phases. Although she liked the entire place, one specific artwork she mentioned was the one where a man, sitting in the comfort of his couch and watching TV, is a significant enough message to the digital world for the hazards of a lazy lifestyle. Although most concepts are deep if deduced carefully, this I’ll leave it to the imagination of the traveller who would want to visit it.
Tequila is to Mexico as Wine is to France, and it’s a beautiful enough experience to have them on their native soil. The Tequila Herradura Sensory Museum provides you with the answers to life, which in Mexico mostly comes through tequila. A tour which lasts for nearly ninety minutes will take the visitors through the history of the Herradura tequila-making dynasty, showing how Tequila is distilled, both the new way and the old school way. And for those who are still confused about how to drink it, might learn a thing or two about Tequila etiquettes. This tour costs between $5 to $20, depending on the quality of Tequila you want to drink up.
Of Turtles and Iguanas
If you want to get up close with turtles, this is the place for you. Paying a mere $3 to visit this Hatchery, one can get to know turtles better. There are lots of them around here, and the place is less crowded at all times (guess vacationers don’t like turtles and things that are cheap) making it a pleasant experience. Furthermore, there is a small pile of rocks near the entrance of this hatchery which houses a small group of Iguanas.
Jetpacking in Cancun
Although she missed out on this one, for many reasons, one should try this out when the next time in Mexico. If you are to visit, do not miss out on this. It would be pretty amazing, after all, it’s jetpack for god’s sake.
Chichen Itza tour
This one was on the list, but she wanted to find a suitable time and an expert to guide her through. After much asking around, an expert archaeologist was found, who charged nearly $60 for the tour. Of course, anyone can visit this site, but only looking at things here would be utterly pointless. These archaeologists are present in numbers around Cancun, for many hotels arrange for such tours. The best time to visit would be early morning, to avoid the unwanted selfie stick crowd.
Transit might cost you the most in trips like these. Although if someone planning to travel from India might experience it. My friend, she travelled from the US, so for her, it was rather inexpensive. Stay expenses depend entirely on your trip plan. The idea would be to spend less on stay, as most interesting things to do in Cancun or for that matter in Mexico all lie outside, meaning the money saved on stay could be used upon adventure sports, sight-seeing and Tequila. Food could be inexpensive if you go local, rather than on restaurants and fancy bars.
Cancun surely is a much happening place, perfect for short vacations. Due to the nature of this place and the cost involved in the indulgences here, it may not be the place for solo travellers. The food is good but expensive, and places to stay in good areas of Cancun come at a considerable cost. But for the party animal in you, it would prove just about the right place.
Liked reading about exploring Cancun? Click here to read Mayan ruins in Mexico