Resorts are funny things. This is my second all-inclusive travel experience, the first one being a cruise to Bermuda a year and a half ago; for me, the resort turns out to be much weirder. I expect a cruise ship to be a constructed place; you have to create a little floating city to keep people housed and fed entertained while they’re in the middle of the ocean. But Cancun is an actual city, on actual land in a real country, and there are people who live here. So it seems totally bizarre to be in this environment created to be a tourist’s vision of what it means to live in the tropics, with palm trees gently swaying to an eternal soundtrack of Latin music and lapping waves against white beaches. It’s like having someone create a version of Boston where everyone is a rowdy Irish drunk and the Dropkick Murphys are constantly playing – i.e., almost every movie about Boston. That’s what it felt like; I was in a beach scene from a movie, complete with background music, except it was happening in real life.
There are so many things to observe here. I’m glad that, despite it feeling a little like a made-up place, it’s doesn’t just cater to American tourists; folks are here from all over Mexico and a bunch of South American countries, plus Europe. It’s a fascinating mix of spring break crews, families with kids, couples, and the occasional traveling friends like us. People aren’t so much constantly trying to serve me as constantly trying to sell me something, whether it’s a resort property, an excursion, or a necklace on the beach. I had my first-ever solicitation from a marijuana dealer, who was doing great business under cover of selling cigars while he evaded the watchful eyes of resort security guards.
I’ve had so many people, from taxi drivers to resort salesmen, encourage me to go back and tell people that Cancun is wonderful and you’re not going to get shot if you visit here. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be constantly battling that kind of perception of your home. There’s decent public transit here in the form of buses, and you see a lot of people or walking at all times of day – even the tourists walking the sidewalks that run along the 29-km resort area. Oh, yeah, and I had to figure out what temperature in Celsius my room thermostat should be set to.
I like being in a place where I speak more Spanish. It’s a little harder here, because I keep having to switch back and forth between English and Spanish, and I never quite get fully in the mindset of my non-native language. It makes me remember how much I enjoyed being in Puerto Rico, and finding myself so surrounded by Spanish that my brain kind of clicked over. I’d like to go back there.