Tuesday 21 January 2014

Yes We Cancun!

I should probably start with why I was in Mexico. In high school, there were nine of us guys who were good friends and stayed in close contact after school. One of them, Kieren, was having his 21st birthday in Cancun, Mexico. His family have some sort of timeshare arrangement at one of the resorts there which we were making use of. It was a proper, five star resort right on the beach with everything included but that wasn't the part that excited me most. Of the nine of us, five would be in cancun together celebrating for two full weeks. I had seen Chuck in Hungary and Santi in London but I was very keen to see my mates again.


Re-reading the above paragraph, that sounds so cheesy and cliche but honestly, I'm tired and can't be bothered re-writing it. Oh, and friendship and all that crap.

All of Mexico looks like this, all the time.

I landed in Cancun in a flurry of excitement. I probably hadn't been that excited on this trip since I first landed in Dubai at the start of my adventure, almost six months before. I caught a shuttle to the resort, the Gran Caribe Real, and settled in to wait for the other boys who were flying from Australia and would land a few hours later.

Mexico's climate is clearly a depressing one

I had expected the resort to be nice but I was completely blown away when I arrived. It was truly a tropical getaway, right on the beach. I checked in (fortunately one of the rooms was booked in my name) and got led to the VIP office where I was briefed about all the facilities available. Since Kieren's family were VIP members, apparently that meant we were as well. All food and drink (including alcohol) was free, as was access to the VIP lounges, gym, pools and everything else the resort had to offer.

Free food makes for sexy faces
I hated every second I spent here. Obviously.

View from the hotel room at dawn

I met the others in the lobby, (free) cocktail in hand when they arrived. As well as myself, there was Kieren (aka Beven), Simon, Nick and Pearson (aka Mr.Hyde aka Bob Marley aka Rastaman aka Dready Joe).

No, I didn't intentionally find the worst holiday pictures of them I could find. Why do you ask?

Nick is a NAPKING! Like a king. With a napkin. Geddit?

Never mind.

Cancun is a famous and popular holiday destination in North America but it really only serves as a good destination for two groups of holiday makers. Firstly, Cancun itself is situated as a perfect beach holiday. The actual Cancun area is one long strip of pristine Caribbean beach on one side and an enormous lagoon on the other. Cancun is the only place I've seen on this trip with beaches that even come close to the quality of Australian beaches although there is very little surf. The second appeal of Cancun is the nightlife. The club strip in Cancun was quite close to our resort and features probably ten main clubs and many more small ones. $50US will get you entry and unlimited alcohol for a night so the value is pretty good as well. I'm definitely not a club guy but I thought I may as well try and get involved.


Unfortunately on the second night, I began to feel very unwell and ended up going to a medical centre and then a Cancun hospital a few nights later. It was a fairly nasty infection I had and it definitely knocked me out of commission for a while but it wasn't a serious problem. It did mean that I missed out on a lot of the nights out with the other boys. At first I thought it was horrible timing to get really sick for the first time on the trip in Cancun but I realised it was probably the best time. I'd been traveling alone and moving every day for the last 6 months. If I'd gotten sick in Europe, I would have been in a dorm with 10 other people, sharing a bathroom and with nothing to do when I was too ill to go out. In Cancun I had pre-paid accommodation, free food, facilities and beaches for when I felt strong and friends to keep an eye on me during the day. Of the 14 nights in Cancun, I missed going out for about 9 of them so I tried to make the most of it when I could. Eventually all my problems cleared up and I was back to normal.


We did do a few day trips from the hostel, however, but looking back probably (read:definitely) not as many as we should have. One day we went snorkeling off the coast. To get there, we drove small jet boats through the lagoon and out into the open water and back. The snorkeling itself wasn't the most impressive view I've seen because the wasn't really a reef but the fish were certainly not afraid of people and you could literally reach out and touch them.


The original caption of this photo was "Hey Betcher, why don't you take off your shirt too?"

Then second outing was to Isla Mujeres (the island of women) which is an island off the coast from Mexico in the Caribbean. Isla Mujeres was basically everything I expected from a Caribbean island. I could have happily been marooned there for a few days with no complaints. We swum In the pristine, blue Carribbean water, drinks cervezas and cocktails lying in hammocks in the shade and hired a golf cart to explore the island.

Golf cart faces

Related golf cart face

Patting a shark. It's definitely a Great White and it's almost certainly maybe alive.


The third and final outing we could muster up the energy to attempt was a trip to chichen itza (chee-chen ee-tzar) and a cenote (see-note-ee). Chichen itza (which our bus driver went to unusually great trouble to assure us was NOT pronounced 'chicken pizza') is the ruins of what was once a great Mayan city. Although many ruins are still standing in surprisingly good condition, the main attraction is definitely the hundreds of vendors sitting by the side of the paths getting needlessly aggressive to sell the same, identical touristy crap in a fictional currency they just invented (1 Mayan dollar = 30 US dollars but you have to pay in US dollars because, again, fictional currency). I suppose the other big draw card is the enormous pyramid that still towers above everything around it.

Pffffft! That's not even a pyramid! That's a ziggurat!



Since this was the only vaguely cultural thing we did on this trip and my nerdy side was starting to suffer withdrawals, it was a hugely refreshing change of pace to actually experience something a) cultural and b) during the daytime which are two things which aren't representative of the cancun portion of the trip as a whole.


The cenotes were also pretty cool. They are fairly common in that part of Mexico. They are underground lakes where a section of roof has collapsed into the water. Yes, of course we went swimming.


As you can imagine, two weeks of shenanigans in Mexico with five good mates gave rise to many tales of wackiness and woe, none of which I will share now because each story falls into one of three categories:

What happens in Cancun, stays in Cancun and the people involved probably don't want me to embarrass them on the Internet OR

You really had to be there OR

The story is too long for me to bother writing it down.


These stories could take literally tens of seconds to explain!

At the end of two weeks we packed our bags and headed to the airport. After two weeks I think, even though we all enjoyed ourselves, we were quite ready to leave. Simon was going back home to face reality but the other four of use were moving on to the next adventure in New York, New York.


Ps. We also met Ana in Cancun. It's not really relevant to the Cancun section, but Chuck and I meet her again in Mexico City a month later.


Pps. SPOILERS! Chuck and I go to Mexico City!

Great Scott! I'm blogging fourth dimensionally!