by #EidonAdventurer, Chrissana Wilmot - Follow her adventures here
For reasons I could never quite pinpoint, Mexico has always been at the top of my list of places I’ve been wanting to visit but just never did. My heart always sank with longing when people I knew made it, but I was never in tow. That all changed just a few days before my birthday — thanks to some amazing friends in high places. Here I was, transforming a longtime dream into reality, with another opportunity to plant my feet on new soil and take my comfort level with conversational Spanish up another notch. We were going to Cancún baby!
Giselle, Jermaine and I arrived at our Airbnb condominium tired and famished as one usually is after overseas travel, but thankfully, we were situated above the Plaza Las Americas in downtown Cancún. Coming from The Islands, this was the Mother of Food Courts for us with everything from American junk food chains, to 2-for-1 sushi rolls and local Mexican cuisine at ridiculously low prices! I affectionately dubbed this place “Hungry Man’s Heaven”. It’s a possibility that, to the locals, our meal looked overindulgent, our table enveloped with plates and bowls of lime soup, chicken fajitas, beef enchiladas, fries, chips with guacamole, sushi and generous servings of Jamaica (sorrel) to wash it all down. However, we didn’t care as our tummies were happy and our pockets were about the same as that grand meal barely costed us $20 USD (a realization that inevitably made me say goodbye to my waistline). We explored every floor and corner of this immense mall, comparing prices to that of the USA and home, observing the locals in their social climate. Before we knew it, a few hours had passed and day 1 was over.
The next day we headed to Playa Chac Mool for some much-anticipated beach time because, let’s face it; what would a trip to Cancún be without white sand between your toes, salty air and mermaiding in the bluest of blue waters? Excited by the prospect of waves, we eagerly headed to 360 Surf School Cancún to rent a few logs, observing how commercial the neighborhood was as we scurried along the boardwalk towards the beach. Although crowded (like any other tourist-centric location would be), Playa Chac Mool was stunning with its blindly white coastline which perfectly contrasted the dazzling hues of blue and green of the Caribbean Sea. Waves were more than plentiful, but to my displeasure (and the others’ disadvantage), conditions were less than ideal with straight onshore winds and 6ft close outs. Oh well! I was more than content to just paddle out and absorb every moment, exchanging energy with nature, loving my existence and the embrace of the surf for a few hours.
With our tummies empty, our bodies defeated by the waves, we traipsed to The Surfin Burrito which was conveniently located next door to the surf school. It was finally time for tacos! Impressed with the wide selection of fillings and toppings offered, we happily devoured our choices of chicken and mahi mahi tempura tacos, our hair and skin still crusted with salt from the sea. The rest of the day was spent living like a local exploring markets and taking a crazy ride in a bus with the words “suicide squad” brightly painted on its ceiling. For the experience, the caption seemed quite apt!
For the third day of our trip, we ventured beyond Cancún, opting for a jam-packed day filled with Mayan history, natural geographic wonders and sampling of local dishes and desserts. The first stop was the Mayan city of Tulum. This walled city, with its ruins spread along a 12m (39ft) high cliff, is an archaeological dream! Buildings and temples, not scattered, but strategically and cleverly placed to represent the Mayan calendar. The stories of trade and tradition, rites and rituals were so captivating that it was easy to get lost in thought daydreaming about life in this well-respected civilization.
Next was Coba. Like Tulum, it was is a historical site filled with ancient buildings that have stood the test of time. The rich history of these people are etched (both figuratively and literally) in every stone structure that occupies this land, the highlight of which is the Nohoch Mul Pyramid. If you’re willing to get a little dirty climbing 42m (137ft) into the sky on all fours, 130 steps closer to the heavens, you are rewarded with an unrivaled view of the Yucatán! The world seemed so expansive from up here. This was, undoubtedly, the view of the Mayan Gods.
Hot, sweaty and dusty from walking in the footsteps of the ascendants of this land, we welcomed our next stop with a level of restlessness and excitement that seemed to linger the more we thought about it. We were further teased when we arrived as we descended down a dizzying spiral staircase that took us about 18m (59ft) underground. Natural light became less existent as the darkness gave way to an exotic jade green glow. We were in the Cenote Multum-Ha. The water, perfectly transparent exuding an outer-worldly shade of greenish-blue, seemed like a different kind of refreshing. The enclosing rock formations were so simple yet exquisite, with one single space to allow natural light to penetrate. Floating around, watching the little freshwater fish swim past, this place felt almost too mystical to be true. If they ever existed, this would certainly be the playground of mermaids and water nymphs!
As the sun retreated for the day, we made our way to our final stop of Playa Del Carmen — a typical coastal resort town. It was a bit sleepy on this rainy Sunday evening. Nonetheless, we grabbed the opportunity to sample locally made chocolates infused with flavors like vanilla, habanero, coffee and cinnamon. My interest was further piqued by the aroma of a sweet creation emanating from a street vendor nearby. What looked like a hybrid of a waffle and a crêpe filled with sweet or savory choices like Nutella, fruit jams or assorted cheeses, and rolled like a churro, marquesitas, I learned, are a street food staple of the Yucatán. “The world needs more marquesitas!” I thought as I smiled with every cheesy bite!
In the mid-day hours of the following day it was time to say !Adios! to Cancún. A short yet glorious trip filled with adventure, history and a guilt-free culinary overdose, we were more than satisfied with what we were able to accomplish on our maiden voyage to this country, the first we agreed, will be of many. Until next time!
Photography by: Chrissana Wilmot, Jermaine Williams & Giselle Hall