Arriving in Mexico

Note: This post originally appeared on my previous blog, “Weekend Wanderer”, pre-Celiac diagnosis.

If you live anywhere near Boston, I don’t have to tell you that this winter has been brutal. So it was especially wonderful (and surprisingly cheap) to travel somewhere tropical for a week and leave the snow behind. I have never been a fan of heat or humidity, but daily temps of 85ºF and 95% humidity were a welcome change from the gray and gloom that has taken over New England for…well…for what seems like forever at this point.

When I was visiting Mexico, the exchange rate was 14.75 pesos to $1.00 USD. This makes even a tropical resort town like Playa del Carmen very affordable. I stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel, Aventura Mexicana, located just a couple blocks from the beach and less than one block from the shopping district, for just $145 USD per night. That rate also included daily breakfast and a $50 USD credit at the onsite restaurant, woohoo! Even flights were reasonably priced – I flew roundtrip Boston to Cancun for just $300 on American Airlines.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico |
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

I left Boston at 9:40am on a Sunday, and after a short layover at JFK, arrived in Cancun at 4:20pm. If I were to describe Cancun International Airport, the first words that come to mind are “hot” and “ridiculously fucking humid”. This atmosphere certainly does not enhance the oh-so-pleasant experience of passing through customs (and the very high probability that you will have your bags searched…ever…so…slowly). Once you make it through customs and put all your personal belongings and dignity back together, you then have to survive the gauntlet of timeshare representatives waiting for you outside the gate. Once you make it through this sea of vultures dressed in white uniforms, you will find yourself finally outside…and in another sea of vultures – but this time no uniforms and very little English – as the taxi drivers compete for your patronage. I had already scheduled a transfer service through my hotel, so it was easy to just find the man holding the sign with my name, and head out to the road without dealing with all the taxi chaos behind me.

It’s about a 30 minute drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. It was during this time that I learned traffic laws are pretty much optional, speed bumps pop up in the middle of highways, and there are police checkpoints all over the place. I was told that these officers wielding big guns were mostly to send a message to the drug criminals in the north, letting them know they are unwelcome in the tourist-heavy south. Tourism is big revenue, and the Mexican government doesn’t want to jeopardize this income.

By the time I arrived at my hotel, I was tired and starving, so I dropped my bags off in my room and headed for the onsite restaurant, the Mayan Bistro.

Cilantro squid in a white wine cream sauce

I had the cilantro squid dish, and it was awesome…but even more awesome was ending my day with a strawberry margarita full of Mexican tequila 🙂

Strawberry margarita, yum yum!
Strawberry margarita, yum yum!

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