Back in April my beloved cousin, Bryana, her homies, and myself embarked on an adventure to the beautiful land of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. She had been planning this trip for months (creating the hashtag #playadelpetty just for the occassion) and wanted to bring as many of her loved ones together as possible. I immediately agreed to go, although I wasn't quite sure where the money was coming from. Nothing was going to stop me from finally seeing Mexico, I was determined for several reasons.
1. I live in Los Angeles, without any family, and very few friends. This was an opportunity for me to reunite with some familiar faces and to kick back and not have to worry about the lonely air in L.A.
2. I had been feeling pretty stressed out and overworked. This was gonna be a mini vacay that I really needed.
3. I wanted my passport stamped. I've traveled internationally in the past, but I never felt like it really counted because, for some reason, my passport didn't get stamped during my cruise to Grand Turk.
4. I'm re-learning Spanish. Is there a better way of practicing than submerging yourself into the Mexican culture and interacting with the people? I think not.
Anywho, I booked my travel without cross-checking my itinerary with the rest of the group. I was the only person flying in from Los Angeles and I thought it would've been too much to try. I ended up flying to Mexico City for my layover and getting to Cancun at least five hours before anyone else had landed. This was a total of 12 hours kicking it alone in Mexico. During this 12 hour period, I talked to strangers, eventually having breakfast/dinner and drinks with a random musician from Los Angeles. I also sat at a few bars chatting with bartenders and more tourists who would be heading to Playa del Carmen as well.
Once I finally met up with the rest of my travel buddies, it was time to party. We collected ourselves by having food and drinks. One thing I noticed at this point was that the terminals were very different. Because I had flown into Cancun from Mexico city, I believe my terminal was for domestic arrivals and departures. The cost of food and drinks at the restaurants and bars in this terminal were a lot cheaper than the cost at the terminal everyone else arrived at. I pointed this out to everyone, well because I felt like it #petty. We continued to enjoy our drinks and we eventually hopped into a van to get to our Airbnb.
Our Airbnb was beautiful. We were slightly unsure of the area we were in until we got the chance to walk around and realize we were basically located on a tourist strip. There was a ton of construction happening, there was a very distinct smell, the workers surrounding our building were quite flirtatious (I'll get back to that later), and the apartment was hella cozy.
Once we got settled, we kicked it at the rooftop pool, where we had chips & salsa and DRANKS, of course. I don't really do bodies of water, but since I was in a new place I didn't want to be the one to hold back. I got into the pool, after being persuaded by Bryana and my friend, Darrellyn. I was happy I did it because it set the tone for the rest of the trip. This was also a perfect photo-op. We got some pretty sexy pics while we waded in the shallow water.
While we were pool-side chilling, the workers surrounding our building were going hard... I wouldn't say they weren't working vigorously at their jobs, but they were more-so going hard with the flirting! Everywhere we turned there were men signaling us and blowing air kisses.
When it came to the grub, I honestly enjoyed everything we had. The problem was that we were in a place built for the tourist dollar. We never found authentic Mexican food because everything seemed to have been made to the taste of the colonizer.
We enjoyed a dinner at one of Playa del Carmen's main dining attractions, Alux. This restaurant is built into a real-life cave, with bats and everything. While it was a grand experience, the food was a bit too fancy for me with small portions and high prices. That night I went to bed craving a much heavier meal. I love trying gourmet food, but when it comes down to it, the food I enjoyed most were the tacos I had at the airport in the domestic flights terminal.
During our time in Mexico, we did plenty of cool things. We went on an adventure tour, where we rode ATVs, went ziplining, and swam in a cenote (again, I don't do bodies of water so this was an example of courage and "fuck it"). The entire adventure was filled with things that I am pretty much deathly afraid of. ATVs are like motorcycles and I don't understand how people ride motorcycles, I mean, your entire body is exposed. Zip-lining is like flying in a plane sans plane and I have a huge fear of heights so I damn near peed my pants before being pushed off the ledge. Bodies of water...enough said.
We started with the ATVs, which wasn't as successful for me because I drove mine into a tree not even five minutes into the tour. Zip-lining went surprisingly well for me and I got to the point where I was over-ready for all of my photos. I wasn't dropping my smile for anyone.
We were told that there was no bottom of the cenote, but I hopped in anyway. I held onto the rope that was draped across the swimming hole (for dear life), but I was proud of myself for getting out there.
We also went shopping...the day that the storm hit. This day was by far my favorite day of the trip, despite the weather and the walk in the rain (not the best drainage system). On this day, I met Vicente, my bartender bae. He was working in Fat Tuesdays, a place we had no business in. My reason: as I told the rest of the girls, was that "we have this place in America, so let's try something new."
Vicente was super sweet and may have taken a liking to me because I ordered my SAMPLES in Spanish. He was super sweet and I had no doubt this man was physically attracted to me by the way he spoke. What I appreciated most about this experience was that he got choosy with most chocolaty girl in the bar. It was refreshing to be treated in this way. I felt beautiful and desired. This is not to be mistaken for an isolated event because I felt this way during our entire stay in Mexico.
The Mexican men loved us brown girls. We were welcomed, treated well, and respected, which was very refreshing compared to how we're usually treated in L.A. and across the U.S. in general.
In all, the experience was grand and it sparked within me a wanderlust. I was, and am still, fascinated by how kind the people are. They are people who work hard to keep us tourists busy, happy, comfortable, and entertained. As one of our drivers mentioned, "it's just different down here", which is why he moved from Atlanta, learned to speak perfect Spanish, and started a family. I left Mexico feeling so inspired and so hopeful for humanity. I can't wait to take my next international trip, flirt with some more people abroad (not a priority though), and learn new things!