As we packed our bags for Cancun, Mexico, we had perma-grins on our faces. We were off to the beach! Finally, after 2 years of zero beach time (apart from that couple of days at Lake Issyk-Kol in Kyrgyzstan), we were going to be spending at least 10 months on beautiful white sandy shores!
Since Cancun is known for being the party place for North Americans, we were a tiny bit unsure of what we would find when travelling here. Visions of half-naked 20 year olds partying until the wee hours came to mind. Not that this is a bad thing, but as we get older, we’re looking for more of a chilled out scene.
As it turns out, there are a few different sides to Cancun and a couple of different areas. At the Zona Hotelera (hotel zone consisting of mainly resorts) you have the families, couples and other solo travelers who are here on the all-inclusive, one week vacation at the resorts. They’re looking for full relaxation from their jobs back home. Then you have the solo travellers, or young groups of friends who are looking to drink and dance all night long at the discos, sleep on beach lounge chairs during the day, and repeat.
Lastly, you have the people staying in the centro (center) of town who are travelling around the region for weeks or months. This is the category we fall into. These travellers are in Cancun to eat food from hole-in-the-wall eateries, have a couple of margaritas, mingle with the local people, go to the beach with a packed lunch and take the local bus around town, before moving on to their next destination.
Whichever category you fall into, you’ll find something you like in Cancun!
Our hotel room is north of the center of town, which means we’re away from the loud bars and in an area that is very authentic. When we want to go to the beach, we walk down the street, past the small homes, the corner markets and the 5 or so sleeping dogs, until we arrive at the bus stop. We hop on the R1 or R2 bus, which costs 9.5 pesos ($0.71), and make our way to the water.
We’ve discovered a great supermarket which has everything we could want or need. We’ve been taking the bus there on our way to the beach to stock up on lunch for the day, and have made fantastic picnics of roasted chicken, apples, oranges, tortilla chips and freshly made guacamole with cream cheese, diced onions, tomatoes and a few squeezes of lime juice (maybe it’s the guacamole that makes us so damn happy?!) …and of course, Corona beer! Trying to prepare this feast from scratch with the wind gusting and sand blowing everywhere has proved to be quite the challenge, one which we’ve happily accepted.
There’s an awesome market here spanning a few blocks, filled with everything you could imagine. One section has fresh fish, chicken and pork, another has brightly coloured piñatas and another area is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s a whole street dedicated to small restaurants serving up full meals, or just snacks and drinks.
We’ve eaten at one of the restaurants in the market and were so happy with what we ordered! The tang, spiciness, and seasoning of the Yucatan style grilled chicken was out of this world and the Mexican eggs with refried beans and rice was superb. As a bonus, we were also given a stack of freshly pressed corn tortillas and a basket of tortilla chips with green salsa. The portion sizes were fit for two people and the prices were very affordable at $3 – $5 / meal.
Our evenings have been spent searching for the perfect little place to have dinner. Usually it’s a small restaurant with a few tables serving up traditional food. Eating Mexican food has been the highlight of our day. Even when we’re in the middle of eating a quesadilla, we’re talking about where and what we want to eat next. Instead of doing pub crawls, we do food crawls! We want to sample anything and everything this flavourful country has to offer. The food is fresh, spicy and nothing like what we consider to be Mexican food back in Canada.
We’ve been enjoying our holiday down-time here in Cancun and were fortunate enough to meet up with our travel buddy, Bernie! This is the 7th country we’ve met him in and it was great to share another adventure with such a like-minded friend.
After six days of eating everything in sight, going to the powder white beaches many times, drinking numerous beers, visiting the market and wandering around our neighbourhood, it’s time to move on.
Hasta luego Cancun! It’s been a blast.
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