I always thought of Cancun as a boozy, college spring break destination. When I had the opportunity to go this summer, I didn't really know what to expect. A couple things I learned from the trip: Cancun is very touristy and full of Americans, you don't have too much opportunity to be entrenched in Mexican culture, and food is expensive, and often not very good. The last one was really disappointing, I was looking forward to my favorite Mexican foods--amazing tacos, tostadas, and tamales--but they were generally overpriced and not too tasty. I'm not sure if I had bad luck and chose to go to all the wrong places, but I think next time in Cancun I'd just choose a resort with food included.
Besides the disappointing food, I loved Cancun. The beaches were unbelievably beautiful with incredibly soft white sand and gorgeous turquoise waters. I'm always biased to destinations with great beaches, but waking up to the beautiful ocean view was a dream come true.
Mattia and I decided to rent a car (it's really affordable!) Lucky for me he can drive stick, as most of the rental cars were manual. We spent a lot of the time driving to Chichen Itza, which is about a 4 hour drive away from the Cancun peninsula, listening to the Mexican radio. Half the time the radio blasted Enrique, and the other half traditional Mariachi music.
The Chichen Itza is of enormous historical significance, and for some reason I always pictured it bigger in my mind. It was surreal to see a place that I've always heard about and studied in school in person! Unfortunately, they stopped allowing visitors to climb up its steps because it got too dangerous. Since it was insanely hot, Mattia and I did a quick loop around the temple and quickly left.
We made our way to the Cenote Il-Kil. I've seen many pictures of it, but it is even more unbelievable in person. Mattia, who had never heard of the place and hadn't ever seen pictures was even more amazed. Still sweating from the Chichen Itza excursion, he quickly jumped in to the cool waters. I was having so much fun that I even forgot to take more photos!
On the way back we missed a turn to the highway and ended up taking the local road back to Cancun. If you ever have a chance to drive to Chichen Itza from Cancun, make sure to take the highway and just pay the toll. It took about 6 hours to get back to Cancun instead of 4 on the local road, and we ran into about a hundred speed bumps. This is not an exaggeration. By the 50th one, we were swearing off any more bumps and eager to get home. We did get to witness a few cool local towns, including a traditional wedding, while riding over speed bumps, but I'm not sure it was really worth it.
I can't wait to return to Mexico, perhaps Mexico City next time!