After nearly three months in sub-freezing temperatures and constant jacket wearing, it was finally time to trade in the snow boots for swimsuits and head to Cancun, Mexico for a week soaking up the sun and the sand. Spring Break seemingly calls on the mass exodus of a campus worth of college students as they head for some sun, some time at home, some volunteering experiences or some time to tour new destinations. And so, in keeping with tradition, I, alongside three of the other Australian exchange students, boarded a flight to Mexico early Monday morning.
Cancun for Spring Break definitely implies some element of craziness and real ‘Spring Break’ activity/behaviour. To be honest, and I’m sure this is the case with any Spring Break destination, it really is what you make of it. We decided that we didn’t want to have a ‘crazy intense’ Spring Break just because that was what was expected of Spring Breakers. Instead, the week was filled predominately with lounging by the pool, hanging out on the beach, enjoying the sun and taking in the tropical climate we were all craving so!
One of the main reasons for my wanting to go to Cancun in particular was the mixture of beach time fun and history. I have been interested in seeing the ruins in Mexico for some time now so to be that close to one of the wonders of the world, an incredible Mayan ruin called Chichen Itza, was definitely a major draw card. Accordingly, one of the first things we did once arriving at our resort for the week was go ahead and book a tour to take in some of the ancient wonders of Mexico. Three of us decided to go and the tour – which I will talk about in just a moment – was amazing and totally up our alley (which makes sense when you consider that we had two history students – one whose focus is ancient worlds – and an architecture student visiting an incredible ruin that really proves how the ancient world defied often even modern building capabilities).
The morning of the tour was a little rough as it meant another very early morning in a row (we had to be on the shuttle to Dulles at 4am just the day before the tour!), however, once on the bus we began the journey with our tour guide and group to a little town called Valladolid – a city that boasted architecture from three different eras and conquerors – it was very cool! The main town square definitely proved the Spanish influence on the area as there was a clear European influence both in the layout of the square, as well as in the religion of the area evidenced by the large church that stands opposite the small park in the centre. We had a look at the church, took in the bright colours of everything that filled the square and the surrounding streets and enjoyed the smiling locals that filled that park before we had to continue on in order to make it to the next stop on the tour.
Next we went to a Cenote which is essentially a water hole and the particular one that we went to was so deep that they are yet to discover exactly how deep it is. These cenotes – or sinkholes – are sporadically seen around the area and all still join together to supply much of the areas water. Set within a cave, the water, though freezing, was incredibly refreshing and really beautiful as whilst swimming you look up through the open gap in the cave’s roof to see only the sun light imposing in. I would highly recommend a visit to a cenote during a visit to Cancun!
We had lunch nearby to the cenote and were entertained by traditional dancers performing their way through the tables. We were also encouraged to try a really spicy sauce that is apparently a staple item of any Mexican’s daily food intake but I passed on that. I’m all about indulging in a culture and trying anything but I have my limits and my limit is chilli!
Our next stop before continuing on away from the cenote was the so-called ‘tequila museum’ next to the sinkhole. I say ‘so-called’ because museum is really just a glorified way of saying tasting – we went to a tequila tasting where they offered us our choice of fourteen different flavours of tequila to try. After tasting a couple - chocolate and mango definitely being the winners in my opinion – we continued on in pursuit of the day’s main attraction – Chichen Itza.
Upon arriving at the site, our group split into English speakers and Spanish speakers and we went on our way – our first stop in the enormous area filed with ruins and buildings representing the traditional Maya way of life, had to of course be the star of the area, Chichen Itza. It really is a beautiful site and the symbolism of each and every detail is amazing. Our tour guide was incredibly dynamic and brought the traditions, sacrifices and way of living to life in each story and detail that he told about both the main temple and the surrounding ruins too. It was interesting too to learn about the ways in which they controlled the people, the sports that they took pleasure in (even if it did result with the winner having his head cut off as a sacrifice to the gods), their abilities in astrology, science and mathematics, and the ways in which they sacrificed their subjects (however gross and graphic the description was).
After an amazing day we began the drive back to Cancun where we all met up again and continued enjoying resort life. We picked to stay at an all-inclusive resort which I would definitely recommend to Spring Breakers – it’s a great way to firstly keep track of your budget, secondly to make decisions easier, like to where to eat, for example – it’s in everyone’s price range because its included, and it was good to know what we had already spent so that we could decide how much or how little more we were each comfortable spending. We found it to be very worth-while and good value for what we had paid and had an absolutely fantastic time!
On our last day we decided to finish off with some jet-ski riding which was so much fun! We all loved it! It was very sad to leave the gorgeous sunshine and crystal blue waters of Cancun but I will definitely be back! And so now, with a full-on week ahead, we are back in DC and ready to resume!
Until next time…