Playa Del Carmen
My son and I travel a fair amount and have generally gone out of town for his Spring Break. That wasn’t the case for 2015. I had just switched jobs after a full decade with my previous employer. And my son and I spent a couple nights of his break at Children’s Hospital. Not fun. Spring Break 2016 was exponentially better. We took our first ever warm weather beach vacation. It won’t be our last. I found a magical place in Mexico, called Mahekal Beach Resort, in a sub-tropical paradise. We spent most of our week lounging and swimming at the resort. Our palapa faced the ocean and our front porch had two hammocks that we made use of quite a bit. Our package came with two meals a day. The resort’s breakfast buffet was a slice of heaven. Amazing coffee, delicious fresh fruits, chilaquiles and black beans, all on a patio overlooking a pool facing the ocean. And dinner was just as delightful with a surprising number of vegan-friendly options for my son. We were just a few blocks from the downtown area too and wandered the main drag, enjoying lunches at Italian and Japanese restaurants, and cocoa at a lovely chocolate cafe chain.
Seeing such a mix of flashy wealth and abject poverty is always strange when traveling abroad, or here in the US. But in Mexico I noticed a lot of creativity and ingenuity. I don’t kid myself that we saw a lot of the real Mexico, aside from some of the region’s natural wonders and ruins. We did experience a bit of the garishness of the tourist industry. We shared a couple of van rides with other tourists who were staying at gated fortresses out of the way, off of the highway. I was utterly disgusted when I learned about Secrets Akumal, where big money was allowed to dig up the beach where sea turtles had been laying their eggs for all time and turn it into a volleyball field. Thankfully our resort wasn’t anything like that one and the tour company I chose has a strong focus on preserving the environment / ecology of the area. I highly recommend Edventure Tours for anyone visiting the area. The teenager trudged alongside me at the Tulum ruins. He was grumpy because we’d had to get up so early we couldn’t catch the breakfast buffet at the resort. And at 8am it was already roasting hot. But he was much happier when we got into the ATVs and went roaring through the jungle to get to the ziplining course. That was definitely a highlight for me as well.
Returning to real life was a shock, physically and emotionally, with Minnesota’s mercurial weather in full effect. I miss our oceanside hammocks and will remember them fondly for all time.