Weather Dodgers

Continuing with ‘Canada-isms’… We followed the ‘winter birds’ or ‘weather dodgers’ to their summer abodes with Cancun as first choice. A blogger friend was quick to comment “you are a fast learner to follow the winter birds”. Well… how can one resist the allure of Instagram and FaceBook sunshine- bleached accounts of Cancun with its vibrant cerulean waters, chalky beaches, hammock groves, palapa-thatched bungalows and tanned bodies swilling Pina Coladas and Tequilas in the Caribbean sunset.

Hours of web scroll and friendly tips helped us book a seven day all inclusive flight and hotel stay with Sunwing Travels. The  airport-hotel pick-up and drop and a tour of ‘Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid’ also booked with two separate vendors. It had been a hectic week of finding the right prices and tours considering the numerous cautionary advices including to not step out of hotel premises. “It is your first visit and it is not safe after sunset”. This from a friend who is a seasoned Cancun visitor.

Exuberant families, groups, couples waiting to board flight from Calgary at 10.35 am to arrive in Cancun around 7 pm (Mexico time). A long journey considering no refreshments (only tea/coffee/water) and carry your own food. The main ‘headache’ for us, was seat placement. We could not reserve our seats online (India Passports) so had to contend with last seats (adjoining the bathrooms) and as compensation were offered two aisle seats. Within an hour I was counting the never ending bobbing ‘human’ heads to lull myself into somnolency.

Arrived in Cancun and a beeline for baggage but first had to fill in custom declaration forms. Searching for ‘English’ form was similar to foraging for a ‘needle in haystack’ amidst the pile of Spanish language ones to grab one from under the nose of a fellow traveller. Few minutes later we were out in search for our pre-booked cab. Obstacles come in multiples and the person at the booth feigned ignorance, no information, and after few minutes of convincing, showing him the mail conversation, IDs and passports, we were on way to hotel, busted and hungry after a 15 hour journey. It was around 9.30 pm and with the hotel’s restaurants fully booked and main dining area closed we had to rely on room service or try out the Sports Bar (24/7). Chose the latter, a mistake as we could have had warm soup in the comfort of room instead of wilting sandwiches.

We are in Cancun…yipee!!! Located on the Yucatan Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea, Cancun flaunts over 14 miles of alluring beaches, ritzy to unpretentious hotels and all-inclusive resorts, a lively nightlife, spunky diversions (if you know the art of bargaining at local markets and indulging in decadent lifestyle albeit temporary).

Day 1….Woke up to a bright clear day, rubbed my eyes, ‘no snow’ and stepped onto the balcony facing the lagoon. Far out, 13 kms off the coast, could make out the long white sand finger ‘Isla Mujeras’ (7 km) shining in the aquamarine Caribbean waters. A lone yacht and a ferry were already on their way to the Island, a tourist magnet for its white sand beaches, such as northern Playa Norte, and for snorkelling and scuba diving on the surrounding coral reefs. At Punta Sur, the southern tip, there’s a lighthouse, the remains of a Mayan temple and a sanctuary for sea turtles. A haven for aqua aficionados from different corners of the world.

Down below, resort property, the early morning risers were already preparing to block the loungers with in-house yellow towels, along the pools and the beach. I watch the young, old, seniors looking for nirvana (sun tan yoga along the waterfront), joining in pool sports, gymnastics and water dance to feet stomping music. Few hours later, refreshed after a hearty breakfast (buffet) and an acclimatising walk around, we add to the numbers on the white sands. Seagulls accentuate the tropical and their screech is accompanied by screams as they snatch food from hands and plates. A youngster is feeding them bread crumbs, potato fries as her mother replenishes the girl’s plate. No one is complaining but it was slightly uncomfortable with gulls on head. Too lazy to exert ourselves, we are content with the occasional dip, drinks and barbecue.

The setting sun ushers the vacationers to the hotel bar, to guzzle ( as much as you want) Tequilas, Margaritas etc. or to the speciality restaurants. The choice is between Italian, Japanese, Fusion, Steakhouse, Mexican and the exclusive ‘Kulinarium’ for ‘Adults Only’ Deluxe Villas. We sampled the fare offered on different days and the much hyped Japanese (long waiting line) was a disappointment. The waiter would forget what we had ordered (asked us thrice) and the warm Sake was tepid. No tips for him though he thanked us profusely.

Day 2…. Still in the ‘no snow’ mode strolled the private beach. The day was spent in the premises.. eat, drink, power nap under the blue skies and a splash in one of the pools especially the ‘swim to bar’. In between wondered at the extravagance. It is mind boggling. Waiters clearing the food leftovers in the bins, the wasted drinks and snacks, maintenance of this sprawling property, catering to increasing footfalls. Our hotel was one of the 100 hotels in the crowded Hotel Zone, considered the happening and party zone of Cancun, with nearly 30 million tourists visiting in 2022 alone. The magnitude of squandering of resources is overwhelming. I cold-shoulder Sustainability and Responsibility thoughts as we too were adding to the tourist numbers.

Day 3… Took the All Inclusive tour to Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid booked prior to arrival. This way we avoided dealing with tour-touts in the hotel or outside. It was a day well spent learning about Mayan culture and seeing the country side of continuous road constructions, undulating agricultural lands, forests and colourful villages and craft shops from our moving bus. (more in next blog post)

Day 4….follows the Day 2 pattern …A luxuriating day in our sultry cocoons, making the most of choices offered. A friend had enquired whether we had booked an ‘Adult only’ resort and I could now see why he said that. There were kids of all sizes and mental make up and though we did not mind the vocal crescendo would definitely have preferred a quieter atmosphere.

Towards mid-day ventured to the crowded public beach, alongside our hotel, with its shacks and shops and ferry piers and revellers.

The clock was ticking. Three more days remaining before facing the fresh snowfall in Calgary.

Day 5….After much trepidation stepped out of the hotel to catch the local bus from opposite our resort on Blvd. Kukulcán, Zona Hotelera to La Isla Market.

La Isla Market : A Venice impersonation with canals and bridges, boat rides, Ferris wheel, restaurants, local designer wear and international clothing brands. An open-air shopping mall it is one of Cancun’s most popular malls showcasing Mexican multi-hued crafts, paintings, tours and touts and a poster of Emiliano Zapata Salazar. Google tells me that he was a Mexican revolutionary and that Marlon Brando played Zapata in the award-winning movie Viva Zapata (1952) based on Zapata’s life. The director was Elia Kazan and writer John Steinbeck.

Bought a few knick knacks… bead necklaces, colorful ceramic plates (small size) from the jumbled variety of vases, textiles, plates, toys, religious and celebration items, leatherwork, pottery, ornamental objects, clothes, hammocks (specialty of Yucatan Peninsula). The prices are definitely more than local market shops a few distance away, the Chederaui supermarket, near Coco Bongo ( the artsy zone of Cancun). American dollar is preferred currency but did exchange for Pesos from a money exchange near hotel. Spend a few hours admiring the showrooms/ window shopping of the international brands such as Zara, Adidas, Guess, Puma, Mac, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger etc. For foodies there is a varied choice of local to McDonald’s, Taco Grill, Hooters, Starbucks, Thai and Italian. La Isla’s other attractions are the Interactive Aquarium ( one of the most innovative aquariums in the country, the Cinemark with mega cozy rooms screening English or Spanish movies, Gondola rides on canals snaking through the mall, fountains and patios.

Street Vendor

Day 6.. A day of discovering the neighbouring public beaches, people and surf watching. Started from Kukulcán Boulevard towards the local beach market with its shacks and kiosks selling hats, beach wear, crafts, bone items, textiles, handmade bead jewelry. We returned to our hotel via the rocky beach, with the blue turning into brownish green (weeds on rocks) along the shore. Late evening sat through the much touted Live show at the hotel. It was a family hotel so all above board entertainment for children and adults. The blaring music and lights were a disturbing feature every night for us.

Day 7….One last invigorating splash in the cool Caribbean waters before checking out at 3 pm for 7.25 pm flight to reach Calgary at 11.30 pm. The airport was a jungle gym with returnees identifiable with their tanned visages boarding flights to North American cities. On our return (Calgary) flight there were few who had arrived with us … homing birds returning to land base.

6 thoughts on “Weather Dodgers”

  1. I can’t help but think ‘was it worth it?’ for a week! You’re back to snow before you know it. I can understand people doing the snowbird thing in Florida for a couple of months in an apartment, but this kind of full-on resort isn’t my thing. I’m sure Mexico has lots to offer but there are smaller resorts with fewer people. I don’t even like it here in summer when the hordes descend, but it’s home.

    1. Jo … there is always a first and last time to experience something different. Not the adventurous back packets now hence the all inclusive break without the headache of planning on essentials in a new environment. Future will think twice.

  2. Great post and very descriptive, I can’t tell if you had a good time😂. I’m sure you enjoyed the weather and the luxurious resort. Beautiful photos, especially the beaches. It does seem very touristy there. I think too far for us to take a trip!

Comments are closed.