I think I was more excited about my parents’ 25th anniversary than they were. We were going to Cancun! I had never been out of the country before, and I was determined to make that change for the better.
I cut my hair and presented my most winning smile to the passport photographer, which of course made me look like a drunken idiot. Then I spent the remaining weeks before our trip diligently learning Spanish phrases that I wouldn’t ever end up using until my middle school foreign language classes.
When our trip finally began (after landing the plane in 100°, 100% humidity air, and having driven a rented car with an empty tank in the one spot of Mexico where they simply are no gas stations), we moved into our villa in Playa del Secreto. To this day, our own little Casa Oceano remains the coolest place I have ever spent 10 days. I had my own big, shaded balcony with a hammock. You could climb the steep, twirling stairs all the way up to the roof. Look left, and there’s endless jungle. Look right, and it’s an unobstructed view of the private beach that you can even enjoy from afar with three sun chairs.
The first few days went great: we bought souvenirs at the touristy (and some decidedly-not touristy) shops, went bodysurfing, and spent a day at Isla de Mujeres. Then, out of nowhere, it began raining for four days straight. The streets flooded, the roof leaked, and the power went out at least three times a day. When we finally emerged to a stable sky, we found out neighbors in much despair, due to their car having drowned, their plane already back at home without them, and no access to the many restaurants where they kept their food. We gave them burger supplies and beer, and returned to the gates of our little vacation community. A small boat was transporting determined tourists to the airport. And next to a banana tree, there was a baby crocodile! It couldn’t have cared less about us, and just swam about pleasantly, posing for the camera. Our tall male neighbor, whom we’d given the food to, took one look, and then ran away with a little croc-phobic yelp.
On our last day (after the roads had become more manageable), we drove past the garbage-infested beaches to a small zoo, Crocucun. There, a cheeky little parrot kissed me, and a feisty monkey named Goalie enthusiastically caught small orange slices that our guide threw to him. We then rented three bikes and rode around a long path in the outskirts of the jungle, dodging the hundreds of crabs. Actually, one unlucky blue crab lost its claw after it latched on too hard to the keys my Dad was teasing it with.
The experience of our trip in Mexico was well worth the anticipation, and with a country so large and exciting, we will surely return.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.