This is a wrap-up of information and advice for anyone thinking of visiting Cancún. Which, by the way, I would recommend as it’s lovely, the food is excellent, and it’s pretty cheap compared to a lot of places. I write Cancún, but what I’m writing here applies to the entire Mayan Riviera, which is the North-East Coast of the Yucatán peninsula.
Getting There, from Vegas at least, generally involves going through Mexico City on Aeromexico. There are worse airlines, but it’s still air travel. They have a cute safety video. If you have the means, charter a jet and go straight to Cancún.
The Water looks fine, but don’t drink it. At a minimum, there are organisms in it that you’re not used to, and you’ll just end up chewing up pink tablets every morning. The good news is that they changed the flavor to anise, which is much better than wintergreen, but still, you chew that stuff down and then you have a problem whichever way things go, Know what I mean?
Don’t stay in your resort all of the time! I know that a lot of people do, but I don’t understand it. Some of the finest food on the planet, not to mention a slew of excellent activities, are waiting outside. I posted about some of them in this series, but there is also a water park, miles of public beaches, a big-ass mall (Plaza las Americas) and enough tourist traps to make Orlando jealous. Seriously. Sure, your resort has good food and things to do, but there’s so much better food, and better things to do, outside.
Driving is just driving. The only thing different in the road markings and signage is the speed limit sign, which uses the everywhere but the US and Canada symbol of a red circle with a number in it. It’s kilometers per hour, but the speedometer is too, so there’s no big deal. No reason to be afraid of metric. The US was the first country outside of France to adopt that system, you know. Nobody makes anybody use it, but it’s perfectly legal for trade. Remember that next time you grab a 2-liter bottle of soda. The only caveat I have is that the bus drivers are fearless and aggressive, which I suppose that they have to be. Oh, and don’t speed. Rental cars have coded license plates and they watch for you.
The food is fantastic. You can stay in your resort and eat what they’ve got, of course. Our hotel had the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen, for example. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with the food outside, and in fact it is incredibly good. Don’t let fear keep you from trying a local hole in the wall restaurant. I said that the water will drive you to pink tablets. The food won’t, honest. It sometimes looks like what we call “Mexican” food, but it sure tastes better. Better than Del Taco? Well, yeah!
Finally, safety. I wrote about this topic in my first post of this series. You know, you’re as safe as you keep yourself. Safety isn’t from never getting into any sort of trouble. Safety comes from thinking ahead, and being ready to deal with trouble. That said, we encountered very little trouble on our trip. There was that Yucatán state cop who was probably looking for a bribe, but my Spanish got really bad as he was talking to us and he had to let us go. (That’s what I mean about thinking about how you’ll deal with trouble — we were too ignorant or dumb to understand him so he couldn’t work his scam.) And here’s the first rule of self defense: don’t go into a dangerous situation. If there’s a dark alley, don’t go there. If there’s almost nobody around, go somewhere else. Don’t get roaring drunk and expect to stay safe. (You can get roaring drunk in your living room, if that’s what you want. It’s safe.) Nothing in the world is “safe” in the sense that you are guaranteed not to be hurt in some way. But by dealing with situations as they arise, you are “safe” in the sense that you actually, in the end, don’t. Get hurt in any way, that is.
Cancún is a lovely place, first world all the way, with good roads, good food, and world-class resorts. (I’m from Vegas so I know a world-class resort when I see one.) Go, don’t let fear stop you from meeting the locals, eat the food, drink bottled water, take in some local activities, and you’ll have a great vacation. I promise!