Cancun, Beaches and a Sunrise Dream
I parted ways with Kelly and walked up the on ramp to the main highway, thumbing traffic as I left Merida. I was still in the giant roundabout around the city, aiming for the turn to Cancun. A white pickup truck stopped, through garbled spanish I concluded I should jump in, I climbed the giant railings in the back and took a seat. I watched the road signs to make sure I was staying on track, 20 or 30 minutes down the road it seemed we'd gone past the turn off, but that's right when they stopped and let me out.
I headed down the road, on the direct path to Cancun now. I passed a two hitchhikers, a guy and a girl with a sign that read "Cancun", they stood far off the road to stick to the cooler shadows. I walked past a bridge far past them and got to a stationary spot to start thumbing, my spot was not so shady. After a little wait I was picked up, a guy driving and a little boy in the passenger seat. I managed to tell him I was headed to Cancun, determine he was going there, and then kick back and watch the scenery from the back seat.
He stopped at a rest area, he motioned for me to come over to him when he walked into the little restaurant area, he made it clear that he was going to buy me some tacos, I ordered some. They were good, and so was the bottle of water that came with it. We got back on the road and in another hour we were in Cancun, he pulled over.
I couldn't understand totally what he was saying, other than I needed to catch a certain bus that would take me into the central area, he gave me 50 pesos and I went on my way. I thought I might be close to the house I was going to, so I just started walking. I knew I was on the right road, but not sure how far, I asked people where "Palenque" was, my turn, first a cop told me 2 kilometers. I walked and walked, then asked some other guys, same response, "2 kilometers". After yet another 2 kilometers or more I asked another guy, and he turned out to speak english. He told me it was way to far to walk to, and showed me the bus I could get on. I got on the bus and, of course, it was only a kilometer or so up the road, I hopped out.
I made my way to Manny's place, he'd be my first host in Cancun. There was a note on the door saying he'd be back soon, I waited as the stars started to come out and he was home shortly. He was a friendly guy who made his money as a tour guide in and around Cancun, he told me a lot about it. He made some really good tortillas and piled them with cheese and other good stuff. He had another computer in the room I was staying with, I was able to catch up some things and send out couch requests for other parts of Mexico.
In the morning I set out on my own to walk to the beach. Right away the round abouts and twisting roads had me off track and going in circles, after a good while I made my way to the water. I wasn't at the actual beaches though, I could see them far in the distance, somehow I'd wound up far north of them, but I could see the beautiful blue tint. I saw two spires, just past the second one was bluest of the blue, that was my goal. I figured I'd walk along the beach to get to it and avoid the roads. I walked a ways until I came up on a construction site, then I saw a giant canal that cut up the beach, blocking me from walking any further, it looked like I'd have to back track a ways.
I walked through the construction site to a road and started walking down it, a work truck pulled along side me asking where I was going in spanish, I told him, he motioned for me to hop in back. We pulled to a checkpoint, the guy in the booth asked where I was going, "Zona Hotelera", I said, and he waived us through. Th guy dropped me off at the edge of the site and pointed left, the way to the good beaches.
I walked along the bike path knowing I was getting close, then I saw a giant iguana staring me down. I walked close to it and it scurried away. I saw another, then another and realized there were tons of them, all hanging out in the sun until I walked by and scared them off for a moment.
I saw the first spire and a sign for money exchange. I'd dug in my backpack earlier and found $41, I'll often hide or forget about money in my pack, it's a great surprise when it gets rediscovered, especially when I'm broke. I took 20 of it and converted it to pesos, then continued on towards the beach.
I reached the second spire, and found an entrance to the beach. I marched towards the water shedding my shirt and hat, tying them to my shorts without missing a step as I stomped into the water, finally. It felt amazing, I dunked under and cooled down, swimming towards the horizon. Reaching the seaweed I saw a manta ray swim past. From there I slowly floated, walked and swam up further south along the various beaches, occasionally getting out and walking along the beach when the water was roped off.
I stumbled into some hotel beach and found a lounge chair in the shade that wasn't occupied, I claimed it and fell out for a little while. I got back in the water and made my way to the next beach, past some short rocky beach. I got myself a beer and some cookies to quench my needs, after enjoying those I made my way to the buses.
It had been a good day of enjoying the water after the long walk in, now I was trying to figure out which bus would get me close to Manny's place, I took a guess and hopped on one. I took the bus all the way to the end of the line, I'd clearly missed whatever stop could have been remotely close to anything. The driver spoke a pinch of english, he suggested a different bus, but I managed to determine there was one stop he'd be making that was only five blocks away from Manny's place. So far it seemed no one in Cancun wanted to walk any more than a block or two, more than that was just a ridiculous amount.
Soon I was back at Manny's we talked for a while, he whipped up the same tortilla goodness from the night before, he's the only person I've watched make tortillas before, and they were really good.
The next day was lazy to start, just taking advantage of having internet access, looking at maps and whatnot. I got a message from my mom, panicked that I was in Mexico and wanting me out. After the hitchhiking incident where Kelly and I got stranded, her sister had bought her a plane ticket out of Mexico City for earlier than her original flight. My mom wanted to fly me out as well and offered to get me a plane ticket. Being that it was a lazy day, and thoughts of California, I said sure. Of course I was not in much danger in Mexico, people hitchhiked around all the time, and the one run in we had wasn't all that bad considering the end result. She booked a flight for the coming Monday to Phoenix.
A Swedish couple arrived to Manny's place, couchsurfers that would be taking my place. We talked for a while, then they went to get some food. A while later I did the same, getting some tacos just down the street. Night came and it was time for me to meet Karla, my next host in Cancun. I said my goodbyes to Manny and headed a ways down the streets to a bar where a couchsurfing meetup was going on, where Karla would be.
She wasn't there when I got there, but some other couchsurfers were. I sat at the table, a bartender wore a backwards hat with long hair stringing from it, speaking basic english out of a 1980's smile, I managed to order a beer, it was 2 for 1. The people at the table, other couchsurfers, were talking in spanish, but eventually some started speaking in English towards me, inquiring about who I was and those types of things.
One girl's name was America, say that with a spanish accent and you'll fall in love too. Her and some others told me about things I should be doing, swimming around coral reefs and what not. One girl was from Chiapas, she told me how much she loved it, I knew of the place and it's rumored beauty, it's where Kelly had headed to. I would have been going there if not for my acceptance of the free plane ticket to Phoenix, a sip of beer was taken with the thought of missing it for the sake of appeasing family.
Karla got there eventually and we talked briefly, quickly interesting conversation erupted in Spanish, I sipped my beer while catching words I knew here and there to catch a gist of it. After a good while a girl I'd been talking to asked me if I wanted to go salsa dance, to me that meant moving on to the next thing, something I like to do, I said "sure". We left the place, an unexpectedly high bill tapped me out of pesos.
Karla didn't seem 100% on the idea, looking to me as a way out, but without too much conviction, we headed to the place which was only across the street, across the roundabout. They let us in without a cover and despite my open shoes, it took a girl's smile is all. We headed to the balcony overlooking the live band and dancing people, then we headed down to the dance floor. We moved on the floor, salsa dancing I suppose, I just moved as I saw fit, mostly watching and laughing at the scene around me.
When everyone was content we took off, I headed back with Karla to her place with one of her roommates. She lived close to the beach, actually overlooking the construction site that'd I'd walked to trying to get to the hotel zone beaches. She lived at the very top floor of the building, the penthouse, we got there and I fell asleep on her fast-deflating air mattress.
I woke up lazily in the morning to an empty house, I paced back and forth for a bit with a world of nothing on my mind, I climbed to the roof and looked out on the ocean. A shave and a shower got me out the door, a mild hunger the motivation, a destination undetermined. That brought me to the oxxo on the corner of the main road. I scanned the isles until I found a good combo of cheap pasta for later and a cheap pastry to eat on the spot, that I munched on outside while contemplating the moment and the next move.
I opted for walking towards the beach, several miles away. I walked past the iguanas again, along the bike path and to the hotel zone. I converted my last $20 to pesos at the same place as before, then made my way to the water and plopped in. I swam around for a good while, rested on a lounge chair, then headed for the bus back to Karla's.
I managed to get on the right bus, but from where it stopped I walked too far down a road, backtracking I found a place to grab a quick taco to hold me over, I had my pasta on my mind. Karla was at her place, as well as some a couple friends and another couchsurfer named Nikki, a girl full of energy eager to explore and live.
Everyone disappeared, I got to cooking my pasta. The burner couldn't get the water up to boiling, I cooked it up anyway and chewed away on the sticky pasta result. I lounged the night away enjoying the full ocean breeze blowing through the open window.
I eased up in the morning, Nikki was around and we talked for a while until we decided to take a walk for some food. I lead her towards the taco stand from the other night, but the cart was gone. We went to a place across the street and got really good empanadas, then headed back to the apartment.
I lounged out some more, Karla came back in between jobs and we talked for a bit, then she was out the door again. Towards nightfall I hopped in a car with another guy who lived there and Nikki, we headed for a house party in town. Manny was there, as well as some other people I'd met the night at the bar and salsa club.
We swam around the little pool for a while sipping on rum and cokes, the night went on for a little while until some people started taking off and discussing options to stretch the night. A few of us decided on heading to Manny's place, he rode his bike and three of us searched for a cab.
Manny got to whipping up some tortilla based goodness after buying some 40's to fill are cups. I briefly saw the Swedish couchsurfer wiping sleep from his eyes, Manny had to go in his room to grab speakers for our music. We sat around the table enjoying some tunes and conversation until talk of another party got us out the door again.
I talked to a bunch of people at the party, sharing stories about this and that. One girl in particular I was sharing smiles with scribbled her number on my arm, she came by again later and scribbled it again much larger across my forearm. I told her I'd give her a call the next day to go do one thing or another, the next thing I knew I was in a taxi with Manny and the others I came with.
I saw the sky getting lighter from the backseat, I wasn't sure what our destination was, but I was ready to hop out as soon as I saw the ocean, turns out it was where we were stopping anyhow. I booked it straight for the water, marching out as far as I could walk with my eyes locked on the horizon where the sun was promising to rise from.
One of the girls came over, I kissed her for a minute and got locked back on the horizon, entranced, drunk and wet to the shoulders. The sun began to peek over, golden orange throwing colors out around it in the sky and nearby clouds. The combination of no sleep, drinks and being in the water during this felt exactly like a dream, more than any other waking moment in my life.
When it finished coming all the way up I started swimming around. I made my way to the beach, playing on the monkey bars and the rest of the playground there, the beach was already getting populated by folks who'd probably just woken up.
After some time I noticed the rest of the people I'd come with were ready to go jump in a cab, I'd already eyeballed Karla's place and knew my way back, so I opted to go on foot. I ran at first, still filled with energy. Run, walk, run, walk; this is how I continued until I made it to her door, passing out as I got inside.
I awoke late in the day, a note from Karla said she'd gone to the beach. Nikki and the other roommate there headed out the door for a night of camping on some beaches south of town. I took a walk to the empanada spot from the day before and repeated the meal, then rested in the ocean breeze for a while back at the apartment.
Karla came back and soon a group of us were headed for the movies. It was a luxury movie theater, everyone had their own big leather arm chair. I grabbed some cookies at the store afterwards while she went shopping and we headed back to her place.
Soon everyone was asleep, I had to walk to the bus around 4am to get to the airport and venture back to the USA. I set an alarm and passed out right by the breezy window I'd been enjoying. Cancun had been a good time, all of Mexico was.
Next, on to Phoenix... but not without some extra time at the airport and an unexpected bonus trip through Mexico City.