One-way to Mexico: Reflections on Another Departure

A view along the beach in Mahahual, Mexico on April 24, 2016. (Jacob Bielanski)

Despite having almost every part of Saturday planned to a ‘T,’ I had mega-anxiety on the day before we left. It’s kind of weird to leave your part-time home in the U.S. to go to Mexico for a month–like, there are two levels of disconnect.

Our roommate hosted her daughter’s birthday party at our apartment, which was welcome break from obsessively walking around our small bedroom, repetitively going through everything. I don’t think we have ever been so prepared.

Saturday was our easiest travel day by far. We popped awake on time before the sun was up and I promptly kicked Jake out of bed to make coffee (I microwaved his breakfast, so we were even). We knew what time to call the Uber (side note: I had a free ride for a Lyft but they don’t yet go to MSY #sadface) to get us to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

The Xanax I popped before leaving ensured I remained calm as we checked in for an international flight with one-way tickets.

I’ve never been on a flight I didn’t want to end (except that time I flew first-class, but I don’t know if it was that or the fact that it was 6 am and I was still drunk/awake from a night out in Biloxi). Lily and I rarely fly anything other than Spirit and are used to the “inconveniences.” Delta was not Spirit. They had some cozy-ass seats and interactive tablets for all of us. Lily plugged into Minions, I played Texas Hold Em and I have no idea what Jake was doing, as the spacious seats kept him miles from us.

Side note: I called window seat. Always call window when flying with two other people.

In less than two hours, we were in Cancun. We were ready to breeze out to our bus, but apparently everyone flies into Cancun on Saturday mornings–Immigration took figuratively forever.

“At first I just thought it was the bedroom and I was like ‘that’s okay, we stay in small places.’” Lily

Lily managed to keep herself entertained by acting like a drunk girl (my observation) and pretending to be a turtle. After an hour, when we were the lucky ones, the lady didn’t make eye contact, quickly stamped our passports factory-style, then called for the next person. Nope, didn’t get turned away. We picked up our luggage, got green-lit through customs and were on our merry way.

Jake asked if I knew how to get to the bus. “Yes, we just have to walk past Margaritaville.” Yep, they have a Margaritaville stand outside of the airport, near all of the waiting direct-transfers and shuttles. The craziest thing, to our senses, was that it was really busy. Nothing like enjoying some Margaritaville before your direct-transfer bus has you sitting in a gated, all-inclusive resort. Enjoy your time in Mexico!

The bus ride to Playa del Carmen was smooth and easy. Some cheesy movie was playing, there was a bathroom and air conditioning. The bus was mostly empty, so Lily sprawled out and fell asleep while drawing. As we exited the bus, Lily angrily lamented that the “stupid bus” woke her up–by stopping. I tried to explain it was merely taking us to where we needed to go.

We realized she was in meltdown mode as we stood on the main drag of Playa del Carmen, sweating uncontrollably. We turned around and saw the holy grail. The new mom in me years prior had sworn that I’d never let Lily eat McDonald’s. The new mom was stupid.

McDonald’s is a savior when traveling. Two queso-hamburguesas sin queso and an ice cream cone refreshed her enough to survive a walk to the beach.

We stopped at one of those beach bars and let Lily dip her toes while we drank one beer to recoup. Three hours later, Lily was shirtless and soaked and we were on our third or fourth drinks. We rushed to grab some tacos (I AM living the dream — tacos every day!) before settling into our four-hour ride to Mahahual. I passed out before we left the city and Lily quickly curled up next to me (originally on me, before I swatted her down like a cat).

We had a ride waiting for us at the bus stop and the guy gave us a quick tour of the small town, before bringing us to the apartment. Lily was absolutely thrilled that not only were we already “checked in” but that we have “the whole thing.”

“At first I just thought it was the bedroom and I was like ‘that’s okay, we stay in small places.’”

We asked the guy who gave us a ride if the restaurants nearby stay open late (it was around 9 pm). “Oh yeah, Pizza Papi is open until 4 or 5 a.m. and the Mexican place is open until 1 or 2.”

I felt so American, thinking that 10 p.m. counted as “late.”

A wonderful, late, relaxed dinner was very welcome. The food was, to put it eloquently, amaze-balls. And cheap. Lily asked if we could eat there every day.

We went back yesterday for breakfast.

The day after we arrived was a day of exploration. We walked to the beach and snorkeled. We didn’t pick the best area, but have scoped out a place for today. We got a recommendation for a good spot out by the reef, but Lily needs a little practice yet. I think she consumed about a gallon of ocean yesterday trying to talk under water.

So here we are in Mahahual. Beers on the beach are $1. Habanero hot sauce is served in abundance. I hesitate to call this place paradise, but man, it’s not too bad here.

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