I don't mean to brag, but I spent last week in Mexico. The Riviera Maya area to be more specific, and it was awesome. We flew out of chilly Chicago in the wee hours of the morning, had a quick layover in Atlanta (where we saw Fantasia from "American Idol" in the airport) and arrived at the Cancun airport by lunch.
It had just rained, which made me nervous. No one likes to come back from a foreign country known for its sun-drenched beaches with nothing to show for it. Luckily, the rain passed and by the time we were outside at the resort shuttle, it was hot and steamy.
The drive from the Cancun airport to the resorts is strewn with people living in complete squalor and the sad irony of that fact wasn't lost on me. As you pass into the security of your resort, it's odd to think just on the other side of the brick wall and well-manicured palms are people that have next to nothing.
Mile after mile, mangy dogs lie under laundry drying on a line running between the trunk of a tree and a pathetic excuse for shelter. It made me feel incredibly sad and incredibly lucky at the same time.
I made myself (and my mother) a promise not to get sunburned while I was there. I failed. The first day was great; we had all afternoon to lie in the sun and I was diligent about slathering myself in sunscreen.
The next day everyone else decided to get up and go to the gym. I wanted to see the rest of the resort and try to get some nice photos so I put on my walking shoes and my iPod and ventured out, camera in hand. There are iguanas everywhere down there so they figured highly in my photo shoot.
When I got back to the pool, which we had decided was our central location, I was ready to lie out and soak up some sun (after a healthy dose of SPF, of course). Before I had a chance to sit down, one of the resort workers forced me into doing some water aerobics; I figured this couldn't take more than 15 minutes and grudgingly obliged. Forty-five minutes of making an ass of myself in front of strangers and I was past my embarrassment and burnt to a nice magenta.
Day three was our day of adventure. We went to swim with dolphins at an enclosed salt water pool. I wasn't going to let this sunburn get any worse so I wore a t-shirt and visor hoping it might be a cloudy day. I figured this dolphin excursion was a tourist trap and we'd get to pet the dolphins from the side of the tank and maybe throw them some fish. On the contrary: they strapped some life vests on us and we jumped in to kiss, 'dance with' and ride the dolphins.
I was the most excited out of everyone in our group. I didn't, however, realize what a mistake it was to wear a bikini for this venture. When it came time for me to grab onto the dolphin's fins and take a ride on his belly, the force of the water rushing by yanked my swimsuit bottom past my knees. I was in deep water about 20 feet from the rest of the group, but still, this was a family joint.
The dolphin trainer got quite a kick out of this and told me to swim back out to 'give it another try,' this time with my legs very tightly crossed. Keep in mind, I'm holding onto a huge dolphin while he flicks his tail to drag us both through the water. He's really powerful and while I feel like we're going about 60 miles an hour, he's not even trying. Nonetheless, once again my suit bottom goes shooting down my legs which everyone standing on the side of the pool finds hilarious. Time to go.
We did decide to taxi over to Playa del Carmen one night to scope out the shopping scene. I was a little hesitant due to the recent increase in drug cartel-related violence. Granted those incidents weren't in this area, but leaving the secure area of the Aventura Spa Resort still made me nervous. Of course, there was nothing to worry about.
Most of the people in the area were tourists just like us, or they were shop owners and employees practically begging us to buy whatever crap they were selling. There were a few higher-end stores, but more than anything it was the same stuff you see in any spring break novelty shop.
The next few days went too fast, as I knew they would. We did almost nothing but eat, drink and laze around in the sun. I did everything I could to cover all sunburned parts of me in an attempt to ward off the inevitable peel. I definitely gained back any weight I'd done my best to lose prior to the debut of my bikini body. Go figure -- spending your days on beach chairs doesn't burn many calories. Ah, well, it was worth it.
I blinked and it was time to head back to the airport, back through the poverty strewn streets of a neighboring country. Spending a week having all the food and drink anyone could want, then staring out the window at those living with nothing made me feel really guilty.
I tried to comfort myself with the age-old explanation that at least I was spending money there that might be helpful to the economy. Still not satisfied with the answer, I boarded the plane back to the cold and reality of the Midwest. It left me wondering, is it any wonder they want to come to America for a better life?
"Alissa has a strong desire to bring awareness to the social issues in our city..."
so isn't it well past time to just drop this from the bio then?
either gregrnel, travel channel personified, how about you spend your money the way you like & let the rest of us spend ours how we see fit?
Did you not venture at all? No ruins? No street cerveza/food/restaurants in the real heart of PDC away from Calle 6? No Akumel? Tulum? The collectivo off the beaten path to a local cenote? No collectivo adventure at all? No small towns visited without a tour guide? Wow, there are people like you out there......
I don't get it was this a pity for Mexico trip or vacation. I was in Playa Del Carmen a few months ago and thought it was the best trip with so much to see and do.
Show me the other 2 Talkbacks
7 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Alissa Lawton
Published Sept. 23, 2012
I've been trying to eat at new places rather than my favorite standbys every weekend. I'd been to Buckley's, located at 801 N. Cass St., just once before for brunch, so I figured it didn't really count as a repeat if I was going for dinner. With a different meal you get a new atmosphere, crowd and most importantly, menu options.
Published Aug. 10, 2012
I try really hard to watch what I eat. But, once a year something comes along that is laden in unavoidable unhealthiness, and despite my best efforts my healthy eating habits go straight out the window. We know it. We love it. It is the Wisconsin State Fair.
Published July 14, 2012
I met some friends at Blue's Egg last Sunday for my favorite meal: brunch. They'd been before, but I was a first timer and the place lived up to every bit of hype I'd heard. After two cups of complimentary coffee - a nice touch since the wait was over an hour at that point - we were seated and starving.
Published April 15, 2011
I have come to a point in my life where I feel like I should really have my "stuff" together. I'm not in college, I'm approaching 30, I have a full time job, a car loan, rent, etc. and I feel like I should really be on top of my game in all life's aspects. A small fraction of the time I do feel that way, but then tax season hits and I become a bumbling moron.
Published March 31, 2011
Alissa gets roped into a benefit fashion show ... and loves it. A trip to the newish Alterra in Shorewood and some serious end-of-winter couch potato time made last weekend a great one.
Published March 14, 2011
Alissa takes it easy on a Friday night, grabs a tan and, although skeptical, gets way into Game Night.
Published Feb. 18, 2011
Alissa fights off the flu long enough to help inflate bids at a charity auction, and spice up a Bloody Mary.
Published Feb. 14, 2011
Super Bowl weekend was filled with tasty food and drink, and a little exercise, for Alissa.
Published Feb. 7, 2011
Date night, a basketball game and the Milwaukee Chili Bowl made for a busy weekend for Alissa last week.
Published Jan. 28, 2011
Alissa Lawton was in enemy territory the night before the Packers game against the Bears while attending a Cycstic Fibrosis research fundraiser.