Katrina, one of my best friends from high school, had the brilliant idea of renting an Airbnb in Playa Del Carmen for one week at the end of April. All the kids born in ’86 (that includes me) are turning 30 this year, so we wanted to celebrate. Also, Katrina is moving from Canada to Australia with her husband Scott, and she thought it would be a good opportunity for one last hurrah on the North American continent before the next phase of her life. But really, do you even need an excuse to visit Mexico?

We all flew into Cancun and met up at our house, which was in a gated community and was about a fifteen-minute walk from the beach. Our group of twelve represented Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, England and Australia. We didn’t all know each other before the trip, but we were all connected in some way through Katrina.

First things first. I had to take an obnoxious “sipping lemonade on the beach” vacation photo for Facebook (which I never ended up posting!)

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“Okay, that’s a bit creepy. Maybe try a smiley one?”
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Every morning, our group would march down to the colectivo station in Playa Del Carmen and arrange for a van to take us wherever we wanted to go. Marjorie, our group’s Spanish speaker, was immensely helpful in negotiating deals on our behalf.

Colectivo time! (Rose’s photo)

We visited Akumal and took a snorkelling tour to see turtles, barracudas and other fishies.

Una tortuga! (Katrina’s photo)
So big!
Smiling my dorkiest “I just saw a turtle” smile
My fellow snorkellers

After our tour, we spent a few hours relaxing on the beach in Akumal. Kyla decided she wanted a coconut, so she climbed the palm tree monkey-style, with Lauren’s help.

Teamwork! (Natasha’s photo)
Almost there! (Leslie’s photo)
Success! (Leslie’s photo)

Thanks to these two lovely people, we all spent the rest of the afternoon happily munching on coconut. Nom nom.

I went on a diving tour off the coast of Cozumel. The Tank-ha company in Playa had its own boat that took us right to the reef, which was very convenient. To avoid another seasickness disaster like the one I had in Costa Rica, I used an ear patch system. It made my mouth super dry, but I didn’t feel the least bit ill.

We did two amazing dives at the Santa Rosa and Yucab reefs, and I had fun trying my hand at some underwater photography.

Scuba time!
We swam through many tunnels like this one
24 m down

That night, our group took a colectivo down to Puerto Morales and had empanadas for dinner. We had a vague plan to do some more snorkelling, but it was pitch dark by the time we finally arrived on the beach. Instead, we lay on our towels and looked at the stars. I think that may have been my favourite moment of the entire trip.

A few people from our group thought it would be a good idea to wade in the water, until they noticed bioluminescent creatures floating around that may have been jellyfish. Needless to say, that promptly ended the night swimming adventure (though the creatures were very pretty!)

Happy Hour in Puerto Morelos (Leslie’s photo)
Katrina and Leslie on the beach in Puerto Morales

We visited the Kantun-Chi ecopark near Playa to swim in some cenotes. The park had three cenotes in caves, and one open-air cenote. The water in all of them was freezing cold, which felt fantastic. We had a great time floating around and playing on the boats. There was hardly anyone else there, so we had every cenote pretty much to ourselves.

The first cenote with that fabulous leaking boat (Leslie’s photo)
Cenote group shot
Almost the entire gang
Floating in the open air cenote with Katrina and Lateef (Katrina:1 Sun:0!)
Swinging Lauren and Kyla in their hammocks (Kyla’s photo)
This cenote had loads of cool caves to explore (Leslie’s photo)

To soak in some history, we visited the Tulum ruins. Unfortunately, we arrived at the site around noon when the heat was at its worst. After about ten minutes of wandering around, we headed down to the tiny beach, where about a bajillion other sweaty tourists were playing in the water.

Tulum ruins
Katrina getting refreshed by Lauren at the Tulum beach

A few people from our group chose to keep exploring, but the rest of us plunked down under a tree and decided that we didn’t care all that much about the ruins and that we would read about them on Wikipedia later. It was really that hot!

Enjoying the ruins 😛

Later that day, we were joined at a beautiful local beach by Brad and Marita, newlyweds on their honeymoon and friends of Katrina and Scott. While the rest of the gang frolicked in the waves, I stayed behind to watch the bags. At one point, Scott came racing out of the water toward me and asked to borrow my snorkelling equipment. Brad’s wedding ring had fallen off! I watched as everyone took turns with the mask, but it seemed fairly hopeless. Suddenly, I heard a huge cheer from the water. Natasha had found the ring! Drama over.

Enjoying a post-ruins swim with Katrina

When we weren’t off on adventures, we had a blast just hanging around the house. Our backyard was home to exotic birds and other creatures. I got extremely excited when two basilisks (Jesus lizards!) made an appearance. I had seen a basilisk run across the canal in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, and it was one of the highlights of that trip. I desperately wanted our backyard lizards to race across the pool. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything so badly in my life! Although we never did end up seeing them run on water, it was almost as hysterical watching them dash around on land. I happily showed the group my impression of them running. Everyone said it was remarkably accurate, which made me feel all accomplished.

Basilisk! Jesus Lizard!

Rose made a graph to track the incidents of gastrointestinal distress vs. Dukoral usage in our group. Conclusion: Dukoral is totally worth it! And also, Rose is awesome 🙂

Gastrointestinal distress chart. Red line: People who didn’t take Dukoral. Blue line: People (including me) who took it.

Our house was the only Airbnb in the area, and it had developed a reputation as party central. As such, the local condo board hired a security guard to stand outside the house every night. They needn’t have bothered for us! Quiet hours started at 11:00 p.m., and we politely observed them. We were often in bed well before then anyway. I was proud of us for being low maintenance. The guard must have thought we were the nerdiest twenty-and-thirty-somethings ever!

To beat the heat, we spent a lot of time horsing around in the pool.

I am ridiculously proud of this shot.
Quadruple layer piggy back!
Leslie photobombing me with spectacular results 😛
Sit-up time!
Group sit-up session (Katrina’s photo)
One of numerous unsuccessful attempts at making a pyramid
I took this underwater selfie, then laughed for the next ten minutes at the terrifying result!

On two different nights, we ordered takeout from El Fogon. It was mouth-wateringly delicious. I can still taste that meat!


We also found white chocolate covered Oreos at the supermarket. They didn’t last long, including the ones I took home to Canada!

Oreo pyramid!

We are all board game enthusiasts, so we spent many evenings enjoying our favourites. I successfully learned how to play Carcassonne, and I failed horribly at learning to play 7 Wonders. I was thrilled that we had a large enough group for a few rounds of Werewolf (also known as Mafia).

Intense game of Jungle Speed
Sushi Go!

The best part of the vacation was spending quality time with both new and long-time friends. I can’t have imagined a better week!

Katrina, me and Leslie on our last night in Mexico. 3/4 best friends from high school. We missed you, Cassia!

One thought on “Mexico

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