After six weeks in the United States we hit the international road again, sort of. We caught a flight to Cancun so that we can spend a few weeks getting to know the Yucatan peninsula better. We actually stayed in Cancun for a couple days in order to get some errands done.
There are a few great things about Yucatan that compel us to spend some time traveling through the peninsula. The beaches along the so-called “Maya Riviera,” south of Cancun, are truly some of the best we’ve ever seen — bright turquoise, sandy, and warm. We love the Yucatecan cuisine, with its heavy Maya influence. And we love visiting the kinds of lively Mexican towns, plentiful in Yucatan, that revolve around bustling central plazas.
But we had to make a stop in Cancun to get a few things done. So we of course made the best of a place we find largely dreadful. The beaches here can be stunning, but that’s just not enough to make up for the downside — throngs of partying American tourists, strip malls full of yucky chain restaurants, obnoxious touts everywhere, and a gritty town center that sorely lacks Mexican charm.
We did partly tackle fear number one about travel in Mexico: how on earth to avoid bad carbohydrates. We absolutely love Mexican food in general, but it’s hard to dine here without being assaulted by very tempting stuff that we work hard to avoid. There are tortillas everywhere in many forms. There is corn in everything. There are always mounds of beans and rice next to everything. And everyone else seems to be enjoying great big sugary margaritas.
So we do have to employ a little more resistance than usual to keep up the dietary habits that keep us in decent form. But that leaves a lot to love and enjoy. We tend to scoop all the incredible salsas onto our delicious grilled meats instead of those crunchy chips. We’ve had lots of great fish, either cooked in great salsa or ceviche-style with bright fresh lime juice and chiles. I think we can survive here after all, eating well without packing on too many pounds.
After getting our errands done here, we caught a bus for the inland town of Valladolid — a two-hour bus ride and a million miles away from the American tourist mess that is Cancun. From there our visit to Mexico began in earnest.