I have never really considered going to an all inclusive resort, but now I can see why so many people think of them as a good place to spend their holidays. Indeed, I have only just got back home after a month of travels, and all I can think of is going on an actual holiday, the kind of thing where the most tiring activity I would have to do would be putting on my bikini and walking to the beach, then the pool, then lift my cocktail.
Yes, to me there is a big difference between traveling and going on holidays. And while traveling is rejuvenating, energizing, interesting and a lot of fun, it doesn’t necessarily imply resting. A month of traveling meant a lot of advanced research and planning, and given the limited time I had in order to explore countries I had never been to before, it meant lots of before-dawn wake up calls to see the sunrise, to catch early buses, to go on fantastic hikes and to visit local markets. Add to this a whopping 38 hours of traveling on a combination of minibus, ferry and multiple planes and layovers to get back home, and it is easy to understand why I am so tired.
Nothing that a good walk on a long sandy beach can’t fix!
I feel no shame in admitting that I am tired. In fact, I am exhausted. No, a nap would not fix this. Indeed, I am so tired that going to bed early for a few days would not necessarily help. And most definitely, drinking more coffee to get by during the day would not solve the issue. In fact, I think I need to get away from it all for a while.
I think it is time to go to Mexico again. It would be my fourth time in the country, but I can’t help it, I just love it so much there. Besides I find going back to a place I already know somehow reassuring, and I think one is never really done exploring a place. The combination of the nice weather of the Riviera Maya, of the great culture which I got to know through my many trips and which I am very fond of; the delicious, mouthwatering food and of the kind, welcoming people makes me long for it and urge to go back as often as possible.
I feel compelled to go to Playa del Carmen, a place I love and where I know I can find a gorgeous beach, a pretty town (if only slightly touristy but hey, I would be a tourist after all!) if I feel like going out, restaurants and bars galore to eat and drink whatever I may fancy and, most importantly so, where I will have a lovely all inclusive resort with all the amenities I may possibly want. The best part of it is that, in case I decide to further explore a region which I know I love, I will find someone to help me arrange everything. Top it off with the fact that some of my friends are in currently living in the region, and I can predict I will have a real blast.
All I have to do is book the holiday, pack my bags and board my flight to Cancun. Someone else will do the rest of the work for me!
Time to visit Mexico again!
My plan once in the Riviera Maya is to concentrate on doing my favorite things. I will go to the beach and read some of the books I will carry with me – the same books I have been wanting to read for a long time, and never found time to do so. I will inevitably doze on and off, interrupting my sleep only to jump in the clear Caribbean waters and to sip on a freezing cold coconut. I will have a much needed sunset drink at the beach before having some of my favorite Mexican dishes for dinner. I will indulge in beauty treatments and massages and get a good dose of exercise in one of the tennis courts or at the pool. And I will have plenty of beauty sleep at night in a gorgeous, spacious room.
Can you blame me for wanting to go to Mexico again?
Besides, Playa del Carmen is a perfect place to begin exploration of the region. In case I feel the urge to explore (and I know that even if I say I am tired, after a few days I will be eager to go out and discover new places!) I can easily get to a lot of attractions on the Yucatan peninsula. I have already been in the region 3 times and won’t ever get tired of exploring the fantastic archeological sites of Tulum and Coba (where I even bumped into my ex!). But I would also like to visit some of the Cenotes I have missed last time I was there, and get to swim with the turtles in Playa Akumal since the last time I was there – believe it or not – I saw none. It’s one of the best beaches in Mexico!
What are the chances of meeting someone you haven’t seen in years, you haven’t talked to in ages, when you don’t even know where he lives and what he’s doing and you are on the other side of the world? Well, according to my experience, they are actually quite high.
A lifetime ago, I had a Greek boyfriend, Michalis. I met him when I started my studies at the University of Essex, in England, and our troubled relationship lasted about 3 years, during which we’d argue, break up and get back together until we eventually broke up for good, in January 2006 (wow, that almost is 10 years ago!).
London, a lifetime ago
Michalis moved back to Greece in late 2006, and we occasionally talked until May 2007, when we had one final argument on the phone and resolved to never talk to each other again. Then, I also moved back to Italy and regularly travelled to England for PhD supervisory meetings to assess the progress of my research. Eventually, I managed to submit my dissertation and the date for my discussion was set for February 2010. I travelled to Colchester, England, a few days before my viva. That’s when my friend, at whose place I was staying, told me that she thought she had seen Michalis on campus. I thought she may have been mistaken and actually met someone else. However, on a snowy day as I waited to catch a bus to university, I saw Michalis walking towards the bus stop too. He was as surprised as I was, but for the first time since we had broken up we were able to have a pleasant conversation over coffee, the anger we had both felt towards each other finally vanished.
After that random meeting, Michalis and I had kept in touch. We’d exchange a few emails each year, and occasionally even have a brief chat on skype. That’s how I knew he eventually settled down and got married with a Mexican girl and occasionally travelled to Mexico to visit her family. I was happy for him, because although things didn’t work out between us I always considered him a clever, interesting and pleasant person.
The last few years of my life have been quite eventful and there have been so many changes that it has been difficult to keep track of things at times, or to keep everyone updated of my whereabouts. I thought I had told Michalis that I had abandoned my academic career to start a life of travel and blogging, but evidently I had not.
I wasn’t really thinking about Michalis after the end of my nightmare tour!
Surely, Michalis was not the person I was thinking of when I finished my second guided tour of the season, on December 2014. After that nightmare of a tour was finally over (I had a number of persons in my group that were a real handful!), my friend Guiselaine came to meet me to spend a week in the Riviera Maya before I would have to go back to work and travel to Nicaragua for more tours. We wanted to relax and had not really planned much. Each day we’d wake up, take a look at the weather outside and decide what to do accordingly. I was quite tired after having to take around a group of tourists who were very demanding at times, and I was even a bit “templed out”. After visiting the most important archeological sites in the country, I really did not feel like visiting any other on my free time.
Even though I was templed out, I was in awe at the beauty of Uxmal
Yet, when we woke up in Tulum on the third day of our holiday, we realised the weather wasn’t good enough to just bum at the beach. So I reluctantly agreed to visit the archeological site of Coba. After all, I had no better plans for that day, I had not been there yet and getting there seemed like a relatively easy and cheap thing, as it was only 40 minutes away from Tulum on a colectivo (minibus) – watch out though, because although colectivos do take people to Coba, there is none leaving from there to get back to Tulum and the only way to get back to town is either by taxi or on ADO buses that should be booked in advance in peak season.
New sleeping device
I knew very little about Coba, and I soon realised once there that it is a unique site compared to the rest of the ones found in the Yucatan peninsula, and definitely worth visiting. It is very spread out and completely immersed in the thick jungle typical of the region. There are well kept foothpaths in the forest that link the various points of interest of the site, and what is a cultural visit can actually turn into a good workout as the distances are at times quite large – up to 2 km from one spot to the other (I calculated that, by the end of the visit, I must have walked some 10 km). Indeed, it is possible to rent bikes and even to hire the services of bici taxis to move more swiftly across the site. It actually is a good idea to wear proper walking shoes in order to walk or bike around Coba – I did not know what to expect that day, and I sported my flip flops as it was a hot day. My friend Guiselaine did the same.
In our complete ignorance of the site, we did not know that Coba is the only site in Yucatan where it is still possible to climb the pyramid. I was keen to do that, as I enjoy standing on tall places and take in the view. But Guiselaine preferred not to do so as she felt that it was not a good idea to climb a pyramid when wearing sandals. I thus started climbing the Kukulkan Pyramid by myself. However, it was the peak season, there were lots of other people in Coba and surely many were trying to climb the pyramid, so that sneaking my way around other tourists was not an easy task. That’s why, when I arrived at about the middle of the pyramid on my way to the top and saw that a small group of people had decided to sit and rest on the narrow staircase, I turned around to snap at them in my good Spanish, ready to tell them that perhaps it was not such a good idea to block the way.
The pyramid of Kukulkan is the only one that can be climbed in the Yucatan peninsula. Nobody wanted to miss out! Not even my ex boyfriend who’s sitting right in the middle
However, I had to stop mid sentence as I could not believe what I saw. Sitting there, with a scared look on his face, a thin line of sweat on his forehead, was Michalis. Imagine the shock, for both of us! We stared at each other for a mere second, although it really seemed more like an hour, and then he uttered: “what are you doing here?” to which I replied asking the same thing. He then introduced me to his wife, and to his in laws. Apparently they were all in Tulum on holidays, having just arrived from Mexico City. The look of terror in Michalis’ eyes increased when his brother in law asked the question: “So, how do you two know each other?” I chuckle now when I think that if I wanted I could have turned his holiday into a nightmare and spell the dirtiest secrets of our relationship. But then, I was so glad with how my life was evolving then that I just vaguely said we had met in university. That was a satisfactory answer to all, and I could see that Michalis finally relaxed in spite of my presence.
My sheepish smile may not show it but I was chuckling as my ex boyfriend brother in law took this picture
I then finished climbing the pyramid, took some amazing shots from above and even asked Michalis brother in law, who had climbed all the way up as well, to take some pictures of me and, on my way down I said goodbye to Michalis, till our next random encounter. We had a brief chat, in which I told him that I had finally decided to live my dream and travel the world, and to finally abandon my life in academia which had caused me much suffering in the last few years. He told me that, for as much as he loves his wife and he likes Mexico, he still can’t get a hang of Mexican food and would much rather have olives and pita bread – but don’t tell his wife!
Meeting Michalis again, in such a random way, was actually nice. It made me realise that we can have great memories of even the most troubled relationships. It made me understand that once the anger and sadness for the end of a love story finally boil down, there can be a good, honest friendship. Besides, I had one more funny anecdote to tell my family (imagine how hard my father laughed when I told him!), my friends – including Guiselaine who had seen the whole scene while waiting for me at the bottom of the pyramid – and to write on my blog. What more could I want?
It was really steep – no wander Michalis look terrified
What has been your most random encounter during your travels?
HELLO, NICE TO MEET YOU!
Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started traveling… except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. View and download my media kit here (updated Oct 2018). Learn more about me here…