Baking to a Crisp in the Mayan Riviera

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April 30th 2008
Published: September 15th 2008
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Things went pleasantly well considering we had little to no expectations for the trip. Its perhaps an odd thing to say considering we had booked ourselves into a supposedly swank all inclusive in the Mayan Riviera but some reviews had been harsh on the Regency Princess as the hotel resort had only opened a few months earlier and they were still clearly working out the kinks. Other than nightly flooding in our room from our shower, things were pretty good.

Perhaps its a bit odd to be blogging about an all-inclusive as most don't really consider it authentic adventure travelling. It probably isn't, but there is something to say about just relaxing at a beach sipping endless mojitos or sangrias.

Despite the tranquility and lull, Keely and I were eager to find some sort of adventure... hopefully not involving the Mexican police. We found it, funny enough, in a tour. Most of the resorts offer tours to Chichen Itza, Isla Mujeres, Tulum, and Coba. They charge an arm and a leg for these tours because they can get away with it as hotels on the Mayan Riviera are pretty isolated from the outside world (Its about a good kilometre walk from the resort to the main highway and from there a 10-15 minute drive into Playa del Carmen). We took the advice of former guests and headed into town to find us a cheap tour to Coba. For $45 US it seemed like a great deal to have the company pick us up and include a lunch with a tour to Coba, a Cenote and a "Mayan village". We weren't even sure if the tour was legitimate or merely just another sidewalk scam. Luckily, this was a real tour taking us to the places as promised but you certainly get what you pay for. The tour also included unexpected stops at a local Playa del Carmen pharmacy to get medication for an ill kid on the tour (and watching him empty the contents of his breakfast on the sidewalk) and some convenience store. This would not have been part of our itinerary on a tour through the hotel but it definitely made the day much more amusing.

Cenote: Cenotes are amazing and probably one of my favourite things to check out while in the Mayan Riviera. These particular cenotes were not underground and cavern-like (the ones near Valladolid are) but somewhat above ground with lush vegetation coming right to the edge of the opening.

Coba: This archaeological site was not as glamourous or as restored as Chichen Itza but still had its charm and was not as packed with tourists. The main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, was located a few kilometres inland. If you weren't up for the trek, you could hire a person to bicycle you around.

p.s. According to Lonely Planet, you can get to Coba on your own but it certainly required a few transfers by public transport. I'm not ashamed to say I was not up for the challenge considering it was probably about a 1km walk from our hotel to the highway alone before flagging down a collectivo.

Resort Musings/Lessons learned:
1. The braided hair with beads look is never fashionable. Not even inside the resort let alone back in your home country.

2. Getting huffy and refusing to tip your room cleaners/serving staff/bartenders on the basis that your package was "all inclusive" likely indicates you're unaware that they make considerably less money in a day than you probably could in an hour.

3. Bug spray and lots of it is never a bad thing in these parts.

4. If you think you're sunburned and looking foolish... there's ALWAYS someone who looks worse off than you.

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