We flew United Airlines from LAX to CAN which took roughly five hours. At LAX there were several procedural changes to the check-in process all of which screamed “just do it yourself”. Outside that, there were no extraordinary security precautions related to Covid-19 imposed upon us travelers. We were simply required to wear a mask in order to get past security and board our plane.
It was my wife’s first time flying in nearly twenty years. I, however, have been flying like a jet-setting businessman for nearly a decade. Outside of us looking like Asian travelers with our stylish masks, very little of our post-covid flying experience was different from my pre-covid flying experiences. What was noticeable, however, was the fact that during the flight we were not served a meal. Instead we were only served cookies, pretzels, and cold beverages — coke, water, juice.
Upon our arrival in Mexico, we proceeded through Customs as is customary. There were several documents we needed to fill out prior to landing. With enough time during the flight, we completed the documents and were prepared when we approach the Customs official’s desk. It didn’t matter that we had also completed the documents online. The Customs official demanded that we hand over our passports and documents, which I obliged. I didn’t even offer to tell the official that we had filled out the documents online. With me being unable to communicate that in Spanish, I didn’t tell her because there was little time to get the phrasing correct.
Our first stop after the Customs desk was the Duty-Free shop where I picked up two small bottles of Patron Tequila. For some strange reason, the attendant decided to throw in an extra bottle for free. Three for the price of two! Sweet.
The plan was to stay in Cancun for three nights and then relocate to the alluring city of Tulum where we intended to stay for three nights. We rode the city bus from Cancun to Tulum. Our tickets cost no more than $10 each.
Our Cancun stay was punctuated by gorgeous views, warm air, white sandy beaches, and cheap eats. We followed the suggestion of our hotel guide who recommended that we try the tacos at the local taqueria. The tacos were delicious and the fresh guacamole was unbelievable. The $13 price for two made us very happy as well.
In Cancun, I found a cigar lounge where I serendipitously found cigars named Conde 109.
After a wonderful three night stay in Cancun, we made our way to Tulum. The local city bus got us to Tulum in less than two hours. We stayed at the Mamasan Treehouse and Cabin hotel resort.
Our room was one of the geo-desic domes that afforded us magnificent nighttime views of the stars. Our breakfast was not included in the price of the stay, but we added it. Each morning during our stay in Tulum we were welcomed with a cup of coffee, a fruit smoothie, and a food choice from the menu.
Tulum has many cenotes — sinkholes — where the ancient Maya swam as part of a ritual whereby they believed they were entering the underworld. Personally, I prefer swimming in underground caves because the fresh water is more refreshing than salt water. Also, unlike the beaches, there is less cleaning up that needs to be done after exiting the caves. For instance, sand isn’t clinging to your body afterwards.
We gained access to the Shtun cenote via our tour. Had we not booked the tour, we would never have known of its existence. Shtun is only accessed by the tour company’s guests. There are many other cenotes throughout Tulum and the Yucatan peninsula, however, they can become crowded the more popular they are with tourists. We had Shtun all to ourselves for about an hour.
Our tour included a visit to the Tulum ruins, snorkeling, cenote swimming, and lunch. Due to covid-19 precautions, the Tulum ruins were closed to the public. Our snorkeling portion was altered so that we could position our boat as close to the ruins as possible without breaking the rules. We snapped a photo in approximately the same location as where Nipsey Hussle was filmed in his Victory Lap video.
The beaches of Mexico’s coast were gorgeous. The meals we shared were delicious. All in all, the experience of traveling to Mexico during covid-19 was enjoyable, safe, and extremely pleasing.
During our trip I took advantage of the beautiful backdrop and snapped as many photos including my book, 109: A Poem.
One of the highlights including me overcoming my fear of the murky waters in a local cenote. We explored the sites near the Mamasan hotel and happened upon a restaurant that also was the site of a cenote. Unlike the other cenotes I had seen advertised, this one’s waters were dark and lukewarm like a cup of coffee that has been sitting out for an hour. I would not have been eager to get into the waters if I hadn’t been coaxed by the waitress who assured me that it was safe. Additionally, there was a female German tourist who also assured me that it was safe as she had just swam in the waters. Certainly, I could do it if she had. It was still unsettling. Something splashed in the water so the waters were certainly not free of living creatures. I eventually mustered my courage and jumped into the waters where I remained long enough to snap a photo.
After a week’s long journey to Cancun and Tulum, we were thoroughly rejuvenated, but we did not want to leave. Mexico was well worth the trip.