So, my mom just asked me to look up airline tickets to cancun . Of course when asking how many people it was for , she answered 2. Only 2. That means I am out of the question again on this trip. I guess at 20 years old I shouldn’t be expecting them to fund my vacations still, but as a poor college student I will continue to see how far I can get. Who knows? Someday they just might realize the emotional trama that is happening to me when they go off on their Isla vacations leaving me behind, helpless and going through Isla withdrawals. If they only knew!
I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. I just got back from my last Isla trip in April during Semana Santa. This was my first trip to Isla alone with friends. I got to introduce Isla to my friends and surprise …surprise… one is planning her honey moon there for next summer, and the other one, who is my roommate is telling me that during our fall break that I’m bringing him back. What can I say? I have created a young generation of Islaholics!!
2007 started with a move to Guadalajara, Mexico for a study abroad program. I was FINALLY going to learn Spanish after over 12 years of traveling to Isla. It was about time! Being that Mexico knows how to celebrate EVERY holiday the right way…they had 2 weeks off for Easter. Palm trees were flashing in my eyes as I booked my $100 dollar ticket to Cancun. (Cheapest ticket of my life yet!)
After endless talk about Isla 3 of my classmates booked flights for the same days and after a day of traveling we finally met up and settled into our hotel. We stayed at Xul-Ha for 9 dollars a night each. I was not complaining for that price! We won’t call our room 5 star by any means…but we are young and just needed a bed and a shower.
I was nervous at first with the group of friends I was with. We were all VERY different people . I was friends with all of them separately and this was the first time we had ever hung out together at the same time. There was Joan the Indian Princess and world traveler who was born in India and grew up in Denmark and Wales and now lived in Canada. There was Jaren the American Frat boy from Idaho , and then there was Latrice the Southern Bell from Arkansas who grew up in the “projects”, as she called it, of Little Rock. Then there was me. The Wisconsin girl next door. Nothing different or special. Just “Malena”.
joan and I
Jaren and Latrice and I
The differences above could cause some problems when being stuck in one room together for 10 days….And let me tell you….. there were definitely……….NONE. We were all SO different that we got along great and had an AMAZING time together and I would not take back the diverse group we made up!
I know our travel style was probably not the type that many would choose. But it made for stories to tell and many memories were made.
For starters- Our hotel- If you want to see the worst decorating of your life. It had it! When opening the door there was a blue floor. Blue walls. Blue bedding. Blue water droplet tiles from floor to wall to ceiling in the bathroom. With the lack of water pressure at least we felt as if we were surrounded by it. We also made a new friend at our hotel. He is actually quite famous and I recognized him from quite a few T.V. commercials. He was taking a vacation from Geico in our room. He lived behind our large painting over the head of our beds. He loved to pick on us and make his scraching noises waking up us girls in the middle of the night causing us to screech. After a couple of days we made better friends with our little Gecko buddy. You can have many interesting experiences for 9 dollars a night!
Traveling on a shoe string we would starve ourselves all day and save our money for our nightly meal. We tried out many restaurants and enjoyed them all. I guess after an empty stomach we are going to enjoy anything I suppose! We did have one night of “classiness” at Rolondi’s of course. If you called 2 shared pizzas classy!
Our nights and days fell into routine after our 1st day. The days consisted of:
Waking up –Sunset = BEACH/ Sleeping on the beach
After Sunset = Showers
11pm = Girls drink free at Kokonuts
After Free Drinks = Poc Na Beach Bar
La Pena Bar
Sunrise = Sleep
As you can tell, we led a strenuous schedule….
We did mix up the agenda one day and rented a golf cart for 10 dollars each. I know, we got a little spendy!! HaHa. That was quite the adventure, let me tell you! After the usual shell hunting and taking pictures and refusing to pay to go all the way out on the South Point to look at ugly metal statues, we decided to get a little adventurous and experience the REAL island.
So that met…taking a sandy path into a mass of trees. Everything was going great as we are cruising when all of a sudden Jaren decided to take the cart on some crackled ground. I mean if it is crackled it must be dry right? NOPE!! All of a sudden the cart comes to a stop and it slowly starts to sink into mud that smelled worse than sewage. We all leap from the cart and of course begin to sink into this mess of mud(or something). After an hour of LIFTING our cart out of the mud onto dry land and REJOICING we all realized that we had to return it in less than an hour.
Now, to remove caked wet mud from a golf cart is quite the tedious job. It took cruising around the island and 40 mph (if that) to splash the mud off and then it took wetting our towels in the ocean and wiping our beloved cart to somewhat look clean. After trying to shine up our “Ferrari” as best as possible we returned the cart and ran out of there. That was a day to remember!
That night we had an amazing time telling our stories at Poc Na. The place where EVERONE has a story. Poc Na was the best place to go for meeting other young people with amazing travel stories. I mean there was always the person who was backpacking Vietnam who got their wallet stolen and then had to live under a bridge for a week …or the people kayaking to Bora Bora with no money. I met so many people from Australia, England, Canada and so on . Everyone has exciting stories to tell, and what is really cool is that they all think my stories are just as interesting. Somehow I convinced people from London and Sydney and New York that Wisconsin was amazing and to travel here . Well, I guess they should be ready to pig out on a block of cheese!
Now to the good stuff! We even had a successful island romance on our trip. Jaren met a cute little Mexican girl on the beach from Mexico City who paid to fly him there to visit her and they ended up dating for 4 months. For us girls…Well, we fell a couple of times for the cute accents…but we knew better!
I know our trip may be considered someone elses nightmare. But I see it as, I brought down a young group of travelers who didn’t corrupt the island with spring break madness and kept low key and experienced the island for what it was. We contributed our money to a small family owned hotel and set a good example to others that staying in an All Inclusive isn’t always needed to have amazing experiences and enjoyable times.
I’m moving back to Guadalajara in 2 weeks for another semester of studying abroad. Jaren, who is now my roommate in our new apartment, and I are already seeing Palm Trees when we look at the 1st week of October on our class schedules. During our October break we know where we are going!
My last night on Isla was spent sitting on the beach just bonding and talking with new friends and before I knew it the sun was rising above the ocean. At that amazing moment that was when I thanked God for differences. The differences among people, cultures, experiences, and perspectives. Isla gives me all these differences on one tiny island. On Isla I can bond with a owner of a yacht to my right and a local to my left. I can see a 5 star resort next to a $25 dollar a night hotel. I can see the young talking with the old in one walk down Hildalgo. The beauty of it all is in the differences.