If you could blend Disneyland, Rainforest Cafe, and Mexico, you would get Xcaret, an eco-park located on the Mayan Riviera in which you can go to the beach, hike in the jungle, and most awesome of all, swim in an underwater cave.
Photos from our underwater camera are forthcoming, as we haven’t developed them yet. We were able to snorkel in a huge underground river. The water was about 2 meters deep the whole time, and the caves had occasional skylights that allowed for sunlight to come through. We saw tropical fish big and small, some coral, and extensive caves below. It was exhilarating, spooky, and beautiful all at the same time.
We spent the rest of the day hiking through the jungle. I saw a tapir, a spider monkey, flamingos, and exotic insects…If you’re looking for adventure, this is the place to find it. I highly recommend Xcaret to anyone headed this way.
As the week draws to a close, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to imagine myself back at home. I’ll have to remind myself that the Caribbean will be on the other side of the continent every time I feel the impulse to take a dip in the ocean. I’ll have to get used to a routine, going to work, and reading signs in English all over again. Also, the most common animals I’ll see will most likely be domesticated ones instead of monkeys, tapirs, and iguanas.
Even though I know that this statement is based on my very tourist-y experience here, Mexico is pretty damn amazing. Only 40 years ago, the area’s population was less than ten people, and the only inhabitants were farmers and fishermen. The Mexican government subsidized the first 9 hotels because it became difficult to attract investors in such a swampy area. Now, the extensive hotel industry has created thousands of local jobs and hosts an international clientele year round. Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, is a state that knows its worth and is able to capitalize on its ecological strength, cultural history, and tropical climate. It is a place that is proud of itself.
I’m certainly a transient here, but each time I have come to Cancun, I have felt welcome. Though I don’t like to think about leaving (we have one full day left), I know that it will be waiting for me until the next time I return, with arms (and underwater caves) wide open.