Hola, Riviera Maya! Part 1…

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I had never left the country before the summer of 2011. I’ve always had the urge to travel, but between working and college full time, I never really had the time, or money, to travel abroad. So when my older sister Kelli suggested a vacation to Mexico, I couldn’t refuse.

I had just finished my first year of teaching and summer school, and was eager to relax- laying on the beach, enjoying the sound of the lapping of the ocean waves as they broke on the shore,  sipping a frosty strawberry margarita sounded like the perfect way to celebrate and welcome summer. So we booked the trip and off we went…to Riviera Maya just outside of Cancun.

Flying in and getting to our hotel, The Blue Bay Resort, was an adventure all in itself. We landed, after a three hour delay due to missing flight attendants, and quickly filed off of the plane to await our luggage, which was a game of cat and mouse. Luggage racks were poorly labeled and it took some trial and error before we were able to locate the correct carousel. Luggage in hand, we headed to customs to have our passports stamped and luggage cleared through security. The one major difference being that there were police officers stationed everywhere….holding giant rifles against their shoulders and they stared passengers down as they passed through.

After being asked about our intentions for our trip (Why are you here? How long do you plan on staying? Are you here to buy drugs?) we moved on to pass through security. Now, normally, bags are not scanned upon arrival. However in Mexico, you lined up with your luggage and pushed a giant yellow button (think of the staples “Easy” button). If the button turned green, you were free to leave, if you pushed red, you were escorted to the side and searched. Thankfully, my sister and I turned green and were free and allowed to leave- escorted past groups of people busily emptying their belongings onto the floors and counters to be inspected.

After locating our shuttle bus and piling in, we settled in for the hour long trip to the resort. As people groaned and moaned, I was excited for the opportunity to view Mexico from the window as it sped by. The colors of Mexico are so vivid…crisp and bright. I couldn’t peel my eyes away…everything appeared so fresh and lush. The only interruption to the beautiful landscaping and views were the police huts that divided the roadway every few miles. Pulling up, police were stationed inside of the hut, outside, and lining the streets. Rifles in hand, these men were incredibly intimidating…I remember panicking the first time we pulled up to one…Why are they surrounding us? Why did they have their rifles out and poised as if ready to attack? Is this normal? Did something happen recently?

We, fortunately, were just waved on through each checkpoint while many others were stopped, searched, and questioned. People’s cars were moved off to the side of the road, while others were brought inside of the huts to be questioned.

Finally, we arrived at the resort…I couldn’t be more relieved, and excited, to head to the beach and relax with a margarita, or two, after a very interesting trip in. I couldn’t wait to start my vacation!

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