At first glance, the Yucatan isn’t particularly beautiful. You might even say it’s generally pretty bland. You don’t find the natural color that you would in Caribbean countries, no real color side from the green of foliage or the desert inspired yellow gray sands. Yucatan’s beauty lies elsewhere. You’ll find it on a random beach, tucked away in a cenote, hidden in a backyard restaurant, or on the brightly painted walls of a home. You might find it in a smile, or a spicy meal, but it’s almost never in your face. In many ways, it’s the same for its people. Outwardly and initially they may not seem like the warmest people. Sure they have Latin passion but it’s not immediately apparent. Maybe it’s just towards gringos, but you rarely get the impression someone is happy to just speak to you. But, right under the surface, if the ice gets chipped just a little, the smile is waiting, hoping for an opportunity to reveal itself. Just a few extra words prompts that Latin warmth we’ve all heard so much about. They just request a bit more of an effort, and rightly so.
My first impressions of Mexico are of the Yucatan. Well, it’s only been 2 weeks but this country clearly has a lot to offer, even if all you get to see is the Yucatan. Not simply for tourists but for anyone who appreciates opportunity. Granted, many of the lower class may not feel the same and there’s no doubt there’s a level of bureaucracy and corruption that would likely make creating a life here difficult, add to that the typical warm weather cultural propensity for not ever being in a rush and you might find yourself ready to go back to a more civilized place where you can get things done. But if you’re willing to adapt, you might just find a burgeoning economy, a hard working population, and a rapid pace of change.
It’s infrastructure may not rival Canada’s but I would argue that they are moving faster the latter. Yucatan is a haven for tourists. It may not be the safest according to the stats, but it’s safe enough in the right places and the value of foreign money makes living here easy. Travel within Mexico is insanely cheap measured in something like $3 per hundred kilometers. The equivalent of a metro ride fare can get you to the next beach town or into the jungle. It’s surprisingly organized and depending on which option you choose, as comfortable as any greyhound back home. Willing to downgrade a bit and grab the coletivo and you have even more options for even less money, but be prepared for less comfort and a longer ride with multiple stops.
Food, as with anywhere is touch and go. Some places offer relatively bland food for next to nothing and others provide a fiery delight, quickly and at prices that make you wonder what it is exactly that you pay for back home at the grocery store. Can it really all be taxes? Same goes for transport. How can they afford such low rates when the price of gas is set globally? I can only assume that it’s subsidized and set nationally but I haven’t done the research. The stories you’ve heard about amazing tacos for pennies, is true. Sure it’s closer to a dollar but the tacos are also closer to being heaven wrapped in a tortilla, loaded with whatever goodies you see fit to pile on.
So far, I’ve only traveled a bit through Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan, so I can’t yet speak for the rest of the country but I can say that Q Roo feels like one small town. It seems like all tourists and travelers are on more or less the same itinerary, just at different times and in different directions. It’s quite common for people to travel together for a bit, split up and find each other again accidentally a couple days, weeks later. That’s both sad and wonderful, but speaks to a certain lack of creativity on our parts. But when you only have a few weeks to explore, it makes sense that you’d go for the tried and true. That being said, there’s also more than enough to fill your time with, from scuba diving, nightlife, cenote explorations, ruin hopping, food tasting, or just regular conversations with the locals, the Yucatan really does have it all. There’s not to much to dislike here if you have an open mind and an open heart.
A FEW SHOTS FROM THE YUCATAN