Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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We’ve made it a habit to go somewhere warm every MLK weekend, and even though we are saving for our wedding this year (!) we didn’t make an exception. Nestled between work trips, we spent the long weekend in Playa Del Carmen in Mexico; Florida is much easier, but we wanted a change this year. After many weeks of freezing (literally) in the Boston cold, we were so excited to leave for a few days. (Speaking of which – any ideas of where we should move after M’s PhD is over? We are thinking west coast…or even Atlanta, surprisingly!)

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And for those of you who have asked about the status of our wedding planning – I think we will have a few happy months of not stressing too much, because we have most of the big decisions set! In a few months we will start thinking about the timeline and little decoration details etc, but otherwise I think we are in good shape (although I am sure I will start stressing when we have to make the rest of our payments before the wedding!!). One question that has been on my mind is the idea of changing my last name. Our relationship, and marriage, is strictly equal and there are many traditions that I balk at. Of course, many little traditions that are inherently sexist (example: wearing a white dress) I am still going to do, because feminism, after all, is about being able to make choices – and I LOVE white dresses. I can’t make up my mind about changing my last name though. On one hand, I love the idea of easily being identified as one family unit. But why does the female usually take the male’s last name? Doesn’t it seem like an overt statement of leaving my heritage and family to join his? If we are truly joining our two families together, isn’t there a less patriarchal way of showing so? Unfortunately, I am petty, and the reason I’m even considering it is because I always get questions about my current last name and how to pronounce it, and would love to change it for aesthetic purposes. But doing so makes me feel like I am giving in to the patriarchy. What to do?? Ideas welcome. DSC_0090

Anyway, back to Mexico! This was a relatively short trip, so enjoy the pictures. We flew into Cancun Airport, and took the ADO bus down to Playa del Carmen which was an hour-ride away and around $10 per person (taking a taxi would have cost around $50-$80). While Cancun is much closer to the airport with beautiful resorts, we wanted something less resort-y. While Playa is still very touristy, there is a town to wander and it’s much closer to the other attractions we wanted to visit.

We had some delicious tacos at the famous El Fagon on our first night (tacos for less than a dollar), which was very close to 5th Avenue. 5th avenue is the famous strip in Playa, but it’s very touristy and feels a bit like a long boardwalk. I would eat off of the strip, but wander down at night for some great people-watching.

Our first full day was spent at Xel-Ha, an eco-park an hour outside Playa del Carmen. We also took the ADO bus here instead of paying for private transportation. I debated a lot between going to Xel-Ha and Xcaret since I’d heard that Xcaret was a “Mexican Disneyland”, but ultimately decided that we loved water activities so much that Xel-Ha was a better fit. There was some fantastic exploring, water slides, rafts, activities, and even unlimited food and alcohol, so it was one of the best “amusement parks” we’ve ever visited! You can snorkel throughout the entire inlet, so it didn’t feel crowded at all even though we visited on a sunny Saturday. The only part I didn’t love was that the park included dolphin attractions as an optional paid activity. These are awful to the dolphins (their dorsal fins are not made to be “ridden” by humans!!!!) and you should never spend your money towards anything that shows dolphins like circus animals, no matter how “humane” they are being kept! (I used to work with dolphins, so this hits close to home).

The next day we took another bus to Tulum. Blogs will tell you to visit as early as possible to beat the crowds, and while that’s probably true, it would’ve meant waking up at 6 AM for a 8 AM arrival…..so we decided to take our chances. We visited in the early afternoon, and while it was crowded, it was manageable- especially since the credit card machines at the ticket booth were working when we were there (by the time we left, it looked like those machines had stopped working, and the line was insane).

We scheduled our busy days on the days we stayed at a cheaper Airbnb, and then transitioned to the Mahekal Beach Resort the next days. We were very entertained – and while it wasn’t the 5-star all-inclusive resort you typically think of (it’s 4 stars), we enjoyed our hut & beach & exceptional service.

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