Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mayan Riviera Day 8: Cancun

January 8, 2016

Friday morning I woke up not feeling so great, so I skipped breakfast and slowly packed up my things. We took another walk down to the pier one last time, and loaded up our rental car Matt to head out of Puerto Morelos and on to the last leg of our trip in Cancun. I remember being remarkably sad…much more sad than I had any right to be…to leave such a magical place. Puerto Morelos is such a charming, authentic, welcoming town, and I had really enjoyed our time there.

After driving around for the week on one tank of gas, we finally needed to fill up on our way out of town, and stopped at the closest gas station to the freeway on-ramp. I am super glad I had read up in advance about renting cars in Mexico, because my knowledge saved us from getting scammed! Apparently they pull this scam all the time on tourists—you give them the money, and they gesture back to the pump to look at the price, and when you look, they switch one of your $200 peso bills for a $20 to make you think you paid incorrectly, and then ask for more money or short you on change. This definitely happened to us! But we were prepared for this scenario. As he came up to the pump, I even said, “Make sure we watch him for the money switch!” I couldn’t believe he actually tried it. It’s one of those things you read about, but don’t think will happen to you. He kept trying to insist, and Todd handled it well with his super-human customer service skills, and eventually the attendant gave us our correct change and we avoided any kind of serious altercation. But for a moment there, I thought it was going to go down…things got a bit heated!

The drive to Cancun was short, and we arrived at our hotel resort early to drop off our luggage. Check in wasn’t until 3:00, and it was about 12:00 or 1:00, so we had a couple hours to kill and wanted to check out the new place.

Hola from Cancun!

We were staying at the Emporio Hotel & Suites, which is a huge contrast to where we had been staying for the previous week. Right in the middle of the Zona Hotelera, it is your average upscale tourist resort, complete with multiple levels of swimming pools, swim-up bar, ocean view gym, tennis courts, ping pong tables, multiple restaurants, activities counters, cultivated gardens, etc. etc. It also, of course, opens right up onto the beach with shaded lounge chairs, lifeguard, beachside massage tables, a bar, beach volleyball courts, someone to constantly clean up the seaweed, and brilliant turquoise waves. They even have showers right at the top of the stairs for you to rinse off, and the most genius invention I never considered before: at the bottom of the stairs right off the beach, there is a little canal of water for you to wash the sand off your feet before you head up. Amazing! I was very impressed, since this is the first time I’ve been to a resort like this. And while our beach was not roped off and private like the one in Puerto Morelos, it is well attended by guards to question anyone who doesn’t look like they belong. But you certainly need to claim a lounge chair early if the weather is nice. Here are some photos from the Emporio:

View down the Zona Hotelera from our beach

After scoping out the place, we decided to drop Matt back off at Hertz at the airport and catch a shuttle back to the Hotel Zone, a process that ended up being excruciatingly long, frustrating, and expensive. Zero stars for the shuttle procedures from Cancun International Airport. By the time we got back to our hotel, it was already 3:00 and we were grouchy when we checked in. But our room soon made up for it. As much as I pride myself on loving to travel like a local to get a more authentic experience and avoiding crowded tourist destinations, our room was fabulous and I certainly can’t complain about the modern amenities. We had an ocean front room right on the beach, with a spectacular view of the bluest waves and pelicans diving for their breakfasts. Plus our room had a microwave! And a mini fridge! And a coffee maker!! A hair dryer that works better than my own, and little vanity kits all wrapped up with Qtips and cotton balls! Such amenities! We had been living like paupers and now were kings! I have to say, the switch to first world comforts was appreciated and enjoyed more than I expected.

View of the beach from our balcony

We were starving, so after the bellboy brought us our luggage, we went to the casual restaurant for a buffet lunch that was overpriced for what it was, and just ok. That inspired us to hit the little coffee shop/deli/convenience store/souvenir shop in our hotel to stock up on some necessities for breakfasts and lunches, since it is not an all-inclusive resort—a decision we made intentionally because we wanted to take so many day trips and excursions.

At this point, it was fairly late in the day, but still the weather was glorious and the sun was still up, so we decided to take to the beach and enjoy the last hour or two before dusk. I had purchased a blowup inner tube at the gift shop that we named Orangina (Gina for short) because of the bright orange color, and brought her down to the beach and right into the water. The waves in the ocean were a bit of a challenge, especially compared to the calm waters in Puerto Morelos, but once you get beyond the breaking point, it’s easier to manage. It’s so shallow, you can walk pretty far out, but the constant jet skis and boats going by created some monsters that ended up clobbering me.

Having a grand old time with Gina

In the evening, we walked across the street to a little shopping center to round out our provisions for the weekend and checked out a little of what the area had to offer. I also noticed happily that the Museo Maya de Cancun, a well-reviewed museum that was one of only two MUST SEE items on my list for Cancun, was literally located right behind our hotel. I was amazed! Such a close distance! Making my life so easy for future activity planning.

View from our room at blue hour by Todd Sipes


  1. Do you remember the flavor, "China"? from PR? Madarin orange??? DOn't know why I just thought of that, but I guess Gina brought it to mind!

  2. Sounds like a great place to visit. Glad you had a great time there. Spencer