Our second stop of the trip was in Mexico! I’ll admit, I’ve always associated Mexico with a spring break destination and never had a strong desire to visit it. The great thing about a cruise though is that it forces you to visit places that you otherwise not might have.
Our cruise port was located in Costa Maya, Mexico. Mexico’s Gulf Coast is home to the second biggest coral reef in the world so knowing this I had booked us a snorkeling excursion in hopes of getting a glimpse of it! On the bus ride to the catamaran, the friendly tour guide informed us that Costa Maya is a name that cruise ships actually invented to promote/advertise the area. The locals that live in the area don’t refer to it by that name. Rather, they are the Mahahual village. We learned that only 2,000 locals live in the area and the town exists solely because of cruise ships. The town had one gas pump and one grocery store. Driving through the town and seeing the poverty was very sobering.
Both Phil and I wrestled with guilt while in many of these impoverished countries. The locals often don’t have their basic needs met yet here we are on an expensive vacation in their homeland. I did feel better realizing that tourism dollars are their livelihood so although the scales are tipped, at least my being there benefits them in some small way. Phil and I tipped heavily and showed as much kindness and curiosity as possible. We also bought from their stands bringing home local hot sauce, chocolates, painted magnets, and small pottery items.
Once we were out in the catamaran riding to our snorkel spot it was amazing to see the stunning, clear blue ocean. There were patches of bright blue water that seemed to be glowing! I kept blinking because it almost didn’t look real. We were placed in the advanced group and went snorkeling with a guide who kept a good pace. He pointed out puffer fish, a stingray, and an assortment of fish that we otherwise would have missed!
After snorkeling and basking in the sun, we enjoyed the BEST meal of the trip at a restaurant near the cruise ship port. We sat on swings to eat (which was already cool) and then devoured the best chicken tacos, salsa, and guacamole of our lives.
The port of Costa Maya also really surprised us! It had a beautiful pool, lots of restaurants, and small shops. The only negative was that there were two other cruise ships also ported there at the same time as us. That made for a lot of humans.
We left Mexico with a newfound appreciation for a place we had never considered traveling! Have you ever been somewhere that really surprised you before? If so, I’d love to know where!