14th – 16th January. Cancun, Mexico.

The divide between Cancun’s bustling downtown and the Zona Hotelera is vast but entertaining. This is Spring Break territory, an American playground, a half price Miami and a paradise for a week of debauchery, Caribbean lounging, beachfront luxury, or whatever else might take your fancy. The hotels occupy a twinkling twenty kilometer strip of land between the crystal clear Caribbean Sea and a green lagoon; each one is grandiose and packed out with all inclusive, poolside sitting, cocktail sipping, sun-seeking frilled or beaded lizards. They are content to bask, move very little, warm their Nebraska cold blood, extend their long tongues to guzzle rum and juice, and then shuffle, burnt and sleepy, back into the ice-cold, re-commissioned air of an eleventh floor suite. I don’t really blame them. The beaches are long, the white sand powder fine and the sea as turquoise clear as any travel mag wish list picture.

It is everything you imagine it to be, and for one or two days it is a blissful novelty. We even tried to commandeer a couple of sun loungers from the Hotel Riu-Caribe, but were swiftly relieved of them and so returned to our beach towels the other side of the hotels imaginary line on the bright white sand. This was to be our hard fought territory.

Downtown Cancun is a little different. Its a short bus ride away and of course still caters to the millions of tourists who pass through each year, but it is a bustling friendly place awash with Latino colors, tastes and sounds. It is as reverberating and upbeat as the hotel zone is crass and clinical and monotonous, and it seemed to me a great introduction to a country as vast and varied as this. Quiet tree lined parks and phrenetic sprawling markets cater to locals and tourists alike, lime, chili and fresh corn tortillas the same backline flavors to a myriad of stalls offering enticing antojitos, (little cravings) at all hours of the day and night. The tourist vendors are here too, hawking trinkets and slogan tees, but I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually wear a lime green day-glo vest printed with the words, I’m shy, but I’m in Cancun and I’ve got a Big Dick! But who knows? Come March and the Spring Break madness, they could be all the rage…


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