Saturday, February 02, 2008


You would never mistake flying into Mexico City through its continuous haze speckled with endless, sprightly, color-splotched buildings, and flying into Cancun through its continuous blanket of Yucatan jungle alive with toucans, snakes, and armadillo-like rodents. Then, as if flying out of a jungle cloud there, there it is: the take-your-breath-away splendor or of the Mar Caribe Turqueso, cloudless blue sky, and sunny warmth. Here the Sun Sirens allure you into shedding your many layers of North American, protective, outer armor .

We’ve been here enough that we’re no longer stagger in awe of the Hotel Zone, neither it’s garish opulence, nor its crude abundance of drinking establishments. Rather, we look forward to spending our days catching up on reading and personal writing projects to the rhythm of the waves crashing, feet from our patio door. When we come to a resting point in the day’s creative efforts, we’ll walk the beaches until we tire; find an organic, vegetarian restaurant; and then hop any of the abundant busses, ride for 6.5 pesos up to “the real Cancun” where the real Cancunians live, and visit places we’ve gotten to know over the years.

It’s on the bus or on our walks we’re struck with what we take for granted at home. Noticeables such as:

  • Construction workers operating power equipment wearing flip flops and without ear protection;
  • No pedestrian crosswalks anywhere; people young and old, abled and disabled, scurry like roaches across 4 lanes dodging cars, busses, and collectivos.
  • Stop lights are few and left turn signals are non-existent. Seemingly chaotic traffic circles serve well the flow where the right-of-way rules elude the likes of us. Somehow most of the pedestrians make it most of the time, including us. I guess the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” rules.
  • Not unusual, once you make it across the busy 4-lane, to have to crawl four-legged up a steep, stone embankment to get out of harm’s way. Chicagoans, can you imagine doing same across the “S” curve at the Oak Street Beach? Ay Ay Ay.
  • Streetlights don’t exist in the family neighborhoods in real Cancun. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be scared, but I’m not; not when I’m with Kirk who has fluent command of the language. I do know I would not wend my way serpentine through the via ways alone in the dark.
  • The concept of handicapped accessibility hasn’t even been ideated, certainly not actualized. Sidewalks are roughed, bumped, and crunched. Curb ramps aren’t, and restrooms are often up a flight of stairs. Wheelchair sized stall doors aren’t either, nor are washbowls at a level for those who access the world from a level of four feet or below.
  • On a cheerier not, iguanas and lizards are everywhere, especially around Tulum. I don’t know about the hierarchy of iguana, but there clearly is one, as some of the “old ones” have tails to tell their tales as do rings in the trunk of a tree.

A wonderful change of pace and scenery, but it’s time to go home now. We’re ready, despite anticipating a return to a foot or more of snow and months before we have to apply suntan lotion in response to the allure our own Chicago Sun. We’ve begun the “flights have been cancelled, delayed, re-routed, rescheduled game”. TTFN

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