Playa del Carmen, Mexico

My parents and sisters arrived in Mexico on December 23rd. We met at the Aventura Spa and our reunion was almost overwhelming—family time at a luxurious, all-inclusive resort after weeks of living the life of a dirty backpacker? It felt like a dream! We exchanged stories over the lunch buffet, which was chock-full of mouth-watering indulgences I hadn’t tasted in what felt like forever. Everyone was in good spirits and seemed grateful for the chance to relax all together in paradise.

sissyAllison, Cait and I had a blast! We savored our “sissy time” laying by the pool or chasing iguanas, filling each other in on the current events of our lives, laughing about embarrassing stories and disclosing our hopes for the New Year.  We engaged in a serious ping pong tournament where Cait’s commentating had us in stitches and we participated “bathtub interviews” with Allison acting as Barbara Walters.  We spent a few nights out in Playa del Carmen and had a fabulous New Years Eve cutting up a rug and watching the fireworks on the roof of Mandala, overlooking the raging block party below.

My Uncle Bill and Aunt Lou Ann joined us a few days after we arrived. Kyle and Meghan had gone to Tulum for Christmas so the Duncan clan shuttled south via colectivo to meet them for a day. We moseyed along the main road, shopping at the seemingly identical storefronts that lined the streets and stopping for an early dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant. We ate fajitas, fresh ceviche, fish tacos and enchiladas as the waiter kept refreshing our cervezas and Dad regaled us with cautionary anecdotes from his South American travel experience.

imageThe one drawback of the trip was that this year the hotel was PACKED. Finding an open chaise lounge by the pool each day was a losing battle and we frequently resorted to spreading our towels on the grass in defeat. As if the overflowing population wasn’t bad enough, most of the vacationers were obnoxious—perpetually wasted, loud, and oftentimes obscene. We definitely made the most of it, but my parents made it clear that this would be our last year spending Christmas at Aventura.

Ten days flew by and before I was ready for the trip to end, it was time for them to go home.  I watched with puppy eyes as my sisters packed up their suitcases. I drank one last bittersweet cocktail with my aunt and uncle as they waited for their taxi to the airport. Before their bus disappeared from my view I already missed my parents. It was such a treat to vacation as a family, but it was a strange feeling not knowing when we would all be together again, especially with Allison moving to South Korea next month.

famAlas, it was time to return to my pobrecita status.

I scurried across the highway and hopped on a colectivo heading for Tulum to meet Kyle and Meghan after their New Years trip to Chichen Itza.  We checked into the Casa del Sol hostel, which was pretty grimy especially in contrast to my recent accommodations.

In the morning we rented bikes and rode out to one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, with white sand that was as soft as powdered sugar and sparkling cerulean water.  Megs and I embraced the toplessness and spent the day swimming, reading and napping on the bed sheet we shamelessly stole from our hostel.

The next day we went to Akumal Beach where we rented snorkel gear and swam around the reef, spotting sea turtles, stingray, and bountiful multihued fish. Once we returned to the Casa del Sol, we prepared a delicious meal of homemade salsa and guacamole, spicy veggie pasta, and tropical sangria, which we shared with the other travelers over a Gin Rummy card game competition!.

Posted on by Erica Duncan in Mexico

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